“Identify a goal, and bend all other considerations to that one goal.” For Grayson Armour, those are words to live by.
His cross country coach was the one who provided the motto, but Grayson has taken it and run with it. “With the work ethic and mentality I’ve gained mile by mile, I’ve set and reached countless goals that have had a huge impact on my life,” he concludes. “After my time with cross country and track, I am confident that, like finishing a long race, I can accomplish my dreams in the future one step at a time.”
He has already taken some of those steps, with a perfect 4.0 GPA that ranks him No. 1 in his class at Carlinville High School and a 35 on his ACT.
Grayson is a three-sport athlete who competes in cross country, track and baseball. He has twice finished in the Top 20 at the state cross country meet and he is captain of his Scholastic Bowl team, a standout in solo and ensemble music competitions, a state qualifier with his math team, a member of a WYSE team that took second in state, a section leader as he participates in marching, concert and pep bands, a two-year member of the National Honor Society with one year as secretary, president of his senior class and Student Council, a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman, a National Merit Semifinalist, and a Coca Cola Scholar semifinalist. He is a four-year member of the Spanish Club and a force to be reckoned with in FORCE (Friends Offering Respect, Community and Empathy.) And he has performed in his school musical all four years, including singing his heart out as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
It isn’t his laudable accomplishments or incredible level of involvement that teacher Robin Phelps finds most impressive. “Grayson’s humility and conscientiousness make him a positive role model for a generation of youth,” she writes. “He is precisely the leader that our communities, our nation, and the world need.”
Phelps adds, “I am firmly convinced that Grayson is destined to accomplish any goal as he places the utmost priority on seeking knowledge and initiating solutions to given problems.”
Grayson has been accepted at Stanford University, where he plans to study engineering.
Grayson Armour represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 6 and his principal is Patrick Drew.
Effingham (St. Anthony)
Effingham St. Anthony’s Alex Beesley is clearly someone special.
President of student council, president of the Science Club, vice president of his class, starting forward on the basketball team that beat Okawville in overtime to win the 1A state championship… That’s all Alex.
Even though he was only a junior and not his team’s star, he was the leading scorer in that championship game. St. Anthony guidance counselor Craig Carr says, “That game was a great example of what Alex is capable of.” He adds, “When the moment arrived that Alex was needed most, he was prepared.”
“Entering the state semifinals, everyone had written us off. We were the lowest ranked, youngest, and least athletic team left in the tournament,” Alex writes. “Despite what all the pundits were saying, we knew we had something special.” They relied on what they’d learned over the season—that unselfish teamwork can succeed where individuals cannot—and they went into their games fearless, ready to work together to play to their strengths.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, they’d won it all. “We beat a team that was ranked higher than us all year in a thrilling overtime game to become the first state basketball champions in school history,” he says. And they did it by relying on commitment, accountability, character and integrity. “I will never forget the lessons this journey taught me.”
Along his high school journey, Alex has earned a 3.99 GPA on a 4.0 scale to rank No. 2 in his class. He’s played four years of basketball and soccer, with two years of track & field and one of Scholastic Bowl. That goes along with four years as a class officer and four years of student council, Science Club, History Club, Catholic Athletes for Christ and TAG Club, three years of Spanish Club and two years of WYSE. He is a two-year member of the National Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar, and he was the first student from St. Anthony to win the National Trail conference scholarship.
As Carr concludes, “Alex is just an outstanding example of someone who has taken his abilities and worked extremely hard to make the most of them, making positive connections with people along the way.”
Alex Beesley represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 5 and his principal is Greg Fearday.
Bloomington (Central Catholic)
By any measure, Sarah Brady is a winner. But it’s the lessons learned—win or lose—that count for Sarah.
“From a young age I did every sport that was available to me,” Sarah says, listing basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming, diving, volleyball, and gymnastics among them. “Winning a match or game gave me a sense of pride and—at a young age—a sense of worth.”
As a high school student, however, Sarah found that success wasn’t about winning as much as it was about character, about “pride, grace, and determination.” She says, “Sports have taught me the importance of giving your all until the very end. Sports have taught me that hard work takes anyone leaps and bounds farther than talent.”
In high school, Sarah was a three-year starter on Bloomington Central Catholic basketball teams that took 2nd at state in 2017 and 3rd at state in 2015, with Honorable Mention All-State, 2nd team All-Area, All-Conference and WJBC Athlete of the Week honors. She also made it to state with BCC’s 4th place volleyball team in 2016 and played four years of soccer and two years of tennis, with one year as captain in volleyball and three years as captain in soccer. She has picked up awards for spirit in soccer and sportsmanship in volleyball, along with a “Saints” award for the latter.
Sarah sums up her experience this way: “Playing sports all these years has taught me that in the end my performance will not define me, my character will.”
Academically, she’s earned a 4.07 GPA on a 4.0 scale and she is an Illinois State Scholar. She’s spent four years in School Ambassadors, Vita Cristi, Interact Club, Bowling Club, the Uganda Well Project, where she served on the board, and on student council, where she was president. She is president and co-founder of a student mentoring program and vice president of the National Honor Society. As a freshman, she joined the pep band and, as a senior, served as an IHSA student advisor. Among her honors, she lists the Ray Kroc Award and Mu Alpha Theta.
“She is a leader both athletically and academically,” notes BCC counselor Kathryn Turner. “Her strong faith, determination, commitment, and sincere personality all contribute to her success.”
Sarah Brady represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 5 and her principal is Sean Foster.
At Williamsville High School, Cara Buckley has been consistently exceptional, extraordinary and outstanding. In academics, in sports, in fine arts, Cara has done it all.
On the academic side, Cara is ranked first in her class at Williamsville High School with a GPA of 4.77 on a 4.0 scale. She earned a 33 on the ACT and she is president of the Class of 2018 as well as president of National Honor Society.
“Cara’s personal strengths are as impressive as her intellectual accomplishments,” notes James Doerfler, her chemistry and physics teacher. “She is not only driven to understand how things work academically, but how things work outside of the classroom as well. She is an active participant in student council, Scholastic Bowl, and National Honor Society. In addition to being a member of the varsity cross country and track & field teams, she spends her available time volunteering at food drive, Special Olympics, and a wide variety of other charities.”
In addition to four years of track and cross country, Cara has competed in IHSA solo and ensemble music competitions and Scholastic Bowl throughout her high school career. Her Scholastic Bowl team took home the runner-up trophy at state last year, while her cross country teams placed 5th and 6th at the state meet the past two years and her music teams have finished 7th, 6th and 16th since 2015.
She participates in madrigals and vocal jazz, WYSE and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and she has played violin in the pit orchestra for her school’s musicals.
“Though I enjoyed all of the activities I have been involved in during my high school experience, including music, athletic, and student government, my time on the cross country team made the most profound impact on me,” Cara relates. She talks about time management and learning more about herself, about becoming a better communicator and leader, and about ultimately realizing she was capable of much more than she’d ever imagined.
“She always has a smile on her face and tries to brighten the day of her fellow students and teachers,” writes math teacher Aaron Kunz. “It is evident that the community and high school of Williamsville have both benefited greatly from all of Cara’s talents.”
Cara Buckley represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 6 and her principal is Doug Furlow.
What matters most to Jordyn Bunning is making a difference. “Over the past seven years,” Jordyn writes, “track & field, more than any other activity, has taught me how to make a difference through leadership, passion, and drive.”
“No matter the task, I could always count on Jordyn to accomplish it,” says Douglas Gerber, who taught Jordyn in A.P. Language and composition classes at Vernon Hills High School. “Whether she is leading the school as a treasurer or vice president of student council or in a video explaining Cougar expectations in our VHGIVE campaigns, Jordyn will get the job done.”
As a hurdler, Jordyn has leapt to the top of the pack. She was a state runner-up in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles as a junior last spring, with a 3rd place in the 300 hurdles the year before that. She ran on two 8th place relays in 2016, as well, and took 3rd in the 300 and 6th in the 100 hurdles as a freshman. She is the Vernon Hills record holder in four different hurdles events as well as the indoor pole vault and the 4x160-meter relay. As her track teams went 9th, 7th, and 10th at the state meet, Jordyn has honed her leadership skills by serving as captain of the team twice. She’s also been track MVP twice, once for jumps and once for sprints.
Her passion and drive have propelled her to qualify for the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics twice and the AAU Track & Field Outdoor National Championships. In addition to her four years of track & field, she’s played three years of volleyball and one each of basketball and cross country.
Jordyn earned a 34 composite on her ACT, a 1390 on her SAT and a 4.38 GPA on a 4.0 scale. She has been an officer all four years she’s been on student council and she is on the executive board of VHGIVE. She won a Sugarman Award for excellence in a foreign language, she played in the Vernon Hills High School band, and she even won the school talent show.
Assistant track & field coach Don Proft offers, “Jordyn has been a tremendous asset to our track & field team as an athlete, leader, and mentor. She has been equally successful academically and with other school activities. Jordyn sets very high standards for herself.”
Jordyn Bunning represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 2 and her principal is Dr. Jonathan Guillaume.
Chicago (Agricultural Sciences)
Rose Carroll attends an agricultural high school located on the south side of Chicago. She is aware that’s a little unusual, all by itself. And when you add sports to an agricultural high school on the south side of Chicago, it’s positively unique.
“Last year, my school’s girls track & field team did something absolutely incredible,” she writes. “We won the City of Chicago indoor championships.”
She also plays basketball at Agricultural Sciences and she only jumped into track in mid-season, after basketball was over. With no time to spare, Rose did everything she could to hit the ground running. Her strategy clearly worked. At the Chicago Public League city meet, Rose took gold in all three of her events—4x400 relay, 4x800 relay and 800-meters—helping the Cyclones win the Group C title. With that championship, Rose and her track team had made school history.
Her dedication to athletics is more than equaled by her academic prowess. She has achieved a 4.71 GPA on a 4.0 scale and she ranks No. 2 in her class. “Rose is truly an outstanding student,” says LaShawndra Pointer, CHSAS school counselor. “Excelling in all academic subjects is a daily goal.”
“She is a bright and articulate student who comes to class prepared and has a natural curiosity that drives her to go deeper into the material,” adds history teacher Brian McDowell.
An Illinois State Scholar with numerous awards in science and history fairs, Rose has participated in FFA, MANRRS, the Ronald McDonald Teen Advisory Board, Pro Labore Dei, After School Matters and a foreign exchange program to Japan. Somehow, she found space in her schedule for internships, volunteer opportunities and to represent CHSAS in national programs like EPIC Engineering at Cal Poly.
In addition to four years on the basketball and track teams, Rose ran one year of cross country. She served as captain of all three teams.
“She is one of the few students that I have come across that is truly brilliant and has a creative and innovative spirit,” McDowell concludes. “Rose is definitely going to go far in whatever endeavor she chooses.”
Rose Carroll represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 1 and her principal is William Hook.
Time is of the essence for every high school student. It’s especially important for a student-athlete like Alex Harvey, trying to balance school work, social activities and sports, and give every part of his life its due.
“As I progressed from lowly sophomore into an experienced senior, I learned how to effectively manage my time by prioritizing important tasks,” Alex says. “In concurrence with time management, I have learned the value of sacrifice.” As an example, he notes that often he would choose practice over of hanging out with friends, prioritizing his limited time and sacrificing for the good of the team. And he benefitted from the experience, bonding with coaches and teammates through their shared sacrifice.
Rochelle Township High School Athletic Director Kevin Crandall calls Alex “one of the finest young men I have had an opportunity to work with in my 33 years in education.” He adds, “Alex has a tremendous work ethic and has left no stone unturned in making the most of his abilities, both athletically and academically.”
Academically, Alex is No. 1 in his class with a 4.64 GPA on a 4.0 scale. He is a two-year member of the National Honor Society, including acting as treasurer. For all four years he has participated in Renaissance Gold Club and Natural Helpers. He’s also competed in WYSE and with the math team.
