In a fall season with plenty of success on the field, in the pool, on the course, on the track or on the court, the same has been true for the classroom. Earlier this month, Hanford High School had two CIF Central Section fall academic champions in the football and boys water polo teams.

“It’s a goal we set every year and it’s something every single person is involved in,” Hanford coach Josh Young said. “Everybody has a stake in it.”

It’s the second year in a row the football team has won the academic championship just like their back-to-back West Yosemite League titles.

“The fact that we can win that and we can win it back-to-back years and do it with a very competitive football team is awesome for the kids and we’re very proud of them for being able to achieve that,” Young said.

The football team had a 3.58 grade point average and was the best among a total of 42 teams. The term student-athlete is something Young believes his team embodies.

“It’s a testament to our school as a whole and the principles that guide what we’re trying to accomplish,” Young said. “It’s not just the team buying into it, but it’s the coaching staff buying into it and making it a priority, it’s our administration making it a priority and the teachers making it a priority, so it’s a school-wide achievement.”

To qualify for the academic championship, teams had to have a GPA of at least 3.00. Not only did Young’s Bullpups finish No. 1, but they were the only football team to have a 3.5 or better GPA.

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The boys water polo team had a 3.86 GPA and tied for the top spot with El Diamante — who also had a 3.86 GPA — among 32 qualifying teams.

“I always stressed to my boys that your classwork is really the important part outside of water polo,” Hanford coach Anthony Souza said. “If we ever had any issues, together as a team, we’d make sure that we’re where we need to be.”

The Bullpups qualified for a third consecutive postseason this year and lost in the first round. It was the first academic championship for the water polo team.

“Honestly, I don’t even know if the boys understand the importance of it,” Souza said. “From the outside looking in, it’s pretty huge. … I care about my players in the water as much as out of the water because I want them to succeed out of the pool. I want to get them to college, I want to get them to move on to a career and it starts now.”

The eight fall sports Hanford took part in were girls tennis, girls volleyball, girls golf, girls water polo, boys water polo, girls cross country, boys cross country and 11-man football. In all eight fall sports, the Bullpups had a GPA of 3.00 or better, including finishing in the top 10 in girls golf (3.76) and boys cross country (3.63).

“We’re proud of our student athletes and the job they do in the classroom,” Hanford Athletic Director Beau Hill said. “To achieve that with all the work they’ve put in is pretty amazing.”

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

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