Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westminster Gets Another Nod; SMALL SCHOOLs PROGRAM OF THE YEAR

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Westminster Gets Another Nod; SMALL SCHOOLs PROGRAM OF THE YEAR

Article excerpt

Excuse us if this is getting boring. For Westminster, it's not.

For the third time in four years, Westminster is the small schools program of the year.

With its continued success in an wide array of sports, Westminster earns the honor for the second consecutive year and fourth overall. It also claimed the honor in 2006-07 and 2009-10. The honor was initiated 12 years ago.

Despite playing in a Missouri State High Schools Activities Association playoff structure that multiplies non-boundaried school enrollments by 1.35 before placing them in playoff brackets, Westminster continues to crank out champions.

The Wildcats won three state titles in baseball, girls volleyball and girls golf while also collecting individual awards. Brooke Cusumano won the Class 1 girls golf title, Bailey Merkel and Derek Bell won a Class 1 tennis doubles title and Bennett Lewis won the Class 3 wrestling title at 195 pounds.

For athletics director Todd Zell, who oversees the Westminster operation, he's getting used to the yearly mid-June call with the good news.

"I said it last year and I will say it again," Zell said. "We have outstanding kids in our school, and we have outstanding coaches guiding them and showing them the right way to do things. You have to really credit them. The kids aren't perfect and are going to make mistakes. You're not always going to win, but you can always display sportsmanship and character."

Zell also pointed out that as a whole, Westminster students who participated in athletics had a cumulative grade-point average of 3.4. T-shirts were printed for scholar-athletes who eclipsed a 3.75 GPA, and more than 200 were awarded.

"That shows the kids are not only getting it done on the field but in the classroom as well," Zell said. "We certainly enjoy being successful in athletics, but we also want to be the best we can be in academics and in the fine arts."

About the only hope for other area small schools, and out-state opponents for that matter, is for Westminster to outgrow its small- schools status. With the cut-off between large and small schools set at 1,000 students, it could be a bit before the Wildcats move into the large-schools bracket. …

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