State stars: Wolyniec, Bau claim state Triple 'A' titles
WORTHINGTON -- Oliver Wolyniec of Worthington High School (WHS) was named the 2015 Class AA male recipient of the prestigious Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) statewide Triple "A" award at the organization's 27th annual awards banquet i...
WORTHINGTON - Oliver Wolyniec of Worthington High School (WHS) was named the 2015 Class AA male recipient of the prestigious Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) statewide Triple “A” award at the organization’s 27th annual awards banquet in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Joining him in proudly representing southwest Minnesota was Heidi Bau of Murray County Central (MCC) High School. Bau was selected as the 2015 Class A female Triple “A” recipient, becoming the first MCC student in the program’s history to achieve the state title.
Each student received a medal, trophy and a $4,000 college scholarship, and was publicly recognized at the Target Center during halftime of the televised Class AA state boys’ basketball championship game Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a huge honor to receive this award, and carrying the title of state Triple ‘A’ winner brings some responsibility with it, too,” said Wolyniec, the son of Paula and George Wolyniec of Worthington.
“I was a little surprised, because I thought one of two other boys was going to win it for sure,” Wolyniec said modestly.
“So when they announced me as the winner, I said, ‘What?’”
Wolyniec, with multiple letters in basketball, track and cross country to his credit, along with a stellar academic record, involvement in Student Council and National Honor Society and four years of outstanding participation as a WHS music student in band, choir and orchestra, was nearly equally surprised that his last name wasn’t butchered.
“They actually pronounced ‘Wolyniec’ right,” he laughed. “That was almost as much of a shock as receiving the award.”
Bau, the daughter of Sue and David Bau of Slayton, has also excelled academically throughout high school and was engaged in band, choir, speech, Knowledge Bowl, volleyball, cross country and track and field, among other activities.
“This is a really big honor,” said Bau during a post-awards presentation television interview.
“I never thought I’d be standing here, and I’m just feeling very blessed.”
The female 2015 Class AA Triple “A” recipient is Maria Leibel of Cambridge-Isanti High School, while the male 2015 Class A Triple “A” recipient is Charles Stejskal of Maple Lake High School.
The Triple “A” awards, which are sponsored by the MSHSL, recognize and honor high school seniors who have excelled in a trio of areas: academically, athletically and in the fine arts.
In all, 32 students (one boy and one girl from each Class AA and Class A administrative district in Minnesota) attended the Saturday banquet and shared in being recognized at the Target Center.
The year 2015 was strong for southwest Minnesota, as fellow regional representatives Betsy Thompson of WHS and Aaron Axford of Windom High School joined Wolyniec and Bau at the MSHSL banquet.
Thompson, the daughter of Randy and Tara Thompson of Worthington and Wolyniec’s classmate since their preschool days at the Worthington Montessori School, was the 2015 Region 2AA female Triple “A” choice, while Axford was the 2015 Region 3A male nominee.
“It’s awesome to be able to represent the southwest corner of the state this way,” said Wolyniec, who is awaiting decisions from a few private liberal arts colleges before determining where he will apply his Triple “A” scholarship funds and begin studying political science and international relations next fall.
Bau is similarly waiting to hear from a few schools; she intends to pursue a degree in neuroscience.
Wolyniec is only the third WHS student to receive the statewide Triple “A” honor since the MSHSL initiated the Triple “A” Award program in 1989; Quentin Dudley was the 2007 winner, and his younger brother, Will, was the 2014 awardee.
While two other male WHS students (Chad Vaske in 2006 and Gordy Moore in 2013) have also been Region 2AA Triple “A” representatives, Thompson was the first female WHS student to achieve that mark.
Bau, meanwhile, is the first MCC student in the 27-year history of the Triple “A” program to be named a state-level winner. However, her older brother Mark was the Region 3A nominee in 2009.
And last year, Dillon John became the first Adrian High School student of either gender to receive the state Class A Triple “A” title.
“I thank my parents for encouraging me to try different things when I was younger, and to work my hardest,” credited Wolyniec.
“I was also blessed with some really good teachers along the way who are passionate about helping kids learn.”
His advice to other aspiring students is this: “Don’t underestimate yourself, but always do your best in anything you do,” said Wolyniec.
“You don’t want to waste a precious gift you may have by not applying yourself.”