Scholars & Athletes 2022: Class A

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 22, 2022

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has selected 13 student-athletes from Class A member schools to receive scholarships through the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program. 

Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 33rd year of sponsoring the award, will give $2,000 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 who 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.

The 32 scholarship recipients will be recognized March 26 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.

The Class A Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Cookie Estelleh Baugh, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Ella DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek; Alexis Maloney, St. Johns; Maeve Spicer, White Lake Lakeland; Ella Spooner, Holland West Ottawa; Greta VanZetten, Holland; Elzien Zomer, Holland; John Bungart, Orchard Lake St Mary's; William Goelz, Petoskey; Klay Grant, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer; Colin Koot, Mason; Brady Wright, Birmingham Seaholm; and Neil Zhu, Detroit Catholic Central.

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

(NOTE: If an athlete intended to play and was part of a spring sports team in 2020, that sport is counted among the athlete’s total although the season was canceled due to COVID-19.)

BaughCookie Estelleh Baugh, Ann Arbor Pioneer
Ran four years of varsity cross country and will participate in her fourth of track & field this spring. Helped cross country team to three straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 championships and finished fifth and 12th, respectively, in the individual standings her final two seasons. Also ran on LPD1 champion 3,200-meter relay last spring. Earned all-state academic honors seven times across her two sports and served as captain of both teams. Participating in fourth year of student council and third of National Honor Society. Serving first year as Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation board member trustee and also fourth year on foundation’s Youth Council. Participated for three years as part of school’s Positive Peer Influencer program and is participating in third year of Pioneer’s Restorative Justice Program. Will attend Michigan State University and study kinesiology.

Essay Quote: “Having begun playing competitive sports at age 3, I have experienced wins and losses, successes and failures. I have felt like the queen of the world, and I have wept like a baby into my pillow. With each experience I learned my why. … To demonstrate good sportsmanship is as much for myself, teammates, coaches, parents, and family; I owe it to them to lead by a positive example.”

DeGrawElla DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek
Participating in fourth season of competitive cheer and will play varsity tennis this spring after previously playing on junior varsity; also cheered four years with football sideline team. Helped competitive cheer team to Division 1 Finals championship as a freshman and is a four-year starter in all three rounds. Earned all-state recognition and twice made academic all-state team for cheer, and twice served as team captain for competitive and sideline teams. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and has served as officer and cabinet member. Also participating in third year of Spanish National Honor Society and as a senior officer. Serving fourth year and as leader of school’s Athletic Leadership Council, and serving fourth year in key club. Named Clinical Observer of the Year by Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital department of pediatrics. Will attend University of Michigan and study biology on a pre-medical track.

Essay Quote: “Sports have provided me with some of the best life skills I have ever learned. … Life is not always kind, bad outcomes happen regardless of effort and preparation, and all I can control is how I respond to those moments of adversity. Part of sportsmanship is dealing with adversity and not making excuses when the outcome doesn’t go your way.”

MaloneyAlexis Maloney, St. Johns
Playing third season of varsity basketball and will play fourth of varsity tennis this spring; also played junior varsity volleyball as a freshman and sophomore. Earned all-conference and all-academic honors in basketball and tennis, helping tennis team to league championship and Regional runner-up finish. Served as captain for both varsity teams. Playing fourth year in marching band and third with symphonic band and has served as tenor drum and drumline section leader. Earned “1” competition ratings as part of both bands. Participating in fourth year on school’s Student Athletic Leadership Committee, and serving as social media director, and participating in second year of National Honor Society. Also participating in fourth years of school’s Compassion Club (serving on leadership board), Renaissance Club, Garden Club and church youth group. Will attend Trine University and study mechanical engineering.

Essay Quote: “When given the chance to congratulate, help, or support your opponent, do it. There will never be any negative backlash from the positivity you give to them, and know that makes you a better person. Sportsmanship is much like the golden rule; treat others the way you want to be treated. Take these lessons from the game and make them a part of your every day.”

