2015 Awards Dinner Presented by Southeastern Sports Medicine
From an impressive list of 71 finalists from 27 area high schools, Roberson High swimmer Alyssa Arwood and Smoky Mountain High two-sport star Cal Raleigh were named the female and male athletes of the year Sunday at the 54th WNC Sports Awards Banquet at Omni Grove Park Inn.
A capacity crowd of more than 725 honored 19 high-school winners at the event, which has been recognizing the achievements of WNC athletes since 1957.
Presented by Southeastern Sports Medicine and conducted by the Mountain Amateur Athletic Club, the banquet also served as the induction ceremony for the lone member into the WNC Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2015, WNC native and North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams.
Williams has been inducted into several halls of fame, but this one is different.
"This is very, very special to me. When I was an athlete at Roberson High and when I was a coach at Owen High I sat out in the crowd and watched all the great speakers come through here," Williams said.
"This is a special event for me; it always has been and Western North Carolina will always be home for me."
Alyssa Arwood of Roberson High was presented the Asheville Citizen-Times Female Athlete of the Year Award Sunday at the 54th WNC Sports Awards Banquet. (Photo: Staff photo)
She is a Duke signee and two-time All-American who has won three YMCA national titles. Arwood has won 44 gold medals in competition and is a four-time all Mountain Athletic Conference and all Buncombe County selection.
Arwood has a 4.5 grade-point average, is the state 4-A champion in the 100 breaststroke and holds the state record in that event.
Raleigh, who will play baseball at Clemson, was honored as the Duke Progress Energy Male Athlete of the Year.
A Citizen-Times All-Western selection in both baseball and basketball, he was the co-player of the year in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference in basketball after averaging 21.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game.
Last spring in baseball, the Clemson signee hit .351 with 16 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and 18 runs scored. He was 2-1 as a pitcher with a 1.67 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 37 innings. He has a 3.58 grade-point average and is senior class president. This year he is hitting .468.
Longtime community volunteers Jamie Blue and Eddie Dalton received the Moog/Gene Ochsenreiter Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Keith Roden Special Olympics Award went to Joshua Finley of McDowell County.
Josh joined the McDowell program three years ago with no previous experience in organized sports but is now part of the swimming, powerlifting and soccer teams.
He has earned gold medals at the State Games and not only brings athletic ability to his teams, but also serves as an example for the younger athletes through good sportsmanship and positive attitude.
Five $1,000 scholarships were also awarded, including:
- The Joe Eblen Memorial Scholarship went to Alex Paulk, an Asheville High football player who will attend Davidson. Paulk has a grade-point average of 4.71 and is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Math Honor Society. He was a two-way starter for the Cougars.
- The Reid Jarrett Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Mekhi McGuyver, an Asheville High track and field standout and Florida A&M signee who has two state titles in the triple jump. He was ranked No. 1 in the state in all N.C. classifications in the indoor season and holds the school record at 48 feet, 2 inches. McGuyver has a grade-point average over 3.0 and posted a score of 1,500 on his SAT.
- The Bill Owen Memorial Scholarship was given to Reynolds soccer player Megan McCallister. She was named the Citizen-Times All Western Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. She is the school's all-time leader in goals scored and is still adding to her total of more than 140 while carrying a 4.5 grade-point average and ranking among the top 10 percent of her class.
- One of two Mountain Amateur Athletic Club Scholarships went to Hayesville basketball star Amanda Thompson. She ranks fifth in her class with a 4.5 grade-point average and plans to attend Mercer. Thompson was the Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year after averaging 14.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.6 steals. 3.7 assists and 2.9 blocks per game, and finished with 1,408 career points and 1,056 rebounds.
- The other Mountain Amateur Athletic Club Scholarship was presented to Cassandra Born, a multi-sport standout at Hendersonville. She competed in volleyball, swimming and track for the Bearcats and will attend Tusculum College. She has a 3.9 grade-point average, is on the A-B Honor Roll and is co-editor of the Yearbook.
For more information on the banquet, go to wncsportsawards.org.
54th WNC Sports Award Banquet Winners
Wells Fargo 2/A-1/A Female Athlete - Major Sport: Taylor Robinson, Asheville Christian Academy basketball and volleyball. A two-time all-state selection in both sports, Taylor is the basketball program's all-time leader in scoring with over 1,000 points and a five-time letterman who was all-conference three times.
Northwestern Mutual 2/A-1/A Female Athlete - Olympic Sport: Ralene Kwiatkowski, Carolina day multi-sports. Participating in cross country, basketball and track and field for the Wildcats, Ralene was a state champion at 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters each of the past two years. She was all-conference and all-state in cross country and basketball.
- Family of Joe Eblen 2/A-1/A Male Athlete - Major Sport: Jager Gardner, Owen football. Jager finished his career with 6,955 rushing yards, the highest total ever in WNC. In his senior season he ran for 2,776 yards and scored 36 touchdowns, was an all-state selection and the Citizen-Times Player of the Year.
