It takes a lot to get Justin Kisner excited.

"I’m always laid back," said the Bentworth senior. "I’m hardly ever surprised. I’m just kind of a go-with-the-flow type person."

Even Kisner was taken back by what happened to him Wednesday night, however, during the Herald-Standard Elite Scholar Athlete Banquet sponsored by Jim Shorkey Mitsubishi at Hugo’s Restaurant.

"Oh yeah, 100 percent," he said.

Kisner was the fourth person in line out of six randomly chosen students who attended the banquet to try and start the 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage provided by Jim Shorkey Mitsubishi and it was his key that brought the engine to life, signifying he was this year's grand prize winner.

"I didn’t think anything right away," Kisner said. "I just kind of looked at my parents and was like, wow, the car actually turned on.

"It took me awhile to realize that I actually got a free car."

The event honors the top scholar-athletes from each school, 46 total, for the 2018-19 school year from the Herald-Standard Scholar-Athlete Program. Prizes were awarded to each who attended but only one came away with a brand new car.

"We were really shocked," said Kisner's mother, Carolyn Kisner, who along with her husband William Kisner accompanied their son to the banquet.

"It wasn’t something that we expected, that he would win. I didn’t really think we’d have a chance."

She admitted her son did not own a car, at least not before Wednesday night.

The evening began with an introduction by Herald-Standard publisher Michael Scott along with Todd Holland from Jim Shorkey Mitsubishi.

The guest speaker was Teresa Conn, owner and head coach of the Pittsburgh Passion football team, which was one of the sponsors for the event.

After that, three male and three female scholar-athletes were selected as winners of a 24-inch television and as finalists for the grand prize.

Kisner, Brownsville's Quintin Mapstone and Uniontown's Jayden Thomas were the males chosen, while the females were Elizabeth Forward's Natasha Trainor, Albert Gallatin's Maddie Flowers and Beth-Center's Sydney Urbine.

Each picked a key out of a bag then took turns to see if their key would start the car.

"When we were driving there I just thought it was cool that somebody else was going to win a car," Kisner said, noting his family's bad luck at drawings.

Actually, Urbine was sitting at Kisner's table, along with Bentworth classmate Ali Petrisek, and was chosen directly before Kisner.

"I was the last one picked," Kisner said. "I was more dumbfounded than surprised."

Kisner knew his chances were improving as the first three keys failed to start the car before he sat in the driver's seat and became the winner.

"It took him awhile for it to really sink in," Carolyn Kisner said with a laugh. "I don’t think it registered right away that he actually won a car.

"They did an excellent job with the entire production, it was very nice. They had wonderful speakers and everything was great. They put a lot of work into that and everyone seemed to appreciate it."

Kisner got congratulations from Petrisek.

"She's a nice person and she was genuinely happy for me," said Kisner, who had plenty of people to thank afterwards.

"I want to thank the Herald-Standard and everyone involved with the Scholar-Athlete program because the opportunity they gave us as a whole community is wonderful. I also wanted to thank the dealership, Jim Shorkey Mitsubishi, for donating the car. That was wonderful on their part.

"I also want to thank my athletic director Mr. (Brian) Malecki for sending me to the banquet, and I would like to thank all my coaches and teachers for giving me the opportunity to succeed in life."

The other elite scholar-athlete finalists were: Chandler Goodwin of Albert Gallatin, Lindsay Steeber and Scott Joll of Belle Vernon, Petrisek, Dominic Fundy of Beth-Center, Salanieta Waqanivalu of Brownsville, Jacob Swartz and Dajah Gudel of California, Matthew Barrish and Micaela Ricco of Carmichaels, Michael Polinski and Phoebe Wentzell of Charleroi, Jared Ozias and Mia Burd of Connellsville, Zachary Benedek of Elizabeth Forward, Vincenzo Muccioli and Megan Celaschi of Frazier, Caelen Stevenson and Cole Dorobish of Geibel Catholic, Brynn Boyd and Adam Hobe of Jefferson-Morgan, Gwyneth Hamilton and Eli Mitchell of Laurel Highlands, Brandon Donley and Hannah Dusenberry of Mapletown, Tyler Swann and Soleil Simpson of Monessen, Zakari Lucullo and Chloe Jaworski of Mount Pleasant, Jaden Taylor and Ashley Ficorilli of Ringgold, Maggie Moore and Travis Sipple of Southmoreland, Danae Rugola of Uniontown, Madison Brooks and Daniel Layton of Waynesburg Central, Joey Reed and Kaitlyn Rizor of West Greene, and Nathan Magill and Lindsey McClaren of Yough.

In addition to the Herald-Standard, Jim Shorkey Mitsubishi, Hugo's Restaurant and Pittsburgh Passion Women's Football, sponsors for the event were Seven Springs Mountain Resort, SWC Realty, WMBS 590 Radio, BeeGraphix, TK the DJ Entertainment, Pretty Petals, John & John Attorneys at Law, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Uniontown Hospital, Todd Hillman Productions, The Back Porch Restaurant, Abby's Gold & Gems, Central Greene School District, NobelClad, Washington Health System, Be Local Network, Michael Polito Salon, and Laurel Highlands Insurance Group.

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