High School Sports

Where are they now: Catch up with Ali and Scott, The Star’s Scholar-Athletes from 2007

Ten years ago this month, Tonganoxie’s Ali Pistora and Oak Park’s Scott O’Donnell were made in the shade as The Star’s 2007 Scholar-Athletes.
Ten years ago this month, Tonganoxie’s Ali Pistora and Oak Park’s Scott O’Donnell were made in the shade as The Star’s 2007 Scholar-Athletes. skeyser@kcstar.com

Each year, we check in with our male and female Kansas City Star Scholar-Athletes from a decade prior to see what they’re up to nowadays.

We found Ali Pistora, a former track and field star from Tonganoxie, in Montana, and Scott O’Donnell, a former wrestler at Oak Park, in Kansas City’s Northland.

Enjoy this look back, and look for The Star’s 2017 Scholar-Athletes from 104 schools around the Metro on Sunday, May 21.

Ali Pistora

Tonganoxie High School

Residence: Billings, Mont.

Currently: She’s a physical therapist at a retirement community. Pistora works with geriatric patients in their 80s and 90s at St. John’s Lutheran Ministries in Billings, about an hour from Yellowstone National Park. She said she moved to Montana for the beauty of the place and this job opportunity, which she discovered during an internship. “Most of these people have memory loss,” she said. “It’s kind of their last chance (to be semi-active) before they need a lot of help just moving around ... I feel like I have a lot of weight on my shoulders, but it’s really rewarding.”


Family: Single.

High school: A Lawrence native, Pistora was a four-year letter winner in track and field at Tonganoxie. She competed in the high jump and javelin, and set a school record in javelin as a freshman. Her personal record in high school came that year at state: at 154 feet, 6 inches, the throw ranked third in the country in 2006 among high schoolers. She was a state runner-up her junior and senior years of high school. She graduated first in her class of 116 with a 4.0 grade-point average and was even voted the Chieftains’ homecoming queen.

College: Javelin and hammer throw at K-State. Her marks as a collegian were impressive: 170-11 in javelin (at the Kansas Relays in 2011), 170-06 in the hammer and a conference-best 59-4¼ in the weight throw at the 2011 Big 12 Indoor Championships (she’d later eclipse 60 feet). When all was said and done, she’d won 14 individual titles in college and competed in the NCAA and USA outdoor championships. Along the way, she earned an undergrad degree in kinesiology and exercise science from KSU in 2011, a masters in kinesiology and exercise physiology from KSU in 2012 and a doctorate in physical therapy and rehabilitation science from Kansas in 2015. Then, it was off to Montana.

Of her time as an athlete in college, she said, “I feel like I did the best I could. Other athletes were better, but I enjoyed my time at K-State because it taught me discipline and to be a better person in my career, and be team-based. I wasn’t a superstar, but I had a lot of fun.”

Sports now: Pistora today is making a name for herself as a recreational but accomplished disc-golfer. “I play for the competition and fun of being outside and meeting good people,” she said.

Scott O’Donnell

Oak Park High School

Residence: Kansas City Northland.

Currently: Sales executive at Cerner who is responsible for revenue-cycle management sales (health-care finance, business process outsourcing) in the Western half of the U.S. and abroad. “I’ve been with Cerner for three years now and have been very successful in sales, and I love my job,” O’Donnell said. “Much of my time spent is working with health systems and developing partnerships for Cerner to manage their financial operations.”


Family: Married wife Amber in 2013; the couple met while O’Donnell was at Missouri. They have an 8-month-old daughter, Scottie Faye.

High school: Four-time state champion and four-year letter-winner under coach Gary Mayabb who finished his prep career with a 172-9 record, tied for most wins in school history. Went 46-0 as a freshman and 46-1 as a sophomore and won a Cadet Greco National title in 2003. O’Donnell was also academic all-state all four years of high school (he graduated with a 4.0 GPA) and ran two seasons on the Northmen cross-country team. Coming out of high school, he was recruited as a wrestler by not one, or two, or even three, but thirty-six colleges.