- White & Williams Co. 2/A-1/A Male Athlete - Olympic Sport: Spencer McCoy, Swain wrestler. Overcoming a serious knee injury, Spencer won his third straight state 1-A wrestling championship, this time in the 210-pound weight class after winning the previous two at 195 pounds. His career record of 119-12 included a 51-0 mark at Swain and 22-0 as a senior.
- Dixon, Hughes Goodman 4/A-3/A Female Athlete - Major Sport: Megan McCallister, Reynolds soccer. A three-time all-state, all-regional and all-conference selection, Megan was named the Citizen-Times All Western Player of the Year each of the past two seasons and is a contender for a three-peat. She is the school's all-time leader in goals scored and is still adding to her total of more than 140.
- First Citizens Bank 4/A-3/A Female Athlete - Olympic Sport: Anna Vess, Reynolds cross country and track. In 2014, Anna won state championships at 1,600 and 3,200 meters set state records at both distances. She also part of the state champion 4x800 relay team that also set a state record and was the 3-A cross country state champion. Earlier this month she won state 3-A titles in the 800 and 1,600 meter events.
- Goforth Builders Inc. 4/A-3/A Male Athlete - Major Sport: Alex Destino, North Buncombe baseball. Now enjoying a solid freshman season at South Carolina, Alex capped a great high-school career at North Buncombe last spring by being named the Citizen-Times Player of the Year. He hit .529 and led all WNC players with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs.
- Massasoit of North Carolina 4/A-3/A Male Athlete - Olympic Sport: Tanis Baldwin, East Henderson cross country and track. One of the most decorated runners ever in WNC, Tanis is a nine-time state champion, including a pair of 3-A cross country titles. He won the 3,200-meter 3-A crown three times in outdoor track and twice indoors, and also won a indoor 1,600 meter championship.
- Hampton Inn 2/A-1/A Female Team - Major Sport: Hendersonville volleyball. A traditional power that has won 12 state titles, more than any other school in North Carolina, the Bearcats won a state championship for a third straight year.
- Mills Manufacturing 2/A-1/A Female Team - Olympic Sport: Smoky Mountain cross country. The Mustangs won seven of 12 meets under coach Pam Shuler and won the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference title for the first time in school history. The team finished second in the 2-A Western Regional and came in third in the state championship race.
- Home Trust Bank 4/A-3/A Female Team - Major Sport: Reynolds soccer. Coach Patrick Gladys led the Rockets to a 26-1 record last spring, and their 26 consecutive wins was the fourth longest streak in the history of the state. Ranked No. 1 in the state for more than two months, Reynolds won the Mountain Athletic Conference with a 12-0 record and reached the fourth round of the state playoffs.
- Arcadia Farms Inc. 4/A-3/A Female Team - Olympic Sport: Reynolds outdoor track. Last spring, the Rockets won the 3-A Mountain Athletic Conference and 3-A Western Regional titles under coach William Abromitis. Reynolds had the highest point total of all classifications in the regional and finished second in the state 3-A meet.
- BMW of Asheville 2/A-1/A Male Team - Major Sport: Robbinsville football. – Under veteran coach Dee Walsh, who played on a state championship team at Robbinsville under legendary coach Bob Colvin, the Black Knights finished 16-0 and won the state 1-A state championship. The Smoky Mountain Conference champions are the first team in the history of WNC football to win 16 games.
- Blue Ridge Bone & Joint 2/A-1/A Male Team - Olympic Sport: Mitchell wrestling. The Mountaineers became the first WNC team to win the NCHSAA state tournament and the dual team state championship in the same season. Coach Ed Duncan had three wrestlers (Kyler Hoilman, Levi Richardson and Dalton Beaver) who won state titles in their weight classes.
- David L. Cappiello, MD 4/A-3/A Male Team - Major Sport: Asheville High football. Coach Danny Wilkins has built WNC's most consistently successful football program over the past 15 years, and the 2014 Cougars added to that legacy with a 12-2 record. Winning its 10th straight Mountain Athletic Conference title and 12th in 13 years with a 6-0 mark, Asheville High was ranked No.1 in WNC for much of the year.
- Rodeway Inn and Suites 4/A-3/A Male Team - Olympic Sport: Christ School golf. Coach David Gaines, who also won six state basketball titles with the Greenies before leaving the school this season, directed the golf team to its third NCISAA 3-A state title since 2010, led bvy top player Jon Rector.
- David L. Cappiello, MD Academic Excellence – Frank Cline, Robbinsville cross country and track. Frank has a grade-point average of 4.57 and ranks second in his senior class. He is student council president and a 2014 Governor's School graduate. He was a Citizen-Times All Western selection in cross country, was the Smoky Mountain Conference Runner of the Year and league champion who finished second in the 1-A Western Regional and the state title meets.