FEATURES BY KYIA FRANK AND ANNA WOLFINGER
Shane Corp: BMX
BY KYIA FRANK
Shane Corp is a BMX racer. For those that do not know, BMX stands for Bicycle Motocross. Corp has been racing for the past nine years. He has won a multitude of awards and been recognized by many racers and mentors for his talent.
“It takes a lot more endurance and athleticism than people think. It’s not an easy sport,” said Corp.
During the week, Corp practices at the Akron BMX tracks, which opens in April and closes at the end of October. Practices last two hours, but at nationals you are only given 30 minutes to practice before you race.
“Only being given 30 minutes to prepare for such a big race is nerve racking,” said Corp.
BMX races are sprint races on purpose. The tracks are built off road and a single lap. The track usually consists of a starting gate for a maximum of eight racers, a groomed, serpentine, dirt race course with various jumps and rollers and the finish line.
“I have been BMX racing for nine years and I knew from the beginning that this is what I wanted to do and that this is what I love,” exclaimed Corp.
He is ranked fourth in the Northeast Region of the United States and is the 2018 state champ in the 17-20 Expert Class, which is the most advanced class.
“To win states it took a lot of training. I trained by doing sprints outside and working out in the gym to prepare myself,” said Corp.
USA BMX hosts Nationals every weekend starting in January until the Grand National tournament in November where all of the rewards from the season are presented to the racers.
“I was recently invited to the Race of Champions which took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma over Thanksgiving,” said Corp.
Corp ended up going to the Race of Champions but crashed in the semi race making it impossible to make it to the main race. He competed against 55 racers and only 8 make the main race.
“I have also been given the privilege to be sponsored by Havok Bike and Real Time BMX,” said Corp.
Hovak Bikes manufactures their own products such as bike parts. They sponsor racers to represent their products at races so they can gain exposure. The other company, Real Time, is a bike shop in Illinois that is also a part of Hovak Bikes. The two companies work to promote Corp.
“Going into this year I have very high expectations because of having such a great year last year. I plan on working even harder to win states again,” said Corp.
Logan Freund: Cheerleading
BY KYIA FRANK
Logan Freund is a level five competitive cheerleader at Ohio Cheer Explosions in Brunswick and is also on the Wadsworth varsity cheer team. Cheerleading has always been a big part of his life and it has given him many unique opportunities to do what he loves.
“Being the only male cheerleader on the varsity cheerleading team activates many different opinions but cheer is what I love to do,” said Freund.
Freund puts in around 14 hours a week at the gym, which is hard for him to handle on top of school.
“It gets very stressful and overwhelming at times, but it’s all worth it in the end,” said Freund.
Freund and his team practice 3 times a week in order to prepare for the 9 competitions throughout the season. Some of these competitions can span over two full days. Depending on how well they do, they have the possibility to compete in extra competitions.
“Cheerleading has given my teammates and I an abundant amount of opportunities that many people do not have the chance to experience on an everyday basis,” said Freund.
Last year they were given the opportunity to go to Worlds, which is the biggest cheerleading competition in the world, hence the name. Every year in April the best teams from all over the world travel to compete against one another in Orlando, Florida. In order to go to this tournament, a team must have a bid, which is money given to a team, or in other words, a ‘ticket. It can either be a full bid or a half bid. To get a bid you must have a perfect routine that the judges love and. Meaning, zero deductions and receiving high scores in all categories on the scoring sheet.
Last year Freund’s team was offered a half bid to Worlds in March at Universal Cheer Association in Orlando, Florida. After they were offered the bid, they had to put in double the effort in order to succeed at the competition.
“We knew we were going to have to put in ten times the work, but we were all willing to do it because this was our dream,” said Freund.
In order to pull off a perfect routine, practices were scheduled every day. Freund began putting around 20 hours a week at the gym in order to learn a whole new routine. The team even traveled all the way to Atlanta, Georgia to practice their routine and further prepare for Worlds.
“It was an anxiety overload,” said Freund.
At Worlds, Freund’s team had a perfect routine, which meant that there were no mistakes or deductions. Freund states that he cried when they hit zero deductions.
“It was the best feeling ever being out there with my team and I would do anything to go back to the experience,” said Freund.
After Worlds, the team had a month off, but when practice started up again, Freund’s team was given a brand new routine, much to their disliking. They practiced this routine for about two months but they came to the conclusion that this new routine was not going to work for them. In order to get a new routine their gym paid Varsity $4,000 for a whole new start. They have been practicing this routine ever since, and their first competition of this year was held on December 2, at American Cheerpower located in Columbus, Ohio. They ended up placing first. With this new routine, Freund and his teammates hope to make it to Worlds in 2019.
“I believe in our team and I believe we are capable to make it to Worlds again and do even better than last year,” said Freund.
