BEST OF THE BUNCH: Final winners ride on title games; academic finalists a lock

BEST OF THE BUNCH: Final winners ride on title games; academic finalists a lock

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This is the part of the Best of the Bunch series where we pull back the curtain a bit.

It’s halftime. We’re through the fall and winter set of finalists, with the spring and overall categories still to come.

We might not be staging the awards brunch this year, but dang if this thing isn’t unfolding in real time.

The spring tournaments have been playing out over the past week and a half, and each passing day seems to bring equal parts clarity and complication.

“If we get X, then we’ll have Y,” the thinking goes.

Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, we get Z.

Then what? An A eluded old BC in algebra.

I should ask our finalists for Scholar-Athletes of the Year. Any one of the 10 is no doubt a shrewder mathematician than me.

Like last year, we have a number of valedictorians in the mix, top students who were also fine athletes.

All 10 are seniors. All 10 ranked highly in their respective Class of 2021.

All, at one point or another — often several times over — were Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes.

They are all in the running for Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, which earns each winner a scholarship from the Record-Journal. 

They are also in the running for the two scholarships awarded by friends who have become involved in our Best of the Bunch event, Bongiovanni Insurance & Financial and Miss Wendi J. Kemp, both of Meriden.

One program note before we move on: There will be a two-day break in the Best of the Bunch series. Believe it or not, two categories remain up in the air as we go into Championship Saturday.

We’ll see how the last pieces fit together, then resume rolling out our finalists on Tuesday morning straight through to next Thursday, June 24, when the Best of the Bunch video will air.

On that note, we cede the stage to more eloquent players.

■Clarisse Aminawung: The Sheehan senior was part of the vaunted 4x100 relay team that just swept the SCC, Class M and State Open championships, steadily reducing its own school record in the process and qualifying for the national meet in Eugene, Oregon.

Next year, Aminawung will be running at Southern Connecticut State. She’s a gifted artist, but will major in biology. She graduated No. 7 in her class.

■Clayton Bruenn: The president of Platt’s Class of 2021, Bruenn showed his future promise as a barrister with a terrific graduation speech on Thursday night.

He graduated No. 8 is his class and was Platt’s CIAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

A two-sport captain in football and golf, Bruenn is going to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’ll play football and major in political science.

■Ellery Campbell: The young lady was the valedictorian of Lyman Hall’s Class of 2021.

She was also a heck of a volleyball player and track athlete. She was All-SCC in volleyball and led her team in a number of statistical categories.

Campbell was selected Lyman Hall’s Female CIAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She’ll major in accounting in college.

■Madeline Germe: Another volleyball player and another valedictorian! Coincidence?

Madeline Germe ranked No. 1 in Platt’s Class of 2021 and was also a key piece of Platt’s 2020 CCC Region D championship volleyball team as a defensive specialist.

She joined Clayton Bruenn as Platt’s CIAC Scholar-Athlete of  the year. In college, she will major in speech pathology.

■Garrison Kunst: OK, yes, you guessed it or already knew. Re-introducing Garrison Kunst, valedictorian of Maloney’s Class of 2021 and the school’s CIAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Kunst is best known for his All-Conference play in basketball. He was a three-year starter. Kunst was also a charter member of Meriden Co-op lacrosse, which is due to go varsity next spring.

An Eagle Scout, Kunst is heading to UConn, where he’ll study mechanical engineering.

■Lauren Matias:The other half of Maloney’s CIAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year combination.

Lauren Matias had both academic and athletic acumen. She ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2021 and was a standout player for the Spartans in both volleyball and track.

Look for her to break a few glass ceilings. Matias will study architectural engineering in college.

■Mikaela Mitchell: The senior leader for Wilcox Tech in volleyball and basketball, Mikaela Mitchell was Record-Journal Scholar-Athlete in both sports.

Ultimately, she was named the school’s CIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Mitchell is already ServSafe certified in allergens and as a manager.

■Jack Murphy: Lyman Hall’s top distance runner throughout his cross country and track career, Jack Murphy also held a steady academic pace.

He was the other half of the Lyman Hall CIAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year equation with Ellery Campbell and he was selected R-J Scholar-Athlete so often we know his resume by heart.

Murphy graduated No. 10 in his class and is now heading to Villanova.

Also of note, Murphy is an Eagle Scout, which leads us to …

■Mark Lindner: This young man from Cheshire, for his Eagle Scout project, designed reusable animal hide houses that the Connecticut Humane Society is hoping to use at all of its locations.■A four-year hockey player, Lindner was co-founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Club at Cheshire High School. He’s now heading to UConn, where he will study business.■ Brett Sheldrick: The guy who brings up the rear of our 10 academic finalists finds himself in that position due solely to alphabetical order.

In the pool, Southington swimmer Brett Sheldrick was almost always first, and not just in the same event. He won eight races in six different events and was in on 10 first-place relays this winter.

Sheldrick will swim and major in Computational and Mathematical Finance at Babson College.

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