SpicerMaeve Spicer, White Lake Lakeland
Competing in fourth season of varsity gymnastics and third of varsity competitive cheer. Also ran junior varsity cross country and participated in track & field as a freshman. Earned all-state in gymnastics finishing sixth on vault at MHSAA Finals as a junior and was conference all-around champion; also earned academic all-state recognition. Helped her Huron Valley United co-op gymnastics team to Regional title as a sophomore. Served as captain of gymnastics and cheer teams. Participating in second years of National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Earned Individual Project Completion of Middle Years Programme as part of International Baccalaureate studies. Participating in second year of Peer Corps, and has organized three clothing drives for foster children as part of work for local center. Is undecided where she will attend college but intends to study international relations.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship is important because sports themselves are not simply about who is the best, rather what you can learn from them. I have learned valuable life lessons from my sports that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life such as determination, perseverance, teamwork, integrity, and respect, along with so many others that have built up my character.”

SpoonerElla Spooner, Holland West Ottawa
Playing second season of varsity basketball and will play her fourth of varsity lacrosse this spring. Earned all-conference and individual academic all-state in lacrosse and helped basketball team to academic all-state honor. Named Michigan Youth Female Athlete of the Year at 2021 Meijer State Games. Will serve third season as lacrosse captain. Ranked first academically in class of 512 with 4.16 GPA, and participating in National Honor Society. Participating in third year of LINKS and second of Peer-to-Peer mentorship programs. Served as writer and editor of school’s newspaper and earned awards from Michigan Interscholastic Press Association and Scholastic. Served as assistant director for West Ottawa Broadcasting Network. Coached youth basketball and lacrosse, and volunteered in multiple other service efforts. Will attend Kalamazoo College and study biology on a pre-medical track.

Essay Quote: “Character is so important in life and can either drag you down or take you far. By teaching sportsmanship, it allows young athletes who are still growing and developing to build their character. Each part of being an excellent sportsman relates directly to more than just a sports game, but to the game of life itself.”

VanZettenGreta VanZetten, Holland
Participated in four seasons of varsity swimming and will participate in fourth of track & field this spring. Earned all-conference in both sports and qualified 17 times for MHSAA Finals in swimming over four seasons. Served as co-captain of swim team as both junior and senior. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and voted head of school’s leadership pillar. Participating in second year of student senate and third year as part of school’s delegation to Youth in Government; also serving second year as part of Holland Youth Advisory Council’s environmental committee and as chairperson. Participating in third year of school choirs Vocal Dimensions and as president. Initiated Michigan Green School certification for Holland High and participating in third year with Students Helping Our Remarkable Earth club. Participating in second year of Academic WorldQuest and won regional competition and qualified for nationals as a junior. Is undecided where she will attend college but intends to double major in mathematics and gender and sexuality studies.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship is about wanting the best for your competitors, as well as yourself. When everyone competes at the best of their ability, sports become truly fun. Educational athletics expand beyond winning and achievement. Learning about humility, equity, confidence, and collaboration are all lessons found in sportsmanship and encouraged though high school sports.”

ZomerElzien Zomer, Holland
Playing third season of varsity basketball, swam three seasons on varsity and will play second season of varsity soccer this spring; also played junior varsity volleyball as a freshman. Earned all-area honors in basketball and served as team captain for basketball (varsity and JV), co-captain for swimming & diving team and captain for junior varsity volleyball. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and as part of leadership pillar, and serving third year as class representative in student government. Serving as school representative to county’s Student Leaders Initiating Change coalition. Participating in fourth year in school’s be nice. club. Served as youth soccer official for three years and community pool lifeguard. Will attend University of Michigan-Dearborn and study either biomedical engineering or physical therapy.

Essay Quote: “Attitude and respect are always a choice, every day, every play. A positive mindset and an encouraging attitude build strong athletes, but also build good role models for life. … We don’t all have the same intensity for sportsmanship, but we each have the tools to build character on and off the court. For me, this is the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics. The goal is to teach growth and understanding so that we can choose to put them into practice in our own lives.”

