Zach Ehrhard (center), holding the District 7A-7 championship trophy, led the Wildcats to a 21-5 record and the playoffs en route to winning the Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award.

Wharton High shortstop Zach Ehrhard received the Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award May 19 in a ceremony at the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners meeting.

It is the second time in four years the award has been given to a Wharton player, with Zach’s brother Drew winning it in 2017. Drew went on to win a Division II national championship with the University of Tampa in 2019, and currently stars for the No. 14-ranked Spartans.

Zach, who will attend 21st-ranked (in Div. I) Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in the fall, led the Wildcats to a 21-5 record and a District 7A-7 title this season, batting .438 with 29 runs scored, 12 doubles, 3 home runs and 21 RBI. He finished his Wharton career with a .417 average. 

The Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award, which was started in 2006, is named for Boggs, a Hall of Famer who also assists coach Scott Hoffman with the Wharton baseball team. The most notable winner of it is New York Met and last year’s National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, who received the award in 2013 after playing at Plant High.

Brooke Reif

DOUBLE BRONZE: The spring sports season is officially over, and Wharton cross country and track standout Brooke Reif made sure it ended with a couple of school records. 

Running at the Florida High School Athletics Association Class 4A State championships on May 8, the junior set the Wharton High mark in the mile and 2-mile races. finishing third in both.

Reif ran the mile (1600 meters) race in a sterling time of 4 minutes, 57.58 seconds, becoming the first Wildcat girl to run a sub-5:00 mile. While she was seven seconds off the winning time, she was less than one second from finishing second.

In the 2-mile (3200-meter) race, Reif finished in 10:49.47. While eight seconds off the winning pace, she again bettered her school record, which she broke for the third time this season. 

Reif also ran on Wharton’s 4×800 relay at state. The team finished 10th in the state by running 9:37.38.

Other top finishers:

• Sophomore Serenity Brazell took 11th in the girls 400m in 58.32 seconds.

• Senior Jared Hammill, who has signed with the University of Tampa, took 5th in the boys mile in 4:16.97, missing breaking Wharton’s school record by less than half a second.

•Senior Tavis Wilson took 9th in the boys 100m in 11.07 seconds

• Senior Illya Jackson took 11th in the boys pole vault, clearing 12’- 9.5”.

Tripp Merrell

SLOW AND STEADY: When coach Tripp Merrell took over the Freedom High baseball team in 2019, he knew a hard job awaited. But after a 6-15 record his first season, the Patriots wrapped up 2021 with a respectable 12-13 record, the most wins since the team went 15-10 in 2012.

Junior infielder Raul Olivera batted .430 and led the team in almost every category, including hits with 34, the most since Dane Moore had 35 in 2010.

 The entire pitching staff was underclassmen, as well as the team’s top five hitters. So Merrell’s rebuilding job appears to be headed in the right direction.

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