Scholars & Athletes 2017: Class B

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 13, 2017

The MHSAA has selected nine student-athletes from Class B member schools to receive scholarships through the MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program.  

Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 28th year of sponsoring the award, will give $1,000 college scholarships to 32 individuals who represent their member schools in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament. The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; also, there are two at-large honorees which can come from any classification.

Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

Each of the scholarship recipients will be honored at halftime ceremonies of the Class C Boys Basketball Final game March 25 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing. Commemorative medallions will be given to the finalists in recognition of their accomplishments.

The Class B Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Michael Bian, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood; Morgan Colling, Houghton; Jasmine Harper, Clare; Sasha Hartje, Detroit Country Day; Brayden Huddleston, Benzonia Benzie Central; Adam Kozinski, Edwardsburg; Tait Morrissey, Big Rapids; Kim Anh Nguyen, Wyoming Kelloggsville; and Emma Nowak, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.

Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class B Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay also is included:

Morgan Colling

Played four years of varsity basketball and ran two years each of varsity cross country and track & field, plus played two seasons of subvarsity volleyball. Qualified for the MHSAA Finals twice in both cross country and track and earned all-league recognition in basketball while helping that team to three league and two District titles during her first three seasons. Served as cross country and basketball captain. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and third of student government and key club. Serving as service project coordinator chair for NHS and vice president for key club, and has volunteered with Salvation Army and Copper Country Humane Society all four years of high school. Participated two years in Junior State of America and studied during the summer of 2016 in Hiroshima, Japan, after winning a Japan-America Friendship Scholarship. Will study microbiology at California Polytechnic State University.

Essay Quote: “When my vision cleared and I saw the winning team, overjoyed and grinning ear-to-ear, something inside me mended. I recognized the look on their faces; I had seen it many times before on my own teammates. It was then that I realized that the only difference between my team, and theirs, was our uniforms. As fellow basketball players, we shared the same passion, determination and yearning for success.”

Jasmine Harper

Ran four year of varsity cross country and will run her fourth of track & field, and has broken a total of four school records while earning a combined 10 all-state honors in those sports. Selected as the top academic all-state cross country athlete in Lower Peninsula Division 3 as a junior and capped her career this past fall by finishing ninth at the MHSAA Final in that division. Served as captain of both teams and ran for Michigan at the 2016 Mid-East Meet of Champions. Participated two years each in National Honor Society and student government, as her class president both years of the latter. Also participated in marching and symphonic band all four years of high school and theater for three years; earned 10 state merit awards and two national fourth-place finishes from the National Youth Ministries’ National Fine Arts Festival. Also served in leadership roles in her local Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Will attend Spring Arbor University and study elementary education. 

Essay Quote: “I was the conference champion my freshman year of cross country, but illness and injuries prevented me from keeping that title the next three years. I experienced what it was like to have a younger teammate beat me. But, I was reminded to treat everyone the same, whether I won or lost.”

Sasha Hartje
Detroit Country Day

Played three seasons of varsity volleyball and will pay her fourth of tennis and second of soccer this spring. Won Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship at No. 1 singles in 2016 after finishing runner-up in 2015, also leading Country Day to the team title. Earned all-state honors in tennis three times and all-region honorable mention in volleyball; served as captain of both teams and earned her school’s Scholar Athlete Award in 2016. Also plays ice hockey and was part of the 2014 bantam major national championship team, and serves as captain of her Little Caesars AAA hockey club. Serves as president of her school’s Current Events Club and lead instructor and coordinator for “Skate to be Great” in addition to volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Will attend Emory University in Georgia and major in pre-medical studies.

Essay Quote: “Over the years, these lessons I have been taught on the tennis court have rounded out not only my athletic education, but more importantly, my life. The lessons of sportsmanship and fair play on the field of battle, in the classroom or outside of both sports and school are always the same and carry the true measure of success.”

Kim Anh Nguyen
Wyoming Kelloggsville

Participated in varsity competitive cheer for three seasons, played two of varsity tennis and one of varsity volleyball. Earned all-conference honors in cheer as a sophomore and junior while helping her teams to league titles both seasons; served as captain of cheer and junior varsity volleyball teams. Participating in fourth year of student government and third of National Honor Society and is serving as president both of her class and NHS chapter. Also has participated in marching band four years including as drum major and for three years on her school’s Athletic Leadership Council. Will attend University of Michigan and study biochemistry.

Essay Quote: “When I am in a gym full of teams from all over the state, I see girls of different backgrounds, all wearing different uniforms. Despite this, we are unified by the same adrenaline that pumps through our veins as we approach an empty mat and staring faces. We are bound by the same passion and breathe as one before we perform. This sense of unity would not be possible without sportsmanship, for it creates memories that extend beyond titles and trophies.”