Aniya Harris: Taekwondo
BY ANNA WOLFINGER
Aniya Harris is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo, and has been doing it for eight years. She has even traveled across the world to compete against people from countless countries and cultures. Competing in the three events- form, breaking and sparring- she has developed a multitude of skills over the years while simultaneously gaining unforgettable personal experiences.
Harris has been involved in Taekwondo since she was a kid. As a child, she would often wrestle with her cousins and struggled with getting the upper hand. Her parents decided to channel that feistiness and decided to sign her up for Taekwondo.
“I wanted to learn how to defend myself, and I honestly just wanted to break cement,” said Harris.
Training at the World Champion Martial Arts dojang, she has advanced through the rank of belts, starting with white, and ending in the third and final level of black belt, in just eight years.
Taekwondo consists of three events during tournaments. The first is a sparring match, where two players spar off in a padded ring. Both players wear either blue or red padded gear, depending on their team, to protect themselves.
“Any skill is legal and can earn that player a certain amount of points,” explained Harris. “Each of the two rounds are a minute long with a 30 second break in between.”
The second event is breaking, where points are rewarded depending on the amount of boards, the size of the boards and the types of skills used.
The third event is form, where a number of judges determine which of the two players was better, by either gesturing their hand to either side, or averaging the points. Harris traveled to the island of Jeju, South Korea this past summer to compete in the 2018 Jeju World Taekwondo Hanmadang Tournament.
“There were people all the way from Mexico, China, Taipei, India, Russia and more,” said Harris.
Out of the 16 teams competing in Jeju, Harris’ team placed 12th.
“All of it was absolutely amazing,” said Harris. “Granted, the weather was hot and we did a lot of walking, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
After the tournament, Harris and her teammates traveled all over the peninsula of South Korea, embracing the Korean culture. They visited the capital city of Seoul and went to Kukkiwon, the main headquarters for Taekwondo. Her team visited the Namsan Tower, engulfed themselves in the busy city and shopping centers and also climbed peaking mountains that overlooked the city.
“We climbed mountains that were so far up I could barely see the city skylines through the fog,” said Harris.
While Taekwondo is seen mainly as a Korean sport, tournaments are actually hosted all over the world, taking place at anytime in any country. In Ohio alone, there are countless tournaments and opportunities to join Taekwondo. There are even Ohio State Championship tournaments.
Taekwondo has had a major impact on Harris.
“Without this sport, I would not be the same person I am today,” said Harris. “Taekwondo will be a part of me for the rest of my life.”
“My physical, mental and emotional health have all changed for the better,” said Harris. “I am around people who want to improve others to the best of their ability. Now, I am the one to help out others to become their best selves possible.”
Throughout her many years of mastering this skill, she has gained a new mentality and an experience she will carry out her entire life.
“I have gained a second family and an experience I may never get again,” said Harris.
Joe Muhl: Music
BY ANNA WOLFINGER
Joe Muhl has been engulfed in music since he was six years old. Picking up four different instruments–the piano, the French horn, the trumpet and the guitar–Joe has mastered the skills of these instruments through his inherited sense of music, and the support behind his musically-inclined family.
“Music is one of the largest ways to connect all people,” said Muhl. “Whether it is listening, talking about, performing or just playing around for fun, everyone enjoys music.”
Joe started taking piano lessons when he was just six years old, when his mother, a piano player herself, noticed his musical talent.
“Playing the piano, it is very easy to get caught up in the music,” said Muhl. “But for me, the audience is the most important part of playing. A great pianist feels out their audience while they play.”
When Muhl was in the fifth grade, he took up the trumpet. However, he disliked the amount of other trumpet players there ended up being in the school band. In his sixth grade year, he decided to switch to the French horn. He already had a familiarity with the instrument since his mother was also a former French horn player.
“Playing the horn felt unique and specialized for me,” said Muhl. “Plus, I had a natural inclination for the sound and tone of the horn.”
This past summer, Muhl started to learn the guitar. Since the guitar strongly resembles what it is like to play the piano, learning the expertise of this acoustic instrument was not very difficult for Muhl.
“The essence of what music means to me can be found in my family jam sessions,” said Muhl.
The Muhl family frequently gets together to play music together. Muhl visits his aunt and uncle’s house to play around with instruments and music with his cousins. Muhl plays the keyboard, his cousin plays the guitar while other family members attempt to join in whenever they can.
“There is a tangible spirit of togetherness, warmth, energy, fun and love all brought about by the music we play,” said Muhl.
Muhl hopes to continue playing music throughout his life, and plans to study music further when attending college. Whatever is ahead in his future, he knows music will be incorporated somehow.
“It is hard to picture what an average week would look like for me without music,” said Muhl. “It is what I look forward to when I get to school, and what I love to do when I am home.”
This story was printed in December. For more print articles, check out the full issue: