DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Award recipient is what Xavier is all about

Xavier College Preparatory always has had a sound foundation of its Catholic mission, including strength in academics and athletics.
Perhaps that is why Areta Buness fits in so well on campus. The blueprint she followed from an early age and the one used by Xavier virtually are the same.
“Academics have always come first, always have been the No. 1 priority,’’ the senior said. “And Xavier makes sure the students have that balance that makes it necessary to succeed.’’
Buness has had success on many fronts over the years, including an outstanding resume in the classroom and honors in lacrosse and badminton.
Now she can add another achievement to the list.
She recently learned that she was named one of 10 female finalists from Arizona for the Wendy’s Heisman Award, which combines academics and athletics. Arizona also had 10 male finalists.
Buness is in the top 1 percent of her class, was a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, was an AP Scholar with Distinction winner, won the gold and bronze medals in the National Spanish Exam, was the recipient of the outstanding mathematics student award, takes numerous advanced placement and honors courses, and was a summer intern at the Arizona State Biodesign Institute, where she conducted lab experiments and used proteins as biomarkers for early cancer detection and personalized medicine.
The application process for the Wendy’s Heisman includes writing some mini “essays’’ on athletic achievement, community involvement and other details about the student’s activities.
“I am excited to make it,’’ said Buness, who also earns a Wendy’s gift card.
Buness has been named a high school lacrosse All-American and will play collegiately at Stanford, where she likely will study bio-engineering.
She was introduced to lacrosse by her older brother, Gage, who went on to play at Phoenix Brophy Prep and for one season at Arizona State.
“We would throw the ball around and I loved it,’’ she said. “I played on club teams and went to camps. Our club team would play all over the place, both in Arizona and other places, particularly the East Coast.’’
Xavier began tryouts for this year’s team on Wednesday (Feb. 4) and is expected to play an 18-game season.
Buness is a midfielder, combining the facets of offense and defense into a complete player.
“You run the whole field, have to be in very good condition,’’ she said.
She participated in cross country as a freshman, competed in triathlons, has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo and oh, yes, loves playing the piano. Can you get more well-rounded than that?
Buness helped XCP win state team badminton titles in 2013 and 2014, and says the hand-eye coordination, footwork and reaction time learned in badminton helps in lacrosse, and certain aspects of lacrosse help her in badminton.
“I love the fast pace in lacrosse, the running and shooting, the strategy, the different plays, even trick shots evey now and then,’’ Buness said.
With all her activities at Xavier, she still finds time to hang out with friends on the weekends.
“I’ve got some good friends on the team,’’ she said.
And they watch her. They know what it takes for her to succeed, all the work she puts in.
“I do the best I possibly can in everything I do, whether it’s academics or athletics,’’ she said.

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