The home stretch: Ogundepo hits stride in senior year
Some students coast through their final year of high school - it's widely known as the "senior slide." But, that's not the case with East Ridge senior Dayo Ogundepo.
Ogundepo, a six-time letter winner in football and track at East Ridge, said he wants to end his high school years with a bang.
"I'm definitely going to miss it. I made some great friends here at East Ridge and had some great experiences with track and with football," he said. "I just hope I ended on a good note."
This past year, Ogundepo was one of six finalists for the Lions Club Male Athlete of the Year Award and he earned East Ridge's Apollo Award, which recognizes the school's outstanding male senior athlete.
"Model leader," East Ridge Activities Director Trent Hanson said. "Those are the first two words that come to mind. He's one of those kids that other students and other athletes gravitate to, look up to and emulate. It's primarily because of his work ethic."
Past winners of the Lions Club Male Athlete of the Year Award include baseball Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, Heisman winner Chris Wienke and Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer. White Bear Lake three-sport standout Eric Gebeke won this year's honor.
"It's amazing to be recognized as one of the top six athletes in the state," Ogundepo said. "I was just blessed. I didn't win it, but it was just an honor to be thought of in that group."
At East Ridge, Ogundepo was a team captain and team MVP of the Raptors' football team as a corner back and running back. He was a two-time All-Conference selection and a 2011 All-State honorable mention selection. With his last track season in progress, he's already a three-time All-Conference selection and was named All-State in 2011. He was a member of school-record holding 400-meter relay team that finished in third place in the state meet last spring.
He said between the two sports he doesn't have a favorite.
"It honestly depends on the season," he said. "In track there's nothing I like better than coming out and competing with all the great athletes in the state. In football, I just love to throw the pads on, hit people and make plays. It just depends on the time of the year."
In his four years at East Ridge, when on the football field or the track, Ogundepo wasn't boastful or arrogant. He'd let his play do the talking.
"He comes across as reserved an a little introverted, but he's electric at the same time," Hanson said. "He attracts all different types of kids. He's been fantastic for the school culture and from a competitive standpoint you won't find a kid that will outwork him. He's been a fun kid to root for."
In addition to his on-the-field exploits, Ogundepo is also an honor roll student who volunteers at Cerenity Nursing Home and with Little Raptors football camps and East Ridge Athletic Association teams.
Hanson said Ogundepo is a "great representative of what East Ridge is about."
"We want to support multi-sport and multi-activity students anyway we can. He's been a great example that you don't have to specialize to be successful," Hanson said. "Presenting yourself to different coaches and leaders and kids and peers is healthy. We're fortunate he's taken advantage of a couple different things."
Ogundepo's last day of high school is Wednesday, May 30. He said, at first, he was indifferent about going to East Ridge or Woodbury high before the school opened 2009. But, that's all changed now.
"I loved my years at East Ridge," he said. "The sports have been good, the teachers and coaches were great and I love my classmates. I love East Ridge."
Next year, Ogundepo will attend the University of Iowa, where he plans to pursue a business-finance major, while playing football for the Hawkeyes.
"I'm playing football," he said. "I'm excited for that. I visited a month and a half ago and got to see the practice facilities and all that. It was a good experience. I'm ready to go. More black and gold, so it'll be an easy transition."