MAHOMET — Brisa McGrath and Nick Morrow are basking in the limelight and for good reason after being named to the 2018-19 All-State Academic Team and Honorable Mention Team, respectively.
For McGrath, the recognition was one that required an immediate phone call to her mom.
"I did not expect to be chosen," she said, "so I was really surprised and really happy when I found out."
"It was a huge honor," Morrow said after earning a spot on the Honorable Mention Team. "I didn't expect it. I was happy that I made it that far."
Each year, 26 students, 13 males and 13 females, comprise the Illinois High School Association's All-State Academic Team. Students are nominated by their schools and must have a 3.5 grade-point average or higher, participate in a minimum of two IHSA-sponsored activities or sports over the last two years, and have completed seven high school semesters.
"This is a tremendous honor and I hope every student who was nominated takes a great deal of pride in all that they have accomplished," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a news release.
An honor indeed. But don't think for a second that the two Mahomet-Seymour High School seniors take the recognition for granted.
They're savoring the achievement and remembering all of the daily efforts that paved the path to the accomplishment.
"I feel like there's a lot of work put in that isn't seen," said McGrath, who is a committed runner on both the girls' cross-country team and girls' track and field team.
For Morrow, who is also a finalist in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program, there's so much work to be done "when nobody's looking."
The chess and Scholastic Bowl team member looked up to none other than Jack Hyde, who was named to the 2015-16 All-State Academic Team when Morrow was a freshman, for inspiration.
"He's very nice, smart, in athletics and we were in some activities together," Morrow said. "He was a mentor."
And now with his own name on the Honorable Mention Team, Morrow felt "honored" that his achievements were recognized with that of his mentor's.
All of their time and effort are now paying dividends.
"A lot of people have been noticing and saying things like, 'good job, Brisa,' and stuff like that," McGrath added. "It's a huge honor to be chosen for something like this and it means a lot to me."
Oh, and the future is definitely bright for Mahomet-Seymour's two all-stars.
While both are unsure where they'll attend college or what they'll study, McGrath and Morrow are certain they're going places.
McGrath, who's leaning towards majoring in engineering but is also considering math and science, is "passionate" about the environment.
"If I got a degree in engineering, I'd want to do engineering stuff like green energy to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions," she said.
McGrath also has a liking for astronomy, and if that's her chosen major, she's confident she'd like to work for NASA. As for her math interest, McGrath said she'd be best teaching it.
Morrow, however, has his sights set on math or physics.
"I'd like to eventually do research for a university or an organization that's focused on advancing math or physics," he said.
But for now, they're content just being seniors in high school, and the two definitely have some advice for those aspiring to tack their names on the All-State Academic Team.
"Keep working hard and putting the time in," McGrath said. "It's hard sometimes, but it's definitely worth it."
"In hindsight, every hard path just seems like a small amount of time," Morrow said. "Just put in the work now and you'll be grateful for it later."