BungartJohn Bungart, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Wrestling fourth varsity season and will play fourth season of varsity lacrosse in the spring. Also will compete in fourth season on rowing team. Served as captain of both wrestling and lacrosse teams. Earned all-state in lacrosse and all-league and all-country in wrestling. Carrying 4.07 GPA and participating in second year of National Honor Society. Summited second and third-highest peaks in United States as part of Boy Scouts. Has volunteered in multiple volunteer community service efforts including as part of Forgotten Harvest throughout high school. Has served as lifeguard throughout high school. Also has participated in church youth group all four years. Will attend Kalamazoo College and study biochemistry.

Essay Quote: “We speak with our mouths, and we hear with our ears. We also talk with our hands and listen with our eyes. We share with our faces and understand it in our hearts. When any of these cogs in the wheel fail, it can lead to confusion, knee-jerk responses, and chaos in its wake. Communication and mutual respect are the (epitomes) of sportsmanship in educational athletics.”

GoelzWilliam Goelz, Petoskey
Competing in fourth season of varsity skiing and played two seasons of varsity tennis. Also played two subvarsity seasons of lacrosse and ran cross country as a freshman. Helped ski team to two Division 2 Finals championships and a runner-up finish, and earned multiple all-state honors. Earned academic all-state in skiing and tennis, and served as ski team captain. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction and National Merit Scholarship commended scholar designations. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and third on district’s Student Advisory Council. Has served all four years as part of Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation Youth Advisory Committee, including as foundation officer and board liaison, and is serving as PHSACF director as a senior. Participating in third year of key club and as vice president. Completed University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Global Youth Program Business Leadership Academy. Is undecided on where he will attend college and his future course of study.

Essay Quote: “Decades from now, what I will remember are great times spent with great teammates, a sentiment held impossible if not for the utmost sportsmanship within myself and amongst athletes. Not only does sportsmanship in educational athletics spark lifelong memories, it also establishes a careful precedent for sociability and professionalism beyond high school.”

GrantKlay Grant, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
Ran four seasons of cross country and will participate in fourth of track & field this spring; also played varsity soccer as a freshman. Earned three Greater Muskegon cross country championships and finished eighth in Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final this past fall. Qualified for MHSAA Track & Field Finals in four events as a junior and earned all-conference. Served as captain of cross country and track teams. Served as student council freshman president and as trustee as a sophomore. Participating in third year of church’s children’s ministry and as student leader, and second year as church intern. Serving as student leader in third year participating on school’s IMPACT leadership team, and served as ambassador for Straight Talk About Tough Stuff coalition. Will attend Colorado Christian University and major in Biblical studies with an emphasis in languages.

Essay Quote: “I believe the integrity of sportsmanship is often downplayed. It is not only the heroic acts of sportsmanship in front of a big crowd, or when the cameras are on, but in the day-in-day-out monotony of relationships. I viewed this highly by encouraging each teammate after practices, telling them: "Nice job today, I'll see you tomorrow."

KootColin Koot, Mason
Playing second season of varsity basketball and will play second of varsity baseball this spring, and played four seasons of varsity tennis. Helped tennis team qualify for MHSAA Finals all four seasons and earned all-conference in tennis and baseball. Helped baseball team to academic all-state award. Served as tennis team captain for three seasons. Participating in fourth year of Youth in Government and second as delegation leader, and received servant leadership award as sophomore. Participating in second year of National Honor Society. Participated in Future Farmers of America as a freshman and sophomore and won state championship in Greenhand Conduct of Meetings as a freshman and National Silver Award as a sophomore. Served as school newspaper sports editor-in-chief as a freshman and has umpired baseball throughout high school. Is undecided where he will attend college but intends to study biomedical engineering.

Essay Quote: “Overall, competitive sportsmanship is the most important facet of educational athletics. The ability for an individual to compete at a high level while maintaining good sportsmanship is crucial in transforming from a person who wins to a person who succeeds. Success is measured in many different ways, but a successful athlete understands that there is more to athletics than just the scoreboard.”