Emma Nowak
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard

Played three seasons of varsity volleyball and will play her fourth of softball; also played freshman basketball. Started as setter of the volleyball team that finished 42-0 and won the Class B title in 2015 and three District and two Regional titles overall during her time on varsity; also expects to start at shortstop for her fourth season and helped her team to its first Detroit Catholic League title in 2015. Earned all-league honors in both sports, all-District in softball and all-Region in volleyball, and captained teams in all three of her high school sports and club volleyball. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and serves or has served in leadership positions for a number of efforts in her school and church including Be Love Revolution and as part of the Pine Hills Camp service team. Carries a 3.97 grade-point average and has earned multiple academic awards. Remains undecided on where she will attend college but intends to pursue studies in the medical field.

Essay Quote: “I have always been taught to compete hard, while respecting my opponent. What I have come to learn is you can also befriend your opponent and still compete every bit as hard … and that sportsmanship in athletics can lead to friendships and memories that I will always cherish.”

Michael Bian
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood

Played four seasons of varsity tennis, winning an individual Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship at No. 1 doubles in the fall after finishing runner-up at No. 3 singles twice; helped Cranbrook Kingswood to MHSAA team titles in both 2015 and 2016 and served as captain as a senior. Earned all-state recognition the last three seasons and his team earned all-academic honors as well the last three years. Also has participated on robotics and quiz bowl teams the last four years, helping robotics team to a state championship and VEX World Championship qualification three times. Serving as vice president of senior class while in fourth year of student government and is co-founder and president of his school’s philosophy club; also has been president of robotics and quiz bowl teams and of his school’s Future Business Leaders & Economists and Science & Engineering clubs. Named National Consumers League LifeSmarts state champion and ranked as ninth-best debater at 2016 state finals. Remains undecided where he will attend college, but intends to study philosophy, economics or political science. 

Essay Quote: “One of the greatest myths we hear about sportsmanship is that it is purely altruistic – that those who engage in it have nothing to gain. On the contrary, those who display sportsmanship gain important virtues.”

Brayden Huddleston
Benzonia Benzie Central

Ran four seasons of cross country, will run his fourth of track & field and played two seasons of varsity basketball. Earned all-state honors all four years of cross country, finishing seventh in Lower Peninsula Division 3 as a senior, and helped that team to two MHSAA championships. Also earned all-state five times in track and helped the basketball team to a District title, and has captained all three teams. Participating in second year of both National Honor Society and National Technological Honors Society; named “Student of the Year” at Traverse City’s Manufacturing Technology Academy. Serves as vice president of Interact Club which has raised more than $10,000 toward polio and multiple sclerosis research and has participated in “Back the Track” foundation that has raised more than $140,000. Will attend Bradley University and study mechanical engineering.

Essay Quote: “One of my biggest role models was a runner from another team. I remember watching, as a freshman, him dominate the field. It wasn’t how fast he ran or the distance he put on the second-place kid that made him stick out to me. … He was modest, never wanting to talk about himself. He had a way of making you feel just as fast or (like you had) the same potential as he did. At these realizations, I aspired to model my athletic career after him.”

Adam Kozinski

Played three seasons of varsity soccer and basketball and will play his third of varsity golf; also played a season of varsity tennis. Earned all-league honors in basketball and tennis and academic all-state in basketball and soccer while his team earned academic all-state in golf. Helped his basketball team to two District titles and has served as a captain of the soccer, basketball and golf teams. Serves as secretary of his National Honor Society chapter and as a committee chairperson for Students Against Destructive Decisions. Assisted in NHS fundraising of more than $30,000 for “Operation Christmas” event to benefit less-fortunate families and represented his school at a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference. Has volunteered at a local food pantry and churches and serves as Sunday morning head chef at University of Notre Dame’s Corby Hall, where he prepares meals for priests. Will attend Central Michigan University and study business.

Essay Quote: “Having an opportunity to play varsity sports since my freshman year, I have experienced a variety of ways senior and junior teammates treat underclassmen. Throughout the years, I have observed seniors that are very positive and uplifting to underclassmen, but then some other senior teammates are negative. … I decided when I was a senior, I would try to be the most positive and encouraging teammate on the team.”

Tait Morrissey
Big Rapids

Played four seasons of varsity tennis, two of varsity basketball and will play his fourth of varsity golf this spring. Earned all-conference honors in golf his first three seasons and helped that team to league, District and Regional championships and a third-place MHSAA Finals finish last season. Also helped his basketball team to league, District and Regional titles and a Class B Semifinal berth in 2016. Earned academic all-state honors in tennis his last two seasons; served as captain of that team and will serve as golf captain this spring. Serving second year as his class’ vice president and also has served as a representative for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Mecosta County Youth Advisory Council and his schools “Climate Crew” and in a number of leadership roles including as patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Participating in National Honor Society, key club, Students Against Destructive Decisions and attended American Legion Boys State in 2016. Also is a member of the Boy Scouts’ Order of the Arrow honor society. Will attend Alma College and major in pre-medical studies. 