College: Started his college career at the University of Virginia but battled injury there and eventually transferred to Missouri for his junior and senior seasons. Wrestled three of four years, graduating in four with a degree in political science. Overall, he said he enjoyed his time in college. “One of the most rewarding experiences I had was being a legislative intern in the Missouri State Capitol, which eventually set me up for my first job in politics, O’Donnell said.

“I became a legislative assistant for a state representative and also was a campaign manager in the 2012 election cycle. We won the 2012 election in a very party-split district.”

Sports now: Sports don’t play a huge role in O’Donnell’s life at the moment — “I’m highly focused on my career at Cerner and spending time with my family,” he said — but he’s a lifelong Chiefs and Royals fan and enjoys “following and watching wrestling.” Other than that, “the majority of my time is spent with my family when I’m not working or traveling,” he said. “I enjoy being outdoors and doing projects around our house.”

Previous boys winners

1984: Danny Bellus, Washington

1985: Marlon Washington, Schlagle

1986: Brad Hinkle, Olathe South

1987: Jeff Witkop, Blue Valley North

1988: Jeff Drbohlav, Cass-Midway

1989: Tom Kreamer, SM East

1990: Shaon Fry, Oak Grove

1991: Aaron Hodges, Harmon

1992: Mike Wilson, Center

1993: Nate Minnis, Blue Springs

1994: Matt Mendlick, Olathe South

1995: Steve Fein, SM Northwest

1996: Josh Alpers, Blue Springs

1997: Brandon Wier, Olathe North

1998: Daniel Parris, Lee’s Summit North

1999: Corey Crandall, Fort Osage

2000: Tommy Hottovy, Park Hill South

2001: Jeff Durbin, Olathe South

2002: Justin Dyer, Olathe South

2003: Adam Perkins, Liberty

2004: Larry Hall, Center

2005: Louis Caputo, Blue Springs

2006: Aaron Trigg, Blue Valley West

2007: Scott O’Donnell, Oak Park

2008: Riley Reynolds, Blue Springs South

2009: Rick Settle, Olathe East

2010: Roy Wedge, Lawrence

2011: Aaron Thornburg, SM Northwest

2012: Zach Herriott, Rockhurst

2013: Nathan Butler, Leavenworth

2014: Sam Guinn, Blue Valley Northwest

2015: Dalton Schoen, Blue Valley Northwest

2016: Jacob Bohlken, Smithville

Previous girls winners

1984: Suzanne Meyer, Center

1985: Angela Cox, Olathe North

1986: Gretchen Prather, Liberty

1987: Tricia Lillygren, Raytown South

1988: Lisa Arel, Lee’s Summit

1989: Melanie Ornes, Lee’s Summit

1990: Amy Fowler, Bishop Miege

1991: Amy Cook, Lansing

1992: Angie Popek, SM Northwest

1993: Lisa Petty, Lawson

1994: Lisa Davies, Oak Grove

1995: Lindsay Thornton, SM West

1996: Kelly Andra, SM Northwest

1997: Elizabeth Baker, Pembroke Hill

1998: Lauren Jackson, North Kansas City

1999: Andrea Tietjen, Excelsior Springs

2000: Katherine Hoffman, Notre Dame de Sion

2001: Shea Swoboda, Winnetonka

2002: Jill Tyner, St. Pius X

2003: Tegan Stuart, Raymore-Peculiar

2004: Toni Picerno, Lee’s Summit

2005: Katie Martincich, Bishop Miege

2006: Erin Birmingham, Park Hill South

2007: Ali Pistora, Tonganoxie

2008: Allison Mayfield, St. Thomas Aquinas

2009: Morgan Johnson, Platte County

2010: Megan Yohe, Liberty

2011: Alexandra Keane, Notre Dame de Sion

2012: Lexie Oak, St. Pius X

2013: Cassie Wait, Gardner-Edgerton

2014: Arianna Person, St. James Academy

2015: Dorian Bailey, St. Teresa’s

2016: Jenna Gray, St. James Academy

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