academic athletics ra2

Midway baseball player Mikeal Parsons (left) and Fairfield basketball, volleyball and softball player Caitlynn Stone were both named valedictorian at their schools. Parsons will attend Harvard and Stone will attend Texas A&M.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte

Chances are if Mikeal Parsons or Caitlynn Stone were finishing up an event, they were about to be on their way to the next one.

Neither slowed down often in high school, whether they were competing in athletics or academics, or doing community service.

It was that kind of dedication that propelled both to the top of their respective schools’ senior class — Parsons at Midway and Stone at Fairfield — as the valedictorian, and they’re the picks as the Tribune-Herald’s Super Centex Student-Athletes of the Year.

Neither Parsons’ nor Stone’s academic status is a surprise, since they were raised in households in which that was the top priority. Parsons’ parents, Mikeal Parsons and Heidi Hornik-Parsons, are both professors at Baylor, and Stone’s mother, Cheryl, is a teacher at Fairfield.

“It was all about prioritizing, but school always comes first for me,” Stone said. “I’d come home from practice at 5:30 or 6 (in the evening), and I’d do homework until bedtime. It was just a lot of prioritizing my time.”

Parsons said he toured colleges his freshman and sophomore year, but Harvard was always the place he wanted to attend.

That seemed like a mere dream to him, although he does have Ivy League ties as his mother was on the swim team at Cornell, but it became a reality when he opened the email on the day Harvard announced its selections.

“It was just a huge reach school, so I applied and got the decision back,” Parsons said. “I found out I got in and was just floored. It had always been my first choice, but never a realistic first choice. It was pretty nice to (be accepted).”

Perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a shock.

With a 105.5 GPA, a long list of academic awards and more than 400 hours of community service, Parsons did all he could to put himself on the right track.

“It starts with my parents,” Parsons said. “From the time I became self-aware, they instilled in me that I have something a lot of people don’t have — like a bed, a place to stay and stuff like that — so it just perpetuated a sense of wanting to give back and helping others.”

Parsons plans to major in economics at Harvard, and he hopes to continue his baseball career as a walk-on with the Crimson. The left-handed pitcher was a two-time second-team Super Centex pick and recorded a 6-2 record with a 1.68 ERA as a senior. He struck out 39 in 50 innings of work, but his trademark was pinpoint control that allowed him to limit his walks to six.

Parsons’ favorite memory on the high school baseball diamond oddly enough involves losses — 1-0 defeats, to be exact, in the first and last playoff games he pitched.

“It kind of came full circle,” Parsons said. “They were close games, and I enjoyed being in them around different teammates, different experiences — not necessarily that it ended negatively, but that it ended like that and everything had come full circle.”

Stone was a three-sport athlete at Fairfield, along with playing snare drum in the band and twice advancing to state in Agriculture Science.

She recalled several Monday nights in the fall in which she didn’t have much time between her activities. She would get finished with volleyball practice, swing by her mom’s classroom for a quick snack and maybe get some homework done and then head to the band hall for a marching practice that ended about 9 p.m.

“The first couple of six weeks were always the hardest,” Stone said. “Because we had marching practice so late, it was always hard to get stuff done.”

But she managed to juggle all of her events well, maintaining the No. 1 spot in her class from the sixth grade on and earning first-team all-district honors in volleyball and basketball while receiving honorable mention in softball.

“She had a great career at Fairfield, along with being unbelievable academically,” Fairfield girls’ basketball coach Stephen Heers said. “There wasn’t too much she wasn’t involved in. You’re talking about losing your libero in volleyball, your point guard in basketball and a girl that could play third base in softball. Her hand-eye coordination was wonderful, and it made her valuable. She’s the kind of girl you won’t know the impact she has had until next year.”

Stone ended her time at Fairfield with a 106 GPA and will begin pursuing a degree in engineering at Texas A&M in the fall.

Like Parsons, she found time to volunteer despite all of her school activities and was the kind of athlete every coach hopes to have a chance to work with.

“Caitlynn is one of the most dependable girls out there,” Heers said. “My wife had her in student council, and she was one of those kids that got things done. … You get to use (girls like Stone) as role models. You get to bring her name up and over and over again with all the little things you want out of an athlete, and that’s a really nice attribute to have.”

Both said they were excited when they found out they were going to be their school’s valedictorian, and were also pleased to add this award.