Athletically, he finished up as runner-up in the 195-pound weight class at the state wrestling meet this year and helped his Hubs team to a 4th place trophy in the dual team tournament in their first-ever state appearance. Alex finished 4th in 2017 at 182 pounds. Three times he has been named wrestling MVP at RTHS and four years he’s served as captain.
He also played football all four years, with one year as captain, plus one year of track. Outside IHSA sports, he competed in freestyle and Greco wrestling and earned a state championship in IWCOA wrestling. He has numerous honors in football, including being named All-State and
All-Conference as both a running back and linebacker.
“Everyone at RTHS, teachers and students alike, likes and respects Alex for his humble and always-ready-to-help attitude,” AD Crandall writes. “In short, Alex makes everyone around him better.”
Alex Harvey represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and his principal is Christopher R. Lewis.
Succeed and lead. For Alex Hermann, those two things go hand-in-hand.
If Alex started at Robinson High School as a shy freshman who kept to himself, it didn’t last long. He began to join clubs and go out for teams and before he knew it, he had developed strong friendships and stepped up as a leader. “When I joined the wrestling team my freshman year, the team had hit a low point in numbers and team ability,” he writes. There were few upperclassmen to look to, and Alex was quickly named captain. He stayed captain, but the team did not stay the same.
“We started my sophomore year with a 14-man team,” he notes. “This year we had around 35 people. This meant as I learned to lead, I had the privilege of leading more and more people.” His abilities grew as the team did, and Alex ended up with his school’s George Eastman Young Leaders Award.
Alex has earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and he ranks No. 1 in his class at Robinson High School. With four years of baseball and four years of wrestling, Alex is a true two-sport athlete. He is just as committed to his Scholastic Bowl team and the commitment has paid off—they’ve made it to state the past two years, taking home the 4th place trophy last year.
Alex says, “I have been blessed with many opportunities to succeed and lead.” President of the senior class, he’s also involved in yearbook, where he is senior editor, in band, where he is the percussion section leader, in Student Senate, chorus, math team, WYSE, FCA, and TEAMS, and he has been inducted into Beta Club, Robinson’s honor society.
Cynthia Schrey, head of the mathematics department at Robinson, describes her student as “dedicated, highly motivated, and committed to doing his best in all of his endeavors.”
Chemistry and physics teacher Shannon Goebel agrees. “Alex is truly the kind of student athlete that coaches dream to have, because he uses his gifts and talents to be a team leader,” she says. “He knows what is expected in order to achieve success and is able to communicate this to teammates in such a way that inspires them to reach for new heights. He leads by example and is the kind of student you want representing your school.”
Alex Hermann represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 5 and his principal is Victoria McDonald.
RACHEL E. HICKEY
Before her sophomore year, Rachel Hickey set a lofty goal for herself. She wanted to beat a two-time defending state champion and win a state title. And that’s exactly what she did.
“In late May of 2016,” she relates, “I circled the track in the 800-meter run faster than I had before, and crossed the finish line at O’Brien Stadium ahead of the pack. To say I was in shock is a tremendous understatement, for I was rendered completely speechless as I collapsed in utter joy.”
It wasn’t easy to get there, but Rachel was determined. She added one extra component to her workouts: the swimming pool. “I began practicing with my YMCA swim team for my seventh consecutive season,” she says. “Swimming has always held a special place in my heart, and I continue to benefit from this convenient method of cross-training.”
Rachel also excelled in the classroom, building a 5.10 GPA on a 4.0 scale. “Academically, Rachel soars above her peers,” writes Michele Honecker-Ummel, her English teacher at LaSalle-Peru. “Her level of intelligence, motivation for herself as well as others to succeed, and level of maturity are qualities possessed by only the top few students.”
She is also a senior officer in student council and president of FCA, and she participates in WYSE, Link Crew, Future Business Leaders of America and the Foreign Language Club. She was twice named Academic
All-Conference in both track and cross country, and she was selected for the LaSalle-Peru Honor Society and Rotary honors.
In addition to her state title in the 800, Rachel has finished as state runner-up in that event twice. She anchored the 4x400 relay to 5th and 6th place finishes at state and came in 12th in the 1600-meter run last spring. She’s also finished in the Top 20 twice at the state cross country meet, helping her team to 11th place overall her freshman year. Named News-Tribune Athlete of the Year twice, Cross Country Runner of the Year three times and Track Athlete of the Year twice, Rachel continues to soar.
“Rachel is a fearless competitor who takes her education and her future seriously,” says Honecker-Ummel. “Her determination and independence, along with her enthusiasm for new, challenging experiences, will certainly bode well for her future endeavors.”
Rachel E. Hickey represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and her principal is Stephanie Jeanblanc.
Lindsey Holhubner has set some amazing records at Vienna High School.
Most blocks in a game, season and career in basketball. Most points in a game. All-Conference in both basketball and volleyball. Associated Press All-State in basketball. Named to six All-Tournament teams.
Plus she has a perfect 5.0 GPA and she is in line to be class valedictorian.
But the first thing Lindsey talks about when she looks back at her high school career is not all those honors and accolades. Instead, she focuses on how much it meant to her as a nervous freshman when a senior reached out to show her the ropes, and how she has carried on the tradition by mentoring younger students and athletes herself.
“By playing sports, I have been taught that most people will not push away a helping hand, will embrace it, and welcome it,” she says.
“I have known Lindsey since she was a little girl,” writes Vienna guidance counselor Rhi Slife. “I quickly gathered that she goes above and beyond in all aspects of her life.”
Slife refers to Lindsey’s remarkable resume, the “perfect GPA while taking college level classes, playing multiple sports and participating in several clubs,” but she agrees that there is more to Lindsey than those achievements. As she refers to Lindsey’s “vibrant personality, enthusiasm and hardworking attitude,” Slife notes that Lindsey is “encouraging to others and has a great spirit on and off the court.”
