WORTHINGTON — Worthington High School seniors McKenna Prunty and Adam Koller are the local 2020 nominees to represent their school in the Triple “A” scholarship competition.
The Minnesota State High School League annually coordinates the Triple “A” award, which honors students throughout the state who excel in the triple threat of academics, athletics and arts, with special consideration given to MSHSL sports and fine arts activities.
“As always, we’re recognizing two amazing kids,” said Josh Dale, District 518 activities director.
“We had an outstanding pool of candidates, but the amount of activities McKenna and Adam were in, plus their GPAs and the number of AP and PSEO classes they’ve each taken, put them at the top.
“It was a tough choice.”
Academically, both Koller and Prunty rank toward the very top of their class. They are members of the National Honor Society (Koller is its treasurer) and have been involved with the WHS student council during their high school careers. Koller also serves this year as a student representative to the District 518 school board.
Koller has taken a number of AP classes (including human geography, world history, U.S. history, literature, psychology and calculus), while Prunty has pursued PSEO classes during her junior and senior years.
“I’ve liked biology, math and literature,” Koller listed, mentioning he is considering a college major in neuroscience.
“Doing well academically was more of an internal motivation where I wanted to do my very best in class and with assignments,” he added.
“Honestly, my favorite part about being in several AP classes is that a lot of my friends were also in them and the peers in those classes are also academically driven.”
Said Prunty, “I really hope the honors and PSEO classes I’ve taken are preparing me for college.
“I like math and science in particular — and I hope to become an orthopedic physician’s assistant.”
Prunty’s insight into the medical profession came courtesy of personal injuries through which she’s battled over the past few years.
“I had multiple serious [left] knee injuries that required two major surgeries,” said Prunty. “And I broke my right foot my freshman year.”
Nevertheless, Prunty competed in golf from seventh through ninth grade and shone as a varsity gymnast from seventh grade on, too. She achieved all conference status four times and advanced to state gymnastics competition both with her team and as an individual (in seventh, eighth and 11th grades).
“My favorite gymnastics event is the beam, but what I really like is being on a team,” said Prunty, who is sidelined from the sport this year due to recuperation from her latest knee surgery.
“No matter what, I can still help my teammates; I don’t just have to sit on the sidelines,” she continued. “I love my team and the overall experience of gymnastics.”
Prunty, the daughter of Kay and Mark Prunty, has also been a dancer at The Dance Academy since she was 2 and a teaching assistant there for the past several years.
For Koller, whose parents are Tammy and John Koller, running has been where he’s made his significant athletic mark. He is a six-year varsity competitor in both track and cross country, and is a three-time state qualifier and competitor in cross country.
In 2019, Koller was the Big South conference cross country champion, securing his third all conference spot (he placed second in the conference championship as a junior and also has two honorable mention all-conference designations to his credit for finishes in his eighth- and ninth-grade years).
In track, Koller was the 2019 conference champ in the 3,200-meter run (he placed second as a sophomore). Additionally, he and three teammates set the school record in the 4-by-8 relay last spring and competed at the 2019 state track meet in that event.
But for Koller, it’s the camaraderie he most prizes rather than the wins and titles.
“What I like best about cross country and track is the social aspect,” he revealed. “A lot of my best friends are in cross country and track, and the atmosphere is a little more laid back than in some other sports because there’s room for individual choice when it comes to how much effort you want to put into it.
“Yes, I’ve been driven to see what I could do, but it’s also about my friends — and Christian Lietz motivates me a lot,” Koller continued.
“We keep each other accountable, because if I was just running by myself, I’d get bored.”
On the fine arts page, Koller and Prunty have each been four-year members of both band and orchestra. In band, Koller is a trombonist while Prunty plays the clarinet and serves as section leader for the color guard.
Within the WHS orchestra, Prunty is a cellist and Koller a violinist. They each participated in MSHSL solo/ensemble contests with grade-level orchestral ensembles over the past few years, and Koller additionally played in an honors ensemble as a sophomore that performed with the Minnesota Sinfonia.
“That was a highlight for me,” said Koller of the latter experience. “Generally, I enjoy playing music, and being involved in both band and orchestra has always been something that gives me pleasure.”
Prunty is also a soprano in the WHS Concert Choir.
“I’ve loved being involved in all of the music areas,” she said. “They have really helped me come out of my shell more — I’m usually somewhat shy — and especially being a color guard section leader helped me develop leadership skills and close friendships.
“I’m thankful to have done all three [music groups] because I know that isn’t an option at a lot of schools.”
The pair of accomplished seniors has yet to choose a college — they are both considering Luther College of Decorah, Iowa, while Koller also has Northfield’s St. Olaf College on his list and Prunty, Concordia College of Moorhead.
Said Dale, “I’m amazed every year at how these Triple ‘A’ individuals do it.
“It takes a lot of organization, dedication and passion, and we have an outstanding group of coaches and directors who do their best to work together in an effort to allow our students to be in as many activities as possible.”
Reflecting on his new status as a Triple A nominee, Koller said, “I think my involvement in each area helped me be more successful in the other areas.
“Running has made me more disciplined, which helped me in my academics — and being in music is just good for your brain.”
He credits running coach Cory “Smidtty” Smidt for encouraging him.
“Smidtty always has a positive attitude, and that rubs off on the people around him,” said Koller.
For her part, Prunty thanks gymnastics coach Joni Reitmeier for “pushing me to do my best,” and says her parents “inspire her the most.”
“Being in so many things has gotten me involved, taught me about time management and helped me learn how to deal with all kinds of people,” observed Prunty.
Despite their robust resumes, Koller and Prunty advise younger students to take a deep breath and do what they relish.
“Make sure you’re doing things because you genuinely enjoy doing them and not just to bolster your resume,” said Koller.
“When I stopped playing basketball, I could have done some other things in the winter, but that would have taken away from the one to two hours I spend running after school with my friends — and those are my favorite hours of the day.”
Suggested Prunty, “I’d remind the younger kids to take everything in and enjoy the activities they’re doing because it does go by really fast.
“Even though it can get stressful at times, it’s all worth it. But don’t stress so much about everything; it’s OK to not be perfect.”
On Feb. 9, Prunty and Koller will attend the MSHSL Region 2AA Triple “A” recognition banquet in St. Peter, where a male and female Region 2AA representative will be chosen for advancement to the statewide Triple “A” competition.