From left: Horseheads High School honorees Skyler Roberts, Jillian Casey, Mike Limoncelli, Kendal Cook and Chloe Peterson.
Top Drawer 24
Here is the 14th
annual Scholar-Athlete-Citizen Team of students
ODESSA, May 28, 2019 -- It is time once again for an annual rite -- the unveiling of the Top Drawer 24 team. This is the 14th such team, and this year it is dominated again by seniors.
This year, nine schools are involved: Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour, Trumansburg, Spencer-Van Etten, South Seneca, Elmira Notre Dame, Horseheads, Elmira, and Thomas A. Edison.
The Top Drawer honorees from those schools were selected by a committee and through consultation with administrators, teachers and coaches.
The Top Drawer program continues to maintain tradition by considering anyone in grades 9 through 12 as eligible for consideration. However, no freshmen made the team this year, nor in the previous 12 years. While sophomores are occasionally represented, none was on the team the past four years, nor is one this year. In fact, there are a record 22 seniors and just two juniors among this year's honorees.
Committee members, in considering potential honorees, took into account academic accomplishments, achievements on the playing fields, and the ability of the students to engage the world through civic endeavors or to leave behind them positive consequences from their positive actions.
The team will be honored on Monday, June 3 at the Watkins Glen State Park pavilion (near the south entrance). A social hour begins at 5:00 p.m. The weather won't alter the locale, since the site provides shelter.
Finger foods and beverages will be provided in a setting prepared by local school and park officials.
A traditional highlight will be a team picture taken outside the pavilion by this website and by any parents who wish to do so. Speakers during the ceremony will include Pittsburgh Steelers Scout Mark Gorscak and former Top Drawer honoree Emily Lavarnway, currently a student athlete at SUNY Geneseo. (More about the speakers can be found near the bottom of this page.).
Emcee for the evening will be Renata Stiehl (pictured at right), news anchor on WENY-TV. She will, near the end of the ceremony, introduce the honorees one by one, describing their accomplishments. Each will receive a medallion and certificates of achievement from government representatives.When we unveiled the first such team 13 years ago, we did so in a low-keyed fashion, announcing its members publicly only after a party honoring them was held. Since those early days we have announced the selections before the party, and are doing so again this year in order to encourage attendance by friends, relatives and coaches of the honorees, as well as attendance by administrators, School Board members, area dignitaries and the general public.
The honorees are encouraged to bring as many people with them to the celebration as they wish; there is no limit, and there is no charge.
Awards for the Odessa File Male and Female Athletes of the Year at the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools -- plaques sponsored by the E.C. Cooper insurance firm -- will be presented before the Top Drawer ceremony begins.
The fifth annual Lifetime Achievement Award presentation will this year involve two men, Horseheads Coach Tom Jansen and the late John E. "Jack" Guinan of South Seneca Central School. (For more on the two honorees, go to the bottom of this page.)
And as in recent years, the annual Susan Award will be presented as part of the evening's ceremony. The award is named after Odessa File editor-publisher Charlie Haeffner's late wife, Susan Bauman Haeffner, and is presented each year to a student-athlete who embodies sportsmanship amid life's adversities -- who possesses a core of kindness that co-exists with an unswerving drive to succeed. Past winners have included Sally Wilcox, Courtney Warren, Sophie Peters, Ian Remmers, John Blaha, Devon Shaw, Sam Richardson, Ashley Tieppo, April Ruda, Nicole Colunio, Felicia Johnson, Megan O'Dell, Joe Collins, Lucy Craig, Brewster Marshall, Nakiaha Robinson, Simeon Stearns and Hailey Perraut.
This year, as last, there will be two Susan Awards presented -- to two very different and yet wholly deserving individuals.
The selectees on the Top Drawer 24 team are as follows, by school and
------ Top Drawer 24 ------
Elmira Notre Dame
Thomas A. Edison
Elmira High School
Horseheads High School
From left: Watkins Glen honorees Joe Chedzoy, Danielle Leszyk and Wyatt Brower.
