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Young men earn ‘Outstanding’ distinction

Finalists 2013 Outstanding Young Man scholarship program Portage High School include (front from left): fourth finalist CollCzilli third finalist Alexander

Finalists in the 2013 Outstanding Young Man scholarship program at Portage High School include (front, from left): fourth finalist Collin Czilli and third finalist Alexander Schreier; (middle, from left) second finalist Rashaan Coleman and first finalist Devon Kludt; and (back, from left) 2012 OYM Marko Pekovic and 2013 Outstanding Young Man winner Eric Mesarch. | Photo provided by Haley Crnarich

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Updated: March 16, 2013 6:19AM



Thirty-two outstanding senior students competed in the 2013 Outstanding Young Man Scholarship Program at Portage High School Saturday, Feb. 2. This was the 22nd year for the event. The theme was “A Gentleman’s Confidence.”

The seniors participated in a parade of contestants, a casual segment, a physical segment, and a presentation and address segment. The winners were selected based on a judges’ conference (30 percent), academics (10 percent), physical segment (20 percent), casual segment (20 percent) and presentation and address (20 percent).

This year’s participants were Eric Anderson, Joe Beckham, Greg Birkmeyer, David Burr, Dakota Callender, Logan Cole, Rashaan Coleman, Ty Crawford, Collin Czilli, Ian Deperio, Patrick Derr, Kevin Elkins, Justin Givens, C.J. Haupt, Tim Huber, Devin Kludt, Anthony (A.J.) Laramie, Jeff McElfresh, Eric Mesarch, Todd Mocabee, James Podgorski, Greg Prohl, Top Pronpudpong, Alexander Schreier, Zach Smith, Tyler Soberg, Jimmy Spence, Jake Spencer, Cody Spoolstra, Zachary Swets, Ross Williams and Ryan Wilson.

In a close competition, Eric Mesarch rose above the rest to be named Portage’s 2013 Outstanding Young Man. He received an $1,800 cash scholarship, the OYM Medallion, a plaque, wristwatch, graduation package from Josten’s, and other gifts and gift certificates.

Other finalists were: Devin Kludt, first; Rashaan Coleman, second; Alexander Schreier, third; and Collin Czilli, fourth. All finalists received cash scholarships, plaques and gifts.

Division winners were: David Burr and Jimmy Spence, Good Guy awards; Patrick Derr, Joe Stevens Award; Eric Anderson, Logan Cole and Todd Mocabee, Presentation and Address awards; Kevin Elkins, Zach Smith and Justin Givens, Casual awards; Tim Huber, Greg Prohl and C.J. Haupt, Physical awards; Cody Spoolstra, Jeff McElfresh and Eric Mesarch, Academic awards.

All of the participants received a YMCA membership and other gifts.

This year the program had new directors — social studies teacher William Fortenberry Jr. and media clerk Brett Gorden. Portage Police Chief Troy Williams served as master of ceremonies. Former Outstanding Young Man winners Aaron Priest (2000) and Eric Ruiz (2006) joined Tim Slatton, John Pritchard and Matt Scheuer as judges.

Marko Pekovic, the 2012 winner, gave an opening speech and helped present awards.

Several of the 2012 Distinguished Young Woman participants were also on hand. Winner Rachel Stewart, and first runner up, Clarissa Tokash, choreographed the physical segment and helped coach the young men. They delighted the crowd with their performance to “Can’t Touch This.”

“It was a really close competition, but they had a lot of fun,” said English teacher Carrie Martin, who has been involved with both contests for many years, and photographed this year’s program. “The boys were all fantastic. The best part is watching them bond with each other and really become friends. It’s an experience they’ll never forget.”



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