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Bunting is Athena winner

Carlin Bunting runs a leg of the 4x200 relay Thursday at Park. She is the winner of the Athena Award this year at Hastings High School.

During her freshman year at Hastings High School, Carlin Bunting saw her role model win the Athena Award. As Bunting was growing up, her family and Lauren Stoneberg's family were close friends.

Over the years, Bunting watched Stoneberg in athletics, and watched her out of athletics. Then came the Athena Award for Stoneberg.

Four years later, it is Bunting who is Hastings' Athena Award winner.

"I started crying when I found out I won it," Bunting said. "I was really excited, because I've known about this award since I was a freshman.

"It was just kind of emotional, just because of how determined I am in sports. It just made me feel really great that I was appreciated like that."

Coaches at HHS voted on the award, given to one female member of the senior class. Bunting was honored at a luncheon last week at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Her relationship with Stoneberg, she said, has meant the world to her in high school.

"Lauren was someone who kind of always knew what to say," Bunting said. "No matter how you were feeling, or how your game had gone, she always had something positive to say. She was just a person who you'd really want to be like. She was an athlete and in music and had good grades."

Bunting has certainly had the same success at HHS.

She qualified for the state track meet as a freshman and is the school's triple jump record holder. She has earned four letters in track, three in soccer, two in basketball and two in Nordic ski.

She's also a member of the Riverside Company Show Choir and the National Honor Society (to name a few).

The switch from basketball to Nordic skiing as a winter activity happened after her sophomore year.

"I just kind of stopped enjoying basketball, and I didn't want to just completely give up sports during the winter," she said. "I decided to try something new. I had never been on skis before in my life. (John) Dewall, my coach, told me he'd be there step-by-step with me to help teach me. It was a great decision. It was probably the hardest sport I've ever played in my life.

"The coolest thing was, at the end of my second season, I had improved by about 50 places in sections and in the conference."

By the time she was a senior, Bunting was a captain on the Nordic ski team.

She was also a captain in soccer and has twice been a captain on the track team.

Bunting plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where she'll be able to continue her soccer and track career. She loves both sports and is excited that she'll be able to compete in both at college.

"It would be really hard for me to pick," she said. "Soccer is a team sport and track is a little bit more individual-based.

"I've played soccer my whole life, and I could never give that sport up. If I absolutely had to choose, it would probably be soccer, but I didn't have to choose for college."

She plans to major in elementary education.

While attending HHS, Bunting has gotten to know elementary education by working as a kindergarten classroom volunteer and a special services aide.

Bunting thanked her parents, Dan and Lisa, as well as her coaches for all their help and guidance over the years.

"A big part of the reason I got this award was because of my coaches," she said. "I'm really appreciative that they were the ones who thought I deserved it. It is just nice to know you are appreciated."