I realize this is quite a downer, but I wanted to have a small moment of remembrance for a high school teammate of mine that recently passed away by the name of Matt Pagel. In high school I ran track with him for two years, and despite the fact that we were in radically different social circles, he was a wonderfully warm and friendly person who was also a tremendous athlete. His death was quite unexpected and therefore quite tragic, especially as he was moving closer to reaching his dream of playing professional football, which hasn't happened for a kid from our small town in over 20 years.
[After college], Matt signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers, then [had] a one year stint with the Green Bay Blizzard of arenafootball2 in 2006. [Matt was about] to play for the Columbus Destroyers AFL1 football team. Pagel, who was a Press-Gazette second-team all-area selection in 1999, ranks seventh in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history in career kickoff return yardage. He rushed for 431 yards and nine touchdowns while playing at UW-La Crosse from 2001 to 2004 and also was a track and field standout at the school. Among his accomplishments, Matt was a member of the 2000 Shrine Bowl Game, he clocked the fastest 55-meter time in WIAC history in 2004 at 6.32 seconds, which broke a mark set by former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Bill Schroeder. He also was part of the 400-meter relay team that won gold at the 2004 NCAA Division III national championships and was a five time All American in track.
The good die young they say. As possibly one of the only people that read this that may have known Matt, I will say that he was a very nice individual. I didn't know him well since I ran in the same dork circle as Brian, but I knew him a little. Quite sad. Rest In Peace Matt.