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Lawson selected as finalist for national award

PLANKINTON — Plankinton senior Nick Lawson has been selected as the 2014 Section 5 recipient of the National High School Spirit of Sport Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The award was created by the NFHS to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.

Lawson, who was nominated by Plankinton Athletic Director Todd Karst and Mount Vernon/Plankinton boys’ basketball coach Eric Denning, was the winner of the Section 5, which consists of nominees in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

After playing quality minutes as a junior in the 2012-13 season, Lawson had to start from the bottom to return to the court as a senior this year.

Lawson was shot in the chest by his friend Logan Evans, also of Plankinton, with a 9 mm pistol on June 22. Evans didn’t think the gun was loaded when he pointed it at Lawson and pulled the trigger.

During the next few weeks, Lawson endured nine surgeries that included two breathing tubes and three different drainage tubes coming out of his body.

Through the fall, Lawson was able to participate in physical activity, and with the help of trainers, family, coaches and teammates, he returned to the court in the first game of the season for the Titans.

“It feels kind of good to earn this award, knowing all of the stuff I had to go through and everyone supporting me through it all,” Lawson said Tuesday.

The 6-foot-2 forward was a key player for Mount Vernon/Plankinton (10-12) during his senior year. Lawson will also participate in track and field this spring, running distance events.

He didn’t think he was going to be able to participate in sports at all this senior year and is grateful he was able to get back to the competitive scene with his teammates.

“After the doctors told me what had happened, I didn’t think I would be able to do anything my senior year,” he said. “I was really happy I could come back and play for my team. They pushed me to do better and supported me.”

The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS summer meeting in Boston, Mass. The section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the school year.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.