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Sun, April 21

Prescott athletics show a lot of 'class,'<BR>win 2 Scholar Athlete Team awards

PRESCOTT – More often than not, their wins and accomplishments in the field are celebrated. But the real wins for two Prescott High School athletic teams came in the classroom.

The PHS boys' golf team and the girls' cross country team were two of 21 athletic programs across the state honored recently for winning the State Scholar Athlete Team Award for the highest grade point average in Arizona during the past fall season.

The distinction encompasses every classification of athletics amounting to more than 200 high schools in the running statewide.

And based on their varsity program's top academic standings, the boys' golf and girls' cross country teams at PHS ranked highest in their respective sports in all of Arizona.

"You emphasize grades and you emphasize, whether you're on the course or in the classroom, to strive to be the very best and strive for the highest goals," said Dan Marioni, a 30-year teacher in the Prescott Unified School District who has headed up the boys' golf team the past 18 years.

Carolyn Peters, head coach of the girls' cross country team, regularly imposes travel rules forcing her team members to complete all necessary classroom assignments prior to any road trips to meets with all bus rides involving quiet time for studying.

If that doesn't work, she always knows how to enlist the right student-athletes from the start.

"Last year I put up signs for recruiting that said, 'Do you want to be smart or be on the cross country team? Because apparently long distance running makes you much smarter'," Peters said from her home on Tuesday where she remains on maternity leave but expects to rejoin the cross country team in the fall.

In addition, both programs enjoyed among the most successful athletic seasons either has enjoyed in its history at PHS last fall.

Peters helped coach a highly successful team that saw one of its members, Jennifer Klein, capture an individual 4A State Championship.

Marioni, meanwhile, coached one of the finest golf teams he's ever fielded in his tenure, with the team's highlight of the season coming when the Badgers broke a 190 score in a round for the first time in school history.

Ten of Peters' 15 cross country runners this past fall were members of the National Honor Society. And out of the 21 teams winning State Scholar Athlete Team Awards in the respective varsity sports, her Lady Badgers were one of only three statewide to clinch perfect 4.0's from top to bottom along with Scottsdale Horizon's badminton and Mesa girls' tennis.

To win the State Scholar Athlete Award, each team pits its top grade point averages against one another to determine the top finishing.

The boys' golf team top scholars earning the recognition are Matt Allen (4.0), Kyle O'Malley (4.0), Pat Rimpardee (4.0), a foreign exchange student from Thailand, A.J. Baker (3.733) and Mark Sischka (3.350).

The girls' cross country team is led academically by a host of 4.0 achievers including all eight varsity runners. They are Klein, Megan Robertson, Alisha Carr, Amelia Peterson, Jill Kersten, Cee Cee Odorfer, Jessica Goldberger and Diane Danowski.

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