Student Grant Fund Recipients 2018

The Empire Runners club has a long-standing commitment to providing scholarships to deserving student athletes of Sonoma County making the transition from high school to college. Made possible by dues and contributions from our members, we are giving our 4 recipients a total of $4250 in scholarship awards this year. All club members should be proud of the part they play in this most wonderful of traditions through generous donations.

These four student-athletes will be formally introduced and awarded their scholarship checks at the Kenwood Footrace on July 4th. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding young members of our running community.

 

Our first recipient began her running career with an 8 minute mile during PE in middle school.  The accolades from her teacher lit a fire under the young runner and led to her running four years of cross country in high school.  Her freshman year her ability led her to run between 2 training groups.   Much of her training then was of a solo variety and the long hours spent chasing the front group led to much improvement but more importantly to develop what she calls, “grit”.  This grit and continued hard work was displayed in moving to the ‘front of the pack’ and becoming one of the top runners in league (CMC) and qualifying for the Division V state championships her next 3 years.  She not only represented her self and her league well, she put her school on the XC map.

This outstanding runner received many local accolades, including: Athlete of the Week (Heart and Sole) twice, All league 3 times, All Empire 3 times including 1st team in 2017, 4-time Scholar Athlete.  She also had many school accolades and is the school record holder on the Spring Lake Course with a 19:31 time.

She saved her best for last by medaling (7th Place overall) at a tough NCS course this year with a huge PR of 18:38.  She followed this with a 19th Place overall at the D5 State Championship on a very tough 5K course with a PR of 19:20.

Our recipient is also an outstanding student with many scholar and scholar athlete awards.  She has maintained a nearly 4.0 unweighted GPA (3.98) and much like her impact on her XC team she has been a great addition in the classroom.  Both her coaches and teachers agree her involvement in any activity brings up the level of those around her and her positive attitude and easy laugh is infectious.

This excellent choice for the ER Student Grant will be continuing her education and running career wearing the Purple and Gold of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.  This future Prairie Fire will be a ‘diamond in the rough’ for Coach Alex Moreno and his strong D3 ladies running program.  While there she will major in Theater with emphasis in stagecraft, technical theater (sets, costumes, etc.) and practical effects (stunts, flight, pyrotechnics) and Acting. Please welcome to the stage, from Tech High School, the gritty and accomplished:

IRIS  BERTO

 

Our second scholar athlete began his running career the summer before freshman year with summer training with his new high school.  When he arrived he was shy and knew nobody.  But after completing summer training the daunting thought of starting at a new school was gone and he began a 4-year sojourn with his XC and Track teams.  This runner started in the back of the pack but with hard work and dedication he developed into a 2-year varsity performer with a multi league championship team.

This scholar athlete has found running and his team to be the most impactful experience of his life.  He has found the bond of running with teammates has strengthened not only his physical skills but plays a major role in his scholastic achievement as well.

While running both XC and Track all 4 years he has found time to be actively involved in multiple school clubs, volunteer with the ER, Food Bank, Math Tutor and Spanish tutor.  He has received many scholastic awards including: Outstanding Scholar (Top 8 students), Gold GPA award and 8-time scholar athlete award winner.  He has maintained an unweighted 3.7 GPA.

Although beginning his running career as a JV runner (most improved) he continued to work and improve and was chosen by his coach and peers as a Captain of the XC team.  His PR on the Spring Lake Course is 18:00 and he travelled with his team to the State XC Championships this past year.  Because he works so hard and has the mindset for continued improvement I don’t feel he has tapped out his running potential.  I also think his leadership skills and running knowledge would translate to being a great coach if he were to choose that path.

Our second recipient will be attending UC Davis in the fall.  This future Aggie will be continuing his education in International Relations and running with the Aggie Running Club. Please give a big hand for this former Piner Prospector:

BEN SOMMA

 

Our 3rd ER Grant recipient began her high school career with some accolades from middle school XC and continued that, achieving Varsity status as a freshman, running a season PR of 20:36 and 3rd team All league.  Sophomore year showed continued improvement with a 19:34 PR and 2nd team All league.  Junior year was more of the same with a 19:44 PR and 1st team All league.  Our recipient also made All Empire sophomore and junior years.  Senior year had her making second team all league with a number of sub 20min Spring Lake Course races.  This scholar athlete also had success on the track with a best 2-mile time of 11:43 during track season and at the HOKA 2-mile madness junior and senior years.  Her best year in track was junior year when she qualified for the Redwood Empire meet in the 800, 1600 and 3200.

