Distinguished Student of the year: Rachel Loftin

POCATELLO, Idaho - From the hills of Mink Creek to the big city of Boise, this year's United Dairymen of Idaho Distinguished Student Award winner really knows how to make a big leap.

Rachel Loftin not only helped to bring the Century Diamondbacks girls' tennis team to win the title of state champions, but she sailed through high school with a 3.9 GPA.

"She was really excited, so she couldn't really hide it or anything. She couldn't really be serious about it, she was like, 'You won the yearly Distinguished Student award,'" Loftin said about how her mom delivered the news.

Loftin said she was really surprised.

"I didn't really know really what it was at first, I was like, 'What? I just won that already,'" she said, laughing.

The Century alum has a lot to celebrate. Aside from her athletic and academic accomplishments, she just got back from orientation at Boise State University, where she'll be attending this fall. She's going into the nursing program.

"It'll be a whole different experience, so I don't really know what to expect. But it'll be really fun, I'm really excited," she said.

With her face featured on billboards across Idaho, Loftin said she's still figuring out how to deal with her new-found fame.

"Because everyone will be like, 'I saw your billboard, I saw your billboard,' and so it's really funny, but, so, it's really weird," Loftin said.

Because of Loftin's accomplishments, Century High School has received $5,000. The tennis team will be getting $3,500 of that and Loftin is receiving $250 of the total. Loftin's tennis coach Sean Kane, who nominated her for the award, said he'll really be able to help the team with that money.

But no matter what she wins, Loftin will be taking a piece of Pocatello with her as she moves into the future.

"I'll take everything my mom taught me, all the good things," she said.

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