Scholars and Athletes 2016: Class C, D

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 1, 2016

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has selected 10 student-athletes from Class C and D member schools to receive scholarships through the Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program.   

Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 27th 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 26 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing. Commemorative medallions will be given to the finalists in recognition of their accomplishments.

The Class C Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Michael Klettner, Traverse City St. Francis; Spencer Graham Knizacky, Mason County Central, Daniel R. McMichael, Bronson; Alexa Ratkowski, Bronson; Mallory Raven, Morley Stanwood; and Hannah Steffke, Beal City.

The Class D Scholar-Athlete Award recipients are: Daniel Good, Owendale-Gagetown; Nathaniel Jones, Muskegon Catholic Central; Elizabeth Munoz, Leland; and Averi Rachelle Munro, Morrice.

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

Alexa Ratkowski, Bronson
Played four seasons of varsity volleyball and three of varsity basketball, and helped her volleyball team to the Class C championship in the fall. Set MHSAA record for career assists and also sits among all-time leaders for career aces. Earned all-state volleyball recognition all four seasons, making the first team as a senior, and earned all-league basketball honors as a junior. Served as volleyball captain three seasons and is her basketball team’s captain this winter. Serving fourth year as class treasurer and first as student council treasurer, and also serving as National Honor Society president. Participated in Make a Difference committee three years and 4-H all four of high school, earning multiple awards for crafts and showmanship. Volunteers as instructor and referee for youth volleyball and basketball programs, at her church and as a classroom mentor to middle and elementary school students. Will attend either Central Michigan University or Grand Valley State University and study elementary education.

Essay Quote: “Soon it became evident to me that what was important wasn’t how far we went in the tournament, but that fellow athletes, coaches and rival communities were coming together as one athletic unit to show genuine concern and support for our coach in the most significant battle of her life. That’s what true sportsmanship is all about!”

Mallory Raven, Morley Stanwood
Played two years of varsity volleyball, playing fourth of varsity basketball and will play her fourth of varsity softball in the spring. Helped volleyball team to three District championships, basketball team to one and softball team to two District titles. Earned all-state honorable mention in softball and all-conference honors in softball and basketball; served as captain of both basketball and softball teams. Has served as student council co-president, National Honor Society vice president and twice as class president. Also has served four years on the Mecosta County Youth Advisory Council and three as part of Project Outreach. Earned 33 college credits through dual enrollment at Ferris State University and Mid Michigan Community College. Volunteered as part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters Lunch Buddy program and Salvation Army, and attended Michigan Youth Leadership and Women in Sports Leadership programs. Will attend University of Michigan and study biomedical engineering.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship is the character that teaches us lessons when wins and losses fail to do so. It is universal and unbending, and it has made me a better person through the sports that I have played, the teammates I hold dear and the opponents that are not so unfamiliar to me anymore.”

Hannah Steffke, Beal City
Ran four seasons of varsity cross country and will participate in her fourth of varsity track and field. Helped her cross country team to MHSAA championships in 2010 and 2011 while setting the school individual race record, and was part of an MHSAA title-winning 3,200-meter relay team; she also holds school records as part of that relay and in the individual 3,200. Earned all-state honors in cross country all four seasons and track and field the last two, and academic all-state honors in cross country the last three seasons and track and field as a sophomore and junior. Served as cross country team captain the last two years. Serving fourth year on student council and as vice president, and also as National Honor Society service vice president. Participating in fourth years of concert, marching and jazz bands and as drum major for second year. Served in Youth in Government four years. Is undecided where she’ll attend college and on her planned course of study.

Essay Quote: “To me, the cliché saying, ‘I didn’t come here to make friends’ is completely backward. … In fact, those girls who are my fiercest competitors are often those who I have become the best friends with, and the meets where I’m racing my friends are always the most enjoyable.”