Thumbnail sketches of the honorees
Hannah Morse (pictured at right) is a Watkins Glen High School senior with a 93 grade-point average who excels at soccer, basketball (point guard) and tennis (first doubles). She set a single-season goal-scoring record in soccer this year (33) to go with her career mark (73), and led the school basketball team to its fourth Section IV title in five years and to the New York State Class C final. She was The Odessa File Schuyler Fall co-MVP for her soccer exploits, a Schuyler Winter co-MVP for her basketball success, an Odessa File All-Star in all three sports, and a New York State 1st Team pick in basketball, and is this year's WGHS Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year. A member of National Honor Society, a youth basketball coach, and a two-time Top Drawer 24 honoree, she plans to start her college career at Corning Community College, where she will play soccer and basketball.
Joseph Chedzoy is a Watkins Glen High School senior who is class Valedictorian with a 101.17 weighted grade-point average. He competes in football, basketball and lacrosse -- and was an Odessa File First Team All-Star in all three. He was MVP of the lacrosse team for three years, a Section IV 1st Team lacrosse All-Star, and in his senior season scored 40 goals. A member of National Honor Society and the Interact Club, the Student Council vice-president and winner of numerous scholastic and athletic awards, he is this year's Odessa File WGHS Male Athlete of the Year. He plans to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point starting in July, hopes to play lacrosse there, and wants to become a Medical Corps officer.
Danielle Leszyk is a Watkins Glen High School senior with a 96 grade-point average. A member of National Honor Society, Interact Club and Varsity Club, she was an IAC and Odessa File First-Team All-Star in soccer and basketball, helping her soccer team to a divison title, and earning 10th Team All-State status after her basketball team won its fourth Section IV title in five years and reached the Class C championship game. Chosen an All-Star at the State tournament, she also won her school's WGHS Joseph J. LeMak Senior Award. A youth basketball coach and a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Seneca Santa and Bethany Village, she plans to attend SUNY Geneseo in the fall and become a mental health counselor in a prison or school.
Wyatt Brower is a Watkins Glen High School senior with a 95 grade-point average who who was an Odessa File All-Star in both football and bowling, and has competed in regional weightlifting events. A member of National Honor Society, Class President for three straight years, and an entertainer, he has acted on-stage in dramas and musicals, and performed with twin brother Wrett in local talent and Artist in Residence shows. Winner with his brother of the coveted Joel Stephens 5C Award (given to football standouts who exhibit Stephens' qualities of Christianity, Courage, Compassion, Character and Commitment), he was team captain and All-Conference in football, and holder of various weightlifting records. He plans to attend Columbia College in Chicago, establish a production company with his brother and, in his words, "star in movies and write hit TV shows."
Photo in text: Watkins Glen High School senior Hannah Morse.
Trumansburg High School seniors Finley Edmonds, left, and Meredith Stilwell.
Meredith Stilwell is a Trumansburg High School senior with a 92.14 grade-point average who has been captain of the varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams. A member of National Honor Society and Student Council, she has helped in the the Leadership in Action and Biddy Ball programs. An Interscholastic Athletic Conference First Team All-Star in volleyball four times, league MVP and a Class C All-State Fourth Team selection this year, she has also been MVP on her basketball and softball teams, an ESPN Most Outstanding Athlete, and a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete for four years. She plans to attend SUNY Brockport and pursue a career as a Registered Nurse.
Finley Edmonds is a Trumansburg senior with a 91.71 grade-point average who was captain of the soccer, indoor track and outdoor track teams -- and recently won the 100 Meter Dash and the 4x100 Relay at the IAC Track & Field Championships and at the Section IV, Class C tournament, where she also won the 200 Meter Dash. She was MVP at the Groton Track Invitational and a Bath meet, and MVP in the Elmira Notre Dame soccer tournament. A member of National Honor Society, she has served in the school's Leadership in Action program and is part of the Global Humanism Club. She plans to attend Ithaca College, where she will compete in rowing and pursue a career in Sports Medicine.
