Jackets honor best in athletics, academics

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 05:23 PM

Lee County High School held its 2012-13 Winter Sports Awards Night Wednesday night. The Yellow Jackets celebrated sporting successes and named team MVPs.

While athletic honors were announced, academic recognition was a major part of the evening and deservedly so.

Twelve Yellow Jacket wrestlers reached the 4A Mideast Regional Championships while 16 Jackets on the squad earned Academic All-Conference honors in the Tri-Nine.

There was no need to list names for Academic All-Conference spots for Lee County swim teams or gymnastics. All 30 swimmers and all six varsity gymnasts earned all-conference awards for their work in the classroom.

On the Lady Jacket basketball team, 13 players earned academic honors and 18 of 23 varsity cheerleaders did.

Many of the student-athletes did well with both while putting in lots of long days for the past few months.

Jacket swimming practice starts at 6 a.m. each school day at Sanford Nautilus. Meets on weeknights usually wind up with getting home around 11 p.m., said Lee County head coach Mark Kline while recognizing both teams he coaches during the awards ceremony.

Kline, who was voted Tri-Nine Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches, didn't make that announcement himself. Athletic Director Steve Womack, doubling as the emcee for the night, was about to give the news when Kline's swimmers beat him to the punch.

The Jacket wrestlers put in lots of long nights and long weekends in having 12 Jackets reach regionals and earning a program-record 18 dual match wins in an 18-7 overall record.

"In my 17 years of coaching, I've had better wrestlers, but in this squad, I've never had as good of a team," said head coach Harry Stryffeler.

Daquan Holt, who had a 24-9 record at 138 pounds, was named team MVP. Kyle Flood, at 132 pounds, was given the squad's Coaches Award to go along with First Team All-Conference honors in the Tri-Nine.

"Eight guys wrestled state champs at some point during the season," Stryffeler said.

Sloan Bycura, in his first year earning a letter this season, wrestled a defending state champ and, Stryffeler said, came off the mat saying, "geez, he was good," without knowing his opponent's caliber.

"I just said, 'yeah, welcome to varsity,'" Stryffeler said.

John Nguyen, a two-sport athlete in the same season with wrestling and swimming, earned the wrestling program's Academic Award. Dalton Messer was named Most Improved for Jacket wrestling.

With eight seniors this season, Jacket boys basketball improved from last place in the Tri-Nine to fourth place and a state tournament berth this season, Lee County's last in 4A and the Tri-Nine. Lee County goes from a 4A program to a 3A program and the Cape Fear Valley Conference in 2013-14.

Senior Dante Graham was named team MVP by head coach Reggie Peace and junior Dewaun McEachin was recognized for being named First Team All-Conference.

Lady Jacket JV basketball finished second in the Tri-Nine and 14-5 overall. Shantel Bennett was named team MVP.

Indoor track head coach Angela Murchison handed out six individual honors and four academic all-conference awards, meaning most of her small squad picked up something.

Kentrell French, Ian Frye, Zach Gordon and Allegra Hogan earned conference academic places. Hogan was the MVP in distance events. James Foushee was MVP in sprints and Sharrod Berryman was MVP of field events. Gordon won the team academic award while Frye was Most Improved and French won the coaches award.

Gymnastics head coach Kathy McLeod-Edwards wasn't sure she'd be able to have a squad once the 2011-12 season concluded, but the Lady Jackets fielded JV and varsity gymnastics teams this season and Lady Jackets finished third in the Tri-Nine.

All six varsity gymnasts, Leah Bradley, Kaylyn Clark, Ramsey Diven, Katy Hancock, Katie Lewis and Haley Mundy, made the all-conference academic team.

Bradley, Clark, Lewis and Mundy did double duty as Yellow Jacket cheerleaders as well.

Cheerleading season starts and May and lasts through basketball season, said head coach Tracy McNeill, so is nearly a year-round commitment and, in a way as the cheerleaders travel to football and basketball, is a multi-sport effort by itself.

While going through individual awards, McNeill praised coaches award winner Allie Davis, who cheers at home games only, but hasn't missed a Lee County home game in four years.

"This young girl is the epitome of a cheerleader," McNeill said.

"She is absolutely the best cheerleader Lee County High School has ever had," she said.

The Jackets will be losing 17 senior cheerleaders. McNeill said her seniors have already been accepted at colleges such as Campbell, North Carolina St., UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, Appalachian St., Meredith and East Carolina.

"I've been very blessed to be with these girls for four years," McNeill said.

  Lee County High School Winter Sports Awards

Individual awards

JV girls basketball

MVP - Shantel Bennett

Varsity girls basketball

MVP - DeJa Bland

Academic - Allie Eyers

Most Improved - Quitta Wilson

Coaches - Meredith Love

  9th grade boys basketball

MVP - Allan Negron

JV boys basketball

MVPs - Duane Bland and Tyler Thomas

Most Outstanding Prospect - Frank Wishart

Varsity boys basketball

MVP - Dante Graham

Academic - Chase Arrington

Most Improved - Tre Wells

Coaches - Jason Payne

  Varsity gymnastics

MVP - Katie Lewis

Academic - Haley Mundy

Most Improved - Ramsey Diven

Coaches - Haley Mundy

  JV cheerleading

Best Prospect - Brook Such

Varsity cheerleading

MVP - Katelyn Thomas

Academic - Elizabeth Gay

Most Improved - Austin Francis

Coaches - Allie Davis

  Boys swimming

MVP - Phillip Morie

Academic - Stephen Kirik

Most Improved - Dalton Cox

Coaches - Jon Mills

Girls swimming

MVP - Morgan Vogelsang

Academic - Caitlin Claffey

Most Improved - Joli LeBrun

Coaches - Shannon Allen

  Indoor track

MVP (distance events) - Allegra Hogan

MVP (sprints) - James Foushee

MVP (field) - Sharrod Berryman

Academic - Zach Gordon

Most Improved - Ian Frye

Coaches - Kentrell French

  Wrestling

MVP - Daquan Holt

Academic - John Nguyen

Most Improved - Dalton Messer

Coaches - Kyle Flood