Michael Klettner, Traverse City St. Francis
Played four seasons of varsity soccer, leading the team in goals as a senior and making the all-state third team in Division 3. Also earned all-District honors three times. Participated as part of his school’s cross country ski team four seasons and earned awards as its “outstanding skier” and for highest grade-point average as a junior. Served as boys soccer team and cross country ski team captain the last two seasons. Participating in fourth year as part of school’s marching and concert bands and also as part of its general and ensemble choirs. Has earned superior ratings at the band state festival and excellent ratings for solo and ensemble choir. Participated in Boy Scouts three years of high school, attaining Eagle Scout as a freshman, and is in his second year of National Honor Society serving as an officer this school year. Will attend University of Michigan and study computer science engineering.

Essay Quote: “Throughout my high school career, among the multiple soccer games and ski races, it never fails to amaze me how common sportsmanship is, especially during the most heated battles between rival schools. Athletics is just a game, but with sportsmanship, it has the ability to be so much more.”

Spencer Graham Knizacky, Mason County Central
Played three seasons of varsity football, is competing in fourth season of varsity wrestling and will play his fourth season of varsity baseball this spring. Earned all-conference honors in football and baseball and is a two-time MHSAA Finals placer in wrestling. Served or is serving as captain of all three of his high school teams. Earned academic all-state in wrestling and all-District in both football and baseball. Volunteered as a member of both the baseball and wrestling programs in local construction and yard work projects. Also volunteers as part of his local Pop Warner league, youth wrestling program and as an athletic concessions worker, and is in third year as part of National Honor Society. Will attend Ferris State University and study mechanical engineering technology.

Essay Quote: “Sportsmanship isn’t all about being respectful and playing fair during the game. How a player reacts after a game is important too. Whining after a loss is wrong, just like bragging after a win. You need to be able to win and stay humble, or lose with grace. Even in adulthood, you need to be able to move on after something goes wrong, or stay modest after you’ve made a huge accomplishment.”

Daniel R. McMichael, Bronson
Played four seasons of varsity football and basketball and will play his fourth of varsity baseball this spring. Earned all-conference recognition in baseball and football and served as team captain for both teams. Participating in National Honor Society for second year and is vice president this school year, and also is a member of the National Technical Honor Society. Participating in second year of local Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter and as vice president this school year. Serving in his fourth year of student government and currently as secretary, and has been a class officer all four years of high school and currently is vice president. Serves as a student advisor for Bronson’s Education Academy Advisory Committee and has volunteered as part of a local kids day and rocket football programs. Will attend Adrian College and study secondary education.

Essay Quote: “Knowing that they were there watching my every move made me realize that there are always opportunities to show the next generation of athletes the right way to act both on and off the field. … I know that I have tried to pass along to those that follow behind me a lesson of good sportsmanship, leadership and a good worth ethic.”

Other Class C girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Molly Lynch, Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart; Kelsey Engstrom, Charlevoix; Ellen Doyle, Gobles; Hanna Angst, Laingsburg; Julia Angst, Laingsburg; Bailee Kimbel, Manton; Jordyn Sanders, Mason County Central; Shelby Vincke, New Lothrop; and Christiana M. Jones, White Cloud.

Other Class C boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Joseph Comstock, Addison; Quentin E. Millette, Ann Arbor Greenhills; Sawyer Cuthrell, Cass City; Anthony Hoholik, Manistique; Cameron Brayman, Montague; Broc Roberts, Petersburg-Summerfield; Trenden Peacock, Sand Creek; Dylan Marshall, St Ignace; and Bowman Seabrook, White Cloud.

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

Elizabeth Munoz, Leland
Playing her fourth season of varsity basketball and will play her fourth season of varsity soccer this spring. Scored her 1,000th career point in basketball as a junior and holds the MHSAA single-season girls soccer record with 84 points; she also ranks second for single-season goals with 64 she scored as a sophomore. Earned all-state honors in both sports, making the first team in soccer twice and basketball last season. Served as basketball captain last season and again this winter, and will serve as soccer captain this spring. Serving as class president for fourth year and participating in third year of National Honor Society and fourth year of Natural Helpers. Participating in school choir for first time and also assists in her family’s business. Will attend Kalamazoo College and study biology with a focus on pre-medicine.