From left: South Seneca High School's Hunter Denmark, Seth Denmark
Hunter Denmark is a South Seneca High School senior with a 90 grade-point average who has competed in volleyball and softball, and is a member of the South Seneca Trap Club. A member National Honor Society, she attends the New Visions Health and Medical program, and participates in blood drives and an American Legion trash pick-up program. She has been an all-league First Team All Star in volleyball for three years, the team MVP, and winner of the Sportsmanship Award at the Waterloo Volley for a Cure in 2017-18. She plans to attend Siena College and pursue a career as a pharmacist.
Seth Denmark is a South Seneca High School senior with a 93 grade-point average who competes in football and wrestling. A member of National Honor Society and its treasurer, he is a member of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, has helped on blood drives, and in 2018 went to Nicaragua with a church group to build a small school out of a storage unit and fit it with a library and computers. He has been First Team All League in football and wrestling, was the league wrestling champion at 182 pounds, and was a sectional wrestling runner-up, team captain, and winner of a Hardest Worker Award. He plans to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology and pursue a career in civil engineering.
Julia Hubbard is a South Seneca High School senior with a 93 grade-point average who competes in Indoor and Outdoor Track and in competitive horseback riding and show jumping. A member of National Honor Society, she is enrolled in the New Visions Engineering program. A member of Drama Club, she has been an actress in school musicals and plays, and has volunteered with the South Seneca All Sports Boosters. She was the Indoor Track MVP in 2017 and 2018, and the Outdoor Track MVP in 2018. She plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, compete in indoor and outdoor track, and study Aeronautical Engineering with an eye toward working in Space Exploration.
Kennedey Heichel is an Odessa-Montour High School senior who is Valedictorian with a 98.04 average, and recently led her track team to the Section IV, Class D championship. An Odessa File All-Star in soccer, basketball and track (where she set a new school Pole Vault record), she is Section IV champion in the 100 Meter Hurdles, 400 Meter Hurdles, Pole Vault, and 4x100 Relay. She is also the Odessa File's O-M Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year. She is co-President of Student Council, Vice President of the Interact Club, a youth basketball coach, a member of the Superintendent's Leadership Conference, and a member of National Honor Society, and was a Rotary Student of the Month. She plans to attend Ithaca College, where she will study Biology with an eye toward a career in medicine, and will compete in track.
Dylan Houseknecht is an Odessa-Montour High School senior who was a state-ranked football player and the Division II state wrestling champion at 285 pounds, and a member of the track and field team, excelling at the Shot Put. An Odessa File All-Star in all three sports, he carries a 91.68 academic average, was a Rotary Student of the Month, and is Class co-President and a member of Student Council, National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. A youth coach in both football and wrestling, he is a volunteer firefighter and has interned with the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office. He plans to attend SUNY Cortland, where he will play football, wrestle and study Criminology, with an eye toward a career in law enforcement.
Photo in text: Odessa-Montour honorees Kennedey Heichel and Dylan Houseknecht.
From left: Edison's Nick Paribello; S-VE's Nathan Mack and Levi Mickelson.
Nathan Mack is a Spencer-Van Etten senior who carries a 97.48 grade-point average. A member of National Honor Society, he has earned the school's Citizenship Pass in recognition of outstanding academic achievement, was captain of the school's football and basketball teams, and has helped in the Little Panthers Basketball program and with the Community Service Day for four years. An All-Star in both football and basketball, he was the 2018-19 IAC Small School South Divison basketball MVP, and has received various academic and athletic awards. Nominated by Congressman Tom Reed to the U.S. Naval Academy, he is instead planning to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology to study Mechanical Engineering Technology with an eye toward a career as a Mechanical Aerospace Engineer.
Levi Mickelson is a Spencer-Van Etten senior with a 96.42 grade-point average who has competed in cross country, basketball and track, winning the IAC 1600 Meter title at this year's league track meet. He has served as National Honor Society treasurer and as Student Liaison to the S-VE Board of Education. A member of the school's Quiz Team, his community service has included preparing and serving meals to senior citizens, Salvation Army bell ringing, and helping with the Little Panthers basketball program and the Food Cupboard. A New York State Scholar-Athlete and holder of an S-VE Citizenship Pass for outstanding academic achievement, he will attend Binghamton University in the fall and study Mechanical Engineering.
