At the top of their class

The Alpena Boosters Club honored Alpena High School’s senior athletes at their annual banquet on Monday, with honors going to all senior athletes, special MHSAA awards given out to academically excellent students and the coveted Male and Female Athletes of the Year awards given to Ashton Dever and Emily Duncan.

“It was a major surprise and I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s a major achievement that I didn’t see coming,” Dever said.

Duncan was similarly surprised: neither had prepared speeches, but instead thanked their graduating class, teachers, coaches and fellow athletes.

“It’s indescribable, working for all four years doing something you love and to be honored for it. I couldn’t even call it work because I was doing what I loved and having so much fun doing it,” Duncan said.

Four players were nominated for male and female athlete of the year and it was difficult to narrow the awards down to one player, according to Athletic Director Tim Wedge.

“But what more can you say about a four-sport athlete?” Wedge said, just before honoring Duncan.

Duncan was a key player for the girls soccer, track and cross country teams and was the the only girl on Alpena’s hockey team during her time as a Wildcat. Last season she became the first girl ever to score a goal for the hockey team.

She has already signed to play varsity women’s hockey with Adrian next year.

Accomplishments for Duncan this year include qualifying for the Division 1 track and field individual state finals in the 400 dash and as part of the 3200 relay team.

“One of the most popular sayings in sports is ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog’ and that saying truly applies to our Male Athlete of the Year,” Wedge said moments before presenting Dever with his trophy.

Dever was a three-sport athlete for Alpena, succeeding in football and track and also went out for wrestling his senior year.

One of his biggest accomplishments this year for him was setting a new school record with a 99-yard touchdown run in Alpena’s last football game.

He is also one of Alpena’s top sprinters and long jumpers. At last year’s Big North championship, he picked up second place in the long jump. Dever was also last year’s Male Athlete of the Alpena News Honor Roll track meet.

His post graduation plans include attending ACC for a year and then going to Michigan State University to study astrophysics.

“Everybody has always influenced me to do my best and to strive for better in everything I do. They’ve really helped me reach new heights over and over again and I hope to keep going further and further in life,” Dever said.

“Alpena athletics is really competitive and to be honored in such a way by your school and your coaches is really humbling,” Duncan said.

MHSAA scholarship awards were given out to 11 graduating seniors including: Jacob Benson, Luke Cordes, Corinn Gehrke, Zach Nash, Kelsey Lewis, Elaine Lowe, Brenna Bourdage, Amanda Dort, Abby MacArthur, Aaron Mead and Ethan Crowell.

Two Alpena teams led the state academically with the girls golf team having the highest collective GPA in Division I. The boys basketball team also had the highest collective GPA in the state in all divisions.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.