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B'nai B'rith to honor student-athletes

| Wednesday, May 20, 2009

B'nai B'rith Fayette Lodge No. 471, in conjuction with the Uniontown Rotary Club, will continue its tradition of honoring some of Fayette County's top student-athletes at its 52nd annual Sports Award Night on Thursday at the Uniontown Jewish Community Center. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m.

One student-athlete from each of the seven Fayette County high schools and a student-athlete from Penn State-Fayette are recognized during the banquet. In order to be eligible for recognition, a high school athlete must be a senior and in the top third of his or her class academically. Each honoree is chosen by his or her coaches and athletic director.

"The main thrust for us is that these kids are in the upper portion of their class in addition to being good at sports," B'nai B'rith president Milt Kronick said. "We started with that goal years ago and we've stuck with that. We're very happy with this year's group."

Among this year's honorees are Connellsville's Erica Bartholow, Geibel's Eric Ghinassi and Frazier's Steven Toth.

"It's a great honor to be nominated and I'm happy I can represent my school," Bartholow said. "I'm really proud of it and I'm looking forward to being with other athletes from other schools."

Bartholow is a four-year letterwinner in softball and a two-year letterwinner in basketball. She is a two-time captain of the softball team and has achieved all-section and all-county status. In addition, she was named the Tribune-Review Athlete of the Week after tossing back-to-back perfect games earlier this season.

Bartholow is ranked fourth in her senior class of 347. She is involved in many school activities and is president of the school's National Honor Society. Bartholow volunteers her time to Big Brothers, Big Sisters and is an after-school tutor. She works as a volunteer instructor for the Bullskin and West Point Little League softball programs and is an active member of St. Rita's Church.

"She works hard, plays hard and is a very caring person," Connellsville softball coach Max Bukovac said. "I'm blessed she plays for me."

Ghinassi has been a standout golfer the past three seasons. He was Geibel's captain during his senior season, and some of his athletic achievements include the Andrew Broadwater Spirit Award and Coaches Award. He was a WPIAL golf finalist this past season. Ghinassi is president of Geibel's National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.

"He is an exceptional golfer and always placed the members on his team before himself," Geibel golf coach Tom Link said.

Toth has been a captain for the Frazier football and track teams. He is a four-year letterman in track, a three-year letterman in football, is involved in many extracurricular activities and is vice president of the school's National Honor Society.

"Steven is an excellent leader who is dedicated to everything he does," Frazier track coach Zach Keefer said. "He is a hard-working young man with the skills and knowledge to be very successful in his life endeavors."

Other honorees include Albert Gallatin's Sarah Fyock, Brownsville's Greg Allison, Laurel Highlands' John Shull, Uniontown's Colleen O'Neil and Penn State-Fayette's Bethany Novotny.

Novotny, a 2006 Geibel graduate, has played softball and basketball at Penn State-Fayette and is a two-time Academic All-American.

Connellsville resident Todd Crenner will be recognized for this year's Special Olympics Award. Crenner is an active member of the Fayette County Special Olympics and has participated in aquatics, bocce and bowling. Crenner was chosen to represent Fayette County at the Western Pennsylvania Bowling Sectionals, where he took fifth place.

Connellsville's Kimberly Heisterman, who studies nursing at Penn State-Fayette, is the winner of a cash scholarship from B'nai B'rith. She earned a 4.0 GPA during her first semester and won the Dr. Gregory W. Gray Trustee Scholarship and the Presidential Freshman Award.

The guest speaker at this year's banquet is Lisa M. Horton. Horton is the associate executive director of the YMCA at U.S. Steel Tower. She is also a member of the Pittsburgh Passion women's football team. She is a seven-year starting quarterback and a team captain.

Tickets will be available at the door. For ticket information, call B'nai B'rith treasurer Chester Miller at 724-437-6930.

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