CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Throughout the year we show you the best touchdowns, baskets, hits, pins and so on. But our local athletes are students first. 3 local athletes were recently honored for their work on both the playing field and in the classroom as a part of the IHSA All-State Academic Team.
"So much sacrifice and it feels good to be rewarded for that becomes some times you come up short in wrestling or maybe another sport or maybe you got a C on a test or something but the sacrifice you put in after that looking past what you've already done and making sure you can move forward is what it's really about," said Carbondale's Aron Taylor.
"It's been my whole life, I've always done well in school and done well in sports," said Herrin's Jake Baumgarte. " I've always been busy with four or five different things at the same time, it's just how I've been raised."
Recently the IHSA announced the All State Academic team. 26 student athletes from the entire state of Illinois. 13 boys and 13 girls and three of them are from our viewing area. Carbondale's Aron Taylor and Herrin's Jake Baumgarte and Ashton Hawk.
"Academic all state means to me, a testament to my ability to keep pushing forward and use that discipline wrestling has taught me to really stick out in school and sports," said Taylor.
Herrin was the only school with two student athletes on the list.
"There are only so many people on the team and there are only three overall from Southern Illinois, it's just bringing pride to our town and be able to give good examples to everyone else in our community and honestly hearing congratulations is one thing from our teachers and I really appreciate the honor of being selected for this team, but hearing people talk about how wow Herrin has two, I'm very proud of that," said Herrin's Ashton Hawk.
It's not easy to balance both grades and to compete at a high athletic level. To make the All State Academic team you have to have a minimum of a 3.5 grade point average.
"The balance is probably the most important part, but I think they work together to create a well rounded person because being an athlete you learn certain things, in the classroom you learn certain things but when you are doing both at the same time, you learn a lot more important life lessons especially on how to manage stress," said Hawk.
"It takes a lot for some kids and sometimes all a kid needs is reassurance that they are doing a good job and I know I've seen it before that the struggle on kids doing both academics and athletics even when they are not excelling, excelling in the classroom but they are trying to hang on so they can be eligible, just a nice little help for them or like a good job or helping them with their homework assignment is so much to them so they can keep going, ' said Taylor.
For Aron and Jake, they want to be future engineers. Ashton is already enlisted in the Army Reserves and wants to be a teacher one day.
"It is nice when I've put in the work for my whole life to be not just an athlete, but also a student and to achieve as highly as I can in the classroom," said Hawk. "It's nice to be recognized because we have put in a lot of hard work especially at Herrin because Jake and I both are in pretty much all accelerated classes, we don't have a break so it's nice to be recognized for the hard work we do."
And by being named to the All-State Academic team, all three student athletes will receive a one thousand dollar scholarship .
"Honor is the big thing, getting recognized to be such a great student and such a great athlete at the same time was what I was going for but the scholarship was such a plus," said Baumgarte.