Lindsey has played four years of both basketball and volleyball, serving as captain of the Vienna basketball squad last year. She is also a four-year member of the Scholastic Bowl team, with two years as captain, and she has participated in Pep Club, student council, Beta Club and WYSE. She is an officer in Pep Club and vice president of Beta Club, where she qualified for nationals in “quiz bowl” and math.
“She has spent her high school career soaking up all she can through educational opportunities,” says Leslie Bradley, Lindsey’s English teacher. “She has balanced that with fun and leadership opportunities with clubs and sports.”
Lindsey Holhubner represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 7 and her principal is Joshua Stafford.
What can trip up Danny Kilrea? Absolutely nothing. Not even two stress fractures, suffered as a freshman runner, could hold him back.
“My setback ended up sparking a new mindset,” Danny relates. After a lot of hard work off the track, creating his own workouts in the pool, pushing past his devastation over his injury, he learned a precious lesson: “My recovery taught me that for any endeavor I wish to achieve, all I need to do is step up to the line.”
In the end, he says that his injury was “quite possibly, the best thing that ever happened to me—I became a state champion and an
All-American cross country runner.”
Danny finished No. 1 in the 3A state cross country meet last fall, bettering his runner-up status from the year before. He added a 4th place in the 3200-meter run at the 2017 state track meet, along with contributing to three Top 5 teams at the state cross country meet and an 8th place team state finish in track & field in 2017. It should come as no surprise that he was named MVP three times in cross country and once in track and that he holds three different school records.
Twice a Nike Cross Nationals All-American as well as a Footlocker
All-American, Danny has also qualified for the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships and the Great Edinburgh Invitational Cross Country Challenge in Scotland. In the latter, his 5th place finish took top honors on Team USA.
His 5.13 GPA on a 5.0 scale and position as managing editor on the Lyons Township High School Lion newspaper show that Danny steps up to the line in multiple arenas. A member of the National Honor Society as well as Latin and Math Honor Societies, he serves as a peer tutor, secretary of the LT community advisory committee, and a member of ACE, or Athletes Committed to Excellence. He took home magna cum laude honors on a national Latin test, competed for two years on the speech team, where he earned a team spirit award, and has played three years of intramural soccer.
All that, and he is also, according to Lyons Township counselor Patrick King, “kind to others, friendly, and always looking for ways to become a better leader and a better person.”
Danny Kilrea represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 3 and his principal is Dr. Brian Waterman.
Eureka High School
For Eureka’s Tessa Leman, excellence is built upon extra.
“During my four years of high school, I have experienced the effects of putting in extra work outside of practice,” she says. “Shooting extra shots builds my confidence for the upcoming game, running that extra mile prepares me for the grueling fourth quarter when others are gasping for air, and hitting an extra bucket of softballs off the tee improves my batting form and muscle memory for game day.”
This year, Tessa’s Hornets won their basketball sectional, but she didn’t think she’d done all she could. Before their Super, she put up an extra 5,000 shots in practice, just to be sure. The result? Tessa ended the game with a team-high 29 points and 15 rebounds, sending the Hornets to the state finals. Eureka ultimately took the 4th place trophy, bringing home their first girls basketball state hardware ever. Along the way, Tessa broke Eureka’s individual scoring mark and helped her team set a new school record for wins.
During her four years of high school basketball, Tessa made both the AP and IBCA All-State 1st teams and she was named Peoria Journal Star small school Player of the Year to go with All-Conference and All-Area honors. In addition to basketball, she played four years of softball, earning All-Conference and ICA 3rd team All-State.
“Perhaps what distinguishes Tessa from other high-achieving students is her discipline; she is the most resolute and motivated young person I have ever encountered,” writes Eureka High School science teacher Matthew O’Hanlon.
Tessa is No. 1 in her class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is a two-year member of the National Honor Society and a four-year member of the FCA, with leadership responsibilities in both. She’s also involved with Eureka’s mentoring program and she is an Illinois State Scholar.
“Her commitment to academic success is confirmed by a catalog of noteworthy accolades. She was the recipient of 2016 Wildlife Biology Award, an honor reserved for the top biology student in the class. Similarly, Tessa was honored with the 2017 Spanish Award and she was the recipient of the Physical Education Award,” notes O’Hanlon.
Tessa has been accepted at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Tessa Leman represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and her principal is Richard Wherley.
“Today is a good day to run fast.”
On the November day Melissa Manetsch said those words to a teammate, it certainly didn’t seem like a good day, with a pervasive chill in the air and a promise of pain, mud and stiff competition at the state cross country meet. But to Melissa, every day she can run is a good day to run fast.
“Every workout she has a smile on her face,” notes Alison Reifenberg, assistant cross country and track coach at Libertyville High School. “I cannot recall a time that she has complained. She enjoys hard work, she enjoys the journey of training, and she is always asking to do more mileage, more repetitions, and to run faster times. She is highly motivated to succeed and to celebrate her love of the sport.”
It wasn’t always that way, but after an injury sidelined her, Melissa developed a new mindset. “My confidence is now based on effort rather than outcome,” she says. “I have found that when I am able to focus on doing my best, rather than obtaining a material definition of success, my life is dominated by joy, rather than a fear of defeat.”
That joy has expanded into many different areas. As Melissa puts it, “By replacing a need for validation with a love for learning, my running career has given me the courage to pursue independent scientific research and perform a trombone concerto in front of a large audience.”
In track, Melissa has two Top 10 finishes in the 3200-meter run at state and an 8th place in the cross country state meet. She’s made 3rd chair in the All-State orchestra and the All-State band with her trombone and she won the North Suburban Concerto contest. She has three “best of day” awards in solo and ensemble music contests, and she is principle trombonist in the symphonic winds orchestra, wind ensemble and pep band at Libertyville High School.
Melissa scored a 35 on her ACT and she has a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of the National Honor Society, she earned National Merit Honorable Mention, and she wrote an article that has been accepted for publication by the National High School Journal of Science. She is also a candidate for the Celebrating High School Innovators contest and she was named Science Student of the Month.
Melissa Manetsch represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 2 and her principal is Dr. Thomas Koulentes.