“I was almost speechless when Coach (Paul) Offill told me,” Parsons said. “I was very excited because I knew there was a lot of stuff that went into the application and recommendation for it, and a lot of people who played a large part in me being able to get it. I felt like I got it as much for them as myself. I was at (David) Smoak’s athletic scholarship event, and just seeing the number of student-athletes in Waco and seeing how they are recognized by Waco is really good. I enjoy seeing that.”

2015 Super Centex All-Academic Team

Boys

Miller Petty, Bosqueville: Valedictorian sported 104.4 GPA, was National Honor Society president while competing in four sports

Greyson Gonzalez, Bosqueville: One of are’s top all-around athletes in football, baseball, track and golf also put up 101.6 GPA for salutatorian honors

Ben May, China Spring: Three-year National Honor Society member and two-year PALs volunteer posted 4.1 GPA while competing in track and basketball

Sam Gaston, Live Oak: Posted GPA just shy of 4.2, helped 4x400-meter relay team to state title, football team to runner-up finish

Mikeal Parsons, Midway: Boys’ student-athlete of the year was valedictorian with 105.5 GPA, had more than 400 hours of community service and was second-team Super Centex in baseball

Jesse Watters, Midway: Academic all-state soccer player came in second in class with 105.3 GPA

Brett Ramsey, Moody: Valedictorian with 101.1 GPA was Beta Club member, competed in football, powerlifting and track

Henry Boehm, Vanguard: Earned Texas Exes 40 Acres scholarship with 4.5 GPA and played soccer

Gerald Wilburn, Waco High: Football player volunteered with Feast of Sharing all four years of high school, finished with 101.8 GPA

Haden Tobola, West: First-team Super Centex kicker also played basketball, ran track and had 103.3 GPA

Honorable mention

Payton Casarez, Randall Hester and J.R. Wade, Aquilla; Clayton Hudson, Bosqueville; Norvell Alston, Chilton; Tyler Dews and Andrew Wallace, Gatesville; Anthony Allman, Live Oak; Ragan Forrest, Jackson Krall and Logan Poteet, Lorena; Jacob Burney, Mart; Trevor Peck and David Valdez, McGregor; Curk Harris and Karoan Tatum, Mexia; Marco Castro, Jason Conners and Roy Ward, Reicher; Matt McNew, Robinson; Coby Herring, Troy; Trevion Freeman, Waco High; Trenton Trotter, Walnut Springs; Brett Gilchrist, Josh Ince and Luis Montoya, Whitney

Girls

Caitlynn Stone, Fairfield: Valedictorian with 106 GPA played volleyball, basketball and softball, helped with or oversaw a number of community service projects

Katie Kuzenka, Jonesboro: Six-time summer counselor at Deer Creek Camp for mentally and physically abused children was valedictorian, made state in cross country and track, played basketball

Beth Vonasek, Lorena: First-team all-district soccer player was member of National Honor Society, student council, posted 102 GPA

Britney Connally, Mart: TGCA all-state volleyball player was valedictorian with 102.7 GPA, helped with Citywide Cleanup, food pantry truck

Savannah Freeman, Mart: Three-time state qualifier in the pole vault was also all-district in volleyball and basketball, and salutatorian with 101.1 GPA

Hope Lenamon, McGregor: School record-holder in the mile also ran cross country, played basketball, was valedictorian with 103.5 GPA

Caroline Kutach, Midway: Five-time state science fair qualifier, four-time Spirit of Midway Award for Volunteerism honoree was all-state tennis player, had 104.5 GPA

Josey Meyer, Midway: Cross country runner and soccer player had 105.3 GPA while volunteering at Caritas, Woodway Family Center as soccer coach for kindergarten team

Megan Mendiola, Reicher: Softball player posted 101.8 GPA, racked up 105.5 community service hours

Leia Sefcik, West: Volunteered with West Public Library Tale Tellers Youth Reading Program, finished with 103 GPA while playing volleyball and basketball, and serving as a cheerleader

Honorable mention

Ashlyn Engledow, Angel Pina, Ashley Saulters and Alex Turner, Axtell; Rebecca Garrett and Cy’Andria Newton, Bosqueville; Meghan Dupree, Bruceville-Eddy; Evan Edmiston, Sarah Hogan and Brianna Poe, Gatesville; Katelyn Barker and Brynn Hatton, Lorena; Stephanie Jimenez, McGregor; Aaren P., Methodist Children’s Home; Summer Perkins, Moody; Shyann Schulte, Reicher; Bailey Ashcraft, Robinson; Libby Colon and Melina Martinez, University; Kaity Cummings, Vanguard; Julia La Barre, Waco High; Mayte Arredondo, Whitney

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