(Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the date of Ryan Shazier's injury.)

A number of elite high school athletes from Portage County joined together for the second annual Record-Courier All-Star Best of Preps awards banquet Monday evening.

A total of 195 athletes from member schools in the Portage Trail Conference County and Metro divisions, Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, Northeastern Athletic Conference and the Suburban League American Conference were honored at the Kent State University Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center.

The event, which included 525 people in attendance, featured current Pittsburgh Steelers’ inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, a former outside linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Shazier has been rehabbing from a frightening spinal injury that he suffered in December 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since the injury was so severe, his doctors originally feared it would leave him paralyzed.

However, Shazier has been walking, jumping and even dancing during his rehab.

Among the awards given were Player of the Year for each sport, Community Star of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year and Cheer Team of the Year.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have so many people in the room to honor 195 of the most outstanding athletes in Portage County,” said Jim Williams, Record-Courier general manager and advertising director. “They represent countless hours and sacrifice for you and those who love you. For that, we congratulate you for a job well done.”

Record-Courier sports editor Rob Todor and Record-Courier sports reporter Jonah Rosenblum were the emcees for the event, which honored athletes from 12 schools and more than 20 sports.

Those in attendance were treated to dinner, dessert, videos and music during the event.

Williams acknowledged not only the athletes, but also their coaches, school administrators and most of all, the athletes’ parents.

“Mom and Dad, your little girl or your little boy has grown up,” he said. “All of those sacrifices you made on their behalf have paid off. Congrats to you, as well. This is also your night.”

Williams paid tribute to the event’s title sponsor, Portage Community Bank; the supporting sponsors, University Hospitals Portage Medical Center and Meijer; award sponsor FirstEnergy; and table sponsors PARTA, Ametek, Gionino’s Pizza, Myers Appliance and Investment Planning Group/Jeff Bricker.

Shazier, who was interviewed by GateHouse Media Ohio regional editor and Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com editor Mike Shearer, talked about his recovery from his devastating injury, being a good teammate and the possibility of being a coach someday.

Among the major award winners were Aurora’s Colin McNamara, who was named the Male Athlete of the Year; Southeast’s Andrea Radcliffe, who was named the Female Athlete of the Year; Rootstown head wrestling coach Craig Wise, who was named the Coach of the Year; and Mogadore’s Hope Murphy, who was named the Community Star of the Year.

One of the special presenters was 2006 Southeast graduate Micah Herndon, who recently served in the United States Corp’s “Lava Dogs” division in Afghanistan.

The soft-spoken 5-foot-5 Herndon recently crawled across the finish line of the Boston Marathon to pay tribute to his dear friends.

Mark Juarez and Matthew Ballard, along with British journalist Rupert Hamer, whom Herndon’s division was protecting, were killed after a 400-pound IED struck their vehicle.

“Since Portage County is a small county, it can get lost in the shuffle,” Herndon said. “There were 195 student-athletes and I noticed that I was probably shorter than 95 percent of them. But it’s not the size of the dog; It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Herndon also took time to praise the athletes’ parents for their many sacrifices to accommodate their sons and daughters. He may have renewed an old rivalry between a couple of Portage County schools, too.

Herndon presented the Coach of the Year award to Wise, who happens to be the head coach of his school’s old nemesis, Rootstown.

“It pains me since I’m a Southeast product to present this to a Rootstown Rover,” Herndon said jokingly.

There were several inspirational stories from the athletes, who proved to be just as stellar in the classroom and the community as they were in their respective sports.

Murphy has established a close relationship with a 5-year-old girl who has cancer. The Comeback Player of the Year, Field’s Cory Fetterhoff, returned to running for the cross country and track and field teams after a battle with scoliosis.

The event ended with Kent Roosevelt ice hockey player Nick Krestan, who was recognized for his work on social media during the ceremony, catching a pass and receiving an autographed football from Shazier.

A Best of Preps’ commemorative special edition is scheduled to be printed in the June 16 edition of the Record-Courier.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.