Rockford (Boylan Catholic)
Grace McLaughlin set a high goal for herself: She wanted to be a state champion.
“On May 19th, 2017, I achieved my goal,” Grace says. “I won not one, but two state championship races that day.”
She adds, “People only saw me sprint across the finish line in pure elation, but they did not see all the steps I took to achieve my goal.” She’d put in hours of running and thousands of pounds lifted as she learned to make her arduous training and drills as efficient as possible without pushing too far, and to be creative in finding ways to combat stress and keep a mental edge.
“All the effort I put into achieving my goal was worth it,” Grace concludes. “I will never forget the feeling of standing on the podium knowing I had put in all the work to get there. Winning was fun, but my favorite part of the experience ended up being the process of getting there.”
Grace has competed in four years of track and cross country, winning the 1600-meter run and the 3200-meters last spring at the state meet and helping her teams to 10th and 5th place finishes overall the past two years. Grace also has runner-up and 8th place medals in the 3200 from previous trips to state. She finished 11th in the 2A cross country field as a sophomore and moved up to 5th as a junior. Along with setting a school record in the 3200-meters, she’s been named both track and cross country “Rookie of the Year” and MVP. She was invited to the Foot Locker Cross Country All-Midwest competition and the New Balance Nationals in the 5K and two-mile runs.
On the academic side, she’s earned a 4.80 GPA on a 4.0 scale at Rockford Boylan, putting her at the top of her class. She’s worked on Students Assisting Relief Organizations for four years, including stints as secretary and VP, and she is a two-year member of the National Honor Society and Key Club and twice a class representative. She’s also been named Northern Illinois Conference Scholar Athlete four times.
“Grace’s goal is not only to run cross country for the University of Utah,” writes Boylan social science teacher Lindsay Mertes. “She also plans on majoring in Kinesiology and hopes to work as a sports psychologist.”
Grace McLaughlin represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and her principal is Chris Rozanski.
Chicago (St. Ignatius College Prep)
When you run at the head of the pack, it can be easy to lose track of the people behind you. That is not Michael OBroin’s way.
In 2016, he was the lone state qualifier for the St. Ignatius cross country team, but he brought his teammates with him on his journey nonetheless. “For me and my teammates, we run not for any individual goals, but for each other,” he says. “I’ve realized that if you’re seeking to do something, there’s no way to do it but working hard, and no better reason than doing it for others.”
His teachers and coaches laud him as an excellent mentor and knowledgeable resource for other students and they note what an asset he has been for St. Ignatius, whether it’s leading teammates during summer cross country camp, mentoring other students in the Computer Science Club, or creating new software to automate final exams or take attendance at school events.
Michael is at the top of his class with a 4.18 GPA on a 4.0 scale after having pursued the hardest academic program his school offers, including nine AP classes. He earned a 35 on his ACT.
MVP and captain of the cross country team the past two years, Michael qualified for state both times, finishing 12th among 3A runners last fall. As a senior, he won the Chicago Catholic League championship and was selected by conference coaches for the Lawless Award as the top runner in the Catholic League. He also finished in second place at the prestigious First to the Finish Invitational at Detweiller Park last September.
In addition to track & field and cross country, Michael has a year of soccer and two years of Scholastic Bowl on his resume, as he served on the executive board of the Computer Science Club, participated in National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society, and competed in the Science Olympiad, math team and the Economics Challenge Team.
“Cross country and track boys, I often tell parents, are the boys you want your boys to be friends with,” writes Ed Ernst, who teaches English and coaches track and cross country at St. Ignatius. “Michael is definitely one of those boys.”
Michael OBroin represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 1 and his principal is Brianna Latko.
Freeburg’s Charlie Parrish is the epitome of a champion. He has achieved the highest academic excellence along with “tremendous athletic accomplishments.” He’s a winner in every way. But it was coming in second that made Charlie most proud.
“While my four years at FCHS have been filled with plenty of fine memories, the biggest achievement for me was the disappointment of being runner-up as a team in the 2016 IHSA 1A cross country state meet,” he says.
“Freeburg had never won a team state trophy in boys or girls cross country,” Charlie explains. After his team finished 8th in 2015, with all seven state runners returning for another try, they made a state championship their goal. There were injuries and team chemistry issues, but by the time the state meet rolled around, they were ready. After numerous championships, school records and a No. 1 ranking in state cross country polls, they had their eyes on the top prize. But it wasn’t to be. When the dust had settled, they had finished second.
It was a disappointment, but in the end, Charlie says, “Being the second-best team in the state was a tremendous accomplishment because it showed how far we had made it and our true character of champions.”
At Freeburg, Charlie has run four years of track and cross country, serving as captain of each team twice. His cross country teams moved up from 14th to 8th at state before taking home the runner-up trophy, adding a 9th place finish last fall. As an individual, Charlie has crossed the finish line in 13th and 7th place in cross country, with a 7th place in the 3200-meter run at the state track meet.
He’s earned a 5.23 GPA on a 5.0 scale and he is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Club, WYSE, FCA and his school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America group. He is also an Illinois State Scholar.
Freeburg coach and teacher Carl Florczyk sums up his student this way: “Charlie is one of the most respectful, kind, intelligent, and hardworking individuals I have ever worked with.” He adds, “It has been an absolute honor to work with Charlie!”
Charles Parrish represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 7 and his principal is Jill Jung.
Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West)
If life is a race, Lindsey Payne is off and running. Not to collect medals or trophies or applause. But to embrace who she is and what she can be.
Starting her junior year at Glenbard West, Lindsey looked back on two 2nd place finishes at the state cross country meet and a state championship in the 3200-meter run in track. “Lindsey was the prohibitive favorite to win both events her junior year,” note track and cross country coaches Kelly and Paul Hass. But then new competition arose when a talented freshman joined the Hilltopper team.
It was challenging for Lindsey to suddenly find herself running behind someone else, but also, she concludes, necessary for her personal growth. The Hasses tell us that “Lindsey truly embraced her new freshman teammate and enthusiastically provided her with advice and support.” After her team won the 3A state title in cross country, Lindsey knew she’d made the right choice. She says, “The joy of that moment has surpassed every national showing or state runner-up performance on my resume.”
