Six of the area’s recent high school graduates received a little boost to fund their college education on Wednesday night. Each was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
KSAL and the Rocking M Media radio stations hosted their annual Sportscasters Club Scholarship Banquet at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Five Saline County high schools (Salina Central, Salina South, Sacred Heart, Southeast of Saline and Ell-Saline) and Abilene High School each nominated three senior student-athletes for the honor for their school.
Winners were Salina Central’s Emma Cain, Salina South’s Justin Sullivan, Sacred Heart’s Stratton Brown, Southeast of Saline’s Kendall Schlesener, Ell-Saline’s Sydney Omli, and Abilene’s Parker Base.
The night also included a keynote address from former Salina Central, Kansas Wesleyan University, and current Kansas State University Women’s Soccer Coach Mike Dibbini. He posed the question “would you rather lose, or never have played the game?”
All of the winners are awarded a plaque and a $1,000 scholarship to the institution they will be attending.
The KSAL / Rocking M Media Sportscasters Club is comprised of area businesses which sponsor game broadcasts and fund the scholarship.
KSAL has been awarding Sportscaster Scholarships yearly since the 1959 – 1960 school year.
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Salina Central – Emma Cain: Basketball (4), Volleyball (4)
Emma played a key role in Salina Central’s state tournament runs in 2016 and 2017. With the help from Emma, the Mustangs grabbed fourth at the Class 5A state tournament in the past two seasons. She was a two-time All-Salina Invitational Tournament Team member. After being an All-County honorable mention selectin in 2016, Emma capped her career by being a first teamer as a senior. Also, she was an AVCTL-I second team member her senior year. For other school activities, Emma was a Kansas Honor Scholar and National Honor Society participant. She also made the Honor Roll. She helped with Relay For Life, coached young athletes and did many things with the First Covenant Church in Salina. She is going to Kansas State University to major in architecture. She is the daughter of Brad and Ericka Cain.
Salina South – Justin Sullivan: Football (4), Baseball (4), Basketball (2)
Justin excelled on the gridiron in his four years. After being named as an All-State honorable mention pick in 2015, he played his way to the All-State team his senior season in 2016. Also, he was a two-time All-AVCTL first team selection at linebacker. Justin gets one more chance to play football as a high schooler, being selected for the 44th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl. In addition to his honors across the state, the team voted him as the most inspirational player and defensive MVP. On the diamond, Justin powered South to a third-place finish at state in Wichita. He ended his baseball career with first-team All-AVCTL honors. Even off the field, Justin taught kids at baseball and football camps. He’s helping with Play Day at Schilling Elementary. On top of that, he chats with elementary students about the importance of setting and reaching goals. Justin plans to play football at Kansas Wesleyan University. He has his major slimmed down to kinesiology or biology. He is the son of Patrick and Brenda Sullivan.
Sacred Heart – Stratton Brown: Cross Country (2), Basketball (4), Tennis (4), Track & Field (1)
Stratton ended his high school career as a state champion. The Knights lost their first game to Hesston and won the next 25, claiming the school’s first state basketball championship since 1981. He was an All-County first team selection. Sacred Heart settled for second place in 2016, but Stratton won Class 3-2-1A state tennis championship that year. He went 62-0 to end his high school career, claiming his second-straight state crown. He is one of just three Saline County players to win two tennis titles. He finished as a state runner-up as a freshman and sophomore. In cross country, he helped the team take second at state back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014. As a sophomore, he took 10th at the state meet. For student council, he served as the Senior Class Officer. He was a member of the National Honor Society and USTA Player Council. He was on the High Honor Roll early semester while at Sacred Heart. He is ready to continue his tennis career at Creighton University. He plans to major in finance. He is the son of Greg and Margaret Brown.
Southeast of Salina – Kendall Schlesener: Softball (4), Volleyball (4), Basketball (1)
Kendall greatly achieved on and off the floor. During her time in USSSA softball, she was a state champion five times and took third twice. She was named the state tournament MVP last year. For the Lady Trojans, she was a two-time All-League first-teamer, helping Southeast of Saline take third in 2016. Southeast of Saline won the NCAA softball title four times and volleyball crown twice. She was a team captain in both sports. She was the president for National Honor Society, officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters and class senator for student council. She was a member of the Science Club as well. As for academic achievements, she was a Governor’s Scholar and Kansas Honor Scholar while boasting a 4.0 GPA in all four years. She won the Citizenship Award, George Eastman Young Leaders Award and the NCAA All-League Academic Award. Kendall volunteered with various events, including First Covenant Church youth group, Relay for Life and Robert J. Dole YCLI. She served as a Sunflower Bank Community Ambassador and taught young softball players how to pitch. As for other events, she helped with Salina Chamber of Commerce Junior Leadership, Salvation Army Christmas Toy Drive and Numana. She’s going to the University of Kansas to major in pharmacy. She is the daughter of Scott and Trina Schlesener.
Ell-Saline – Sydney Omli: Volleyball (4), Basketball (4), Softball (4), Cheer (4)
Sydney flexed her muscles in more ways than one. At the Class 2A state powerlifting meet, she was able to break a record. Out on the diamond, she was an All-State second team pick at catcher. In the Heart of America League, she was placed on the All-League first team her junior year while making the second team in 2017. For basketball, she earned All-State honorable mention. She made the All-County honorable mention list for both basketball and volleyball. She was a member of FCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National Honor Society and yearbook. She made the ‘A’ Honor Roll. At First Covenant Church, she was a part of the leadership team and was a children’s leader. She was a community ambassador and helped with vacation bible school and Gravity youth group. She participated in a Mexico mission trip as well. She wants to major in elementary education at Fort Hays State University. She also is joining the cheerleading squad. She is the daughter of Tom and Susie Omli.
Abilene – Parker Base: Football (4), Basketball (4), Baseball (4)
Parker contributed in every sport while at Abilene. In football and baseball, he lettered all four years while being a letterman in basketball for two seasons. He was an All-State honorable mention selection in both football and basketball. At the Salina Invitational Tournament, he was named most inspirational player and was placed on the all-tournament team. He was an All-NCKL pick for basketball and was honorable mention for offense and defense on the gridiron. On the diamond, he started as an All-NCKL honorable mention player and became a three-time All-League selection. Parker was on the Honor Roll for four years while also being an academic letter winner. He was an inductee for the German National Honor Society. He helped with SLAM ball for the Abilene Recreational Center for four years and the Glow Run for St. Andrews for one. He moves on to Butler Community College to play baseball and major in sports management. He is the son of Dan and Maryann Base.