The Centre County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2018-19 scholarship winners to the media on Monday.
Counted among the recipients of the scholarship, which support student-athletes who have earned at least one varsity letter, excelled in the classroom and are active in school and community activities, are National Honor Society members, a cross-country state champion, a 4-H secretary and many others who found success both on and off the field.
“We are once again extremely proud to award these scholarships to our county’s student athletes,’’ Hall of Fame President Bucky Quici said in a release. “We wish these young men and women continued success in their future wherever it may lead them.”
The scholarships, which are $500 apiece for two students from each of Centre County’s five public high schools plus St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, are funded through a donation from Reliance Bank, as well as the HOF’s membership fees and donations.
Since the inception of the scholarship in 2018, the award has already increased by $200, something Quici said he believes is a reflection of the community’s support for its student-athletes, and something he said he hopes to continue growing.
“Although it’s not large amount of money, $500, it might help with something,” he said. “And if it helps a student achieve something, get a book or whatever it might be, then that’s what our purpose is.”
Having himself been a health and physical education teacher in the Bellefonte Area School District for 34 years as well as a softball and girls’ basketball coach, Quici knows well the challenges students can face balancing athletics with school work and other activities.
While it can be easy to cheer for a student-athlete who’s breaking the county scoring record or winning medals at districts and states, he said the academic and community achievements can sometimes get missed.
“It’s definitely important for us to realize it’s not just about how many home runs you have or how many touchdowns you score,” he said. ”There are kids out there that certainly excel academically as well as athletically, and it’s the well-rounded student that we’re looking to support.”
Here’s look at each of this year’s recipients and what makes them unique:
(Bio information compiled by the Centre County Chapter of of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and CDT archives)
Bald Eagle Area
Judah Eveleth: A two-time all-conference selection in the 4X100 relay and a one-time selection in the 200 relay for BEA track and field, Eveleth also earned letters in soccer and unified bocce. The bocce team won the state championship this year in its inaugural season.
Eveleth was also a member of the National Honor Society, Young Life and the Special Olympics committee, and has gone on mission trips to Rwanda and Florida. He also won first place in the Miniature Landscape Design-Backyard Barbecue category at this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show as FFA.
He plans to attend Juniata College.
Kaleigh Cunningham: Not only did Cunningham letter in four sports — basketball, track, cross-country and soccer — but she also had the highest 11th grade GPA on the soccer team and highest 12th grade GPA on the basketball team. She was a team captain in track and field and basketball, and was a manager for the football team.
Cunningham also kept busy in school, as a member of the National Honor Society, LEO Club, Special Olympics Committee, Student Government, Student Food Committee, Skills USA, National Technical Honor Society and History Club. She had also been a Centre County Grange Fair Queen contestant.
She plans to attend Lycoming College.
Catharine Besch: In her senior year alone, Besch recorded 150 saves for Bellefonte girls’ soccer, helping her team reach the District 6 finals. She was also a second-team Mountain League selection in soccer, and lettered in basketball, as well.
She won the 2018 Rock Solid Award, the James Snyder Award, was president of the Spanish Honor Society, was a member of the marching, concert and jazz bands, was the band secretary and was the secretary of the Walker Township 4-H.
Besch plans to go to school at and play goalkeeper for Juniata.
Rees Kelley: Kelley was a standout on the boys’ lacrosse team as a three-time varsity team captain and two-time Midfielder of the Year recipient. He also played football and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Kelley won several awards at his school’s senior awards night, including for Excellence in Technology Education, the Senior English Award and a Technology Education High Achievement Award.
He plans to attend and play lacrosse at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Baylor Shunk: Shunk has excelled both in wrestling and farming during his time at Penns Valley Area High School.
As a three-time district and Southwest Regional placewinner and two-time PIAA placewinner, Shunk posted a 132-28 career record and committed to wrestle for the reigning national champion Nittany Lions this year as a preferred walk-on.
He belonged to the FFA and the National Honor Society, helped organize the Youth Summer Wrestling Camp and was active in community service.
Emma Butler: Buttler lettered in both volleyball and basketball, and was a team captain. She was a three-time first-team Mountain League choice in volleyball and was a District 6 All-Star.
In 2018, Butler scored 17 points to help her basketball team to its first district title since 1997.
She was a member of the National Honor Society, the Outdoor Club, the Volleyball Club and was a volunteer for the Hope Fund, the Millheim pool, the Farm Fest, Crick Fest and was a summer intern for the Penns Valley Conservation Association.
Her plans are to attend Montana State University.
Halle Herrington: Herrington made history this winter when she broke Centre County’s three-decade-old all-time career scoring record for girls’ basketball. She was also a two-time all-state selection two-time Mountain League MVP.
Off the hardwood, Herrington was also a District 6 golf champion and two-time Mountain League MVP. She won eight letters, four in basketball and four in golf.
Herrington belongs to the National Honor Society, Key Club, Student Council, a Mountie Mentor and Letter Winners Club.
She will attend California University of Pennsylvania, where she will play basketball.
Nick Keith: As a multisport athlete, Keith won six letters at Philipsburg-Osceola — four in football and two in track and field.
Keith was a football team captain and a two-time district qualifier in track and field.
He also belonged to the Key Club, the Drama Club and was a Mountie Mentor.
He plans to attend Shippensburg University.
Jack Mangene: Mangene played basketball, golf and baseball all four years, while finding time to volunteer by playing music at a local nursing home, sing in the school’s a cappella group and play the leading role of Danny Zuko in the school’s presentation of “Grease.”
He was a three-time all-conference selection in basketball, was a two-time conference player of the year, and was a team captain in golf, basketball and baseball.
Mangene used his musical talents as a worship leader for the all-school mass, was president of the a cappella choir and held down a musical gig at Ottos’ with his dad. He also logged 100 hours of community service.
He plans to attend Eastern University.
Sera Mazza: In her time on the St. Joe’s cross-country team, Mazza was a three-time District 6 champion and helped her team to a pair of state titles, as well as an individual title. She was also a District 6 track champion in the 1,600-meter run.
Mazza belonged to the Service Club and was also a member of the National Honor Society.
She plans to attend Penn State and run on the track team.
Karen Finlan: As a four-time letter winner in volleyball, Finlan was also a second-team Mid-Penn Conference choice and received the Coaches Leadership Award.
She belonged to Young Life, The Christ Community Church Youth Group, went to Ecuador on a mission trip and served as an intern with the athletic trainers.
She plans to attend Roanoke College.
Brenden Franks: Franks lettered in both basketball and baseball for State High. He helped his baseball team win three straight district titles, and was a Mid-Atlantic Top Prospect selection.
He was a member of the little Lion Fund, the German Club, DECA, FBLA, Challenger Games and volunteered with Jared Boxes.
He plans to attend Penn State.