South Western's Mooradian signs with West Point
In the end, the decision made by South Western's Lynne Mooradian seems only fitting.
Mooradian, who back in May as a junior won four YAIAA track and field championship gold medals for the second spring in a row, signed her NCAA National Letter of Intent on Wednesday afternoon at South Western High School. She will be attending the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"This is the culmination of four years of hard work," Mooradian said. "I can't thank my parents and coaches enough for supporting me. A lot of hard work, a lot of hard practices and academics too. It's not just sports, it is academics too. Everything I worked for, I feel I earned it when I signed my name. It was all worth something."
It might be little surprise that Mooradian selected a military academy. Her father, Steve, went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. while her mother, Deborah, graduated from the ROTC program at Duke and eventually became a pilot in the Navy. Lynne's brother, Mike, also graduated from South Western and is a third-year cadet at West Point.
Steve Mooradian said his son spent this semester at the Naval Academy as part of an exchange program to foster closer relations between the institutions.
As part of that, Mike will be a part of the traditional on-field "prisoner exchange" between Army and Navy before the football game on Dec. 12 in Philadelphia.
Despite all the military bloodline, Mooradian still weighed offers from outside the academies.
"It was actually a tough decision," Mooradian said. "I was being recruited by some Ivy League schools like Princeton and Dartmouth and even did a visit to Brown. I visited Army and Navy as well. I was stuck between civilian schools and military schools, but I came to realize that military institutions mean a little something more. The academics are the same, but you are going to get the challenges and the leadership training. You are going to be the best person possible when you come out of there. Once I decided that, the hardest decision was choosing between Navy and Army."
Mooradian said she has been to West Point "perhaps a half dozen or a dozen times" and really fell in love with the campus while there over the summer for a week-long seminar.
"The people I met were amazing," Mooradian said. "I never met people with such much integrity, just high-quality people. That was part of it. I then did an official visit for track about three or four weeks ago, and as soon as I stepped on campus, I just felt at home and thought to myself that this is where I need to be. I texted my Mom that night and said, 'I want West Point,' and she was like, 'You just got there.' but I knew."
As part of the commitment to West Point, Mooradian will have a five-year active duty commitment to complete upon graduation.
"I weighed that in the decision," Mooradian said. "But to me, it was not a con, but a pro. I'll get out and have a job for five years. A lot of kids can't say that when they graduate. And five years goes past very fast. I look at how fast the four years of high school have gone by. They have blown by."
Mooradian, who last season won PIAA state medals this spring in the 300 hurdles (6th place) and 100 dash (8th place) as well as District 3 medals in those two events and the 200, said the plan at Army is for her to try the heptathlon. She said they may also use her as needed in the sprints or hurdles.
South Western coach Bruce Lee, who has spent 31 years as a part of the Mustangs track program, credits her natural-born ability, some great parenting and an internal drive for her success. He noted that Mooradian has five PIAA state medals in four different events over the past two years.
"I think she is the best track and field athlete to come out of (the YAIAA) in my time," Lee said. "I haven't seen anybody with the range she has. She has won 11 different events in dual meets. There are only 18 events. I'm not saying she is the best in every event, but she has terrific range."
The fact that Fall National Letter of Intent day fell on Veteran's Day was not lost on Mooradian.
"It is a good coincidence," Mooradian said. "It's a good way to say thank you I guess. You hear 'Thank You for your service' a lot on Veteran's Day. Instead of saying it, this feels like I am doing something to say thank you. I am promising to serve to say thank you."