As the leading point scorers in the 2012 Detroit Public School League Boys’ Swimming Meet, Rhoynald Clay of league champion Cass Tech and James Hitch of second-place Western International have been named PSL Proud Strong Learners of the Week.
Clay, a senior in his third year on the swim team, powered Cass Tech to the championship with 146 points, placing first in the 100 freestyle, second in the 50 freestyle while anchoring the 200 medley relay to first and swimming second for the second-place 200 freestyle relay team.
“He’s the leader of my team,’’ Cass Tech coach Eugene Collins said. “He helps out with the girls’ team and the boys’ team and his grades are always where they’re supposed to be. For the last three years, he’s been there for me. I’m going to miss him and his dependability.”
Clay has been swimming since he was 12 and has bonded with it. “Swimming is a fun sport,’’ he said. “I love the team. We’re just one big family and we push each other to get better and better each time. The biggest thrill is being part of the relays because winning always comes down to less than a second.”
Clay also competes in track and field while balancing his time as a responsible student-athlete with a 3.8 grade point average. “You have to learn how to do both academics and athletics at the same time,’’ Clay said. He plans to major in business at the University of Michigan, Northwood University or Howard University.
Hitch, the only four-year varsity swimmer among 21 boys on Western’s team, led the Cowboys to second place with 132 points. He took first in the 200 individual medley, third in the 100 breaststroke and swam legs on the winning 400 freestyle relay and the second-place 200 medley relay.
“James is an awesome swimmer and a great learner,’’ said Western coach Rosalia Plascencia. “He’s just an all-around great student athlete.”
Hitch also plays tennis. He took first in the PSL last spring at No. 3 singles and hopes to make his mark again this year. But swimming is his main sport.
“Swimming is in my family,’’ he said. “Both my mom and dad were swimmers in high school and they both were lifeguards.”
With a 4.0 grade point average, Hitch is dedicated to succeeding in the classroom and the pool. He plans to study at the University of Michigan and wants to become a corporate lawyer.
“As soon as I get home, I do all the homework I can before I go to sleep,’’ he said.
Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was 11, Hitch says the condition has not put any limitations on his ability. “As long as I take my medicine, it does not affect me at all,’’ he said. “Overall, swimming here at Western has been just a great experience.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week Award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletic performers and is sponsored by local Detroit area McDonald’s owner-operators