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Valedictorian Lenaway cites beloved Cubs as example for success

Fallbrook High Valedictorian Riley Lenaway is not only a math whiz, he is also a huge sports fan, specifically a big Cubs fan. His speech, at the June 7 graduation, compared the four years of high school to the Chicago Cubs' previous four seasons. He reminded everyone that the Cubs' record for the 2013 season was 66-94, and "only one player is still on the team's roster".

The Cubs' record was 73-89 in 2014 as they built a foundation for the future. Six players from that team are on today's roster. "Freshman year is like those two seasons," Lenaway said.

In the sophomore year, students "continue to build a strong foundation."

The junior year is like the Cubs' 2015 season when their record was 97-65, with a "new ability to drive, better time management," he said. The Cubs won the National League championship that year.

Lenaway then compared their 2016 season to senior year. The students work their way up and "goals are accomplished" just as the Cubs ended the longest championship drought in history to become World Series champions.

He ended his speech with a quote from Cubs manager Joe Madden, "The key to scoring runs is getting to first base.” Lenaway added, "We've made it to first base."

In an interview, Lenaway said, "I thought our class met their goals really well. Six got into UCLA; it's a good class."

For being such an avid Cubs fan, one would guess that Lenaway played baseball for the Warriors. However, his father (Bill Lenaway) is the tennis coach and more than likely put a tennis racket in his hands rather than a bat.

Lenaway played on the varsity tennis team for four years (same season as baseball) with great success. He and doubles partner Declan Harrison reached the fourth round of CIF in May after winning the Valley League doubles title for the second year in a row. (They made it to the third round of CIF in 2016.) Lenaway won the league singles title in 2015, reaching the second round at the CIF competition.

Besides having his father as a tennis coach for four years, he had him as a basketball coach for two years (out of the three years he played that sport) as well as a teacher for math for two years. "He taught me everything I'm good at," Lenaway said.

He added that his mom taught him how to cook, adding with a laugh, "She doesn't cook much so if I want to eat, I have to cook it myself."

Lenaway’s family moved from Lancaster to Fallbrook when he was in third grade. His best friend since fourth grade, Tim Foster, is going to be one of his roommates at UCLA, where he might major in civil engineering. "I like architecture but I can't draw," he said. An advisor at the college told him that civil engineers design the structure of a building, and "architects make it pretty".

On the other hand, math is his favorite subject, but he needs to figure out what to do with a math degree. He doesn't want to teach although he wouldn't mind being a professor. The only problem with that is that it would take 12 more years of school to get that position. He pointed out that UCLA is fifth best in math in the country.

Whatever subject Lenaway majors in, he has given himself a head start. Out of the 10 advanced placement classes he has taken in the last three years, he earned college credit in at least five of them. When asked what his grade point average was, he said about 4.54. The Salutatorian, Sarah Verschoor, finished about .03 points behind him; they were two of 36 seniors who graduated from FHS with a 4.0 or better this year.

Along with playing two sports, Lenaway was on the academic junior varsity team his junior year and the varsity team this year. He was also the director of the Interact Club, doing community service at various Rotary events.

Lenaway is excited to be going to UCLA where his life will continue to include math classes, tennis (on a club team) and his best friend. More than likely, they will be rooting on the Cubs in the fall.


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