STORY OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY PELLA WINDOWS & DOORS: Green Hope & Panther Creek play for volleyball state title
For the first time ever, two Wake County teams played each other for a team state championship. Panther Creek and Green Hope, arch rivals separated by about a mile, faced off in the 4A volleyball state championship. Green Hope went on to sweep the Catamounts in straight sets.
BOYS LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Riley Myer, Cardinal Gibbons, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons senior goal keeper Riley Myer led his team to the 4A state championship this season with a save percentage of 62.7 percent, which included 153 saves on 244 shots on goal.
GIRLS LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brooke Baker, Ravenscroft, Raleigh
Brooke Baker, a lacrosse player at Ravenscroft, was named to the U.S. Lacrosse High School All-American Team this season, helping her to earn the HighSchoolOT Honors award.
GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Morgan Smalls, Panther Creek Morgan Smalls won 4A state champion- ships in the triple jump and high jump, while finishing second in the 400 meters and the long jump. She was named to the High- SchoolOT All-East Team in all four events.
BOYS TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Randolph Ross, Garner
Garner’s Randolph Ross won the 4A state championship in the 400-meter dash this spring and earned HighSchoolOT All-East honors.
GIRLS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Claire Curzan, Cardinal Gibbons
Cardinal Gibbons’ Claire Curzan set the state record in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke twice. She broke the state record in the 100 butterfly by more than a second while posting a time of 51.88 seconds in the 100 backstroke.
BOYS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: David Wahlen, Athens Drive, Raleigh David Wahlen won the 4A state championship in the 100 backstroke and placed third in the 100 freestyle.
BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt Willadsen, Holly Springs
NC State commit Matt Willadsen was 9-0 on the mound this season, throwing three no-hitters and six shutouts with an ERA of 0.35. He struck out 102 of the 206 batters he faced. At the plate, he had a .372 batting average with 21 RBI and two home runs.
SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ashley Gontram, Heritage, Wake Forest
Ashley Gontram helped the Heritage softball team to the 4A eastern region- al championship with a batting average of .515, including 27 RBI and nine home runs. Her on-base percentage was .612 and she was 19-of-19 on stolen base attempts.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD PRESENTED BY STRAYER UNIVERSITY: Gary Fowler, Clayton
Gary Fowler spent 28 years pacing the sidelines as the head football coach at Clayton High School. He also spent many years as the athletic director. A few years ago, the school named the football stadium in his honor. This fall, Clayton will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 2A state championship team, which Fowler led.
FEMALE EXTRA EFFORT AWARD: Asia Todd, Clayton
Asia Todd will play college basketball at Liberty University this fall. Last year, she set the school record for points in a game twice and was named the Girls Basketball Player of the Year at 2018 HighSchoolOT Honors.
MALE EXTRA EFFORT AWARD: Hayden Smith, Harnett Central, Angier
Hayden Smith is a three-sport athlete from Harnett Central. He is also a singer. The mayor of Lillington nominated Smith for the Extra Effort Award last fall.
STUART SCOTT COURAGE AWARD PRESENTED BY UNC-TV: Madelyn Wilson, Apex Friendship
Madelyn was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in October 2017, but last fall she was cancer free and playing volleyball for Apex Friendship. Now the cancer is back and she’s fighting it again, but is determined to get back to playing volleyball soon.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY PELLA WINDOWS & DOORS: Jalen Brooks, Cardinal Gibbons
Cardinal Gibbons senior Jalen Brooks played three sports his senior year. He was a two- year captain on the football team, a two-time state champion wrestler and decided to pick up lacrosse for the first time this spring, helping the Crusaders to the 4A state championship.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY PELLA WINDOWS & DOORS: Ashlyn Smoot, Granville Central Ashlyn Smoot, a senior at Granville Central, was the team MVP in volley- ball and all-state selection in girls soc- cer. She also reports a 4.1 GPA and won the Tom Suiter Extra Effort Award earlier this year.
PHOTOS: CARL COPELAND / HIGHSCHOOLOT