Over her time at Glenbard West, Lindsey has collected eight state medals, including two 2nd place and two 5th place showings in cross country to go with 1st and 2nd in the 3200 and 7th and 9th in the 1600 in track. She was invited to run in national Nike and Footlocker cross country competitions.
Off the track, she has earned a 5.71 GPA on a 5.0 scale and won awards for poetry, English, physics and social studies. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society, the FCA, Chicago Poets and Patrons Society, West Students for the Disabled, Yearbook Club, and Target Success. She has also acted as a writing tutor and captain of the cross country team.
It’s that combination of disparate interests that makes her unique. Lindsey hopes to continue her studies at Stanford University to major in astrophysics and minor in creative writing.
“How many aspiring astrophysicists do you know that also happen to be award-winning poets and nationally ranked runners?” asks C. Joseph Opp, her English teacher. “I know one, and her name is Lindsey Payne.”
Lindsey Payne represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 3 and her principal is Peter Monaghan.
Rock Island (Alleman)
Dream bigger. Work harder. Never give up. Through all of her high school ups and downs, Addie Pulley has learned just how she wants to live her life.
“As a young freshman I joined the cross country team without a clue of the experiences I would have over the next four years,” she says. “A sport I originally joined to be with my friends has become part of my identity and has shaped me into who I am today.”
Addie made the decision to try an elite running camp as a sophomore, even though she fully expected to be the slowest person there. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she’s ever made. “Those two weeks in the mountains of Colorado allowed me to become friends with kids from all over the world, to be coached by some of the best runners in the country, and as a result transformed my view of the world,” Addie offers. Ultimately, the opportunity “gave me a chance to not only learn how to run, but how to live my life relentlessly.”
Addie held onto those lessons when she suffered a stress fracture in her hip, putting her running on hold for nine long months. “Going into my senior year I didn’t know what the cross country season would bring,” she writes, “but I made the decision to do what I love and give it my best shot.”
Her team’s MVP four times, Addie qualified for the state meet in cross country as a freshman and this year she not only broke Rock Island Alleman’s three-mile record—twice—but finished in 19th place at the state meet to earn All-State honors. She also qualified for the state track meet twice in the 4x800 relay. She has been named Dispatch-Argus Runner of the Year and Metro Pacesetter as well as ILXCTF.com 2A Most Improved Girls Runner of the Year and All-Conference Runner of the Year, and she qualified for the Nike Cross Regional Championships.
No. 1 in her class with a 4.83 GPA on a 4.0 scale, Addie scored a 33 on her ACT. She has served as secretary and VP of student council, an advisory board member for Sigma Alpha Delta, event chair for an annual blood drive, committee chair of the student hunger drive, and a four-year member of Key Club. She’s also stepped up as logistics team captain for Alleman’s dance marathon, helping raise over $120,000 for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Addie Pulley represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and her principal is David Hobin.
“A step ahead” is right where Harrison Shapiro wants to be.
He earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and a perfect 1600 on his SAT, putting him at the head of the class. He’s a runner who trains hard to finish in front. He’s also a proficient coder, a research intern for two different molecular engineering professors at the University of Chicago, web designer for a green energy charity, and a fierce competitor in Science Olympiad, WYSE, and Model United Nations.
There’s no question whether Harrison will succeed in college—he already has. In addition to taking the most rigorous courses University High School has to offer, Harrison is taking Honors Calculus and Honors Mechanics at the University of Chicago, only one class short of the semester load carried by the full-time college students in those classes.
With all of that, it’s the Model UN that has really lit Harrison’s fire. Of the 14 conferences Harrison has attended with the University High team, he has won individual awards in all 14, plus he led the team to 1st place finishes at both Princeton and Harvard. He’s acted as treasurer, executive board member, crisis staffer and director, and this year, Attorney General. He notes that over four years, he has “honed the art of crisis committees,” put in hours and hours of research to get the edge in historical simulations, learned the critical skill of improvisation, and worked tirelessly with underclassmen to keep the team running in the future.
Counselor Melissa Meltzer Warehall calls Harrison a Renaissance Man, and that’s easy to see on his resume. He placed first in the Illinois Science Olympiad state championships in Hydrogeology and Geocaching, earned three different awards in Spanish, published an article about the Suez Canal in The Concord Review, designed a new type of “micro-Gaussian surface for microscale biaxial deformation of three-atom-thick semiconductor films,” won his cross country team’s Coaches’ Award, presented a paper at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers conference, and serves as Editor in Chief at the Inflame History & Economics Journal. He also enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking and distance running.
Warehall sums up her student: “For his eagerness to share his intellectual gifts with others, his passion for discovery and his brilliant mind,
I commend to you Harrison Shapiro.”
Harrison Shapiro represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 1 and his principal is Stephanie Weber.
When your name is Arielle Summitt, no height is too high to climb.
Arielle came into Urbana’s University High already a state champion, with 1st place finishes in both the 800 and 1600-meter runs in IESA competition. She followed that up as a two-time IHSA state champion in the 800-meters, improving on her 6th in the 1600-meters as a sophomore by making it to runner-up last spring. And she took 8th place at state in the 400 as a sophomore, too. She finished 3rd in the 1A field in cross country her freshman and sophomore years on state runner-up teams. When the Uni High cross country team was moved up to 2A, Arielle faced personal challenges with injuries and fell farther back in the pack. But she pushed herself to come back, finishing 9th at the 2A state meet last fall. Three-time MVP on her cross country team and two-time MVP in track, she won Uni High’s Tough Illinek Award for dedication and toughness to go along with the seven varsity letters she’s earned so far. Arielle was named Cross Country Runner of the Year in both 2014 and 2015 and Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2017 by the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and she is a four-time member of their All-Area 1st team in cross country and two-time member of their All-Area 1st team in track.
