Watertown High School seniors honored as top graduating athletes with community award


From left, Phyllis Johnson, Sarah Kilburn, Riley Connell, and Lee “Gus” Murray. The
two students were named Wednesday as 2021 Watertown High School Graf Award Recipients. Phyllis Johnson is William I. Graf’s daughter and Lee “Gus” Murray is Mr. Graf’s nephew (photo: NNYCF)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Two seniors from Watertown High School have been awarded and recognized as top graduating athletes.

On Wednesday evening, Sarah R. Kilburn and Riley J. Connell were named recipients of the William I. Graf Award. This award recognizes students in the community who have played two or more varsity sports in their senior year and demonstrate a list of characteristics such as sportsmanship, discipline, fair play, training, athletic ability, and academics.

The award was created by the Italian-American Civic Association in honor of William I. Graf and is administered through the Northern New York Community Foundation. The Foundation stated that it specifically honors Mr. Graf’s leadership and civic engagement in the community, as well as his time as a multi-sport coach and athletic director at Watertown High School.

The NNYCF stated that Sarah Kilburn was chosen following her career as an accomplished three-sport athlete. Kilburn has competed for five years in varsity lacrosse and swimming, and four years as a varsity volleyball player.

She is also a five-year Frontier League Scholar Athlete.

Following graduation from Watertown High School, Kilburn will attend Canisius College in Buffalo on an academic and lacrosse scholarship. She has committed to play Division I women’s lacrosse and will study biology and pursue a pre-med track.

Sarah Kilburn is the daughter of Kim and Mike Kilburn of Watertown, New York.

Additionally, Riley Connell was noted as a “standout two-sport athlete.” He has competed for three years in varsity lacrosse and varsity soccer and is a three-year Frontier League Scholar Athlete.

Connell will attend SUNY Geneseo in the Fall of 2021 where he plans to major in neuroscience and pursue a pre-med track. He also plans to continue playing men’s soccer at Geneseo where he will compete at the Division 3 level.

Riley Connell is the son of Kelly and Bob Connell of Watertown, New York.

Over 100 graduating high school seniors have received the Graf Award. Watertown High School’s athletics staff selects the recipients each year and the Italian American Civic Association presents the award.

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