With those results you might think everything was easy for our recipient, but that would be far from the truth.  She hardly had a season that wasn’t negatively impacted by a myriad of ailments including bone development problems, severe anemia and pneumonia.  This illness history has kept her from meeting her potential.  Her illnesses would have had a weaker individual possibly quitting the sport but she came back from each setback working harder, very positive and responding with excellent results.

This scholar athlete’s excellent attitude is beyond reproach and has a positive impact on her teammates resulting in multiple Captain awards in both Track and XC.  That being said, her favorite may be her Most Inspirational Award voted by her teammates last XC year (2017).  Her coaches were impressed at her leadership skills including regular motivational speeches prior to races often leading to improved performances.  I truly feel lucky that I was one of those coaches that experienced the “Jazzy effect”.

On the scholarly side our athlete was an NCS scholar athlete 8 times, recipient of the MHS Boosters Scholarship, NCS Foundation Scholarship and a perfect unweighted GPA of 4.0 while taking a mixed IB/AP Honors curriculum.  She was also a finalist for the Redwood Empire Scholar Athlete Award.  This was accomplished with a full slate of volunteer opportunities and a part time job at a local Engineering firm.  It was said best by one of her teachers; “she will crawl inside your heart, make herself comfortable and while there remodel the place making room for more.”

Our scholar athlete will continue her education and running career on a partial scholarship at Division 2, Academy of the Arts University in San Francisco majoring in Fashion Design.  I expect to see her continue to achieve in both her running and scholarship. This Fall she will be running in the black and red colors of the Urban Knights. Please give a warm welcome to the former MHS Viking:

JASMINE ‘JAZZY’ BECKER

 

Our final ER scholarship recipient almost doesn’t need an introduction.  She has spent more time on the sports pages of the Press Democrat than almost any other high school athlete in the last 30 years.  She also happens to be arguably the greatest combi track and field athlete ever in the Redwood Empire and maybe the state; boy or girl.  Our recipient finished her high school career #1 All-Time Redwood Empire in the 100(11.87), 200(24.17), 400(54.07), 300LH(42.68) and the 400LH(62.18).  These are State Meet level times and she medaled at that meet in the 200, 400 qualifying in at least one event all 4 years.  Her 300LH time was run early in the season and was about 0.5 sec behind the eventual state meet winner.  Her 400H time run only once this year at Stanford in early April was #2 in the nation. Per her coach, “she is willing to perform any event except the PV to get points for the team”.  Anything includes both relays where she led her 400R team to #2 AT in 3:55 qualifying for the State Meet, the DT and SP where she not only produced valuable points but finished 25th and 45th AT in the RE.  She also ended up #3 AT in the LJ (18’11”) which she jumped freshman year only.

If that body of work doesn’t impress you she also ran XC Soph/JR and was her school’s top runner both years, finishing 1st team All League and All RE her junior year with a PR of 19:34 on SLC.  Winning races from 100M to 5K is virtually unheard of in California.  If that isn’t impressive her coach noted how inspirational she is as a team leader both in XC and in Track especially tutoring the new runners in baton passing.

One might think that our scholar athlete is just physically gifted but she also had health issues after her freshman year and worked hard to recover and come back stronger and better while finding great solace with her team; training and racing.  While performing at the highest level athletically our student grant recipient also performed admirably in the classroom with an unweighted GPA of 3.6 in an honors level curriculum, including Spanish and Italian all the while a member of the symphonic band in the School of Arts.  She not only succeeds in the classroom she also peer tutors in Sports Medicine class.

kirstin carter 2 all empire 2018

Her high school experience has prepared her for success at the next level both in sports and academically.  She has accepted a scholarship to attend UC Davis in the Fall and plans to major in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.  Picking her events may be difficult and will probably include a relay or two and the 400H but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t follow her fellow alumni, Wendi Simmons and end up a national level heptathlete. Whatever happens she has a clear plan with multiple short-term goals to improve consistently throughout college and minimize the stress.  Our final scholarship winner will be trading the orange and black of SRHS for the blue and white and becoming a lifelong Aggie.  I am proud to present to you:

KIRSTEN CARTER

 

This article written by Brad Zanetti,

co-chair along with Paul Berg of the ER Student Grant Fund.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s