WrightBrady Wright, Birmingham Seaholm
Competing in fourth season on varsity ski team and played four seasons of varsity tennis; also played junior varsity lacrosse as a freshman and sophomore. Reached MHSAA Finals flight semifinals as sophomore and junior. Earned all-state and all-state academic for tennis and all-region for ski, and earned multiple league Scholar-Athlete Awards for both sports. Served as team captain for both. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction and named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Earned perfect score on ACT. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and third of National Science Honor Society. Participated in Science Olympiad as competitor and coach and founded high school team, and earned county and state placings. Playing fourth years in school marching and concert bands and served as clarinet section leader. Is undecided where he will attend college but intends to study chemical engineering.

Essay Quote: “Ultimately, what I learned is that the game and the competition is more important than winning a match at any cost. I have seen kids who struggle with losing and will do anything to win. Honor and integrity get thrown out the window to avoid a loss. … It is important to me that I am honest with myself – I play sports to push myself in ways that academics cannot. Cheating the game does not help you improve or build character.”

ZhuNeil Zhu, Detroit Catholic Central
Will play fourth season of varsity golf this spring and has helped team to runner-up and fourth-place finishes at Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. Earned all-state and is ranked among top players for his class in Michigan by American Junior Golf Association. Advanced to match play at Golf Association of Michigan 2021 Amateur Championship. Earned AP Scholar with Honor and National Merit Scholarship commended student designations. Participating in second year of National Honor Society tutoring program. Participating in fourth year of finance club and as vice president. Reached highest level of Michigan Music Teachers Association for piano and earned first and second-place finishes in state competition. Completed University of Michigan summer coding program. Volunteered in multiple community service efforts throughout high school. Served as youth leadership member for church as junior and senior. Will attend Swarthmore College (Pa.) and study computer science.

Essay Quote: “The sport of golf is a medium through which my accountability to my decisions and more importantly my accountability to my competitors and values is tested. Therefore, my integrity plays into the principle of accountability. Moreover, golf offers opportunities to meditate on choices which plays into the skill of decision making.”

Other Class A girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Amelia Weyhing, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Piper Barnhart, Brownstown Woodhaven; Sophia Lustig, Brownstown Woodhaven; Madison Hissong, Fraser; Brooke Myers, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern; Ana Todesco, Grosse Pointe North; Sonya Konon, Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse; Natalie Blake, Holland West Ottawa; Abigail Lueck, Livonia Churchill; Samantha Provenzano, Livonia Franklin; Erica Molnar, Livonia Stevenson; Laura Leiti, Midland Dow; Alexandria Stacy French, Richland Gull Lake; Kiera Hall, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek; Kate Meinecke, Royal Oak; Sara Schermerhorn, Traverse City West; and Hannah DiGiovanni, Troy Athens.

Other Class A boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Nathan Pawlowicz, Battle Creek Lakeview; Nathan Jerore, Brownstown Woodhaven; Colin Pearson, Caledonia; Joseph Marano, Dearborn Edsel Ford; Conner Bell, Detroit Catholic Central; Chase Gibson, Fenton; Nick Temple, Fenton; Ben Taylor, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central; Ross VanBlois, Grandville; Owen Swisher, Livonia Churchill; James Oberman, Livonia Franklin; Thomas Randall, Orchard Lake St Mary's; Blake Coy, Saline; Amod Talekar, Saline; Kaden Keller, St. Johns; Jake Lasceski, St. Johns; Ethan Tennant, Temperance Bedford; Michael T. Schermerhorn, Traverse City West; and Caiden Carlson, White Lake Lakeland.

The Class C and D scholarship award recipients were announced Feb. 8, and the Class B honorees were announced Feb. 15.

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 1.4 million spectators each year.

2024 Scholar-Athlete Award Recipients Announced in Class A

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 20, 2024

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has selected 13 student-athletes from Class A member schools to receive scholarships through the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program. 

Farm Bureau Insurance logoFarm Bureau Insurance, in its 35th year of sponsoring the award, will give $2,000 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 who 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.

The 32 scholarship recipients will be recognized March 16 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing.

