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Making the grade
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Updated: 04/25/2013 08:00:10AM

Making the grade

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Larry Jewett

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There’s a definite similarity between the academic classroom and the athletic field. You can do enough to get by or you can strive to excel.

The Florida High School Athletic Association has requirements for students who want to experience both worlds. In a nutshell, you have to have a certain grade point average to keep playing and that’s a 2.0. Two months ago, the word got out that those who want to play NCAA Division 1 sports are going to have to step up their game even more. The FHSAA website says, “To meet the minimum requirements for Division I student-athletes enrolling in college in August 2016 or later you must:

Graduate from high school, complete 16 core courses, including 10 before your seventh semester, Earn a minimum 2.300 grade-point average in core courses to compete in your first year of college and earn a combined SAT or ACT score that matches your core-course GPA on a sliding scale.

The grade point average jumps a bit at the next level and many of the students contemplating moving forward may want to keep that in mind. Three years should be enough of a warning.

Making the grade is not a concern for many of the coaches because Bartow High School/International Baccalaureate/Summerlin Academy students seem to get the message. A recent article on National Merit scholars from the area included a number of the same names you would have seen on athletic rosters.

The FHSAA recognizes team sports that achieve standards well above the minimum. These teams are singled out as “Academic Team Champions” and it has nothing to do with on-field performance. It recognizes teams that have grade point averages above 3.0, using the whole roster to reach the average. One bad apple can’t spoil the whole bunch, but it can certainly have an adverse effect.

The 2013 list of Academic Team Champions included four Polk County schools and Bartow was one of them. The girls soccer team was singled out for a combined average GPA in excess of 3.50, the fifth best in the entire state. Consider that there are more than 20 players on the Bartow roster and you begin to understand the magnitude of the accomplishment. Their success on the field, coming within one overtime goal of moving to regional play, was eclipsed by their ability to get the job done in the classroom.

The members of the 2012-13 are Jordyn Braaten, Claudia Coronado, Courtney Deal, Allison Denton, Pamela Denton, Daphne Fernandez, Amerika Gallegos, Emily Harrelson, Keishira James, Anna Koretchko, Shannon Kozmic, Bree Lawhead, Alleah Long, Precious McIntosh, Kathryn McNelis, Mikayla Mooney, Caroline Ruthven, Ariel Schleicher, Brooke Smith, Raechanze Thompson, Grace Valenti and Sarah Valenti.

There will likely be a similar list for Spring sports, which are wrapping up their seasons. Don’t be surprised to see Bartow’s boys tennis team on that list in the day’s ahead.

While on the subject of achievements, congratulations are in order for a pair of Bartow High School weightlifters who took part in the 2013 state championships in Kissimmee. Heavyweight Romante Bell gained fourth place by lifting a total of 705 pounds (400 in bench press and 305 in clean & jerk). Khalil Holt took fourth place in the 238-pound class with a total lift of 670 pounds (375 bench press and 295 in clean & jerk). Both athletes were top Polk County representatives in their weight classes. Bell improved his weight lift by five pounds from his qualifying event and Holt jumped up 30 pounds for the state action. Holt finished second in the qualifier to eventual state champion Austin Ocasio of St. Cloud.

Members of the Bartow High track team will be competing in regionals this week with their sights set on the state finals, to be held at University of North Florida beginning May 3. Bartow boys’ baseball team began 7A district play earlier this week at Lake Region, facing off in their first game against Lakeland.

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