Balancing schoolwork and athletics can be made to look easy by some, but it’s not.

It takes discipline, planning and a learned sense of assigning priority to the demands it puts on daily schedules.

So, when as a feat it’s achieved successfully, it tends to stand out.

In this weekend’s Sentinel, readers will find a 32-page pull-out section honoring some of the region’s most accomplished high school student-athletes, many of whom have solved — largely if not fully — the complex equation of finding success in the classroom and on the playing fields.

Being a top student-athlete does not happen by accident. So, pointing out those who have proven distinguishing degrees of excellence is worth noting, in some small measure at least.

“Sentinel 50: Elite Athletes from the Monadnock Region” began last year, with a mission to recognize the best of the best. The 2019 class can be found in this weekend’s publication.

The selections represent all of the six schools in our coverage area: Keene, Monadnock, Fall Mountain, Hinsdale, ConVal and Conant. It includes, also, coaches and teams, and for the first time this year, an Ambassador Award, to shine light on an unsung-hero-type who supports or contributes in a quiet, unassuming way to the success of a school and its student-athletes.

The recipients are chosen by Sentinel sports staff and a diverse committee at the paper that reviews nominations from coaches, teachers, principals, officials, parents and members of the community. Recognizing that local athletes participate in various divisions based primarily on school size, effort is taken to be fair and balanced in the selections.

We hope you find time to browse the publication and meet some outstanding young people.

We enjoyed getting to know them and to tell their stories.

Collectively, we are awed by the sweep of talent, intellect and ambition.

The combined enrollment of the area high schools is roughly 3,600. Not all students participate in organized sports, of course, but a decent share does.

The Sentinel 50 includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, members of two track and field relay teams, and five of the seven special award winners.

Here’s a small sneak peek at who you will meet:

Keene’s Emily Coppola and Conant’s Mariah Chamberlain, top female scholars of such similar academic achievement that it only made sense to declare them co-scholar athletes of the year. It wasn’t worth splitting GPAs, as we saw it. Both impressive students thrive on staying busy and being challenged. Both tout gaudy academic transcripts, multiple-sport backgrounds and noble career aspirations.

Tomi Ingalls, a special education student-athlete at Keene High who, arguably, has more fun in school than any of her peers, whose joy and reward from what class and athletics offers is as genuine as one can find. She found in unified sports more than she could ever have imagined, her mother says. And those students who paired with her on the court and the track found life perspective and appreciation only that relationship could provide. Tomi, “who makes everybody smile,” is this year’s female sportsmanship award recipient. You’ll feel better after getting to know her a little more.

Monadnock’s Chandler Matson and Fall Mountain’s Zoe Utton, respective male and female athletes of the year. They emerged from a deep field of talent that, in 2019, was part of a slew of team and individual state champions and NHIAA players of the year. They are multi-talented, leaders, marked by dogged work ethics, and they will play at the next level.

The Sentinel 50 includes a brother and sister who were the top players in the state in their respective sport; a Marine-to-be who was New Hampshire’s top heavyweight high school wrestler; a Hinsdale basketball player who reached 1,000 points in just her second varsity season; a Shrine football team player; the best female golfer in the state; two 1,000-yard rushers; a Division I-bound swimmer; a pair of school-record-setting 4x800-meter relay teams; hockey sharpshooters; a multi-sport standout whose foot authored a dramatic moment in one school’s sports history; elite distance runners and throwers; and All-State picks by the dozen.

Just for starters.

The Sentinel was disappointed to have had to cancel the scheduled Sentinel 50 gala. All of our events are underwritten by the generosity of local corporate sponsorship, and one could not be found in time.

But we’re glad to bring readers this pull-out publication.

In addition, short video interviews with the recipients of the 11 special awards will be available, starting Saturday, at

As for the Ambassador Award? Our aim from the beginning was to keep this award a mystery until an announcement at the recognition event. So, we’ll keep it under wraps just long enough for you to go to the special section and open to that page this weekend.