The most successful athletic season in Freedom High's 11-year history culminated Thursday morning with the Patriots being presented the Vernon Korhn Award as Hillsborough County's top public school program.
The presentation, at the county school district's spring sports awards ceremony at its downtown Tampa headquarters, came two weeks to the day after the Patriots softball team's (22-4) first appearance at the Class 7A state tournament. Three months before that, the Patriots girls basketball team (25-4) made its inaugural final four appearance in Lakeland. Both teams fell in the semifinals.
According to county athletic director Lanness Robinson, the three primary criteria for the award are overall academic performance, sportsmanship and teams' success.
In the spring alone, Freedom boasted the best team GPA in boys (3.672) and girls tennis (3.875), and the second-best GPA in softball (3.567). Additionally, new Freedom athletic director Mick Boddie said he was aware of only two ejections among Patriots teams during the school year.
Thursday's other comprehensive award, for collective GPA for the school year, went to Plant's athletic program (3.427). The Panthers, whose overall GPA was nearly one-tenth of a point higher than any other school's, won the honor for at least the third consecutive year.
Individually, Hillsborough senior Jeremiah Green, a University of Alabama signee, was presented the Bill Shields Outstanding Track Athlete Award for the second year in a row. Green repeated as Class 3A state triple jump champion earlier this month, and recorded the nation's best jump of 2013 (52 feet, 1.75 inches) at the Florida Relays in April.
Chamberlain senior Andrea Aaron, 3A bronze medalist in the shot put, was female recipient of the Dr. Doug Price Throwers Award for the second year in a row. Jesuit junior Jack Taylor, fourth in the shot put at the 2A state meet, was the male winner.
Chamberlain senior catcher Lindsey Hagberg, a Harvard signee who threw out 86 percent of the runners who tried to steal on her in her four-year career, won the Jack and Barbara Thompson Softball Player of the Year Award. Robinson's Deliah Autry, who owns a 5.86 GPA and totaled more than 2,100 yards this past spring, won the Larmon Furniture Outstanding Flag Football Player honor.
Plant City's Harrison Heyek, the Raiders' MVP the last two seasons, won the Andres Garcia Memorial Tennis Award for boys. Plant senior Blair Martin, a Furman signee who recently led the Panthers to their third consecutive state title, won the female honor.
Other spring team GPA winners were Durant baseball (3.314), Newsome softball (3.627), Plant girls track (3.615), Steinbrenner boys track (3.212) and Plant flag football (3.462).
The Tony Saladino Memorial Baseball Award, given to the county's top senior player, will be presented this summer.
Pictured: Members of Freedom's boys and girls tennis teams pose with the awards presented Thursday to the Patriots.