RANTOUL — Like many activities, the fourth annual student-athlete exemplar banquet for the 2019-20 school year at Rantoul Township High School had to be canceled due to the coronavirus.
The banquet honors youth in the categories of grade point average, discipline, character, leadership and athletic ability.
Athletic director Travis Flesner said the cancellation forced RTHS to go “to the drawing board on how to recognize these student-athletes.”
“Unfortunately, there was no way to, in person, have the opportunity to congratulate and honor these student-athletes for their accomplishments,” Flesner said.
A committee of three met and evaluated applications that the students completed and was able to determine the top 10 student-athletes. Each of these student-athletes received their plaque through the mail, and it was requested that they send a photo to Flesner.
One of the 10 student-athletes will receive a scholarship for $3,500 when an in-person recognition can be held for their strong athletic and academic career.
Here are your winners in no particular order:
Kianna Berlatsky (junior) — She has been a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, softball) all three years at RTHS earning varsity letters in volleyball as a junior and basketball as a freshman through junior.
She has earned the Outstanding Academic Award for 2019 as well as the Language Arts Award in 2018.
Berlatsky has been an intricate part of the Christmas dinner for the last three years along with helping out up-and-coming athletes through softball camps and other volunteer opportunities at the elementary schools.
“The Eagles anticipate great accomplishments for Kianna her senior year upcoming,” Flesner said.
Jaxson Freeman (junior) – He has competed on the boys basketball and baseball teams in his first three years at RTHS and was hit with a difficult situation this school year. He missed most of his basketball season due to a double hip surgery and is just now getting back to competing in athletics.
Freeman has been a scholar athletes and earned several academic awards along with Highest Honor Roll in the fall of 2019. He has also volunteered at the Christmas dinner, Halloween Extravaganza and worked with youth at the elementary schools.
“RTHS is anxious to see what Jaxson can do his senior year in baseball and basketball,” Flesner said.
Raj Patel (senior) – He has been a staple on the boys running programs as a member of the cross country and track teams the last three years. He earned the scholar athlete award the past two years and has been a three sport athlete during that span as well.
Patel has earned academic awards in science and mathematics along with having perfect attendance as a sophomore and junior. He has volunteered to help with 5Ks, community service hours with National Honor Society and helped the Community Service Center in Rantoul.
“He will be greatly missed next year as he was always observed doing the right thing even if it appeared that no one was watching,” Flesner said.
Jonathan Gossett (senior) – He was another runner who is going to be missed immensely on both the cross country team and boys track and field.
Gossett was a strong distance runner who would like to dabble with the strong relay teams as well and made for a solid member of the 4 x 400 team the past couple seasons. He earned many awards through his career at RTHS by being named MIP in 2018-19 in cross country then followed it up with an MVP in 2019-20.
His academic awards would take up an entire page if all were listed, but included excellence in many subjects including social science, mathematics, science and foods. He ended up ranked second in his graduating class and was the January Student of the Month. Gossett also found a way to dominate the music scene as well in the percussion section for the marching and pep bands.
“He is going to do great things as he continues to pursue excellence in college and beyond,” Flesner said.
Amairany Bueno (junior) – She has participated on the football and basketball cheer squads the past three school years along with being in the marching band. She has earned MIP and MVP on her respective squads in 2018 as well as being a scholar athlete in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Bueno has had perfect attendance for two years in a row and earned Excellence in Honors geometry. Along with earning her academic letter and pin, she has volunteered for mission trips and was voted co-president for student council.
“She is a model student-athlete, and we are very proud to call her one of our very own,” Flesner said.
Isabella Shields (junior) – She has excelled in volleyball and softball for the last three seasons.
Shields takes great pride in perfecting everything she does and takes nothing less than that of herself. She has been a scholar athlete for all three years in high school and earned academic awards in mathematics, science, PE, English and Spanish. She has volunteered for the Christmas dinner, purchased gifts for families in need and made blankets for children in the hospital.
“Bella strives to be the best she can in sports and school, and we are anxious to see her again on the court and softball field,” Flesner said.
Brandon Lord (junior) – He has competed on the football team as well as both the indoor and outdoor track teams all three years at RTHS.
He also tested out the mat by competing on the wrestling team last year.
“His attention to detail has made him a great asset for the Eagles and also allowed him to earn many accolades along the way,” Flesner said.
He has earned many first- and second-place finishes in the shot put and discus invites the past two seasons. Along with being a three-sport athlete, he has had perfect attendance and has been a three-time scholar athlete.
Lord is involved in his church and is willing to put other people first by serving in many capacities including ringing bells for the Salvation Army, playing the drums for his youth group and interning to help his video production skills for his church.
“He is a class act, and we are privileged to have Brandon around for another year at RTHS,” Flesner said.
Ben Guhl (junior) – While he only plays soccer for RTHS, his impact goes beyond the athletic field of competition.
He has earned the Silver Shoe, MVP, second-team team all-conference and has had the best attendance for any soccer player. Guhl is actively involved in his church and has participated in food drives, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, mission trips and many other events to serve his congregation and community.
“He is another student-athlete that is always observed doing the right thing at all times, and we are very blessed to have him at our school. We look forward to seeing him continue to grow into an young adult this upcoming school year,” Flesner said.
Lexi Sherrick (senior) – She was an impact player on both the volleyball and softball teams during her time at RTHS.
“Sherrick was on track to have an amazing year on the mound and at the plate for the Eagles softball team,” Flesner said.
She has earned many accolades as an athlete including the Gold Glove as a sophomore and junior and MVP as a junior for the softball team. She earned Defensive Player of the Year for volleyball as a sophomore and junior and was all-conference in both sports.
She excelled in academics as well, most notably in mathematics, earning Excellence in Math for consecutive years.
“Her work with youth is second to none as she demonstrated a unique ability to relate to younger athletes. Lexi is going to be missed by the volleyball and softball teams in their next season,” Flesner said.
Madelyn Roseman (junior) – She has excelled in cheerleading for both football and basketball seasons all her years in high school.
Roseman not only cheers on the high school team, but competes outside of school for a local gym that travels all of the state. She has been a scholar athlete and even an All-American Cheerleadering 2019-20.
Outside of sports, she is a mentor who demonstrates her ability to work well with other groups. She had perfect attendance as well as earning Excellence in Honors Biology and Foods during her freshman year.
“Madelyn leads by example as a cheerleader and we look forward to having her on the sidelines for her senior year,” Flesner said.