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Warrior co-valedictorian blends love of sports, math

Staff writer

Matthew Christensen has a month until his freshman year of college starts, but the Marion co-valedictorian’s interest in numbers started well before he had to choose a major.

“I’ve really been good at math my whole life, ever since elementary,” he said. “My dream job is to be a sports statistician, so that’s one way I can tie my love for math and sports together.”

Christensen’s decision to attend Kansas State University is because he thinks the school’s statistics department has the resources and connections to help achieve his goal.

Despite having no precedent to pull inspiration from, his sights are set high.

“I think my dream would be Major League Baseball,” he said. “Those opportunities would be rare, so I’ll just take up anything I can — FOX Sports, ESPN. Anything that comes up, I’ll probably apply for it.”

Number-crunching has changed how he consumed media and prepared for high school sports.

“That whole scouting report is full of statistics on schemes, plays, formations and everything the other team does,” he said. “It really helps. I enjoyed that part of football because I could incorporate that to benefit me.”

While his focus is on data analysis, Christensen also sees a heavy reliance on technology, which is why he plans to take a computer science minor.

“There’s so much computer stuff that goes into statistics these days,” he said. “I figured that would be the best way to learn both sides of it.”

Christensen, who is co-valedictorian with Chloe Burkholder, sees the honor more as a personal achievement than a matter of competition.

“I have high expectations for myself,” he said. “I’ve known ever since elementary school that if I worked hard I could be valedictorian.”

Burkholder will attend Fort Hays State University this fall and major in nursing, while salutatorian Cassandra Meyer will attend K-State for dietetics.

Taking online college classes while still in college has helped all three with course-management.

Christensen even found motivation in remote-learning courses after schools closed in the spring.

“Going online after spring break probably helped my procrastination,” he said. “I’d just write a list of what I needed to do, then get up and do it right away. I didn’t have to go through a full school day. Once I got my work done for that day, I could have the rest of that day to myself.”

A flexible schedule is something Christensen plans on for the fall as well. With the expectation of two or three classes a day, he’s anticipating the possibilities.

“The schedule just has more free time,” he said. “It allows me to work more on school but also get a job and do that throughout the day.”

Getting an early start to the day is a theme Christensen will be able to continue even at graduation. Marion’s will be 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Marion’s football stadium.

Despite growing up in a small community, Christensen long has held interest in moving to a larger community for college.

“I’ve always imagined I’ll leave Marion to go to a bigger city,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be overwhelmed by it, but it will be a huge difference from Marion. I’m looking forward to it.”

Marion High School graduates

Cade Alleven, Robyn Anderson, Chloe Burkholder, Cooper Carpenter, Elijah Catlin, Matthew Christensen, Luke Dawson, Jayden Donaldson, Peyton Ensey, Bethany Grimmett, Hunter Helmer, Alli Hett, Koby Hett, Emily Hutchison, Sally Jackson, Luke Lanning, Amethyst Larson, Madeline Larson, Jazmin Lewis, Lily Lundy, Sadie MacDonald, Calib Mallory, Alfwenna Meyer, Cassandra Meyer, Grace Overton, Amy Packham, Jaxton Tracy, Cameron White, Jaimee Wickman, and Grace Winter.

Co-valedictorians: Chloe Burkholder and Matthew Christensen.

Salutatorian: Cassandra Meyer.

Last modified July 22, 2020

 

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