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Avon Graduate Heads to West Point Academy

Gunnar Larson Talks Tap Outs, Baking and Boot Camp

Writer  /  Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer  /  Doug McSchooler

Gunnar Larson always had a hunch he’d attend military school.

“I like the idea of serving my country and all the opportunities that go along with it,” says Larson, who heads to West Point Academy in July to begin boot camp.

Though Larson researched several schools, he felt a pull at his heart when he toured the campus of West Point Academy, located 12 hours away in Highlands, New York.

Larson, who graduated from Avon High School in May, plans to major in civil engineering and hopes to later join the Army Corps of Engineers because the idea of designing structures and roads appeals to him. Further down the line, post-retirement, he aspires to own a restaurant or bakery.

“I’ve always loved cooking and baking,” Larson says. In fact, it’s a long-standing family tradition among his parents and three siblings to create holiday-themed treats, including mouth-watering Thanksgiving pies and tasty Christmas cookies. Last August, he launched his own YouTube show called “Baking in LOG, (Land of Gunnar).”

“It wasn’t originally planned to be a baking show,” Larson says. “My friends and I were going to do a podcast type of thing where we would discuss nerdy topics like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.”

When one of his buddies had a conflict, however, a baking show was born. Though Larson plans his recipes in advance, he never tests them out prior to the show. Fortunately, so far only one trial recipe turned sour — literally.

“I made macaroons and used cream cheese frosting, then let them sit out for two hours rather than refrigerating them,” Larson says. “Oops.”

He also unleashes his creative side through music, having played the oboe for four years and recently picking up the ukulele after his family vacationed in Hawaii.

“I like the island music, so I bought a $10 toy ukulele to mess around with, but it wouldn’t stay in tune so I got a real one,” says Larson, who enjoys listening to everything from classical and instrumental to pop and country. He also enjoys old rock as well as Disney soundtracks but Christian gospel tops the list. Favorite artists include For King & Country, MercyMe and NeedtoBreathe.

As a young kid, Larson and his family regularly attended Kingsway Christian Church. When wrestling matches interfered with Sunday morning worship services, Larson began skipping church. His freshman year of high school, however, a friend invited him to youth group and Larson was reminded of how much he enjoyed being in God’s presence.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed church until I got back into it,” Larson says.

When he lost the state wrestling match last year, he blasted himself for not giving a better performance on the mat. When he took his frustrations to God, his perspective shifted.

“I recognized that in the grand scheme of things, this loss wasn’t a big deal,” Larson says. “I had another year to improve. Things would probably work out for me. And for the most part, they have.”

Though Larson is a bit anxious about attending boot camp this summer, he tries his best to shove aside the worry and focus on the exciting changes that lie before him— like meeting other students and bonding with his wrestling team. In his free time, he promises to FaceTime his parents, the two people he credits with molding him into the man he is today.

“Mom demonstrated the importance of a strong faith,” Larson says. “Dad taught me to give my all by pushing through any mental and physical barriers I may encounter.”

They both taught him the joy of pies and cookies.

About Christy Heitger-Ewing

Christy Heitger-Ewing is an award-winning writer and columnist who writes human interest stories for national, regional, and local magazines. She is also the author of the book “Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat” (www.cabinglory.com).

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