Anybody can see who’s winning an athletic event.
After all, it takes just one quick look at the scoreboard to figure it out.
It’s not that simple to figure out who’s winning the race in the classroom for valedictorian.
Every test, quiz, project and homework assignment can adjust the rankings at the drop of a hat, and fractions of a point are often all that separates students in the standings.
Live Oak’s Sam Still and Hubbard’s Kate Saucke were fortunate enough to be on the winning side of the scoreboard more often than not and also both found themselves at the top of the standings when everything was counted up and were named the valedictorians of their respective schools.
That success in both venues has earned Still and Saucke the right to be called the Super Centex Student-Athletes of the Year. This is the fourth year of the award, and it’s the first time either a Falcon or Lady Jaguar has claimed it.
“I think being an athlete also helps you in the classroom,” said Still, who maintained a 4.36 GPA. “ Certain things you learn from athletics like discipline (are important). You don’t want to get up a 6:30 in the morning, but you’ve got to get up at 6:30 in the morning to work. The same is true in the classroom. You don’t want to sit in a classroom for an hour and take notes, but you’ve got to. Balancing your time is important, from working out and doing practice for your various athletics to studying at night when you’re at home, even though you have practice early in the morning.”
That laser focus allowed Still to handle Live Oak’s rigorous academic load while contributing to the football, basketball and track teams.
Still caught eight touchdown passes in helping the Falcons win their second TCAL state championship in three years on the football field, and he was also part of the 4x200-meter relay team that set a state record and a basketball team that reached the state title game.
He plans on attending Baylor in the fall as a full-time student, but he’s convinced the combination of the lessons he learned athletically as well as academically will help him later in life.
“Really the combination of academics and athletics, it’s hard to describe almost, because it’s truly a unique opportunity,” Still said. “I don’t think anywhere else can you get such rigorous challenges academically and then have such great opportunities presented to you in the area of athletics. The experience is something I’ll really cherish forever. I’ll never forget it.”
Saucke learned early on the importance of succeeding in the classroom, but it’s not like she had much of a choice in the matter.
“When I was younger if I didn’t get at least a 95 I got in trouble, and with my parents both being teachers it was always expected to make good grades,” Saucke said. “My parents always made sure there was time for me, whether I’m on my way to a tournament or a game or whatever, to always get my work done.”
Her father, Mike, also coached her on the softball field, and Saucke was a first-team Super Centex honoree who helped the Lady Jaguars to their first-ever state tournament in her favorite sport.
Things didn’t work out there for Hubbard, but as fate would have it, Saucke was its last hitter to stride to the plate. Her dad called timeout, and the two put an arm around each other and shared a quick word.
“My dad’s pretty sensitive, and he cries a lot,” Saucke said. “So I knew he was going to cry, and he made me cry right before I was going to hit. So I could barely see the ball, but it was awesome that we got to do that together.”
Saucke also advanced to state three times in tennis with doubles partner Nakaila Banks, and she played volleyball and basketball as well.
As hard as she worked athletically, she had to put in just as much effort into holding off Hubbard’s salutatorian – Saucke’s best friend, Amy Anz.
“It got a lot harder last year because Amy moved in from Clifton,” Saucke said. “We knew she was really smart, and it was a couple hundredths of a point that came between us for valedictorian and salutatorian. So it was friendly competition. She pushed me to get better grades just to make sure I maintained that spot.”
In the end, when all the grades were tallied up, Saucke’s average of 102.741 was sixteen-thousandths of a point ahead of Anz.
Saucke has 27 hours of college credit from Hill College, and she recently registered to begin school at Texas A&M in the fall. Like Still, she will be full-time student, but she’s proud of the memories she was able to create with her high school teammates.
They both left marks in their schools that all young student-athletes could model themselves after.
“You have to stay on top of your school. If you don’t pass, you don’t play, so first and foremost you’re a student-athlete,” Still said. “You’re not just an athlete. You’re a student-athlete. Take care of business in the classroom, no matter how hard it might be sometimes. Just like you do preparing for any game, you practice and you execute, execute in the classroom as well. Manage your time well, otherwise you’ll sink. When I didn’t manage my time well, I felt the sinking feeling, so manage your time well and you’ll be OK.”
