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2017 Awards Banquet Names Thompson and Marsh Top Athletes

A pair of athletes who won their conference's top honors in multiple sports added to their trophy cases Sunday night at the 56th WNC Sports Awards Banquet presented by Ingles. 

C.J. Thompson of Erwin High and North Henderson's Caroline Marsh were selected as Male and Female Athletes of the Year in front of a capacity crowd of 850 at Omni Grove Park Inn. The Mountain Amateur Athletic Club, which hosts the event, also honored three new inductees into the NC Sports Hall of Fame presented by Dixon, Hughes, Goodman - Murphy High football coach David Gentry and former Asheville Tourists executives Carolyn and Ron McKee. 

 David Gentry is WNC's all-time leader in high-school football coaching  wins. In a 43-year career at Edneyville High (1974-82) and Murphy  (1983-present), Gentry has posted a 381-189 record, with seven state 1-A titles at Murphy (1986, '87, '91, '96, 2011, '13 and '16). He has  won 13 conference and nine regional championships and was selected as the head coach of the Shrine Bowl. The football facility at Murphy  High is named David Gentry Field after the area's most successful football coach in history.

Gentry ranks fourth in the state in career wins, 31 victories away from all-time leader Jack Holley. Coach Gentry has won state titles in three different decades and has a trio of state championships in the past six seasons. He also won three in a six-year span from 1986-91, including back-to-back in 1986-87.    

 Carolyn and Ron McKee ran the Asheville Tourists' pro baseball organization as a husband-and-wife team for 26 years (1980-20). With Carolyn serving as the business manager and Ron as general manager, and later president and minority owner, the McKees converted the Tourists from a struggling business into a model franchise, increasing attendance from less than 1,000 a game to more than 2,000. Inventing the discount drinks promotion "Thirsty Thursday," Ron created a one of Asheville's strongest and most long-lasting social traditions. The McKees are members of the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame.

Ron, who was inducted in 1999, was named the SAL's executive of the year several times. Carolyn, inducted in 2012, received the Rawlings Woman's Executive of the Year in 2004, the first female ewver in the SAL to win the national award.

Jennifer Roberts of Qualla Boundary, Cherokee was given the Special Olympics Award and her local organization was presented with a $1,000 grant.  Roberts started competing in Special Olympics in New Jersey at age eight. She has competed in North Carolina at the State level four times and has won more than 35 medals and countless ribbons.

Long-time semi-pro football coach Phil Lytle was presented the Moog/Gene Ochsenreiter Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Robbinsville High football program that has won 14 state 1-A titles was recognized as a MAAC Dynasty Program. 

 Lytle directed semi-pro football teams in Asheville for 30 years (1976-2016), including the Asheville Bears, Asheville Grizzlies and Carolina Bandits. He retired with a career mark of 231-126 and led teams to three Southeastern Regionals and two Final Four appearances. The Asheville native played one season for Appalachian State and graduated from UNC Asheville, Lytle's love for football led him nto oaching after playing semi-pro football. He also coached 10 years in high school. He not only coached but served as a mentor for hundreds of young men, offering advice, guidance and  leadership, and on several occasions coached the children and grandchildren of former players. He is a member of hall of fames of the American Football Association and Minor League Football News.

Under the leadership of legendary football coach and WNC Sports Hall of Fame member Bob Colvin, the Robbinsville High football program won 11 state 1-A titles in 15 years (1969-83). The Black Knights posted a 127-16 record during those state title seasons in 1969, '70, '73, '74, '76, '77, '79-83. Robbinsville also won state championships in 1992 under coach Dale Smallen  and in 014 under coach Dee Walsh, and a Western Regional title in 1965 before teams played the Eastern Regional champion for a state crown. That gives the program a N.C. best 4 state titles in 77 years of playing football. In 43 playoff appearances, the Black Knights have played 100 games and have a 71-29 record.  

Thompson and Marsh were among 20 award winners from a list of 95 high-school finalists who were honored at the banquet, which began in 1957. The MAAC also awarded 10 scholarships of $1,500 each. 

Thompson, who has signed with Mars Hill, received the Darlene and John McNabb Male Athlete of the Year Award after being named Player of the Year in basketball and football in the Mountain Athletic Conference. 

He had 88 receptions for 1,247 yards and 18 touchdowns as a receiver and averaged 24.5 points per game for the Warriors' basketball team. 

Marsh, who has signed with UNC Wilmington, received the Asheville Citizen-Times Female Athlete of the Year Award. She was the WNC Athletic Conference Player of the Year in basketball and volleyball. 

She was the Citizen-Times Player of the Year in volleyball the past two seasons and finished her career with 2,281 kills, 772 digs, 414 blocks and 136 aces. In basketball, she led the Knights with 15.9 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Award winners for the 56th WNC Sports Awards Banquet presented by Ingles include:

Wells Fargo 1A/2A Female Athlete - Major Sport:  Alysha Floyd, Hiwassee Dam basketball.

Northwestern Mutual/Carole Martin 1A/2A Female Athlete - Olympic Sport:  Ralene Kwitakowski, Carolina Day cross country and track.

Homewood Suites 1A/2A Female Team - Major Sport: Carolina Day basketball.

Mills Manufacturing 1A/2A Female Team - Olympic Sport: Brevard cross country.

Merrill Lynch/Keller Ferrell 1A/2A Male Athlete - Major Sport: Tanner Ellenberger, Brevard baseball and football.

White & Williams 1A/2A Male Athlete - Olympic Sport:  Noah Graham, Brevard cross country and track.

Skyland Automotive Group 1A/2A Male Team - Major Sport: Murphy football.

Blue Ridge Bone & Joint/EmergeOrtho 1A/2A Male Team - Olympic Sport: Robbinsville wrestling.

Jan and Lary Schulhof 3A/4A Female Athlete - Major Sport: Camryn Jansen, Roberson basketball.

First Citizens Bank 3A/4A Female Athlete - Olympic Sport: Michelle Cobb, Roberson track and Callista Rice, North Buncombe golf.

Home Trust Bank 3A/4A Female Team - Major Sport: Enka softball.

Arcadia Farms, Inc. 3A/4A Female Team - Olympic Sport: Roberson swimming and diving.

Goforth Builders Inc. 3A/4-A Male Athlete - Major Sport: Caleb Ferguson, Tuscola football.

Massasoit of North Carolina, Inc. 3A/4A Male Athlete - Olympic Sport: Noah Shore, Asheville High track.

McKinney Insurance 3A/4A Male Team - Major Sport: Reynolds soccer.

Rodeway Inn and Suites 3A/4A Male Team - Olympic Sport: Enka wrestling.

Blue Ridge X-Ray Female Student Athlete Academic Award: McKinley Morris, Tuscola.

Blossman Gas Male Student Athlete Academic Award: Chris Bang, Enka.

Asheville Citizen-Times Female Athlete of the Year: Caroline Marsh, North Henderson basketball and volleyball.

Darlene and John McNabb Male Athlete of the Year: C.J. Thompson, Erwin basketball and football.

Scholarship Winners: Darren Blankenship, Swain County; Teegan Bullock, North Henderson; Caleb Ferguson, Tuscola; Alysha Floyd, Hiwassee Dam; Samantha Fortner, Mitchell; Justin Greene, Mitchell; Callie Rhea, North Buncombe; Sophie Robinson, North Buncombe; Todd Self, Mitchell;  LesLeigh Tabor, Franklin.