BEVERLY -- It's winter of 2017. Beverly High freshman India Ingemi and her indoor track team are coming down the home stretch in a tight meet against Peabody in what was their last meet of the season.
Then a first-year standout, Ingemi was called upon to run the opening leg on the 4x400 relay, an event she had yet to compete in during her young career. She was admittedly nervous, but once she got going a strong sense of euphoria and positive adrenaline began rushing through her veins. It was in that moment when she truly realized how much the sport meant to her.
"I just remember running through that tunnel and it was really quiet, but when we came back out everyone was just screaming and it was the coolest feeling ever," recalled Ingemi. "I realized how many people were actually watching and I just think it was one of the moments that I really fell in love with track."
Ingemi helped her new relay squad to victory that day, giving the Panthers a last second win over their league rival. Four years later, she'd go down among the greatest track athletes to ever grace the halls at Beverly High.
But Ingemi's high school successes don't stop there. She's also a tremendous student, carrying a 4.74 GPA and earning all A+ grades throughout her only two senior semesters, and she'll attend Princeton University beginning in the fall.
For her sustained excellence both in the classroom and on the athletic surface, Ingemi has been named the Moynihan Lumber Female Student Athlete of the Year.
"Definitely at the top," Ingemi said confidently when asked where the award ranked among her many other accolades over the past four years. She was honored with a plaque and $1,000 scholarship check from Jack Moynihan of Moynihan Lumber on Tuesday afternoon at the front entrance of Beverly High.
"I didn't expect this at all. I was just really surprised and extremely honored to even be considered in the first place, so this is definitely at the top."
Following that triumphant performance during her freshman winter campaign, Ingemi began to pile up the awards.
According to longtime Panther girls coach Dave Jellerson, Ingemi leaves The Garden City with 11 school or class records for indoor track alone. She was the Massachusetts indoor 300 meter state champion and won both the 55 dash and 300 events at the Division 2 meet. Ingemi was voted the Outstanding Athlete at the Coaches Invitational and was a three-time NEC Indoor Performer of the Year as well as a three-time Salem News Runner of the Year.
During the outdoor season, Ingemi snared 12 school or class records, was a three-time NEC Runner of the Year and two-time Salem News Runner of the Year. She consistently brought energy, determination and leadership to both practices and meets and always strove to do her very best.
"Often times I am asked 'who was the best track and field athlete you ever coached?'. I now can answer that question; it is India," said Jellerson, who has led the Beverly High track teams since 1974.
"What makes India so special is she's not only motivated intrinsically as all great athletes are, but she is also motivated extrinsically. She competes to perform at her very best for her teammates, her friends and for Beverly High School. She knows that the success of our program is based on the performances of each individual and she doesn't want to let her teammates down."
Now heading off to Princeton University where she'll continue her running career, Ingemi will have some memorable hardware and a nice chunk of cash to take with her.
"I'll definitely put it towards paying for college," Ingemi said with a laugh when asked what she planned to do with the scholarship check.
Ingemi joins a relatively long list of nine Beverly High student-athletes to receive the award in its 28-year history.
On the boys side, Triton's Tyler Godfrey was selected as the Moynihan Lumber Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Godfrey has committed to play baseball at MIT next year and is the first individual in Triton history to be honored with the annual award.
"It feels great to be recognized out of all the North Shore athletes to win this award," said Godfrey. "Both of my parents have pushed me to be the best I can in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. I value the education part, I've challenged myself, and Triton has had some really good teachers who have helped me."
Godfrey finished as salutatorian of Triton's Class of 2020, posting a 4.74 GPA after also scoring 1,510 on his SATs. In addition to his prowess as the Vikings' starting catcher on the baseball diamond, Godfrey was also a terrific hockey player and was recently named to the Newburyport Daily News boys hockey All-Decade team.