Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption

High school Athletes of the Year for 2017-2018

Standout performances by these athletes led to individual and team success during the 2017-2018 school year: 

Baseball 

Anthony Seigler, Cartersville: The switch-hitting senior catcher batted .421 with 10 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 16 stolen bases and a .587 on-base percentage for the Class AAAA runner-up team. He threw out 12 of 21 runners attempting to steal a base. He also is an ambidextrous pitcher who compiled a 3-1 record with five saves and a 1.09 ERA. Seigler has committed to play baseball for the University of Florida but was picked in the first round of this week’s MLB Draft by the New York Yankees at No. 23, the first Georgia high school player selected. 

Basketball (boys) 

Landers Nolley, Hughes: The 6-foot-7 senior guard averaged 31 points, eight rebounds and three assists in leading Hughes to its second consecutive Class AAAAAA title. He scored 34 points and had 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals in the championship game, an 85-78 victory over Gainesville. Nolley was a McDonald’s All-American and the consensus No. 63 recruit in the country. He has signed to play basketball at Virginia Tech. 

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey killed by ex-boyfriend, po
  2. 2 Mayor Bottoms unveils new terms for downtown's Gulch deal
  3. 3 Mega Millions: How much money will you actually get if you win?

Basketball (girls) 

Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Winder-Barrow: The 6-foot-4 senior forward averaged 19 points, 16 rebounds, six blocked shots, three assists and two steals for a team that reached the state quarterfinals and finished No. 3 in the Class AAAAAA rankings. She was named the Region 8-AAAAAA player of the year and the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Miss Georgia Basketball and was a McDonald’s All-American. Nelson-Ododa has signed to play basketball at Connecticut. 

Cheerleading 

Raegan Dover, South Forsyth: The senior helped rally an injury-plagued squad to the Class AAAAAAA championship, the seventh state title in program history but the first since 2003. The three-time all-region selection “has the best work ethic and focuses on how she can become better … truly a coach’s dream,” according to South Forsyth coach Shayla Brawner. Dover has signed with Baylor University’s acrobatics and tumbling team. 

Cross country (boys) 

Sam Bowers, Milton: The senior had the fastest time at the state meet, running the course in 15:58.99 to win the Class AAAAAAA individual championship for the second consecutive season. Bowers was one of five Milton runners to finish in the top 16 as the Eagles captured the first state title in program history. Bowers has signed to run cross country and track at the University of Georgia. 

Cross country (girls) 

Elizabeth Funderburk, Colquitt County: The senior posted the fastest time in any classification at the state meet, running the course in 18:29.12 to win the Class AAAAAAA individual championship. She won eight of nine races for the season and improved her time at the state meet by more than four minutes from her junior year. Funderburk will run cross country and track at Florida State University. 

Football 

Adam Anderson, Rome: Anderson, a senior 6-foot-5 defensive end, had 15 sacks and 35 tackles for losses in leading Rome to a 15-0 record and the school’s second consecutive Class AAAAA championship. Anderson was an Army All-American and the consensus No. 1 outside linebacker recruit nationally. He has signed to play football at the University of Georgia. 

Golf (boys) 

Ben Carr, Columbus: The senior finished his career as medalist for Class AAAA at Achasta Golf Club and helped the Blue Devils win their third consecutive state championship. Carr was also medalist at the Area 1 tournament. Last summer, he qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur and tied for ninth at the Georgia Junior Championship. Carr has signed to play golf at Georgia Southern University. 

Golf (girls) 

Jenny Bae, Collins Hill: The junior was medalist at the Class AAAAAAA championship at Spring Hill Country Club after finishing fourth in 2017. She was the only player at state to equal par over 36 holes. Bae also won the Area 4 tournament with a 68. Bae played in the 2017 U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship. She has made a verbal commitment to play golf at the University of Georgia. 

Gymnastics 

Savannah Schoenherr, North Oconee: The senior swept the five individual championships at the all-classification state meet and helped North Oconee to a second-place finish in the team competition. She finished in first place in the vault (9.95), uneven bars (9.7), beam (9.75) and floor (10.0) for a meet-best all-around score of 39.40. Schoenherr has signed to compete in gymnastics at the University of Florida. 

Lacrosse (boys) 

Gerard Kane, Lambert: The junior guided the Longhorns to a 22-0 record and the Class 6A-7A title, scoring five goals in a 12-6 victory over Lassiter in the championship game. Kane finished with 84 total points, including 54 goals and 30 assists, on the season and was a force in the playoffs, where he averaged more than five points per game. 

Lacrosse (girls) 

Bailey Hawkins, Cambridge: The senior guided the Bears to the 6A-7A quarterfinals and finished with 68 goals, 14 assists, a 61-percent shot percentage, 103 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers. She was named an All-American to both the Under Armour and U.S. Lacrosse teams in 2017 and is a finalist for those honors again this season. She will play lacrosse for the University of Colorado. 

Riflery 

Laci Jewell, Ware County: The freshman won the individual championship at the all-classification state meet with an overall score of 395.8, enough to edge out Jared Eddy of Columbus by 0.2 points. She helped lead Ware County to the team title with a championship-record score of 1,169. The team championship was Ware County’ second consecutive and third overall. 

Soccer (boys) 

Hayden Fontana, Lambert: The junior had 23 goals and 11 assists as he helped lead Lambert to the Class AAAAAAA championship, the second state title in program history and first since 2012. Fontana, a midfielder, scored the game-winner in 10 matches, including a 3-2 victory over South Forsyth in the state final. Fontana scored a goal against each of Lambert's region opponents and four of the five playoff opponents. 

Soccer (girls) 

Nieva Gaither, Parkview: The sophomore scored a school-record 37 goals and led Parkview to its ninth state title, the most by any school in the highest classification. She had goals in four of the team’s five playoff games, including one in a 2-0 victory over Milton in the state final. Gaither was named the Gwinnett County AAAAAAA player of the year and the Region 7-AAAAAAA forward of the year. 

Softball (fast-pitch) 

Kelley Lynch, East Coweta: The junior pitcher and shortstop posted a 14-0 record and 0.452 ERA and batted .454 for a team that went 36-0, won the Class AAAAAAA title (East Coweta’s first) and was ranked No. 1 nationally among fall teams by MaxPreps. Lynch recorded 193 strikeouts in 93 innings pitched. She also hit 10 home runs and drove in 50 runs. She has committed to play softball at Auburn University. 

Softball (slow-pitch) 

Emmie Maria, Haralson County: The junior shortstop had seven hits, five walks, eight runs scored, five RBI, 18 putouts and eight assists at the state tournament, which her team dominated to win its second consecutive state title. Haralson County outscored its opponents 45-2 in four tournament games. Maria, also a three-year starter at shortstop on the fast-pitch team, hit five home runs during the season. 

Swimming (boys) 

Raunak Khosla, Milton: The senior won the Class AAAAAAA championships in the 200-yard individual medley (1:46.93) and the 100 butterfly (47.71). Those were the best times in those events in any classification, and his time in the butterfly was a personal record. Khosla, rated the No. 87 senior men’s swimming prospect nationally by CollegeSwimming.com, has committed to swim at Princeton University. 

Swimming (girls) 

Caroline Aikins, Lambert: The senior won the Class AAAAAAA championships in the 200-yard individual medley (personal-best 2:01.34) and the 200 backstroke (55.58). The title in the medley was the second of her career in that event. Aikins also led off Lambert’s winning 200 medley team, which finished in 26.33. Aikins, rated the No. 1 senior recruit in Georgia by CollegeSwimming.com, has signed to swim at the University of Georgia. 

Tennis (boys) 

Cole Gromley, Johns Creek: Gromley’s 6-1, 6-0 victory over Dunwoody’s Cole Brainard sparked a 3-0 sweep of the Wildcats in this year’s Class AAAAAA championship match. The senior and five-star recruit is ranked No. 4 in Georgia and No. 36 nationally by TennisRecruiting.net for the Class of 2018. Gromley has signed to play tennis at Georgia Tech. 

Tennis (girls) 

Samantha Buyckx, Walton: Buyckx, who stepped into the No. 3 singles line as a freshman last season, led Walton to its 20th state title at the No. 1 singles slot this year. The four-star recruit defeated Lambert’s Taylor Despriet 6-2, 6-0 to give Walton the early 1-0 lead in the Raiders’ 3-2 team victory. She is ranked No. 8 in Georgia and No. 106 nationally for the Class of 2020 by TennisRecruiting.net. 

Track and field (boys) 

Justin Long, Parkview: The senior set the Class AAAAAAA record in the 400 meters at the state meet with a time of 46.14 seconds, the fastest time in the state this season. Long also won a state title in the 200 meters (21.23). He ran on the Panthers' title-winning 400-meter relay team and the runner-up 1,600-meter relay team, helping Parkview win the Class AAAAAAA team title. Long will run in college at Oklahoma State. 

Track and field (girls) 

Jasmine Jones, Greater Atlanta Christian: The sophomore set Class AAA records in the 100-meter hurdles (13.77) and 300-meter hurdles (41.81) at the state meet. Her time in the 300-meter hurdles was the fastest in the state this season. She was a part of another state record as a member of GAC's 400-meter relay team, which won the state title in a time of 45.73. Jones also ran a leg on the Spartans' 1,600-meter relay team, which placed third. GAC finished second in the team standings. 

Volleyball 

Gabby Gonzales, Walton: The 6-foot-4 junior outside hitter had 558 kills, 222 digs, 37 blocks and 31 service aces for a Walton team that won its third consecutive state championship and finished No. 1 nationally (PrepVolleyball.com). She was named an All-American by MaxPreps and FloVolleyball and was selected for the national All-USA second team. Gonzales has committed to play volleyball at Ohio State. 

Wrestling 

Justin Ruffin, Union Grove: The senior won the Class AAAAA 152-pound division at the state meet and became the 36th wrestler in state history to win four state title in four years. He was 47-0 as a senior and 186-4 in his career. He was the Georgia winner of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award. Ruffin, rated the No. 4 senior college prospect nationally in the 152-pound division, has signed to wrestle at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

More from AJC