Essay Quote: “Though many high schoolers may not know it, the ‘big kids’ are role models for the elementary students, especially at a small school. They quickly pick up on reactions to certain situations. As they grow, children slowly mold into who they see their role models to be based on what they have seen watching them play their favorite sports.”

Averi Rachelle Munro, Morrice
Played four seasons of varsity volleyball and basketball and will play her fourth of varsity softball in the spring. Owns Morrice school records for career home runs, career runs batted in and career hits and has played on four District championship teams – one in volleyball, two in softball and one in basketball. Earned all-state recognition in softball twice, once at catcher and once at shortstop; all-state honorable mention in basketball and all-league honors in volleyball. Participated in volunteer projects as part of her school’s National Honor Society chapter and softball program, and also organized fundraisers to assist school’s Field of Dreams committee and a teacher receiving chemotherapy. Served as class president last five years and as her student council’s president. Will attend Alma College and study physics.

Essay Quote: “I work very hard on both the field and the courts, not just playing my game, but also by always doing my best to set an example of true sportsmanship. By doing this I honor myself, my team, my coach, my school and my family. As I have learned from high school sports, my behavior is a direct reflection of me and, as my grandfather taught me, there is no looking back and no changing what has been done.”

Daniel Good, Owendale-Gagetown
Played four seasons of varsity football, three of basketball and will play fourth season of varsity baseball and second of varsity golf this spring. Helped football team to undefeated regular season in the fall and earned all-league honors in that sport the last two seasons; also earned all-league recognition in baseball and golf and served as captain of the basketball and football teams. Serving in student government for fourth year, this year as vice-president after two as class president. Playing in school band for fourth year and third year as part of the Lions of Michigan All State Band. Participating in National Honor Society for third year and on yearbook staff for second. Will attend Michigan State University and study mechanical engineering.

Essay Quote: “One of the schools in our league is the Flint-located Michigan School for the Deaf. The players and the coaches on my school’s team look at our games with MSD as a great opportunity for both teams to have fun playing football and to learn about each other. … My connection with MSD has helped shape me into a hard-working, more understanding athlete and student. From this unique experience in sportsmanship, I’ve learned amazing things from diverse people and their lives.”

Nathaniel Jones, Muskegon Catholic Central
Played four seasons of varsity football, three of varsity basketball, will play his third of varsity baseball this spring and also swam as a freshman and sophomore. Played on four MHSAA championship teams, three for football and one for baseball, and all three of his teams won league titles in 2014-15. Earned all-state honors in football in the fall and honorable mention as a junior, and helped all four of his high school teams to academic all-state honors. Served as football captain in the fall and basketball captain this winter. Participating in student government and National Honor Society for third year each and is ranked number one academically in his class. Playing fourth year with school’s jazz/symphonic band and has volunteered as part of Muskegon Public Schools' summer school program, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the American Red Cross. Received the Kettering University Science and Technology Award and Rotary Life Leadership Award. Will attend Hillsdale College and study aerospace engineering and physics.

Essay Quote: “As athletes, we strive to better ourselves each day with self-discipline, hard work, passion and unwavering effort. Educational athletics provide the foreground for a mutual appreciation for these values between athletes, coaches and fans. Through healthy competition, we bring out the best in each other, thus propelling each other to grow as athletes and individuals.”

Other Class D girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Lindsay Lampman, Bellaire; Chloe Niepoth, Bellaire; Maria Stankewicz, Crystal Falls Forest Park; Abby Sutherland, Lake Linden-Hubbell; Natalie Frances Beaulieu, Newberry; and Paige Blake, Ontonagon.

Other Class D boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Garrett Kraatz, Allen Park Inter-City Baptist; Joshua Robert Riggs, Brethren; Matthew Gratowski, DeTour; Gregory Scott Seppanen, Eben Junction Superior Central; Jayvin Wolfe, Fulton-Middleton;  and Benjamin Turner, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian.

The Class B scholarship award recipients will be announced Feb. 9, and the Class A honorees will be announced Feb. 16.

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 1,400 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.