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Petito school winner, state finalist for Wendy’s High School Heisman Award

(Nov. 7, 2014) Stephen Decatur’s own Jillian Petito was announced as a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.

“It was really exciting to have won in my school because there are so many other deserving student-athletes,” Petito said. “The fact that I’m one of the 10 female student-athletes selected in the state is a huge honor.”

Thousands of students from all over the country apply for the annual award. Students are judged on their academic achievements, community service, leadership and athletic accomplishments.

Petito plays soccer, basketball and lacrosse for Decatur. The 17-year-old also competes for the Sea Bay Lacrosse Club and Ace Soccer Club.

She is a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, as well as a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Worcester County Youth Council.

Petito has a 4.0 GPA on a 4-point scale. Some of the classes she is taking this year include AP Calculus BC, economics and zoology.

Petito has verbally committed to play Division I lacrosse for Mount St. Mary’s University.

“Of course her father, John, and I are very proud of all Jillian’s academic and athletic accomplishments. She is a driven young woman with a huge heart, caring deeply about and respecting others,” said Petito’s mother, Susan. “Carrying straight As in high school, getting involved in the school community and committing herself to three varsity sports requires an intense dedication–one that she shares with many of her friends.”

A male and female winner was chosen from each school. They received a Heisman patch and certificate. The field was then narrowed down to 1,020 finalists (10 senior males and 10 senior females from each state and District of Columbia). Those selected were awarded a bronze medal, Heisman patch and $25 Wendy’s gift card.

“Jillian’s recognition as a state finalist for the Wendy’s Heisman and representing Stephen Decatur High School is an honor for her, and of course for us as well, especially knowing the phenomenal talent pool at the school and throughout the state. She has a quiet and unassuming leadership quality about her, and she is a truly unselfish team player and a humble student,” Susan Petito said. “Her ability to read the field/court and help set up her teammates for success is a gift and a joy to her, as much, if not more, than putting points on the scoreboard herself. Though she’s experienced a lot of individual success, she realizes that, in her sports, she is just one member of a cooperative group, each with an integral role, and I believe this is something she cherishes.”

Susan said her daughter is very fortunate because the senior class of student-athletes at Decatur all support one another in such a raw, honest way. It’s a pleasure to watch, she said, because “they are all so bright and talented, and just really good people.”

“It’s the same with the staff at the high school; the support and the desire to help each student succeed is second nature to them and Jillian has benefited greatly from such a positive environment,” Susan Petito said.

The state finalist group will be cut to 102 state winners (one male and one female from each state and the District of Columbia) and will be announced Nov. 10.

A judging panel will select 12 national finalists out of the 102 state winners. They will participate in Heisman Weekend festivities in mid-December in New York City. ESPN2 will feature the 12 national finalists during the Wendy’s High School Heisman Awards Ceremony. One male and one female student will be selected from the 12 finalists and will be honored during ESPN’s national telecast of the college Heisman trophy presentation.

Stephen Decatur senior Jillian Petito has been chosen as a school winner and earlier this week, it was announced that she is a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.
Lisa Capitelli, Ocean City Today
Managing Editor Lisa Capitelli, a New York native, entered Salisbury University (then Salisbury State) in the fall of 1998 and graduated in the spring of 2002 with a Bachelors of Arts degree. She majored in communication arts, and minored in art, with concentration on photography. Lisa began her career at Ocean City Today as a staff writer in February 2003. She was promoted to Assistant Editor in August 2011 and Managing Editor in May, 2013. Editorial responsibilities include covering sports — from local high school games, to fishing tournaments and recreation and park programs, the business community and weekly happenings, events and activities.

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