Nick Paribello is a Thomas A. Edison senior who excels in football (on both offense and defense) and track (where he runs the 100 and 400, Long Jumps, and competes in the Pentathlon). A member of the regional football Elite 24, an IAC track and field All-Star, and a finalist in his junior and senior years for the coveted Ernie Davis football award, he is a Junior Rotarian who volunteers as a Challenger League coach, with the Wine Glass Marathon, with the Edison Craft Fair, and on Elmira Heights Community Service Day. He plans to attend Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, Florida, study Biology and pursue a career in nursing.
Elmira Notre Dame High School's Catherine Craig, left, and Laurel Vargas.
Laurel Vargas is an Elmira Notre Dame senior who carries an 93.6 grade-point average. She competes in soccer and track, and is the fourth player in school history to surpass 100 goals in her soccer career, which has included selection five times as an All-State All-Star. She finished with 121 goals -- second most in school history -- and was captain of the team since 10th grade. A member of the Go Green clubs and National Chinese Honor Society (which recognizes students who study the Chinese language and excel as leaders), she is a Crusader Student Ambassador, a Food Bank and Soup Kitchen volunteer, a part of the Chemung County Youth Philanthropy Group, and winner of a Hands of Christ Award. An IAC and Section IV, Class C MVP, she was also named the Kiwanis Female MVP in 2017, and has played forward on the No. 1 nationally ranked BC United Travel soccer team. She also competed in track through her junior year, and was part of the school's 4x800 Relay team that won state medals in 2016 and 2017. She will attend D-1 Xavier University in Cincinnati on a soccer scholarship, majoring in Sports Management.
Catherine Craig is an Elmira Notre Dame senior with a 100.1 weighted grade-point average who excels in swimming -- winning four Section IV titles at the Class C meet last fall. A member of National Honor Society, the Go Green Club, Students in Public Policy, the Symphonic Band and the school newspaper, she was a Kiwanis Scholarship recipient, a Rotary Youth Salute Scholarship finalist, and a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American. She has won numerous swimming honors -- including Outstanding Competitor at the Section IV, Class C meets in 2017 and 2018, and MVP of the Notre Dame swim team -- and is a 6-time IAC individual champion, a 6-time Section IV individual champion, and a 6-time State Tournament competitor, finishing in the top 7 twice in the Breaststroke. A volunteer instructor for the Special Olympic swim program, and a Food Bank and Soup kitchen volunteer, she will attend Bucknell University in the fall on a swim scholarship.
Kendal Cook is a Horseheads High School senior with an 88 grade-point average who plays softball and basketball. She was an All-Conference and 1st Team New York State Class AA All-Star at her shortstop position in her junior year, overcoming two shoulder surgeries and a season-ending injury her sophomore season and coming back to lead her team to the regional finals. She has volunteered as a youth coach, with the Coaches Versus Cancer Clinic, with the Challenger program and as a Salvation Army bell-ringer. Cited as a leader on and off the field, she has signed to play softball at the University of Missouri after being recruited by numerous Division I schools. She plans to pursue a career in Sports Psychology.
Chloe Peterson is a Horseheads High School senior with a 94.83 grade-point average who excels in Diving. A member of the National Honor Society and president of the Varsity H Club, she is an Academic All-American ranked in the top 10% of her class. She has won the Section IV, Class A one-meter diving championship in each of the past two seasons, and was a New York State Championships Qualifier in diving in both seasons. Recipient last fall of a Twin Tiers Athlete of the Week award and a Coaches Award, she helps with the Boys Modified and varsity diving programs, and serves as a Southern Tier Food Bank volunteer and as a Salvation Army bell-ringer. She plans to attend Binghamton University, where she will continue to compete in diving.