The list of her honors and achievements is as varied as it is amazing. She has competed—and succeeded—at the highest levels, as a record-setting state champion in the 800 in the Illinois Junior Olympics, winner and runner-up in area and national triathlons, and two-time qualifier in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. She is also an AP Scholar with Honor, National Merit Semifinalist, Wendy’s High School Heisman state finalist, ICTM math state qualifier, Science Olympiad state qualifier, award-winner in national Latin and Spanish exams, top-flight competitor in WYSE in biology and math, and an Illinois State Scholar. She scored a 35 on her ACT and she is at the head of her class with a perfect 4.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
All of that and she’s still found time to share her talents with the Habitat for Humanity Club, EnList Student Teaching and working as a peer college counselor.
“You can see all of Arielle’s accomplishments, athletic and academic or service-oriented, but you can’t see the effect she has on others around her,” says Doug Mynatt, her coach for track & field and cross country. “She challenged me to be a better coach and she will no doubt have the same effect on everyone lucky enough to work with her in the future.”
Arielle Summitt represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 5 and her principal is Dr. Jeanette Nuckolls.
Edwin Suresh has so many sports and activities on his schedule it’s hard to keep track. But for Edwin, each and every one is a vital part of who he is.
First, there’s soccer. Playing multiple positions, Edwin began to see different perspectives. After tough defeats, he found humility. After tough victories, he knew what it meant to fight and win against the odds.
In track, he added perseverance and patience to his skillset, while math improved his analytical abilities and chess gave him unwavering focus, the ability to plan ahead and a vow never to make the same mistake twice. From Speech Team, he learned to think on his feet and engage an audience. As a leader in Business Professionals of America (BPA), he picked up financial skills and how to work with others to create solutions. Playing the clarinet, he found the beauty of making art through music. “Marching band,” he says, “taught me to stay disciplined, while pep band taught me to let loose.”
In the end, Edwin is very sure how it all adds up. “Take away any one of my sports or activities, and I would be a completely different person,” he concludes. “Each one has taught me in a unique way, and given me a new way to learn about myself, others, and the world around me.”
An Illinois State Scholar, National AP Scholar and National Merit Semifinalist, Edwin earned a perfect 36 on his ACT and a 1570 on his SAT to go with his 5.06 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
He has four years of soccer, track & field, chess, speech, band and math competitions on his high school resume, and he’s won awards and honors in most of them. He also participated in three years of BPA, including a No. 3 finish in the nation in the Personal Financial Management category, Spanish Honor Society, WYSE and a year on the Scholastic Bowl team. His chess teams have been to state all four of his high school years, with Edwin as captain for three of them. He also stepped up as a student ambassador and freshman mentor.
“He is the most humble and well-rounded student I have ever had the pleasure of working with in my career,” writes science teacher Thomas Letzel. “His accomplishments only begin to shed light on what an exceptional person he is.”
Edwin Suresh represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 2 and his principal is Timothy J. Little.
“Bang! The race was off!” And Alexander Tam was ready to run.
Alex isn’t talking about a race in cross country or track, however. He means high school. “The first day of high school was hectic,” Alex writes. “Everybody was jostling for position, not entirely sure where they fit in, how they would do, or where to go.” With his experience as a cross country and track runner, Alex knew he had an advantage, even as a brand-new, untested freshman. “Running acted as a catalyst for me to be confident, to learn how to make friends who, in turn, helped me determine how I was going to run the rest of my race through high school.”
As he looks forward to crossing one more finish line—graduation—Alex can reflect on a high school race well run. He’s put in four years of track and cross country, with two trips to the state cross country meet, finishing 15th last fall, and one to state in track to run the 1600-meters. He has served as captain of both teams and he owns Libertyville High School’s record in the 1600.
Alex has earned a 3.97 GPA on a 4.0 scale, a Science Star award, and four years of honor roll. His fellow students elected him to Homecoming Honor Court and Turnabout Court.
To round out his high school experience, Alex added one year of swim team, four years of FCA, three years of math team, and two of WYSE and “Life of a Wildcat,” Libertyville’s student wellness initiative. Alex has stepped up to serve in leadership positions in both FCA and LoW.
“Alex demonstrates creativity along with outstanding critical thinking and problem-solving skills. He is a dedicated and disciplined student who somehow manages to balance a full schedule of sports and extracurricular activities, along with a rigorous course load that currently includes five AP classes,” says Teresa Elmore, his computer science teacher.
But it is his personality that really stands out for Ms. Elmore. “Alex Tam is without a doubt one of the most delightful students I’ve ever had the privilege to teach,” she says. “Alex absolutely lights up the room each and every morning when he walks into my classroom.”
Alexander Tam represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 2 and his principal is Dr. Thomas Koulentes.
ELI TEN EYCK
For Eli Ten Eyck, life is all about the possibilities.
He’s aware that it can be rewarding to focus on just one area in high school, to achieve and advance with that “one thing.” But, says Eli, “I think personal growth is enhanced when we explore all the possibilities and activities available to us—seeking achievement in each one.”
Eli has put that idea into practice at Pittsfield High School, with a whirlwind of activities and accomplishments. “As a natural competitor,
I don’t like to give partial efforts,” he says. “When I commit to an activity, I commit wholeheartedly.”
The depth of his commitment is reflected all over his resume, with four years of track and cross country and three years as captain with each team, plus state appearances in both sports in 2016 and 2017; four years of student council, including stints as president and secretary; four years of mock trial, where he acted as lead attorney; four years of swing choir, jazz band and Pike County Honor Band, earning first chair in the latter two; two years of National Honor Society, where he served as president; two years of solo and ensemble music competitions; two years of math team; and two years of Rotary Interact, acting as vice president and International Chair.
His GPA of 5.18 on a 5.0 scale makes him No. 1 in his class and he earned a 33 on his ACT. He’s also been named a Wendy’s Heisman state finalist, All-Area Boys Runner of the Year in 2016, an Illinois State Scholar, and an oration champion and model citizen at Illinois Boys Premier State, among many other honors. He holds school records in three different events, and he placed second overall in the 1600-meter run at the state track meet last year.
