• School: Sayre School
• Grade: 12
• Sports: Baseball
• Academics: John has a 4.9 weighted GPA, scored 33 on the ACT, has taken eight A.P. classes and will attend Vanderbilt in the fall.
• Parents: Lauren & Craig
If you want to understand the physics of what makes a baseball curve, a good person to ask would be John Van Balen, catcher on the Sayre School baseball team and one of the school’s top students.
John, 18, has played on the varsity since the seventh grade and became the starting catcher as a freshman.
Sayre has won more than 20 games a season all four years John was a starter.
This year, Sayre was 24-14 against its most difficult schedule and advanced to the Regional tournament for the first time since 1997.
Sayre, a high school of approximately 240 students, beat Scott County (more than 2,000 students) in the district tournament to qualify for the Regionals.
In the first round, Sayre was tied, 1-1, with Lafayette (more than 2,000 students) in the seventh inning when John started things off with a single.
Sayre scored five runs and batted around (John had two hits in the inning) to key a 6-2 victory over the Generals, who were ranked second in the state.
“Making it to Regionals and beating Lafayette was the best moment for us at Sayre,” John said. “We also beat Bryan Station twice, so it was a great year.”
Catchers play a demanding position, requiring them to call each pitch.
Sayre couldn’t have anyone smarter behind the plate than John, who will attend Vanderbilt in the fall.
He has a 4.9 weighted GPA, scored 33 on the ACT and has taken eight A.P. classes.
As a junior and senior he was a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society.
He applied to Vanderbilt as a physics major and may attend medical school.
He’s also an avid reader who is interested in economics and finance.
As a senior, John won the school physics award and was given the Director’s Award for his unique contributions to the school.
He was Academic All-State four consecutive years and as a junior won the Jefferson Book Club award.
He also served on school Honor Council, was senior class vice president and co-founded the Spanish Club.
He has volunteered at UK Hospital and is active in his church youth group.
“He is diligent and driven to do well,” his mother, Lauren, said. “He is a strong reader with a good memory and is competitive.”
Sounds like he will be an ideal fit at Vanderbilt.
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