On the heels of spectacular ends to their high school athletic careers, Kyla Irwin and Anthony Degleris were honored with the Centre Daily Times’ James Snyder Awards on Tuesday night.
The pair are the final honorees this school year.
“I’ve been seeing it in the paper for years now, and I saw a lot of other great track athletes get it,” said Degleris, a state champion in track last month. “I was really honored to receive it.”
The honor is given to male and female senior letterwinners who demonstrate excellence in the classroom as well as good citizenship in the school and community. It 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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Irwin played four seasons each of volleyball and basketball at State College, earning All-State honors in the former as a junior and in the latter for her final three seasons. She finished her career as the school’s all-time leader in scoring with 2,032 points and rebounding with 1,188. She led the Lady Little Lions to District 6 titles this past season in both sports.
In addition to her outstanding athletic achievements, she also posted a 3.8 grade-point average, made high honor roll every semester of high school, earned Power of the Paws and was a Lion Ambassador while also winning the John Bolash Triple A Award for academics, activities and attitude, and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Award, selected by school faculty to participate in leadership training, service, learning and motivation. She has been active in a number of volunteer organizations and camps including Special Olympics, blood drives, basketball and volleyball camps and Big Brother Big Sister.
“I have a little sister who’s 9 now,” Irwin said in an interview two weeks ago before she left for college. “I hang out with her once a week.”
Irwin has already enrolled at the University of Connecticut, beginning classes last week. She plans to return home for graduation this weekend. She is pondering a major in either occupational or speech therapy.
“It’s really a unique job where you can work with people hands on,” Irwin said. “Teach them things and I really like seeing improvement. It’s really gratifying to see your work is paying off.”
She also will be a member of the four-time national champion Huskies basketball team next season.
“I think my level of excitement and nervousness are almost equal,” Irwin said. “I don’t know what to expect, and it’s hard to prepare yourself for the hardest thing you’re ever going to go through.”
Degleris also racked up plenty of highlights in his athletic career as a member of the cross country and track and field teams each of the last four years, serving as team co-captain as a senior.
He helped the cross country team to the District 6 title and a ninth-place finish at the PIAA meet, then helped the track team to the district and state championships.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know we were the best team in the state this year,” Degleris said.
During the indoor track season, he was part of a state-title-winning run for the 4x800 relay, a victory in the same event at the Millrose Games, a third-place finish at the New Balance Indoor National Championships and a fourth-place finish at the Penn Relays.
His season was capped when he earned an eighth-place medal in the 800-meter run, captured a silver medal as part of the 4x400 relay and was a member of the gold-medal-winning 4x800 team. The time for Degleris, Nick Feffer, Owen Wing and Alex Milligan in the 4x800 of 7 minutes, 37.25 seconds not only broke the school record but is the fastest time in the entire country this spring, according to milesplit.com as of Tuesday night.
“The 4x8 stood above the rest,” said Degleris, who will join his teammates at the New Balance National Championship meet in North Carolina starting June 17. “It’s what we’ve been looking for for a long time now.”
The eighth-place medal in the 800 was worth one point for his team, and the Little Lions beat Downingtown West 54-53.
“At districts I didn’t even think I was going to run at the state meet,” said Degleris, who contemplated jogging through the 800 preliminaries to save himself for other races. “I thought the competition in my heat was really stacked, but then to go on to clinch that one point, which ended up mattering, is an incredible feeling.”
He will graduate with a 4.813 weighted GPA (4.00 unweighted). He’s a National AP Scholar, was an AP Scholar with Distinction, won the Principal’s Award and was a member of the National Spanish Honor Society. He was a member of the Speech and Debate Club, Future Business Leaders of America and Little Lion Ambassadors, served as a youth track coach and was a youth mentor in the Men to Men program.
He will attend Stanford this fall, planning to study chemical engineering or computer science, or hoping to integrate the two disciplines possibly in nanotechnology.
“I was always really intrigued about leaving the east coast and going west,” said Degleris, who will not run for the Cardinal track team. “I think Stanford is definitely the pinnacle of west coast schools. A lot of things about their academic program interest me, and they offer so much academic freedom that I don’t think I can find many other places.”