Essay Quote: “Although high school athletics are highly competitive, and emotions tend to run high, standard values such as sportsmanship are necessary in order to embrace and give meaning to the event. In turn, athletes learn integrity, ethics and values.” 

Other Class B girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Michel Faliski, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood; Madeline Filiatraut, Dearborn Divine Child; Noelle Kraus, Edwardsburg; Peyton Rellinger, Gladwin; Lindsey Shearer, Gladwin; Erika Freyhof, Hamilton; Haley Heldt, Midland Bullock Creek; Megan Aalberts, Otsego; Raechel K. McKiernan, Richmond; Kylie Hutchinson, Shepherd; and Gabrielle Smith, Yale.

Other Class B boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Michael J. Gussert, Cadillac; Christopher A. Roush, Chelsea; Collin Lieber, Croswell-Lexington; Evan Latham, Dearborn Divine Child; Patrick Johns, Marine City; Richard Dominick Reo III, Paw Paw; Brendan Gered Fraser, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep; Ryley Alaspa, Sault Ste. Marie; Ryan Sanderson, Sault Ste. Marie; Josef Hissom, Spring Lake; Andrew D. Marten, Tecumseh; and Cade Smeznik, Yale.

The Class C and D scholarship award recipients were announced Feb. 7, and the Class A honorees will be announced Feb. 21.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan was founded in 1949 by Michigan farmers who wanted an insurance company that worked as hard as they did. Those values still guide the company today and are a big reason why it is known as Michigan’s Insurance Company, dedicated to protecting the farms, families, and businesses of this great state. Farm Bureau Insurance agents across Michigan provide a full range of insurance services — life, home, auto, farm, business, retirement, Lake Estate®, and more — protecting nearly 500,000 Michigan policyholders.

Finalists Announced for 2022-23 MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 18, 2023

The 120 finalists for the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Scholar-Athlete Awards for the 2022-23 school year, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance, have been announced.

The program, in its 34th year, has recognized student-athletes since the 1989-90 school year and again this winter will honor 32 individuals from MHSAA member schools who participate in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament.

Farm Bureau Insurance underwrites the Scholar-Athlete Awards and will present a $2,000 scholarship to each recipient. Since the beginning of the program, 896 scholarships have been awarded.

Scholarships will be presented proportionately by school classification, with 12 scholarships to be awarded to Class A student-athletes, six female and six male; eight scholarships will be awarded to Class B student-athletes, four female and four male; six scholarships will be awarded to Class C student-athletes, three female and three male; and four scholarships will be awarded to Class D student-athletes, two female and two male. In addition, two scholarships will be awarded at-large to minority recipients, regardless of school size.

Every MHSAA member high school could submit as many applications as there are scholarships available in its classification and could have more than one finalist. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood has four finalists and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix and Midland Dow have three finalists this year. Twelve schools have two finalists: Ada Forest Hills Eastern, Cass City, Fenton, Hillsdale Academy, Holland, Holland Christian, Milford, Negaunee, Northville, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, South Lyon East, and Tecumseh.

Multiple-sport participation remains the norm among applicants. The average sport participation rate of the finalists is 2.88. There are 74 three-plus sport participants in the finalists field, and all but two of the 28 sports in which the MHSAA sponsors postseason tournaments are represented.

Of 421 schools which submitted applicants, 25 submitted the maximum allowed. This year, 1,440 applications were received. All applicants will be presented with certificates commemorating their achievement. Additional Scholar-Athlete information, including a complete list of scholarship nominees, can be found on the Scholar-Athlete page. 

The applications were judged by a 65-member committee of school coaches, counselors, faculty members, administrators and board members from MHSAA member schools. Selection of the 32 scholarship recipients will take place in early February. Class C and D scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 7, Class B scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 14 and Class A scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 21. All announcements will be made on the MHSAA Website.

To be eligible for the award, students must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.0 scale) and previously have won a varsity letter in at least one sport in which the MHSAA sponsors a postseason tournament. Students also were asked to respond to a series of short essay questions, submit two letters of recommendation and a 500-word essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan was founded in 1949 by Michigan farmers who wanted an insurance company that worked as hard as they did. Those values still guide the company today and are a big reason why it is known as Michigan’s Insurance Company, dedicated to protecting the farms, families, and businesses of this great state. Farm Bureau Insurance agents across Michigan provide a full range of insurance services—life, home, auto, farm, business, retirement, Lake Estate®, and more—protecting nearly 500,000 Michigan policyholders.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year. 

