Track standouts tabbed Scholar Athletes of the Year

By Jim Naveau -



They’ve run ahead of the crowd on and off the track.

Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan and Ottoville’s Brendan Siefker are The Lima News 2018 Scholar Athletes of the Year.

Sreenan, the valedictorian at LCC with a 4.3 grade point average, was the Division III cross country state champion in 2016 and was a third-place finisher in the 1,600-meter run at the state track meet last year before dealing with tendinitis and a stress fracture as a senior.

Siefker, one of five valedictorians at Ottoville with a 4.0 grade point average, won the 1,600-meter run at last year’s Division III state track meet after being runner-up in that race as a sophomore and has been state runner-up in cross country twice.

He also was one of 10 national finalists in the Wendy’s High School Heisman, which included a $5,000 scholarship.

So, how does success at a high level in both academics and athletics compare? Are there similarities? Is one better than the other?

“That’s a tough one.” Siefker said. “I think they’re both in different aspects equally good.

“They both take a lot of preparation. I think the valedictorian is probably more preparation because from kindergarten on up you’re kind of working to gain good study habits and learning how to learn, where running, I didn’t really start preparing for that until maybe junior high when I started to get serious about track and cross country.

“I don’t know, they’re probably about equal in my mind. Both took a lot of work, both are rewarding and I’m proud of both of them,” he said.

Sreenan whose valedictorian speech last week had a running theme, said, “Both involved a lot of work but I think valedictorian meant more to me than the state championship.

“I think valedictorian is different because I worked really, really hard for a long time for it. The running side of things is definitely similar, though, because you have to have a good mindset to go out there and work hard. It’s physical work compared to staying up late doing homework or staying in when all your friends are out hanging out.”

Sreenan will attend the University of Dayton and run cross country and track. Siefker, whose plan at this point is to become a dentist like his father, will attend Ohio State but has decided not to run competitively in college.

“I had two older sisters (Shayla at Ohio Northern and Abby at Bowling Green) who did college sports so I kind of had an idea of what it was like. I went on a track visit to the University of Kentucky, I went to Ohio State and Michigan. I just kind of wanted to hear what they had to say and get a feel for the program and see what it would be like,” Siefker said.

“At the end of the day I just decided that being a full-time student was what was best for me and what I wanted to do. I’ll definitely miss it but you can always do it. I plan to keep running to stay in shape and they have club track and things like that. I’ll definitely keep running,” he said.

Thirty area high school students are being honored on this year’s The Lima News Scholar Athlete team for their academic and athletic accomplishments and their community involvement. Those 30 will be offered scholarship money by The Ohio State University-Lima campus, a co-sponsor of the Scholar Athlete team.

The Lima News Scholar Athletes of the Year are:

Leah Baker (Continental), Jaidyn Hale (Bath), Kadie Hempfling (Ottawa-Glandorf), Paige Jones (New Bremen), Heather Lammers (Leipsic), Bridget Landin (Ottoville), Taylor Lucke (Kalida), Katie Manger (Wapakoneta), Sarah Miller (Delphos Jefferson), Kierra Meyer (Leipsic), Jill Schmitmeyer (St. Marys), Emily Sreenan (Lima Central Catholic), Megan Spainhower (Shawnee), Sara Wenning (Celina), Melina Woods (Ada).

Brenen Auer (Delphos Jefferson), Zach Beaschler (Ada), Dakota Bricker (Bluffton), Ben Brinkman (Lima Central Catholic), Braden Decker (Kalida), Xavier Gilkey (Elida), Michael Johnston (Wapakoneta), Enoch Jones (Columbus Grove), Jay Kaufman (Ottawa-Glandorf), Josh Klausing (Kalida), Mark Kuhlman (Miller City), Brendan Siefker (Ottoville), Chase Sumner (Ada), Luke Vonderhaar (New Bremen), Austin Wilker (St. Marys).


By Jim Naveau

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