Former Maranatha runner honored at KU

LAWRENCE — Like most student-athletes at Kansas University, senior distance runner Zach Zarda is plugged into social networks.

In fact, before anyone could tell Zarda that he received the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor, the Dr. Gerald Lage award, he stumbled upon a tweet from Kansas Athletics, opened up the link on his phone and discovered that he had been selected for the prestigious award.

One of the better distance runners in Maranatha Academy history and now putting together a successful career at Kansas, Zarda hopes to continue his ambitions of making the national meets.

But what’s helped Zarda more than anything is having his family support so close, while also building relationships with the track and field commnity in Lawrence.

“I knew I was going to be in a tough collegiate career. Trying to stay focused on academics as well as athletics is a tough thing to do, and family really helped me with that,” Zarda said.

In order to qualify for the award, Big 12 athletes must complete 100 hours of college credit while maintaining a cumulative 3.80 grade-point average. Two other athletes from Kansas qualified for the award; senior swimmer Sarah Hettenback and senior quarterback Quinn Mecham.

A highly competitive academic and athletic setting, Maranatha proved to prepare Zarda for the grind of college.

“Growing up it was a huge focus of my family. My parents never pressured me or anything like that to get good grades, but there’s always that expectation and they wanted me to be the best that I could be,” Zarda said.

Read more at link below:


Northwest gymnast Jones a calm, accountable leader

It’s the final rotation of the Kansas Gymnastics State Championships, and up to this point the Shawnee Mission Northwest squad had experienced a day filled with jubilant highs and gut- wrenching lows.

Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Camry Jones helped the Cougars place third at the Kansas Gymnastics State Championships.

The last competitor in the balance beam steps onto the narrow plank, knowing if she puts together a fabulous performance, an individual and team championship could be in the near future.

Although everyone surrounding the beam is visibly uneasy, her emotions don’t waver; in fact, the look on her face remains the same as when she walked into the arena eight hours earlier.

Camry Jones — the Shawnee Dispatch’s Shawnee Mission Northwest Female Senior Athlete of the Year — rose to the occasion that day and won the individual balance beam state championship with a score of 9.3. Her performance also secured the team title for Northwest, the program’s first since 2001.

“For her to go out there and stick that routine, I was so happy,” SMNW coach Karen Lee said. “But I didn’t think anything less of her. I knew she would (come through) because she always did.”

For Jones, who also finished second in the all-around competition at the state meet, the formula for her success on the balance beam is pretty simple.

“I don’t get that nervous when I do it,” she said. “I just focus on staying tight and staying on the beam.

“I think as a whole, the team did really good. We did good last year, too, but I think we felt more like a team and cheered each other on and it was just exciting that I got the state title on beam. It was crazy.”

Read entire story at the link below: