Joe Lighthall
Track star Lighthall honored as TVL’s top male scholar-athlete

Hughson High School senior Joe Lighthall – a standout in track, soccer and cross country as well as the classroom – has been chosen as the top boys student-athlete in the Trans-Valley League, making him eligible for additional recognition and a scholarship awarded by the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Lighthall finished seventh in the state last year in the 800 meters after winning the Section Masters Meet as a junior. His personal best time of 1 minute, 52.47 seconds is the third-fastest of any returning runner in California this year and 24th in the country. It also positions him to become the fastest 800-meter runner ever in Stanislaus County. The record is 1:52.0, set in 1960 by Ron Whitney of Modesto’s Downey High School (Whitney later won NCAA and AAU titles and represented the United States in the Mexico City Olympics in 1968).

Lighthall was named Most Valuable Player of Hughson’s track team last year and also has been the MVP of the soccer and cross country teams twice each. Academically, he ranks second in his class of 178 students with a weighted grade-point average of 4.22.

Outside of school, Lighthall volunteers through his church to visit elderly people on Sundays to perform household tasks, sing to them and provide companionship.

After graduation this spring, he plans to attend Brigham Young University, where he will compete on the track team and plans to major in exercise science in hopes of becoming a physical therapist or working in sports medicine.

"As Joe’s principal and dad, I could not be prouder of him winning this award,” said Hughson High Principal Loren Lighthall. “There were a host of great candidates as the TVL is such an amazing league with so many talented and deserving students among the eight schools. Joe is the definition of what it means to be a student-athlete and has worked hard in the classroom and field to lead him to this point."

As part of his application for the TVL and Section scholarships, Joe Lighthall had to include an essay on the importance of sportsmanship. He wrote: “Sportsmanship is an important part of high school sports as it helps to promote values such as fair play, respect and integrity. These values are crucial not only in athletic competition but also in life, and they have a lasting impact on the students who participate in high school sports.”

Lighthall earned $500 for being recognized as the top boys student-athlete in the TVL. He could earn $1,000 to $1,500 later this spring from the Sac-Joaquin Section, which includes about 200 high schools. Kyle Birchall (football, basketball and tennis) in 2008 is the only other Hughson boy ever to be nominated at the Section level.