2014 SUPER CENTEX ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM
Trent Andrews, Bosqueville: Three-time first-team Super Centex offensive lineman in football, state qualifier in powerlifting came in with 95.89 average
Gabe Ouellete, Connally: Offensive line captain in football, basketball player was third in class with 100 average
Tyler Smith, Crawford: Salutatorian with 101.3 average was all-district in football, basketball, qualified for regionals in track
Sam Still, Live Oak: Three-sport athlete won two state titles in football, helped 4x200-meter set state TCAL record finished with 4.36 GPA to earn valedictorian honors
Austin Allsup, Lorena: First-team all-district offensive lineman in football, participated in baseball, powerlifting, carried 100.8 average to rank third in class
Cooper Graves, Midway: Posted 101.9 average to finish 16th out of 508 in class, two-time all-region in choir along with startingon football offensive line
Shane Brooks, Reicher: State track qualifier earned all-district honors in football, soccer, had 99.23 average with 105 hours of service
Jeremy Sheehy, Reicher: All-district performer in football also played soccer, posted 99.18 average
Joe Schwartz, Vanguard: Super Centex basketball player of the year won several academic honors, turned in more than 300 hours of community service
Cody McDonough, Waco High: Baseball player was top 10 in class with stellar 102.8 average
Andee Little, Chilton: Valedictorian with 98.1 average won 14 academic awards, has 29 hours of dual-credit classes while winning district three times in tennis, three-year starter in volleyball, basketball
Lynnsey Federwisch, Connally: All-district softball player was a cheerleader, active in NHS, FCA, PALS, among other organizations, had 100.7 average to earn salutatorian honors
Jessica Tomchesson, Crawford: Four-time Super Centex, two-time state champion in softball, regional track qualifier carried 100 average
Sarah Latham, Gatesville: All-district basketball player, school record holder in pole vault earned valedictorian honors
Kate Saucke, Hubbard: First-team Super Centex softball player also went to state three times in tennis while taking valedictorian honors with 102.7 mark
Emily Bailey, Live Oak: Helped team to four state titles in cross country, first-team all-state basketball, posted 4.3 GPA
Stephanie Welch, Midway: Valedictorian out of 508 in class was NHS president, earned academic all-state honors in track
Rebecca Trippe, Reicher: Regional qualifier in track was also cheerleader, turned in 217 service hours while taking valedictorian honors
Elizabeth Martinez, Waco High: Hispanic National Merit Scholar was cross country captain, posted 104 GPA to come in third out of 325
Jennifer Prnka, West: Miss West High 2014 was Super Centex softball player, also played volleyball, carried 102.6 mark for salutatorian honors, 4.0 college GPA
Boys: Bryce Brunett, Jon Cammack, Tyler Kepple and Paris Lett, Aquilla; Eric Rovello, Axtell; Tyree Carpenter and Matthew Stephens, Bosqueville; Brandon Allison, Tucker Johnson, Andrew McPherson and Andrew Pachelli, China Spring; Matt Brown, Tanner Christensen, Jacob Kevil, Olin Moody, Hunter Vansau, Matthew Weatherman and Matthew Wiethorn, Crawford; Kelby Taylor, Jonesboro; Grant Linnstaedter, Lorena; Lyle Sherman and Blake Stock, Midway; Payne Sullins, Reicher; Zac Law, Robinson; Blake Janek, Valley Mills; Dan Hibbs, Vanguard; Evan Cooper and Elias Lopez, Waco High
Girls: Melissa Burkhart, Aquilla; Tiffany Moore, Axtell; Reagan Jackson, Jordan Jones and Katelyn Veteto, Bosqueville; Katie Andrie, Ellie Caldera, Kellie Carpenter, Kina Cummings, Ty DeGrate, Evan Leist, Amy Shannon and Karina Wilson, China Spring; Morgan Carter, Kierra Gaither and Tazi Johnston, Connally; Sarah Davis, Korie Dutschmann, Ky Foster, Morgan Groppe, Cheyenne Lynch, Jordyn Villa and Ellen Whitney; Kari Greaves, Gatesville; Mandy Adams, Groesbeck; Amy Anz, Hubbard; Ashlyn Bell, Adela Botello and Raychel Mynarcik, Lorena; Abigail Hoffman, Midway; Bernadette Bruich and Klemson Lancaster, Reicher; Haley Boyett, Robinson; Mills Chenot and Kelsey Hickok, Vanguard; Brittany Rister, Waco High; Ashton Crawford and Lauren Wernet, West; Sara Sessions, Wortham