CASPER - Madison Legerski almost didn't make it to the Milward Simpson Award luncheon.
The Legerskis - Madison, plus her mom, Jamie, and dad, Joe - were nearly to Casper when they started experiencing car troubles. Nothing major, but as a result, the family arrived just a few minutes before the scheduled start of Saturday's luncheon at the Petroleum Club.
It's a good thing she made it.
After arriving, Madison Legerski was honored with the Milward Simpson Athlete of the Year Award, becoming the first female athlete from Laramie High School to earn the prestigious distinction.
"It's really cool to be the first one," Legerski said.
It was a similar story on the boys side. Dino Collins became the first male representative from Lovell High School to win the award.
Collins, along with teammate and classmate Cody Savage, made school history just by being named finalists. Lovell's only other Milward finalist was Craig Lundberg in 1995. Collins said hearing the 38-year history of the award and being in the same company as this year's finalists was an honor itself.
The boys finalists included Collins and Savage, along with Ty Etchemendy (Douglas), Dani Fischer (Gillette) and Ben Mancuso (Burlington). The girls finalists were rounded out by Lexi Erickson (Star Valley), Hailey Ligocki (Sheridan), Shanda Post (Lander) and Kassidy Scott (Douglas).
Collins was a standout football player and wrestler for the Bulldogs. He was named the Star-Tribune's Super 25 Offensive Player of the Year following his senior year and helped lead Lovell to back-to-back state championship game appearances, as Lovell won the title in 2011. Collins was a combined 72-0 during his junior and senior wrestling seasons, with state titles both years. Collins will attend Brigham Young University to continue his football career.
Legerski was three-sport standout for the Plainsmen, and hardly new to firsts when it came to her athletic career. As a junior, she was a key part of Laramie's surprise state basketball championship team, the school's first girls hoops title, and won the Class 4A state high jump title that same year. Legerski was also the first Laramie female athlete to win the Southeast District Athlete of the Year award. Legerski will play volleyball at Casper College this fall and said she hopes her success will inspire others.
female athletes at Laramie.
That is the true essence of the award. Pete Simpson addressed the finalists on Saturday about the award named in his father's namesake. Milward Simpson was a former Wyoming governor and United States Senator from Cody, who served as the team captain for the University of Wyoming football, basketball and baseball teams and earned varsity letters in each sport from 1917-1921.
"We consider you all the brightest and best, and pride of the state of Wyoming," Pete Simpson said.