The Class A Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are Bella Adams, Battle Creek Lakeview; Aya Moughni, Dearborn; Arianna Pate, Gibraltar Carlson; Cecilia Ruchti, St. Joseph; Lily Sackrider, St. Johns; Katherine Slazinski, Birmingham Seaholm; Willem DeGood, Traverse City West; Abrar Hossen, Portage Central; Anirudh Krishnan, Plymouth; AJ Martel, Mason; Jaden Reji, Livonia Churchill; Charlie Seufert, East Grand Rapids; and Logan Yu, Midland Dow.

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

Bella Adams headshotBella Adams, Battle Creek Lakeview
Played three seasons of varsity volleyball and is competing in fourth of track & field this spring. Helped volleyball team to two District championships and earned academic all-state in that sport three times. Earned all-league and all-region in track and also earned academic all-state three times in that sport. Served as captain of both teams. Participating in fourth year of student government and serving as class vice president. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and has attended Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center throughout high school. Participated in multiple initiatives to promote STEM education including Phoenix Gives Back as a junior, Kellanova’s high school program as a senior and the BCAMSC’s Kindness Club the last two years. Participated in church’s Battle Creek Mission Trip throughout high school. Serving on staff of school’s TV channel for first time as senior and coached elementary and middle school volleyball summer camps the last two years. Is undecided where she will attend college, but intends to study biology.

Essay Quote: “The single most important component of sportsmanship, and even in the world, is compassion. Being compassionate is not just how you treat your closest friends, but treating everybody as a friend. Compassion is what helps the lonely, hurt teenage girl feel secure, the timid new basketball player feel at home. All successful student-athletes carry the foundation of compassion through sportsmanship.”

Aya Moughni headshotAya Moughni, Dearborn
Ran three seasons of cross country and played two of varsity volleyball, will play her second of varsity soccer and compete in fourth of track & field this spring, and also played varsity basketball as a sophomore. Earned league multi-sport recognition and scholar-athlete honors multiple years. Served as captain for soccer, basketball and volleyball junior varsity teams and substitute captain for cross country and track & field varsities. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and third on Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, and served as class vice president as sophomore. Founded Right to Play Club and serves as president, and also serves as president of Social Justice Club and treasurer of Gay-Straight Alliance. Served as Key Club vice president and director of outreach for Dearborn Youth Affairs Commission. Participating in first year of Business Professionals of America and as secretary, and qualified for state competition in multiple contests. Earned profile in courage award and multiple honors for voter registration. Is undecided where she will attend college but intends to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.

Essay Quote: “In this vast arena of athletic education, sportsmanship stands as the unsung anthem for the underdog, the celebration of diversity, and the unyielding belief that fair play is the ultimate victory. It transforms the field into a space where young minds not only refine their physical abilities but also nurture the values that will shape them as future leaders, team players, and contributors to society.”

Arianna Pate headshotArianna Pate, Gibraltar Carlson
Ran four seasons of cross country, playing third season of varsity basketball and will compete in fourth season of track & field this spring. Earned all-league honors in cross country and track and all-area honorable mention in basketball, and helped basketball team to league championship as a sophomore. Serving as basketball team captain this season. Earned AP Scholar Award and honors from National African American Recognition Program and National Hispanic Recognition Program. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and as chapter president after serving as vice president as a junior. Serving fourth year on student council and as executive board secretary for second year after two years as class treasurer. Participating in fourth years of Earth Club and Inclusivity Club, second as part of Marauder Captains and third on Student Empowerment Team. Volunteered for three years as part of Red Cross blood drive. Will attend University of Michigan and study nursing.

Essay Quote: “It’s not just about helping someone up off of the ground, or saying “good game” in the handshake line after a competition. It’s about separating yourself from aggressive competition and instead showing empathy and care towards your fellow athletes whom you are lucky enough to share a playing field with. Especially in the realm of high school athletics, sportsmanship is one of the most important qualities that an athlete can have.”

