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Top Athlete Ranks Among Scholastic Achievers
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Combining academic talents that rank him fourth in the senior class with hard-won athletic abilities in football and track and field, Ben DeYoung is the boy Trans Valley League and Riverbank High Scholar Athlete of the year.

His grade point average of 3.98 gives him the privilege of speaking as salutatorian at this year's graduation. His interest in science will send him on to the University of California at Davis seeking a degree in animal science and a career as a veterinarian.

In sports he played tailback for the Bruins but excels even more in track and field where he won the TVL 300-meter hurdles and placed second in the pole vault.

"Ben started playing football at Riverbank High when he was 5-3 and weighed 100 pounds. Now he's turned himself into a great athlete. He's the hardest working kid I've ever been around," said his coach Monte Wood.

The son of Jerry and Lynette DeYoung, Ben grew up in a family of eight children on a ranch outside town. His father is an economics and government teacher at RHS. His mother runs the household.

"It's interesting growing up in a big family," said Ben DeYoung. "It sets the standards to which every child, and they're all different, is expected to perform."

Outside school, Ben rides for pleasure. He has happy memories of riding with his father when he was little. He now has his own horse named Buddy in addition to a dog called Petes, a mix of Border Collie and Queensland Heeler.

Of his athletic prowess, he admits his physique has changed a lot since his first days at RHS.

"I was a very small freshman coming in. My Mom was scared I would get hurt in football," he said. "I started working out. Don't be afraid to put up those 10-pound weights, my father said. Everybody has to start at some weight even if it's small."

Church and a Christian upbringing are a strong influence in Ben's life. He attends the Christian Reform Church in Oakdale, belongs to its community service group and leads camping trips to the mountains for third through eighth grade boys.

He used to belong to the RHS Trinity Club, a student group that meets outside school hours with his father as adult advisor.

As for academic studies, he prefers the subjects of animal science and biology but math is "OK" and economics "cool." He has never been an academic decathlon team member, commenting they practice "too early in the morning."

His favorite sport is the vaulting, which he's been doing for four years.

"I just enjoy it. It's difficult. Running down, sticking a stick in the ground and trying to go over another stick stretched in the air. My brother Richard vaulted in high school. He got me into it."

"He's the hardest working kid I know and his own harshest critic," said Athletics Director and math teacher Karen Adams. "Ben does everything for the good of the team. Has a great sense of humor. Very talented. If I could have had a son, it would have been Ben."

Counselor Denny Carl also commented on DeYoung. "A wonderful person with a great personality. Everyone loves Ben. He treats everyone he meets with great respect."