RUPERT — Minico High School senior Joey Gibson quietly rose to the top of his class and helped his school achieve its first state golf championship — ever.
An avid golfer and team captain of the school’s golf team, Gibson also excelled at academics in high school and will graduate third in his class, school counselor John Kontos said.
He was one of 225 Minico seniors who graduated Thursday.
The school’s golf team had made it to state previously, coming home with second, third and fourth place trophies, Gibson said.
“We really wanted to get a first place trophy in the case at school,” Gibson said. “Afterwards I felt like that was a really good way to finish my senior year.”
Gibson, who also played basketball as a freshman, said he enjoys golf because it can be played as an individual sport as well as a team sport.
“I also like it because it’s a gentleman’s sport and you can play it your whole life,” he said.
Although Gibson grew up playing at the Rupert Country Club, some of his favorite courses are the Jerome Country Club and Canyon Springs Golf Course in Twin Falls.
Academics were also a top priority, he said.
Gibson’s favorite classes were math and science, but one of his favorite teachers was his English teacher Maren Oppelt.
Oppelt taught Gibson junior year English along with dual credit classes.
“He was a very good student and he was very strong academically,” Oppelt said. “He wasn’t afraid to ask questions. He was also a very responsible young man and had a good relationship with his classmates, his dad and teachers. Sometimes you have kids in your class that you just know are going to succeed. He was one of those students.”
Keelan McCaffrey, who teaches physical science at the school, taught biology to Gibson.
“He was always really great in class. He always got top scores and was a good student,” said McCaffrey, who also plays golf and often saw Gibson at the golf course.
McCaffrey also watched the MHS golf state championship playoffs earlier this month.
“That was really impressive,” he said.
Gibson said the top moment of high school for him was “Walking down that 18th hole with my friends and knowing the championship was in the bag.”
Gibson’s father, Dean Gibson, said some colleges recruited his son to play golf but he turned the opportunities down to pursue his dream of becoming a radiologist.
Gibson plans on attending the University of Utah and hopes to be accepted into medical school to become a radiologist.
“I want to be a doctor and you just can’t mess around, he said. “I have to stick to my goals.”
Dean Gibson said it has been fun watching his son during the past year and a half.
“He takes his future very seriously,” Gibson said.
Gibson’s mother, Renee Gibson, passed away when Joey was in the 8th grade, but he was able to stay focused on school and be successful even though the loss impacted their entire family, he said.
“It was a scary time for me for sure,” Gibson said. “He was at a very formable age and the associations with the wrong people could have turned his life in a different direction but he never wavered and he powered through it.”