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Morgan Burchhardt

Explore CDSWOY All-Time Roster Members

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During her career at Averill Park High School, Anna Jankovic stood out with her athletic and academic achievements, but it was the way she treated others that impressed so many people around her.
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Zionna Perez-Tucker

Member of the CDSWOY Class of 2022
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Written by Stan Hudy, The Daily Gazette

Zionna Perez-Tucker made her mark on high school tracks throughout the Capital Region and beyond, along with standing up for friends, competitors and peers during her time at Mohonasen High School.
She is the 2022 Mighty Warriors senior class president, vice-president of the student council and an active member of the school’s No Place for Hate organization. Perez-Tucker is also one of 10 high school honorees for the third-annual Capital District Sports Women of the Year awards.

“I’ve been busy just keeping the senior class together because for the last two years, we have been separated due to COVID,” Perez-Tucker said. “Just trying to get everyone back together and get these festivities back on.”

The No Place for Hate club was a natural draw for Perez-Tucker.

“I’ve always been someone who sticks up for other people,” Perez-Tucker said.

With more than a dozen other students, Perez-Tucker looks out for others.

“I like being able to talk with others who also are very ambitious and know what’s right from wrong, and know what we can do to help other people,” Perez-Tucker said. “We fight for people who don’t want to or can’t speak up for themselves.”

Her passion for others was recognized by the school’s administration.

“I have known Zi for the past two years. In that time, I have seen her truly amaze and inspire our students, coaches, community and beyond,” Mohonasen athletic director Dave Bertram said. “Zi is truly a well-rounded and special talent.”

The Section II record holder in the girls’ 45-meter and 200-meter races earned a gold medal in the New York State Federation 100 race, and silver medals in the Division 1 100-, 200- and federation 200-meter races to cap her high school career in June.

Perez-Tucker holds five Mohonasen records and won two state titles during the winter indoor season.
“Beyond the track, Zi is such an incredible human being,” Bertram said. “As a lead member of our Athletic Council, she has volunteered in our Mohon Cares, Anchor room and on-campus food bank. She has traveled for the Albany Toys for Tots the past two years to help in any way needed. She treats people with respect and is the first to stand by their side.”

Perez-Tucker has been a conduit for her peers at Mohonasen High School and beyond.

“When new students enter the high school, our guidance and social work staff often reach out to Zi asking her to mentor and introduce new students to their classmates,” Mohonasen track and field coach Bill Sherman said.

Her passion led to her support of other female track athletes in the Capital Region. She was vocal and part of a protest among her track and field peers to have a rule changed regarding allowing athletes to wear beads in their hair during competitions.

“It came from a ruling that seemed to just pick on people of color,” Perez-Tucker, who identifies as Black, said. “In general, an athlete was told the beads had to come out. But other girls . . . had barrettes, little hair bows, and other accessories. So why were they allowed? And not beads?”

Sherman supported the girls’ squad decision to wear beads at an upcoming meet in protest, and filed a formal complaint with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association

“Even though I personally don’t wear beads in my hair anymore, when I was a kid, I did,” Perez-Tucker said. “I know cousins, family, and friends who did. It’s part of a culture, especially mine. We just had to find a way because getting loud and visible is not going to help us — so we took a calm but loud approach to it.”

One day later, the NYSPHSAA lifted the prohibition on hair adornments.

“She is the best well-rounded student-athlete I have ever coached,” Sherman said. “I believe she is a ‘once in a lifetime’ athlete and person.”

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