RECORD-JOURNAL SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: Platt’s Lopez blazed a unique trail

RECORD-JOURNAL SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: Platt’s Lopez blazed a unique trail

MERIDEN — Erika Lopez probably doesn’t want to hear about glass ceilings. She’s too busy breaking through them.

Or perhaps, as a soon-to-be mechanical engineering student at UConn, she’ll design a way around them.

Lopez pushed all sorts of envelopes in her years at Platt High School, starting with the three letters she won as a member of the boys golf team. This spring, as a senior, she was team captain.

In her other extra-curricular activities, Lopez was president of the Student Senate and president of the Chemistry Club. She was also a student representative to the Meriden Board of Education.

Among her recognitions were a Harvard Book Award and a Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents’ Award.

With a 4.5 grade-point average, Lopez also graduated No. 6 in Platt’s Class of 2018.

“Erika is one of the most hard-working and most persistent golfers I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach,” said Platt golf coach Jim Siebert. “She brings a great work ethic, great enthusiasm and great composure to every practice and match.

“She is a leader on the golf course, in the classroom and all around at Platt High School. Erika’s future —at UConn, on the golf course and beyond — is very promising.”

Lopez was one of seven Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected by their coaches at Platt High School for the 2018 spring season. All seven are invited to the Record-Journal’s “Best of the Bunch” awards brunch, which will be held at the Aqua Turf Club this coming Sunday, June 24.

Samuel Adu, boys tennis: After graduating with a 4.36 GPA, Samuel Adu’s next port-of-call is the University of Virginia, where he’ll major in BioChemistry.

Adu built his academic foundation with AP courses and UConn classes after moving to Meriden from Ghana.

A two-sport athlete, Adu played soccer in the fall and filled multiple slots for the tennis team in the spring. He was also a team captain in tennis.

“Sam played well in doubles positions this year and is well-liked and respected by his peers, teachers and (coaches),” remarked tennis coach Kevin Cook.

“Samuel can always be counted on to play any position asked of him and kindly offers his assistance when needed.”

Machaila Arjavich, softball: Senior pitcher Machaila Arjavich, a four-year varsity veteran, returns to the scholar-athlete circle for one final inning.

A High Honors student, Arjavich graduated with a 4.2. She was both a CIAC and Record-Journal Scholar-Athlete.

Arjavich was All-Conference in softball, but that wasn’t her only game. She also played volleyball in the fall and ran indoor track in the winter.

Her extracurricular activities ranged from Youth and Government, Leadership Club and Student Senate to DECA to the Art Club to Yearbook.

Arjavich now heads to Castleton University in Vermont, where she will major in History and minor in Art History and continue playing softball.

“Machaila is a versatile, well-rounded individual,” remarked softball coach Trish Wodatch.

“She is a true competitor who has a strong work ethic in and out of the classroom as well as in the offseason.”

Jake Baker, baseball: All-Conference shortstop Jake Baker played a major role in Platt’s run to the CCC South-Colonial Division title and the Class L state tournament.

The junior batted .485 for the regular season and got on base at a .566 clip while driving in 10 runs.

Once aboard, Baker was lethal. He stole 16 bases and scored 25 runs.

Baker also has stellar stats in the classroom with a 4.2 GPA.

In the end, he was named to the All-Conference and All-Record-Journal teams.  

“Jake is a great competitor,” said Platt baseball coach Tim Redican. “He is always working to be the best on and off the field.”

Muhammad Hamdan, boys track: This senior was a Scholar-Athlete for all seasons, completing a 2017-18 sweep in soccer, swimming and now track.

No surprise. Hamdan was the Salutatorian of Platt’s Class of 2018 with a 4.98 GPA. He now heads to UConn to embark on a Pre-Med academic track.

The National Honor Society member was president of the Chemistry Club and won a Yale Book Award.

In track, Hamdan was a four-year competitor and a senior captain who came into his own this spring in pole vault. His top height was 12 feet and he went undefeated in CCC South competition to claim the conference championship.

“Muhammad is very determined both academically and athletically. When he puts his mind to something, there is absolutely no stopping him,” said track coach Chantal Ridlon. “He has been a real asset to our team over the past four years and we will greatly miss him when he goes to UConn in the fall.” 

Juliann Pellegrino, girls tennis: Platt’s No. 1 singles player and senior captain is on her way to Sacred Heart University to pursue a Pre-Med/Biology course of study after graduating No. 10 in Platt’s Class of 2018 with a 4.6 GPA.

President of the National Honor Society, Pellegrino also participated in the Chemistry Club, Key Club, SkillsUSA and Student Senate. She was a finalist for the Hicks Prize Public Speaking and Essay Contest and received a Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award.

A two-sport athlete, Pellegrino overcame a knee injury suffered several years ago to earn All-Conference recognition in volleyball and tennis. At No. 1 singles, she went 15-3 this spring and qualified for the State Open.

“I can't think of a more deserving student-athlete to receive recognition for her tremendous efforts on and off the court,” said tennis coach Jennifer Lehner.

“While her academic and athletic accomplishments are extremely impressive, my favorite quality about Jules is her kindness. I like to say, ‘It's nice to be nice,’ and Jules lives by this motto everyday. She is supportive and encouraging toward her teammates, is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone and is a remarkable role model on the team and in life.”

Daniela Sevilla, girls track: This future Biochemistry major just completed her junior year at Platt holding a GPA of 4.39.

Sevilla is a class officer and a member of the Student Senate.

A soccer player in the fall, Sevilla put in her second year of track this spring consistently lowering her times and scoring for the Panthers in the 400 meters. She won the event at this year’s Platt-Maloney meet.

“Daniela is a very hard worker both in school and on the track,” noted coach Chantal Ridlon.

“Her daily attendance and work ethic is refreshing. She is a determined young woman with a very bright future.”




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