Jordan Wiser and Eli Urban are the first winners of the Centre Daily Times’ James Snyder Award from St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.
The award has been given annually to Centre County’s five public schools for more than a half-century, and this is the first year the honors have been given to students from St. Joseph’s.
“It’s pretty cool,” Urban said. “It was an award I wasn’t expecting so it was a pleasant surprise. I hope I am the first of many.”
The award, sponsored by the Centre Daily Times, is given in memory of Snyder, a former CDT sports editor, who was killed in an automobile accident in December of 1957.
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The award is given to male and female senior letterwinners who demonstrate excellence in the classroom as well as being a good citizen in the school and community.
Wiser has been a successful athlete for the Lady Wolves for the last two years, highlighted by captaining the team to the PIAA Class A Cross Country Championship last fall.
“It’s very special, knowing the school came from such a little background,” she said. “And now it has a winning state team.”
She also runs on the track and field team.
Wiser also has been involved in a number of other activities. She was president of the Service Club and worked with the Thirst Project to raise money to provide a village in need with a fresh water well or pump. The campaign, which began a couple months ago, has raised $2,000 toward a goal of $12,000. They are focusing on the small African nation of Swaziland.
“It’s such an important thing,” Wiser said. “These people all across the world are just dying because they don’t’ have safe, clean drinking water. We take that for granted and we waste so much, and it’s such a great feeling knowing we can help those people out.”
Wiser will run for the Bald Eagle track and cross country programs at Lock Haven. She plans to study athletic training and exercise science.
Urban also runs for the St. Joseph’s track and cross country programs, finishing second in the 3,200-meter run at the District 6 Class AA championship meet on Tuesday, and also helping the 4x800 relay team to the district title, qualifying both events for the state championships. In the fall, he helped the cross country team qualify for the PIAA meet.
“There’s been a lot of milestones,” Urban said of his athletic highlight, though he ended up going back in time. “Running at states last year, the outdoor season was great an getting 15th in the 3,200, that was awesome … but I think the big moment was having it start to click, having some confidence, and that was probably my freshman year when I ran a 19:15 (over 5 kilometers) in cross country.
“It wasn’t a good time, compared to what I run now, but it made me realize I could be better than what I had been to that point. That was a revelation.”
Urban also is a National Merit Scholarship finalist, an Eagle Scout and served on Student Council. He is undecided on a major this fall at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, where he will continue to run.
Being a part of a program at its infancy and helping build an identity has been exciting.
“St. Joe’s pushed me in multiple ways,” said Urban, who also was the first four-year member of the track team. “I didn’t think I would be running cross country and teack for four years but I stuck with it. It’s given me structure and something to work toward in the future and build upon.”