Michael Limoncelli is a Horseheads High School senior with an 89.36 grade-point average who plays baseball (shortstop and pitcher) and basketball (shooting guard), earning nine varsity letters in five years. A member of National Honor Society, he has earned a baseball scholarship to Division 1 Coastal Carolina University. He played on a basketball sectional championship team in 2016 and twice on baseball sectional championship teams -- one of which went on to the regional title. He earned 4th Team All-State status in baseball his sophomore year and was a 1st Team All-State selection in his junior year. He has worked at youth sports camps and at Coaches vs. Cancer clinics, has served as a Salvation Army bell-ringer, and volunteered at St. Mary our Mother's. He would like a career in Professional Baseball.
Skyler Roberts is a Horseheads High School senior with a 91.83 grade-point average who has been a five-year starter on the varsity soccer team and an All-STAC All-Star for three years. She has scored more than 50 career goals and registered more than 25 assists, been named team MVP, has been an All-Division and All-Conference All-Star, and has served as team captain for three years. She has also played varsity basketball, although a broken foot precluded action this past season. A member of the National Honor Society and both a fall and winter season New York Scholar Athlete, she has served as a Special Olympics soccer volunteer, and as a volunteer in the Coaches Versus Cancer Clinic and at the Food Bank. She also plays with the Soaring Capital Soccer Club. She will attend Roberts Wesleyan College in the fall, and play soccer there as she pursues a career in Forensic Science.
Jillian Casey is a Horseheads High School junior with a 98.26 grade-point average who has played varsity basketball as a point guard for three years. A member of National Honor Society, she is the Varsity H vice-president, and a STAC Academic All-Star who is in the top 2% of her class. She has been a STAC basketball All-Star for two years, has received a STAC Sportsmanship Award, was recently named an All-State 14th Team All-Star in Class AA by the New York State Sportwriters, and is a member of the region's Elite 10 basketball squad. She has volunteered at the Community Center, at the Coaches Versus Cancer Clinic, at the Varsity H girls basketball camp, as a Salvation Army bell-ringer, and at a Moose Club Spaghetti Dinner fund-raiser. She plans to attend Division I Quinnipiac to play basketball and pursue a career in Health Sciences.
From left: Elmira High School's Caylee Boorse, Zaria DeMember-Shazer, Tess Arnold.
Caylee Boorse is an Elmira High School senior who carries a 95 grade-point average and competes in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She has been a member of the STAC West and Section IV champion soccer and basketball teams for three years, and earned All-State honors in soccer. Team captain in all three sports, she won the Coaches Award three times in basketball and twice in lacrosse. The only 100-goal scorer in the school's lacrosse history, she is a nominee for Elmira High's Female Athlete of the Year award. Her activities include leaf raking for the elderly, basketball and soccer youth camps, bell ringing for Salvation Army, bagging gifts for the Arctic League, and bagging food for the Food Pantry. She plans to attend The College of St. Rose in Albany, where she will play soccer and pursue a career in Physical Therapy.
Tess Arnold is an Elmira High School senior with a 97.08 grade-point average who plays volleyball, basketball and lacrosse. A member of National Honor Society, she also participates in her Church Choir, Church Festival, YWCA Basketball Camp, Express Youth volleyball and basketball camps, and the Southport Recreation Field Days. She is recipient of a YWCA Tribute to Women Scholarhsip, and a member of the National Technical Honor Society and the New Visions Honors Academy. A nominee for Elmira High's Female Athlete of the Year Award, she was a Section IV 1st Team lacrosse All-Star this year and team MVP in her junior year, has served as captain of all three teams, has won a Coaches Award in both volleyball and lacrosse, and earned a STAC Sportsmanship Award in basketball twice and in volleyball once. She plans to attend Lycoming College in the fall, where she will play basketball and possibly lacrosse while pursuing a Secondary Education certification. She plans to be an 11th grade English teacher and a coach.
Zaria DeMember-Shazer is an Elmira High School junior with a 92.47 grade-point average who competes in basketball and soccer. A member of National Honor Society, she participates in Bible Club and Express Camp, and helps in church and with downtown cleanup. An All-STAC and All-Section IV basketball pick, she was recently named an All-State 3rd Team All-Star in Class AA after a season in which she averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. She was named Kiwanis Female Winter Athlete, has received a Player's Player Award in soccer, and is a nominee for the Elmira High Female Athlete of the Year Award. She surpassed 1,000 career basketball points on Jan. 4, and was named a member of the region's Elite 10 basketball all-stars. She has numerous Division I colleges interested in recruiting her, but says she has not yet decided which school to attend.
