As the spring 2013 college sports season comes to a close, I’d like to reflect back on the past season’s headline grabbing stories. The last several months featured local individuals making national news by parlaying successful college careers into professional callings, while others left their mark by rewriting their alma mater’s record books.
We observed competitors closing out their distinguished collegiate careers and graduating from their respective schools, as well as newcomers earning their first opportunity to prove themselves at the next level. As we say goodbye and good luck to the 2013 graduates, we look forward to the excitement and achievements that next year’s crop of college athletes will bring to the table.
Before looking at the “Top Ten” headlines from this past spring, here are some athletes whose performances garnered enough notice to be listed as honorable mention.
Stanton McDuffie (LCHS) continued to be a key fisherman in the N.C. State’s BassPack arsenal. After winning a BassPack tournament last fall and finishing as the team’s sixth-best fisherman during the fall schedule, McDuffie finished second on three occasions in spring tournaments.
Nick Durazo (LCHS) earned his first playing time with East Carolina baseball team as a true freshman, finishing 1-4 on the mound for the Pirates. ECU finished 31-26 this season.
Justin Cox (SLHS) closed out his collegiate baseball career as a team leader for Ferrum College (12-22, 6-18), leading the Panthers in several team categories — stolen bases with seven, walks with 19, plate appearances with 163 and games played with 34, while tying for first with four other teammates in triples with one. He also finished second with most at bats at 137, third in runs scored with 21, and fourth in hits with 35 and total bases with 42.
Golfer Micah Lawrence (LCHS) played a key role this spring in helping 15th-ranked Barton College cap a great season and finish one-shot shy of advancing to the NCAA Division II National Championship finals.
Landon Baucom (LCHS) wrapped up four years with Wake Forest serving as the Demon Deacon mascot. Baucom was awarded the job his freshman year and has since appeared at countless sporting events, special formal appearances and numerous community happenings representing Wake Forest.
After completing the spring season playing offensive tackle for the Saint Ouen l’Aumône Cougars in the French Professional Football League, Dennis Godfrey (LCHS) moved back to the states and signed a one-year contract with the San Jose SaberCats, part of the National Conference West Division in the Arena Football League. Godfrey got his first start with the SaberCats this past Saturday night as San Jose rolled to a 72-42 win over the Arizona Rattlers, improving to 9-4 on the season.
Now onto the Top 10 sports stories of spring 2013.
10 — Dillon Frye (LCHS) served as a relief pitcher this spring during N.C. State’s record-setting run that concluded with the Wolfpack making an appearance in the College World Series for only the second time in school history. State nailed its first-ever 50-win season by finishing 50-16, setting a new school record for wins in a season.
9 — Danny Dillon (LCHS), a member of Campbell University’s football team, used his long snapping skills to land a spot on ESPN’s Top 10 plays of the day. While practicing his long snapping in an on-campus gym, Dillon snapped a ball from the opposite foul line, sailing it across the court and landing at the bottom of the net at the opposite basket. A friend caught the whole act on video and as the amazing shot circulated around the web, ESPN picked it up and added it to its sports show.
8 — Twins Allegra and Max Hogan (LCHS) completed an amazing high school athletic career that culminated in the earning of 28 athletic letters — 15 by Allegra and 13 by Max. The Hogan twins accomplished this by playing on more than one sports team during a particular season that included cross country, track, indoor track, swim team and soccer. On more than one occasion, long distance races were Hogan sweeps with Max winning the male event and Allegra taking top honors in the female race. The last four Hogan siblings have won a total of 12 MVP awards for long distance running at Lee Senior, with Allegra receiving half of those honors. The twins will be taking their talents to Appalachian State in the fall.
7 — Josh Mellette (SLHS) led Wake Tech to a 22-8 season while finishing as the Eagles’ top player. He went on to lead Wake Tech in shooting percentage with 64.8%, points per game with 13.4 average, defensive rebound average with 5.6 per game and overall rebounds per game with 8.8. He was second on the team in offensive rebound average with 3.2 per game and blocks with three per game. He was one of only two players that played in every contest this season.
