EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 1, 2013

Saluting the Unsung Heroes of local sports

Michael Muldoon
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Saluting the overachievers, the quiet leaders and the often overlooked athletes in local high school sports.

KELSEY PERRAULT

Salem Basketball

Mother Hen

Salem coach Anne Alosa said of the senior, “She is the mother hen, holding her teammates to the highest of standards.”

The mother hen description is apt. Perrault is always helping others. She’s a co-captain in basketball and tennis, a student council representative and works as a nanny in the summer.

Perrault, who plays No. 3 singles and doubles in tennis, plans to attend Keene State to become an elementary school teacher. Her brother, Eric, is a senior pitcher for the Keene baseball team. Their father, Ted Perrault, played basketball at Salem.

Kelsey is a huge Kenny Chesney fan whose other favorites include The Notebook, Katherine Heigl and Maria Sharapova. When she makes her first million, she’ll be shopping for a white BMW.

JACOB PETTIS

Haverhill Track

Hillie Family

The Pettis family bleeds Haverhill Brown and Gold.

Jacob’s brother, Brett, was a football and volleyball star, earning Eagle-Tribune MVP honors in the latter. Their sister Victoria, father Vincent and mother Shannon all teach at Haverhill High and Vincent is the offensive coordinator in football. Victoria is a volleyball coach.

“Jacob found his niche in running,” said Hillie coach Mike Maguire. “He was a co-captain in cross country and has lowered his mile time from 5:14 to 5:02 and two-mile time from 11:12 to 10:55.”

Jacob, a 5-7, 125-pound senior, lists his career highlight scoring in a meet for the first time this winter. Pettis will be giving up volleyball to run track this spring.

The Beatles fanatic wants to continue the family tradition and become a history teacher. His favorite TV channel? The History Channel.

ASHLEE BYRON

Methuen Basketball

Flying High

Byron, who plans to enlist in the Army to embark on a career in aviation, is the Methuen team manager.

“She was cut her junior year. ... Instead of being bitter, Ashlee rose to the occasion to help the team,” said Ranger coach Karen McLaughlin.

Byron took a brief timeout from her duties to attend the presidential inauguration.

“It was crazy. Just how many people were there. The whole mall was filled,” said Byron.

Byron has been a youth basketball coach and is a talented musician. She’s a member of Methuen’s marching band and has played the alta saxaphone since fourth grade.

Ashlee works at Checkered Flag Go-Karts and throws the javelin for the spring track team. The Danica Patrick fan’s dream car is a red Chrysler Crossfire.

ZACH BROWN

Haverhill Swimming

Personal Best

The senior gives his best in and out of the pool. His hard work paid off recently when he realized his long-held goal to go under 1:20 in the 100 breaststroke.

“Coach (George Nigro) wanted me to do it and I finally got it done,” said Brown, who touched the wall in 1:19.5. “I was so glad. So relieved.”

Brown is ranked in the top 7 percent of his class and has been accepted to Providence and St. Michael’s. He’s waiting on Bowdoin and Holy Cross. Brown, who was a skier his freshman year, plans to study international relations.

Zach, whose freshman brother Danny also swims for the Hillies, throws the javelin in spring track.

Brown is an Eagle Scout and a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 27. This summer he’ll be working at Crescent Farms ice cream stand in Haverhill.

MEAGHAN BELTON

Lawrence Basketball

Coaches Dream

“Meaghan will not be outworked by anybody,” said Lancer coach Dan Blouin. “She has come a long way in four years. She has been around through state tourney wins and 1-19 seasons and she has never missed a day. She is just an all-around great kid.”

The 5-6 Belton also runs cross country and was a softball player. This spring she plans to run track.

Belton has been accepted to Anna Maria and Nichols and is still waiting on Worcester State. She plans on studying psychology. She mentors freshmen and for the last two years has been Lawrence’s student ambassador to the MIAA.

She’s skilled in ceramics and a talented musician. Belton sang “Angels Divine” as a solo for the Girls Ensemble Christmas concert.

Coaches or ADs should send nominations to Unsung Heroes writer Michael Muldoon at mmuldoon@eagletribune.com.