2022-23 Scholar-Athlete Award Finalists

Daria Igonin, Belleville
Ella Blank, Birmingham Groves
Ella Thomas, Brownstown Woodhaven
Keira Tolmie, Clarkston
Nora Chamas, Dearborn
Miryam El-Saghir, Dearborn Edsel Ford
Abigail Frushour, DeWitt
Rachel Williamson, East Grand Rapids
Naomi Sowa, East Lansing
Adrienne Staib, Fenton
Abigail Cumings, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
Ella Eitniear, Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
Sophia Borowski, Grosse Pointe North
Eva Whiteman, Holland
Ana Dunfee, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Wendy Miedema, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Colleen Blackwood, Linden
Kathleen Doneth, Mason
Caroline Colt, Milford
Leah Merriam, Milford
Sophia Hekkema, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
Jane Barnett, Royal Oak
Kate Mazur, South Lyon East
Amyla Eberhart, South Lyon East

Henry Jackson, Bloomfield Hills
Connor Anderson, Cadillac
Isaac David Clark, Caledonia
Braylen Himmelein, Davison
Nathan Katic, Fenton
Isaac Postema, Grand Haven
Ryan Lee, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Brayden Ryan LaCroix, Grandville
Brendan Downey, Grosse Pointe South
James R. Baer, Holland
Treyton William Carr, Hudsonville
James Rocco, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
James Patterson Jr., Lake Orion
Shubhan Nagarkar, Midland Dow
Danny Safadi, Midland Dow
Jack Bakus, Midland Dow
Gavyn Stout, Muskegon Mona Shores
Abhinav Attaluri, Northville
David Whitaker, Northville
Samuel Gibson, Plainwell
Harsimmer Sohi, Portage Central
Shane Pitcher, Saline
Ian Robertson, Traverse City West
Trevor Wallar, Zeeland West

Devin Johnston, Almont
Rylie Haist, Big Rapids
Jordan Richie, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Anna Smith, Clawson
Carney Salo, Escanaba
Ella Wagner, Essexville Garber
Lauren Harrold, Flint Powers Catholic
Tiffany Keller, Frankenmuth
Ainsley VandenBrink, Holland Christian
Claire Filpus, Houghton
Elaina Bortolini, Kingsford
Matelyn Midkiff, Midland Bullock Creek
Rachel Niskanen, Negaunee
Molly McNitt, Paw Paw
Chesney Wilke, Tecumseh
Allison Tate, Whitehall

Sreejay Ramakrishnan, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Jacob Pallo, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Aiden Eric Smith, Adrian
Evan Jose Evans, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
John Kersh, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Nathan Hooker, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Jacob Fenbert, Dundee
Michael App, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
James Oosterhouse, Holland Christian
Matthew Bowman, Milan
Philip Nelson, Negaunee
Grant H. Harkness, Newaygo
Nicholas Liparoto, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Isaiah Pelc, Portland
Aldo Barba, Tecumseh
Camden Johnecheck, Williamston

Tailor Onstott, Beal City
Saylar Cuthrell, Cass City
Kylie McGrath, Cass City
Claire Scholten, Charlevoix
Ruby Sierer, Clinton
Quinn Watts, Fowler
Danni Swihart, Hanover-Horton
Aziza Burgoon, Iron Mountain
Abigail Meyer, Marlette
Alaina Andrews, Ottawa Lake Whiteford
Laina Harger, St. Charles
Samantha Dietz, Watervliet

Logan Pflug, Cassopolis
Seth Vanderwest, Kent City
Ethan Green, Kingston
Andrew Mleczko, Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Grant Mason, Manistique
Blake O'Connor, Maple City Glen Lake
Brock Murphy, Menominee
Riley DeSarbo, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central
Ty Kohlmann, New Lothrop
Noah Etnyre, Plymouth Christian Academy
Brennan Cannaday, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic
Dirk Rierson, Unionville-Sebewaing

Kylie Quist, Athens
Kasandra Lynn Waldi, Chesterfield Austin Catholic
Megan Roberts, Hillsdale Academy
Emma Case, Kinde North Huron
Monique Brisson, Munising
Makennah Uotila, Ontonagon
Gabriella Wenzel, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Macey Springer, Three Oaks River Valley

Ryan McDonell, Bay City All Saints
Luke Walker, Clarkston Everest Collegiate
Amos Norland, Dollar Bay
Brody Appelgren, Hillman
Caleb Diener, Hillsdale Academy
Matthew Zammit, Marine City Cardinal Mooney
James Blackburn, Martin
Caleb Munson, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary

PHOTO A group including 27 of last season's 32 MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award winners take a photo together during the banquet at Breslin Center.