Cecilia Ruchti headshotCecilia Ruchti, St. Joseph
Ran four years of cross country and will play her fourth season of varsity tennis this spring. Earned all-state in tennis and reached No. 1 doubles semifinals at 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals as team tied for sixth place. Earned all-league and all-region in cross country and helped that team to MHSAA Finals three times, also earning academic all-state in that sport. Served as captain of both teams multiple seasons. Participating in fourth year of student senate and as president, and also in fourth year as part of student foundation and as vice president. Serving as assistant teacher in third year of AP leadership course and also in third years as National Honor Society and writing center tutor. Served as tennis coach and camp instructor throughout high school and as athletic department intern as a senior. Is undecided where she will attend college, but intends to study marketing and design.

Essay Quote: “Walking away from Cross Country and Tennis State Finals, a lot of gratitude has washed over me. It’s been incredible to watch both my teammates and former teammates succeed. The time I shared with high-performing athletes and leaders influenced a lot of growth. I've observed extraordinary sportsmanship around me. I'm lucky to have coaches who have great integrity and preach hard work ethic. High school sports taught effective sportsmanship – on and off the course and court.”

Lily Sackrider headshotLily Sackrider, St. Johns
Ran four seasons of cross country, is playing her third season of varsity basketball and will compete in her fourth season of track & field in the spring. Earned all-conference and academic all-state in cross country helping that team to one league and two Regional titles. Earned all-state as part of a track relay as a junior. Served as captain of all three teams. Carries 4.0 grade-point average. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and as chapter co-president, and has participated on Youth Action Committee throughout high school and Tri-County Youth Advisory Council the last two years and served as officer for both. Also has served on school’s athletic student leadership team three years. Played in school marching band throughout high school and as part of drum line the last three years, as section leader of the latter. Serves as voting member on St. Johns Area Community Fund Board. Participated three years with school’s Peer Assisted PALS and two with Compassion Club. Will attend Hope College or University of Michigan and study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Therein lies the real value in educational athletics; the civic education it provides. The totality of sportsmanship prepares student athletes to be the absolute best people we can be when venturing into adult life. … Once we have mastered sportsmanship, we become capable of taking our acquired traits of compromise, accountability and kindness and weaving them into everyday life.”

Katherine Slazinski headshotKatherine Slazinski, Birmingham Seaholm
Played two seasons of golf including on varsity this past fall, and will play fourth season of varsity tennis in the spring; also played two seasons of junior varsity volleyball. Earned all-state in tennis the last two seasons in helping team to 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 title and 2022 runner-up finish, winning No. 2 doubles flight as a junior. Served as tennis team captain. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction and National Merit Scholarship Commended Student recognition. Participating in third year of DECA, qualifying twice for state competition and serving as vice president of community service and social events the last two years. Participating in third year of National Honor Society and second of Spanish National Honor Society. Serving second year in multiple mentoring programs and second year as blood drive coordinator. Participated in YoungLife and as tennis coach and tournament assistant director throughout high school, and also is serving as marketing intern this year for Birmingham Education Foundation.

Essay Quote: “A major part of sportsmanship is putting the feelings of teammates or competitors before your own emotions. At times, this requires showing excitement for your teammates and all their hard work paying off, even when you are at your lowest points. At other times, this requires showing empathy to an opponent even when your first reaction is to celebrate your victory.”

Willem DeGood headshotWillem DeGood, Traverse City West
Ran four seasons of cross country and will participate in fourth of track & field this spring; also competed on school’s Nordic/cross country skiing team all four years. Earned all-league and all-region in cross country and qualified for MHSAA Finals all four seasons. Competed at MHSAA Finals in track first three seasons and helped that team to three Regional titles. Earned academic all-state two years. Served as co-captain of both cross country and track teams. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction honor and participating in second years of National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Played in school’s concert and marching bands throughout high school and as part of philharmonic orchestra as a senior. Served as section leader and principal player, earned first-division solo recognition and selected to perform at Michigan Music Conference. Participating in second years of school’s global studies and arts community groups, and also serves as a math tutor and track club volunteer. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to major in international studies.

Essay Quote: “When competing, even for different teams, we are all stronger when we respect each other as good sportsmen and lift each other up. On the start line of every race, I always wish the runners next to me good luck because I know how much it means to know the people you’re facing on the track want the best for you, too.”