That's all of them -- two-dozen notable people who share at least one thing in common: by excelling in unique and impressive ways, they have earned the admiration of the selection committee and a seat on this team. They have successfully embraced many athletic, academic and social opportunities in high school, and thus prepared themselves for life's many challenges.
Pittsburgh Steelers Scout Mark Gorscak
Mark Gorscak is starting his 25th year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is an area scout whose focus is mainly in the South, but he has scouted the whole United States in his career. His team has been to four Super Bowls in his career, winning in Super Bowls XL and XLIII.
Gorscak previously spoke three times at Top Drawer celebrations -- in 2011, 2013 and 2016 -- and was a huge hit.
A high school and college coach for 16 years, he saw sideline action first at Perkiomen (Pa.) Prep School, and followed that with coaching assignments at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), Dickinson College (his alma mater), Gulliver Prep (Fla.) High School, and two tenures at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
In 1987, between stints at Weber State, he became the first general manager of the Pittsburgh Gladiator in its inaugural season of the Arena Football League. Additionally, he has been an athletic administrator at Dickinson College and Weber State.
He graduated with a degree in psychology from Dickinson and received a master’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla. In 2010, he was inducted into the Mid Mon Valley Hall of Fame.
Gorscak has also served as the Starter for the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and can be seen on the NFL Network. Also, ESPN the Magazine profiled him in the 2010 NFL Preview magazine as one of the 90 Faces of the NFL.
He is a native of Donora, Pa., and currently resides in Pittsburgh.
Former Top Drawer honoree Emily Lavarnway
Emily Lavarnway, of Ovid, was a member of the 2017 Top Drawer 24 team. A daughter of Tom and Kathy Lavarnway and the youngest of seven children, Emily was a 2017 graduate of South Seneca Central School and currently attends SUNY Geneseo, majoring in both Communication and Sociology, with a minor in Conflict Studies.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Coach Jansen started his coaching career in 1987 at Horseheads. He eventually became a three-sport coach: cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track. He is a retired Health Teacher from the HCSD and currently is in his 32nd year as a coach for all three sports.
Jansen has in the course of his career coached sectional champions, state qualifiers, and a state champion -- in addition to many other athletes who have gone on to perform at the next level. He has earned a reputation of being a dedicated, caring, and knowledgeable coach within the community.
Over his career, he has had many health complications -- countered by his desire for running and coaching, which he views as medicine for his health. Many individuals would have put their coaching careers on hold if faced with similar health complications, but Jansen, in the words of one school official, "continues to make an everyday difference to our track athletes."
One admirer, when told of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Coach Jansen, said "perseverance" sums up his career. Said another coach, Fred Seither: Coach Jansen is "very, very well respected in the track community in the area." He added that Jansen's former athletes "respect him still to this day."
John E. "Jack" Guinan:
John E. “Jack” Guinan dedicated more than 40 years to the students and athletes at South Seneca Central School before passing away in 2011 at the age of 77.
A graduate of Ithaca College, where he was a standout athlete, Guinan began his teaching career at Interlaken Central School in 1962, and arrived at South Seneca Central School 1969. He taught physical education and health and was a coach in both boys and girls basketball, softball and golf. At the time of his death, he was also the school's Athletic Director.
Guinan won six Section V boys basketball titles with a record of 307-73. He was 113-58 as girls basketball coach. He captured three Section V softball crowns with a record of 153-17. And he coached the golf team to four Lakes Region golf titles with a 32-5 record.
Upon his death, South Seneca Superintendent Janie Nusser said: “I cannot begin to describe the goodness of Jack Guinan ... He was an outstanding coach and teacher. He set an example for young people and held them to high standards, but he did so with kindness and compassion. He was generous with his time and of himself.”
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869