6 — Bkaye Smith (SLHS), wrapped up her her collegiate career with Virginia Tech, finishing as one of the top infielders in the ACC. During her time with the Hokies, Smith participated in 142 wins and two NCAA tournament appearances, having started in 229 out of 233 games, including all 59 games during the 2013 season. Her strong play and classroom excellence landed her on the All-ACC Academic softball team and ACC Academic Honor Roll multiple years in a row. This past spring, Smith hit a career high .273 from the plate while leading Tech in triples with four, was third in RBIs with 27, tied for fourth in doubles with seven, and finished fifth in runs scored with 24 and hits with 42. She finished the season with 10 multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI games. At shortstop, she led the team in assists with 113 and finished fifth in outs with 79. Her golden glove earned her a spot on ESPN’s “SportsCenter Top Ten Plays” where against Virginia she made a diving grab and throw for an out. Smith will be graduating from Tech this semester with a degree in Biology.
5 — Three-time all-American wrestler and defending national champion Mike Williams (SLHS) (28-1) closed out his collegiate career becoming just the 23rd member of UNCP’s wrestling team to collect 100 wins in a career. Williams would finish third at the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships in his effort to repeat as the 174-pound class national champion. Williams’ performance did secure place winner honors for the fourth straight time on the national stage.
4 — Keeley Wood (SLHS) was named to the Capital One Academic All-District III women’s track & field/cross country team for the second year in a row as she continues to rewrite Wingate’s cross country and women’s track long distance records. Her accomplishments this year included setting new school records in the 5000-meter with an 18:22.31, the mile at 5:23.63 and the 3000-meter run at 11:03.05. For the second year in a row, she won the 5000-meters at the 2013 Lenoir-Rhyne Southeast Region championships. She is a three-time All-SAC performer, two-time All-Region pick in cross country and a three-year Wingate cross country team MVP.
3 — Junior Akeem Richmond (SLHS) wasted no time in making his presence felt in Greenville as he rewrote East Carolina’s basketball three-point records, helping the Pirates to their best season in school history at 23-12. This season, Richmond set new school records for most three pointers scored in a game at nine and most three pointers scored in a regular season with 87. Richmond’s 103 made shots from behind the arc would make him just the 12th player in Conference USA history to do so. The junior led ECU in all three-point categories, going 103-245 from behind the arc with a .420 shooting percentage. He was the team’s third leading scorer finishing with 376 points, averaging 11.1 points per game and third leading free throw shooter netting 41-49 for a .837 shooting percentage. He would also finish fifth in steals with 25 and fifth in assists with 40. Richmond put an exclamation on his junior season by nailing a three pointer as time expired to lift East Carolina to a 77-74 victory over Weber State to win the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Championship.
2 — Tobias Palmer (NHS) would turn his success as N.C. State’s top wide receiver and kick returner into becoming an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Palmer initially caught the notice of the Jacksonville staff when he turned in a 4.31 40-yard dash at his pro day combine. Palmer’s NFL stock rose this past fall, where as a senior for N.C. State, he led the Wolfpack in receiving with 54 catches for 781 yards and six touchdowns, kick returns with 44 runbacks for 1,130 yards and two touchdowns and all-purpose yardage with 1,971 yards.
1 — Aaron Mellette (SLHS) proved that hard work and living your life right provides rewards as he was selected the 238th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft selected by 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round. The 6’2”, 217-pound wide receiver became just the second player in the past 20 years from Elon to be drafted by a NFL team. Mellette’s collegiate career garnered a laundry list of awards and accolades that included receiving All-America honors from The Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, The Sports Network/Fathead.com, College Sporting News, Phil Steele and College Sports Journal. He earned first-team All-Southern Conference selection by both the league’s coaches and media members while finishing eighth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision in 2012. Mellette ended the season with a league-leading 108 points and 18 receiving touchdowns, tying for the second-most receiving touchdowns ever in a single season in SoCon history. He led the SoCon and ranked second nationally in both receptions per game (8.82) and receiving yards per game (127.09) following the regular season. He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in eight of Elon’s 11 contests, including matching career-highs with 237 yards and three touchdowns against Appalachian State on Oct. 6. Mellette posted a six-game span in which he caught at least two touchdowns. He capped his senior year catching 97 passes for 1,398 yards, culminating in a career at Elon with 304 receptions for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns.