Matt Elish is Named the PHS 2016 Outstanding Young Man

Matt Elish is Named the PHS 2016 Outstanding Young Man

A head of hair did a world of good for Portage senior Matt Elish, who introduced himself as his parents’ “least-bald son” during the Casual segment at the 2016 Outstanding Young Man Scholarship Competition Finals.

Within two hours of that starter, Elish was awarded the title of 2016’s OYM, presented to him by last year’s winner, Nick Bell, along with an Academic award for his grades.

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“I really didn’t think that I was going to win,” Elish said. “My heart was beating while I was waiting for them to tell us who’s going to win, and, I don’t know, it just feels good.”

Even though Bell has stepped into retirement as OYM, he said he is excited for Elish to join him in holding the title.

“I don’t think I gave it up,” Bell said. “I feel like I’m sharing it with him. There’s multiple OYMs, and I feel like we all have a bond together.”

As the other active titleholder at Portage, Claire Hagan, the Distinguished Young Woman of the class of 2016, had advice for Elish based on what she’s learned since winning the girls’ program last May.

“Be yourself, honestly,” she said. “It’s the cheesiest thing people can say, but it’s the thing that will get you through life; to be yourself. Make sure you’re always honest with people, and nice.”

Hagan said she is also looking forward to seeing Elish thrive as OYM.

“I’m really proud of him,” Hagan said. “I knew from the beginning that he would do well in this competition, and I’m really proud of him that he has made it this far.”

Although the program is now over, Elish said he really enjoyed all the practices and other participants in OYM.

“The best part was not even winning this, it’s just being with the guys, because it’s so much fun and you find out how good some of these guys are that you wouldn’t’ve even known before,” Elish said.

This year, the practices were run by Portage Police Chief Troy Williams, who became OYM Program Director again after passing it over to PHS teachers a few years prior and sticking to emceeing.

Running everything was easier when he was the School Resource Officer, William said, because he was able to be around the school at all times and see the boys more often.

“It’s been a little difficult just being here, but the group of boys this time around has been awesome,” Williams said. “They’ve been committed to practicing, they’ve shown up on time, and they’ve put their hearts into it.”

“I highly recommend this program to any boy at Portage High School,” Williams said. “This is one of the best programs they have to offer. It’s a chance to earn scholarship money, to maybe meet some other students that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise have met during your high school career, and just a bonding experience. The ability to look back in 20 years and say, ‘I was able to do this with some of my classmates.’ You can’t beat that with a stick. It’s a good time.”

Williams said he, like the crowd, looks forward to the Fitness portion of the show. This year, the boys danced to “Uptown Funk” for their routine.

For his future with OYM, Elish is already looking forward to coming back for next year’s competition.

“It’s a good reason for me to come back home and come to the school and show off kind of, I guess,” Elish laughed.

Other winners included: Jory Lyons and Devon Ridgeway for Academics; Drew Guth, Marco Haro and Vince Wiley for Fitness; Rudy Azcona, Max Kurtz and Jesse Bustos for Casual; Jacob Evans, Kris Burns and Hunter Thorn for Presentation and Address.

There were also three additional awards which were voted on by the boys based on who they believed best represented OYM. The winner of the Joe Stevens Award was Matt Rasnic, and Bruce Fannin and Kyle Hawkins both won Good Guy awards.

“My favorite part of the whole thing was when Kyle Hawkins won the good guy award because that guy deserved it more than anything,” Elish said.

Outstanding Young Man Finalists:

  • 4th runner up - Kody McGuire
  • 3rd runner up - Devon Ridgeway
  • 2nd runner up - Nick Blue
  • 1st runner up - Noland Belt