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CHAPEL HILL-- Mariah Elizabeth Lowder of Albemarle High School and Marcus Antonio Byrd of St. Stephens High School of Hickory have been named the recipients of the fifth annual Clary Medals awarded by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
The two outstanding student-athletes will be recognized at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting on May 6 at the Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Clary Medal is made possible through the generosity of the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation through the NCHSAA Endowment. It annually recognizes an outstanding male and female student-athlete, who will each receive a $2,000 scholarship to further his or her education at the college level.
To be eligible for the award, a student must be a senior at an NCHSAA member school, participate on at least two athletic teams, maintain at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale, and demonstrate excellence in athletic participation, extra-curricular activities and community service.
Lowder was a three-sport varsity athlete in volleyball, basketball and soccer at Albemarle. Her volleyball accolades include two-time Yadkin Valley Conference Player of the Year, a three-time all-conference selection, Charlotte Observer All-Area first team, and MaxPreps North Carolina High School Player of the Week. In basketball, she was all-conference and the Albemarle Defensive Player of the Year, and in soccer she earned all-conference honors and the AHS Coaches Award for defensive play.
She has also excelled academically, earning membership in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Spanish National Honor Society. Lowder also is active in other extra-curricular activities, including Student Government, Principal's Advisory Council and Junior Civitans. She has also been involved in numerous mission activities with the North Albemarle Baptist Church. Lowder will continue her education at North Carolina State University.
Byrd, the 2009 St. Stephens football player of the year, has participated in two sports, including three years of varsity football and two years for the track team. His football honors include Charlotte Observer All-Region, all-conference, All-Unifour Area Offense and Defense, and first place in the Blue Chip Camp Lineman Challenge. Byrd was also named to the all-conference team for track.
His commitment to academics is shown through his perfect attendance and membership on the A/B Honor Roll. Byrd has also been involved in activities such as Habitat for Humanity, NAACP step team, Young Life and playing the saxophone for his church. He plans to further his career at Lenoir-Rhyne University in the fall of 2010.
The award is in memory of Wilburn Columbus Clary, a member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame who was an outstanding coach and game official. He served as the executive secretary of the old Western North Carolina High School Activities Association from 1948 through 1977, when its schools joined the NCHSAA. Clary was also the first collegiate football official to be inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
"Both are exemplary citizens and student-athletes,'' said Davis Whitfield, executive director of the NCHSAA. ''They are outstanding selections for the Clary Medals, which is one of the top awards the NCHSAA can present to a student.''