The Merrimack Valley Striders Annual Dinner was a night to celebrate achievers.
Not only were some of the area's top track/academic high schools each awarded $2,000 scholarships, but one of the largest running clubs in New England heard from two legends about their recent experience of running seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.
The annual celebration for the racing club and dinner, held at Sal's Restaurant on the Merrimack River, is noted for its scholarship offerings to 10 area boys and girls who demonstrate not only their love of running, but leadership.
“Our scholarship program reflects an essential mission of the Merrimack Valley Striders, its outreach to our surrounding communities and support of young athletes," said Tom Licciardello, who helped start the club three-plus decades ago. “We hoped that having these young scholars hear the stories of two super-achievers would inspire them to dream big as they begin their college careers."
This is the 21st year of awarding scholarships to area seniors, and according to Licciardello, is done in memory of Merrimack Valley Striders members who have passed away.
Rebecca Pizzi and Dave McGillivray were the guests of honor, both talking about the World Marathon Challenge experience in early February, which started with a marathon on Antarctica.
Pizzi, of Belmont, was the first American female to run the World Marathon Challenge in 2016 and she went back recently, with McGillivray, of North Andover, to do it again. Her current goal is to complete a marathon in all 50 states and to run the Kona Ironman.
Here are the award winners:
Colby Merrill, Central Catholic: Four year participant in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. Maintained High and Distinguished Honors for classroom work. Member of the National Honor Society. Student activities include Student Ambassador,
Danielle Major, Andover: National Honor Society member, captain of her indoor and outdoor track teams, and active in her community.
Patrick Carleton, Tewksbury: Patrick participated in cross country & indoor and outdoor track during his high school years and he was a captain. He has received many awards including MVC All-Star cross country, team captain and MVC All-Star cross country as a senior. Patrick placed second in the 2-mile at the MVC conference meet.
John Miller, Gr. Lawrence Tech: Participated in cross country, indoor track and Tae Kwon Do during his high school years. John received the leadership award this fall from his coaches for his dedication to the sport of cross country.
Siobhan O’Keefe, Pentucket Regional: She ran cross country, indoor track and outdoor track all four years of her high school career as well as serving as captain and getting the 2017 Cape Ann League Runner of the Year award. She was a three-time Newburyport Daily News All-Star.
Kaitlyn Sherlock, North Andover: A three-sport athlete, Kailtyn’s four years were high-lighted by her time on the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams. A noted volunteer for Best Buddies and Ironstone Farm.
Daniel Donabedian, Windham: A star on and off the track, Daniel won the Coach’s Award to go with his National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society memberships.
Spenser Sawyer, Windham: Sawyer is not only a career honor roll student, but he was a career runner, too, competing all 12 seasons of high school, where he took three MVP awards, 12 school records and a state champion place in the 1000 meters in indoor track.
Jacob Huberdeau, Timberlane Regional: A career runner on Timberlane cross country and track teams, he was named Lawrence Eagle Tribune All-Star to go with his lengthy academic accomplishments.
Mitchell Libby, Wells (Me.) High: Mitchell participated in cross country and outdoor track all four years at Wells (Me.) High School, being named Western Maine Conference cross country individual champion for 2017 as well as a runner up for Maine State Class B cross country and outdoor track.