Abrar Hossen headshotAbrar Hossen, Portage Central
Ran three seasons of varsity cross country and will compete in his fourth of track & field this spring. Earned all-league honors in both sports, qualified for MHSAA Finals in both and served as captain of both teams as well. Earned AP Scholar with Distinction honor and named National Merit Scholarship Commended Student. Participating in second year of DECA and earned state championship, and served as chapter’s public relations director. Participating in third year on Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center student senate, and participated in global battery solution research at Western Michigan University. Participating in second years of computer science club and Kids in Science club, as instructor for both to younger students in those topics, and has served as tutor throughout high school for students with learning disabilities. Founded school’s cultural dance group and serving as president of Health Occupations Students of America chapter. Is undecided where he will attend college but intends to study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Although my time with my teammates is nearing its end, the fact that any of them can come to me for support will never change. The act of running sparks conversations, new connections, and brings communities together. These are acts of sportsmanship that often go unnoticed. A team cannot be expected to respect other teams when they are not yet close enough to respect each other.”

Anirudh Krishnan headshotAnirudh Krishnan, Plymouth
Ran four years of varsity cross country and will compete in fourth of track & field this spring. Also trained in taekwondo during first three years of high school and participated in Unified Sports basketball as a junior. Earned all-state honors in both cross country and track and academic all-state for both sports as well. Holds school race records in both sports and served as team leader for both. Earned third-degree black belt in taekwondo and taught that martial art. Founded and serves as director of AK Friendship Circle nonprofit organization supporting young adults with disabilities, and earned Ted Lindsay Foundation Family Courage Award for contributions toward autism education. Served two years on student council and participated in University of Michigan’s Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity in Metropolitan Detroit. Will attend Johns Hopkins University and study applied mathematics and statistics.

Essay Quote: “In the journey to building good sportsmanship, coaches are key mentors. Sometimes in the heat of intense competition, winning seems to be the only thing that matters. However, having a coach who can provide a sense of balance and guide athletes to have a positive mindset and attitude is critical for educational athletics. In every sporting event, someone wins, and someone loses. Accepting victory with joy while not gloating over your opponents, and accepting defeat with grace while not being antagonistic to the winner reflects on the character of an athlete.”

AJ Martel headshotAJ Martel, Mason
Played four seasons of varsity football, wrestling for fourth season and competing in second of diving this winter, and will compete in third season of track & field this spring. Earned all-state in football multiple seasons and finished as school’s all-time leading rusher, and helped team to four league and three Regional titles and Division 3 runner-up finish this past fall. Helped wrestling team to Regional title this season for second time, earned all-league first three seasons and placed at Individual Finals as a freshman. Earned all-state in multiple events in track and won 300-meter hurdles at 2023 Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals, helping team to runner-up finish. Earned all-league in diving and helped team to league title in 2023. Earned academic all-state in wrestling and football and academic all-league in track and diving. Participating in third year of National Honor Society and serving as senior class officer. Served as volunteer flag football coach and official and youth wrestling tournament worker. Participated in LINK program as a junior and serves as head of school’s athletics social media. Will attend Hope College and intends to study on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “I realized that every person on the field was just a high school student who wanted the chance to play football. I didn’t have to detest (our rivals) because they attended a different school. I could appreciate the moment to compete against them while remembering that good sportsmanship benefits both teams.”

Jaden Reji headshotJaden Reji, Livonia Churchill
Played three seasons of varsity soccer and playing third season of varsity basketball. Earned all-conference multiple seasons in soccer and captained that team, and earned academic all-state in basketball. Named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and AP Scholar with Distinction. Participating in third year of Spanish National Honor Society, as chapter president, and second year of Science National Honor Society, as vice president. Participating in third year of DECA, as chapter president, and was founding member of school’s chapter of Health Occupations Students of America and won a first place at HOSA International Leadership Conference. Participated in robotics throughout high school on team that twice qualified for world championships, and served as captain. Serving as Bible study leader for church youth group and as hospital volunteer and patient/family advisory council ambassador. Volunteered for school district’s summer Early Literacy Program. Participated in two years of debate and served as team secretary. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to study neuroscience on a premedical track.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship also requires humility and appreciation. I learned this from my experience in debate, where I present and clash with different opinions and perspectives. There is always something to learn from the other side, even if I disagree with them. I learned to acknowledge their strengths, address their arguments, and concede their points when warranted. I also learned to thank them for the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue and to improve my own skills.”

