Bullard High’s Alexandra “Ali” Teliha, who likes to surf, rode a wave of emotion unlike any in her 18 years Monday night upon receiving the B’nai B’rith Student-Athlete Award at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m standing up here,” she gushed to a crowd of 500 after being announced as the winner by Rod Kraft, who received the award in 1973 out of McLane.
Kraft would become a doctor. And that’s the career planned by Teliha, who became Bullard’s first winner since Michele Lewis in 1988 while receiving a $2,500 scholarship in a 62nd annual award judged on athletic ability (65%), academics (25%), school and community activities (5%) and citizenship (5%).
The remaining 15 B’nai B’rith nominees each received $500 scholarships. And they included Clovis West’s Nwanneka “Nikki” Okwelogu (4.32), Buchanan’s Cody Brazeal (4.31) and Clovis’ Hannah Harvey (4.30), who received additional Irving Negin Academic Awards for highest grade-point averages.
Teliha, a school valedictorian, has a 4.27 GPA and combination athletic/academic scholarship to St. Mary’s, where she’ll run cross country and track and field. She was also offered scholarships by Cal Poly and Westmont.
She’s earned 11 varsity letters in cross country (four), track and field (four), tennis (two) and soccer (one), and is the third-fastest 1,600-meter runner in Central Section history (4 minutes, 49.73 seconds).
She placed second in Saturday’s section Masters Championships 1,600 (4:57.44), qualifying her for the CIF State Track and Field Championships May 31-June 1 at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“This definitely tops the highlights,” she afterward. “I mean, this isn’t just like winning a race, breaking a record or scoring high on a test; this is a renown award and it tops anything I’ve done. I’ve put in a lot of time and hard work, but I can’t believe I’m getting this award out of all the candidates. I feel extremely honored.”
Other B’nai B’rith nominees recognized: Brian Chongtoua, Clovis East; Alex Fung, Sunnyside; Cesar Garcia, Roosevelt; Brian Gomez, Washington; Jake Harper, Sanger; Connor Kennedy, Clovis North; Emerson Kirk, Memorial; Joshua Martin, Fresno; L.J. Moore, Central; Njeri Omawahleh, Edison; Nick Peterson, Hoover; Carlos Vargas, McLane.