Former Payson High School teacher and coach Ted Pettet, center, poses with the winners for the annual scholarships awarded by the Mogollon Sporting Association. Winning the award among the young women graduates were, Natalie Black, at left, and Katelyn Curtis. The two had identical scores awarded by the judges so each won $1,000.
Photo by Andy Towle.
A trio of Payson High School’s most well-rounded seniors has reaped $4,000 in Mogollon Sporting Association scholarship money to be used next school year to help pay education expenses at three Arizona colleges.
Sam Grassel, Natalie Black and Katelyn Curtis received the scholarships May 21 during an informal awards ceremony and barbecue cookout at Rumsey Park.
Ted Pettet, the MSA member who the scholarships honor, was on hand to announce the recipients.
Because Pettet was formerly a coach at Payson High and harbors a deep interest in sports, the scholarships annually honor graduating seniors who have excelled in athletics, extracurricular activities and academics.
The scholarship judges pick the winners on a scale weighted in favor of sports and other activities like band.
Also, applicants must have participated in two sports, or two extracurricular activities, their senior years.
The applicants are also required to write a 250-word essay on what after school activities have meant to them.
Grassel, who is bound for Arizona State University, played basketball, baseball and soccer at PHS.
Among his finest moments in soccer was the goal he scored against heavily favored Blue Ridge during the Yellow Jacket’s 3-1 win in the state championship game.
It was the only goal the three-time defending champs gave up to the Horns during the entire season.
Academically, Grassel was named in the fall of 2011 a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Curtis, who will attend Eastern Arizona College, was one of the finest volleyball players to ever don a Lady Longhorn uniform.
As a freshman, Curtis earned starting honors playing as a designated server and went on to star at both outside and middle hitter slots.
As a senior she was named the Most Valuable Player at the Flagstaff Coconino Tournament and was a team captain.
Her all-around played helped the Lady Horns last season win their first regional championship in 16 years and earn a berth in the final eight of the state tournament.
Black, who will attend Yavapai College, was one of the Lady Longhorn soccer team’s most prolific scorers and the starting shortstop on the softball team that played its way into the state semifinals.
During her senior season, she hit .294 and fielded at a .843 clip.
As a junior, she was named 3A All-East honorable mention.
Black was also one of two PHS students to attend the American Legion Girls State at the University of Arizona.
Traditionally only one boy and one girl receive the Pettet scholarships valued at $2,000 each.
However in the judges voting, Black and Curtis scored exactly the same number of points and it was decided the two would each receive $1,000.
The voting for the winner among the boys was almost as equally as close, with Grassel edging runner-up Cameron Romance by just four votes.
Last year, the girl’s ballot was also a tie - between Lauren Nossek and Kelsey Waugh. Justin Moratti took home the boy’s award.