As youngsters, Jenny Howard barely had the stamina to run up and down a basketball court, and Israel Sostrin never donned a football helmet.
But that changed when they landed in high school. At Fallston,Howard has run herself into the record books with 25 postseason titles in cross country and track. And Sostrin has led C. Milton Wright to its best seasons ever in football and lacrosse.
Wednesday night, Howard and Sostrin were honored as the major winners at the sixth annual Al Cesky Scholarship Awards Banquet at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood. They each received a $5,000 scholarship.
The award honors Al Cesky, a former Bel Air High football and baseball coach who later served as supervisor of physical education and athletics. Cesky died of a heart attack in 1985.
Soon after Cesky's death, former players, friends and associates formed the Al Cesky Scholarship Fund Inc., which presents $5,000 scholarships annually to two Harford County seniors. Awards of $500 each are presented to finalists representing each school in the county.
Howard and Sostrin were the only nominees in the Class of 1991 to earn All-America statusat their sports. But back when they arrived at high school, each jumped into sports for a different reason.
As a seventh-grader, Howard ran the Bill Rodgers Run at Fallston High and discovered she liked it. She trained a little and set a new record the following year.
"That really inspired me," said Howard, the Harford County Sun's Female Athlete of the Year in 1989 and 1990. "It also made me believe in myself, that I had some talent to run."
This year, Howard was named a first-team All-American in indoor track. Harford County doesn't offer the sport, but Howard ran in dependently in several high-caliberraces. Her top finish came at the National Scholastic Indoor Track &Field Championships at Syracuse University, where she placed fourth in the two-mile run.
Howard holds four course records in county, regional and state competition. She was only the second girl to win three straight state cross country championships. A member of the National Honor Society, Howard ranks in the top 10 percent of her class.
In the fall, Howard will attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
As for Sostrin, he earned All-America status last year when he was named to the High School Football Sectional All-America Team for the central states. This year, he was the eastern regional winner of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Award.
When Sostrin entered C. Milton Wright High, he was new to the area and decided to try out for the football team even though he had never played.
"I had always wanted to try it," said Sostrin, whomoved here from Santa Cruz, Calif. "And sports helped me break into a new school, because I didn't know any body. Sports has helped me that way all my life."
After he succeeded at football, he decided togive lacrosse a try. "I had never heard of lacrosse before, and I really didn't know what I was doing at first," said Sostrin with a laugh.
However, Sostrin, a dedicated weight trainer, didn't take long to excel at both sports helping the Mustangs to county titles in boththis year. He led the county in tackles in 1990 and 1991, while doubling as a fullback for the Mustangs' 12-1 state runner-up squad last fall.
One of the top midfielders in the county, he also led the Mustangs lacrosse team to an 11-2 season.
Off the field, Sostrin is a three-year Distinguished Honor Roll student and ranks in the top 5 percent of his class. He is listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students.
Sostrin is headed for Ithaca College.
The other19 nominees, who received $500 scholarships, were Debbie Ayers and Bruce Davidson, Aberdeen; Heather Heitz and Chad Zentak, Bel Air; Kelly MacNeill, C. Milton Wright; Melissa Muhl and Brian Kocur, Edgewood;Alex Moore, Fallston; Laurie Seibel and Ken DeVault, Harford Christian; Dana Snyder, Harford Vo-Tech; Rasheed Cromwell and Michelle Holly, Havre de Grace; Kate Van Rooy and William de Rosset, John Carroll; Sandy Kuehn and Kilo Mack, Joppatowne; and Tracy Thompson and Bret Schreiber, North Harford.