Charlie Seufert headshotCharlie Seufert, East Grand Rapids
Played three seasons of varsity golf, will play third season of varsity tennis this spring, and also played two seasons of subvarsity basketball. Earned all-state in doubles tennis, helping team to Regional championship and third-place Finals finish in the fall, and earned all-conference in golf as a junior. Served as captain of both teams. Participating in fourth year of Latin club, and as president, and serving third year on student council. A heart transplant recipient, serves as speaker and ambassador for American Heart Association. Participating in third year of school’s Leadership Youth Development group and as leader. Participated two years in We the People competition including on state championship team, and as coach, and two years on Model United Nations team. Volunteered and served as First Tee West Michigan lead coach, and participating in second year as elementary school mentor. Also serving as writer for school newspaper. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to pursue a career in public health.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship has always been important to be. As a golfer and tennis player, I have exhibited good sportsmanship on and off the course/court. However, it was not until I received my heart transplant did I truly understood the meaning of this word. … Persevering through these difficulties has forever changed the athlete that I am. I now understand that sportsmanship does not just mean treating opponents with respect, but also forming connections with others on and off the course.”

Logan Yu headshotLogan Yu, Midland Dow
Played four seasons of varsity tennis, earning all-state the last two and winning the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals title at No. 3 singles as senior in helping Dow win second-straight team championship. Earned academic all-state as senior and was part of four academic all-state teams. Served as team captain as senior. Participating in second year of National Honor Society and served as vice president. Participating in third year of DECA and twice qualified for state competition and last year for International Career Development Conference. Playing violin for second year as part of symphony & honors orchestra and qualified for the Michigan Music Conference as sophomore, and has played piano for more than 13 years qualifying for State Achievement Testing semifinals four times. Serving third year on Midland Youth Action Council and participating in second year of church youth group and as worship leader. Is undecided where he will attend college, but intends to study business analytics and information systems.

Essay Quote: “… As a freshman, I began looking up to one of the leading figures in my life, my coach, who displayed amazing acts of sportsmanship throughout our season. When we won, he celebrated privately with us. When we lost, he congratulated the other coach and pushed us to work harder. I began to see why he was such an effective coach and leader. … Now, I see every match as an opportunity to display sportsmanship, inspire others, and grow myself.”

Other Class A girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were Yan Yee Adler, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Sam M. Peot, East Grand Rapids; Julia Holt, Farmington Hills Mercy; Tori Briggs, Fowlerville; Cameron Herman, Hartland; Brooke Pedersen, Holland West Ottawa; Ella Chatfield, Jenison; Meghan Ford, Mason; Lauren VanSumeren, Midland Dow; Addison Raffle, Northville; Ella Boyd, Oxford; Abigail DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek; Anna Lassan, South Lyon East; Addison Booher, Traverse City Central; Ava King, Traverse City West; London Williams, Trenton; Sarah Fromm, Utica; and Ryah Dewey, Walled Lake Western.

Other Class A boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were Viraj Nautiyal, Birmingham Seaholm; Dylan Shoresh, Birmingham Seaholm; Charles Howell, Cadillac; Erik Giedeman, Dearborn; Joseph Stachelek, Detroit U-D Jesuit; Charlie Lentz, East Grand Rapids; Chris Piwowarczyk, Fenton; TJ Silvernale, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern; Jack Ryan, Grosse Pointe South; Connor Curtis, Livonia Stevenson; Jonathan Song, Midland Dow; Jaxson Whitaker, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer; Kyle Brown, Northville; Sean Wilson, Oxford; Andrew Miller, Saline; Jack Carlisle, Stevensville Lakeshore; and Vansh Jvalit Baxi, Troy Athens.

The Class C and D scholarship award recipients were announced Feb. 6, and the Class B honorees were announced Feb. 13.

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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 1.4 million spectators each year.