Fierce but friendly rivalry
Hailey Bunker and Chelsie Schank have been fierce competitors both academically and athletically the past four years at Churchill County High School.
This has still been a friendly rivalry, though, between two students who tonight will walk and speak together as co-valedictorians during the CCHS graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
Bunker is graduating at the top of a class of about 275 students and Schank ranks a close second — both with overall GPAs that stand right at about 5.2.
Lofty numbers, to be sure. That only tells part of a success story of two students who were successful in the long run, both in the classroom and for their school’s cross country program.
“They’re both just amazing, amazing young ladies,” said Mitch Overlie, the Greenwave cross country cross country coach who will serve as keynote speaker for the graduation. “Their leadership and their spirit, the way they conducted themselves, is obviously going to be missed on our team and in the classroom.”
In addition to their various school activities including clubs and student government, they have also held jobs. Schank works as a receptionist at the Lahontan Veterinary Clinic and Bunker as a lifeguard at the Churchill County Parks and Recreation Department indoor pool.
Looking ahead, Bunker is heading to the University of Montana in Missoula and then plans to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Schank is heading to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, though she isn’t quite so sure about her long-term goals.
“I have no idea,” Schank said, flashing a smile. “It’ll probably be something like in the sciences. I really enjoy that.”
Their success in the classroom and as cross country runners could be described as a team effort.
“We are very similar in a lot of ways,” Bunker said. “It’s nice to have that person kind of help you get through everything. We’re kind of competitive with each other, but not in a way that’s mean. We’re just competitive in that we push each other along.”
That teamwork paid off in cross country, where they were training partners with very little difference between them. For example, they finished 11 seconds and one place apart at the Northern Division I-A Regional Championships in November. Both ran personal record times for 5 kilometers and Schank’s effort of 22 minutes, 46 seconds was good enough to qualify for the state meet.
“My huge highlight was making state in cross country,” Schank said when asked about her four years of high school.
The big difference, unfortunately, came when Bunker missed the state meet cut by that one spot. Though obviously disappointed about falling short of her season-long goal to qualify for the state meet, Bunker’s reaction reflects on the strength of their friendship, work ethic and teamwork.
“I don’t get upset about it because she worked really hard to get that,” Bunker said. “I worked just as hard; we worked hard together, so we helped each other to get as far as we did.”
Schank nodded in agreement, adding their competitive spirit helped push each other to greater heights in the classroom.
“I know Hailey has pushed me through a lot of things,” she said. “Not just running, but through school, and we’ve been in a lot of things together.”
Bunker has seen many highlights during her four years at CCHS, including two years as part of the student council. They’ve led busy lives, to say the least, however, Bunker wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I think there are a lot of things I would put in my highlights,” she said. “I’ve seen some amazing things, and I know Chelsie has, too, and it’s been because of the clubs and the activities.”
Overlie has been nothing but impressed as he followed their progress through high school.
“They were taking a lot of really difficult college courses; the AP classes and AP tests, that’s a lot of pressure, and they had their own ways to deal with that pressure” Overlie said. “It was very unique to see that. I’m going to miss them … I know they’re definitely young ladies I would want to have as role models for my daughter.”