“As an athlete, he is the epitome of what you want in a runner,” writes Pittsfield track & field coach Adam Singler, calling Eli “a benchmark for our program.” Singler continues, “As an overall individual, Eli shines just as bright as he does with the spikes on.”
Cassie Wassell, Eli’s English teacher, agrees. “I can honestly say that in 10 years of teaching I have never come across a student with his intellect and drive for success. He truly is one of a kind.”
Eli Ten Eyck represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 6 and his principal is Angie Greger.
Francesca Verville’s accomplishments are amazing.
No. 1 in her class at Dunlap High School with a perfect 4.0 GPA. All-State in cross country all four years of high school. Four medals at the state track meet, including 2nd in the 3200-meters and 3rd in the 1600 last spring. Earned a 35 on her ACT and 1530 on her SAT. Class president three years in a row. Student body president. National Merit Commended Scholar. Cross country MVP three times. An integral part of Dunlap’s state champion teams in both track and cross country, as well as 2nd and 3rd place cross country teams at state before that.
In addition to all that, Franny competed in WYSE all the way to state in physics and English, she was selected for the Hugh O’Brien Youth leadership program, and she received her school’s Daughter of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award.
But those accolades and honors are not what Franny counts as her biggest achievement. “Over the course of my high school career,” Franny writes, “I have put in my fair share of community service hours. However, out of all this volunteering, the achievement I am most proud of dealt with my role as student body president in a massive fundraiser I helped organize at my high school for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.”
Sitting in the lunch room at Dunlap High School, Franny watched the hurricane news on TV. She quickly met with her principal to see what could be done. First they put together student fundraisers and solicited donations at a football game. Principal Scott Adreon knew a Dunlap alum teaching at a flooded school in Houston, and they filled two band trailers with supplies, which Principal Adreon personally accompanied to Houston. “The videos and thanks he brought back from the students and parents of the affected school were extremely validating,” Franny says. “Overall, I am grateful that I was able to be a contributing part.”
“Franny is an energetic young lady with a positive attitude who has grown to be a great role model for younger students and athletes,” says Dunlap athletic director Kate Cazalet.
“Though she has been blessed with many gifts, I’m most impressed with Franny’s ability to prioritize her life, her leadership abilities, the quality of her character, and her unrelenting determination,” writes Principal Adreon. “She truly is an incredible person!”
Francesca Verville represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and her principal is Scott Adreon.
Balance is crucial in the sport of wrestling. And balance shows up in every aspect of Zach Williard’s life.
Zach knows how to balance athletics with academics, teamwork with individual achievement, adversity with success.
In the classroom at Carbondale Community High School, Zach has earned a 4.28 GPA on a 4.0 scale, with high honors every year, he is an Illinois State Scholar, and he scored a 33 on his ACT. “Zach is truly gifted academically,” writes Michael W. Butler, Zach’s government teacher as well as his soccer coach.
Zach has also put in four years of student council and he was elected treasurer of the senior class at Carbondale. He also participates in the National Honor Society, Lifesavers, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where he is a lesson leader.
As an athlete, Zach has balanced four years of wrestling, including two as captain, with four years of soccer, where he served as captain once. He has seen a great deal of success in wrestling, but it didn’t come easily, even though he qualified for the state tournament as a sophomore. “Unfortunately,” he recalls, “I lost both of my matches.”
He didn’t stop there, however. “These losses taught me persistence and how to overcome adversity. I was motivated to work harder and improve during the off season,” he says. He returned to the state tournament as a junior, determined to place. “I wrestled my best matches of the year and ended up placing third.” In February, Zach wrestled his way to state for the third time, once again finishing his season with a victory and taking home the third-place medal.
In addition to that state medal, Zach has been named 1st Team All-Conference all four years in wrestling, and he qualified for national competition in Greco-Roman wrestling. In soccer, he earned 1st Team All-Conference honors as a senior and 2nd Team All-Conference as a junior, and he took home his school’s Soccer Senior Leadership Award.
“Zach is one of the most unique people I have ever met,” Butler notes. “Quiet by nature at first, he is actually bold, original, and filled with life once you get to know him. He truly cares for those around him and is an outstanding and encouraging teammate.”
Zach Williard represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 7 and his principal is Daniel Booth.
Samuel Winter takes two lessons away from his high school competitions: Give 100% effort. And have fun.
“One lesson I have learned is that I should always put my full effort into whatever I am doing even if it’s something I really don’t like,” he writes, citing a grueling double practice day in soccer as something he doesn’t enjoy, but knows is worth the effort.
“On the soccer field, Sam was a great teammate,” writes Heather Alders, activities director at Stillman Valley High School. “He showed leadership by embracing his role and accepting his position on the team. When his name was called, he was ready, gave maximum effort, and supported his teammates in every way imaginable.”
As for fun… “During Scholastic Bowl matches, my team is always cracking little jokes and laughing with each other,” Sam says. The laughter kept everyone relaxed and working that much harder as it added to the “fun” quotient for Scholastic Bowl.
“Samuel consistently volunteers his time serving his community and has earned the prestigious Eagle Scout rank for his selfless efforts,” notes Stillman Valley principal Leslie A. Showers. “His approach to servant leadership is evident not only in his many extracurricular endeavors, but also in his sincere desire to challenge and encourage his peers.”
Sam is valedictorian of his class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He scored a 35 composite on his ACT and he is an Illinois State Scholar, National Merit Scholar candidate, two-year member of the National Honor Society, and winner of his school’s Sons of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. He also won a Boy Scouts of America scholarship.
In addition to four years of soccer and four of Scholastic Bowl, Sam has participated in WYSE, math team, and the Hugh O’Brien Youth leadership program, as well as marching band and Illinois Music Educators Association competitions with his French horn.
He has already been accepted at both the University of Illinois and Iowa State University to study aeronautical engineering. Principal Showers offers this last word on his future: “Samuel embodies a distinct skill set and level of integrity that I am certain will empower him to be a success in any pursuit.”
Samuel Winter represents IHSA Board of Directors Division No. 4 and his principal is Leslie A. Showers.