Female Athlete of the Year: Grace Powell, Pinewood Preparatory School
Pinewood senior Grace Powell scored 29 goals this season to finish her high school soccer career with 102 goals. In addition to being one of the Panthers’ leaders for goals scored the past several years, she is also one of its leaders in assists.
When injuries left the Panthers without an experienced goalkeeper this spring, Powell selflessly volunteered to play between the posts even though it could have prevented her from reaching the 100 goals benchmark. Powell had five shutouts in goal to help Pinewood reach the SCISA AAA championship match for the second year in a row. The team only suffered one loss with her in goal and that was to Porter-Gaud in the championship.
She is a four-time all-region player who was named all-state three times and the High School Sports Report 2018 Miss SCISA Soccer.
“Her being our leading goal scorer for the year and only surrendering a handful of goals during the games she was our keeper is impressive,” Pinewood coach Gail Osborne said. “Really she is my go-to player for everything. Plus she is a leader on and off the field. I know my daughter looks up to Grace big time.”
Powell was a team captain for both the soccer team and the Pinewood Girls Basketball team. On the hardwood, she averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game. She received all-region and all-state basketball honors as both a junior and senior. She was also named her team’s Best Defensive Player both years and to the South 3A All-stars team for the 2019 SCISA North-South game.
“Her work ethic is contagious and she always rises to a challenge,” Pinewood coach Tony Bulford said. “What I love about Grace the most is her character. She knows how to push others to work hard for success.”
Powell is also on Pinewood’s Headmaster’s List and a SCISA Scholar Athlete.
Volleyball Player of the Year: Amani McArthur, Ashley Ridge High School
Amani McArthur’s presence at the net and powerful serves helped Ashley Ridge capture the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Volleyball Championship. She led the Swamp Foxes into the third round of the playoffs, which is the deepest playoff run in the program’s history. Ashley Ridge was eliminated by eventual Lower State champion Wando.
McArthur was named the Region 8-AAAAA Volleyball Player of the Year and selected for the Class AAAAA All-state Volleyball Team and to participate in the South Carolina Coaches Association for Women’s Sports 2018 North-South Volleyball All-star series.
The senior finished her high-school volleyball career with more than 570 kills, 360 blocks, 45 service aces and 220 receptions.
Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Angel Frank, Summerville High School
Angel Frank placed in the Top 3 for three individual events, winning two, to help the Summerville Girls Track and Field team win the 2019 Region 8-AAAAA Championship meet. She won the 400-meter Run with a 58.03 time and the 200-meter Dash with a 24.92 time. She also placed third in the 100-meter Dash with a 12.28 time.
During the Class AAAAA Track and Field Championships, Frank placed third in the 400 Dash with a 55.71 time and fifth in the 200 Dash. Earlier this school year, Frank signed to run track for the University of South Carolina.
This is the second consecutive year Frank has received Summerville Communications’ Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award.
Girls Golfer of the Year: Cece Knecht, Forth Dorchester High School
During the 2018 Class AAAAA Girls Golf Championship, Cece Knecht had a round of 158 to finish in a tie for 11th place individually and help the Patriots to a sixth-place team finish.
At the Lower State Qualifier, Knecht had a round of 79 to help the Patriots set a new school record for best round. The team placed third with a 323 score to move ahead of Wando and all other Lowcountry teams competing in the Lower State Championship.
On Oct. 9, Knecht helped the Patriots claim the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. She led the team that day with a round of 82 to garner Region Player of the Year honors.
Boys Swimmer of the Year: Daniel Grimes, Pinewood Preparatory School
After leading the Pinewood Boys Swim team to a fifth-place finish at the SCISA AAA Championships, Daniel Grimes was named to the SCISA Boys Swimming All-State Team.
At the 2018 state meet, Grimes claimed the Boys 50 Freestyle state championship with a time of 21.93, which is less than a second behind the Pinewood school record for the event. Grimes also had a 49.06 time in the 100 Free to place second.
Grimes also helped the Panther 200 Free Relay Team and 200 Medley Relay Team to a fourth-place finish.
During the Oakbrook Invitational meet in Spartanburg Sept. 22, Grimes broke the Pinewood Swim Team 100 Backstroke record that had stood since 2002 with a first-place time of 58.51. Grimes also won the 50 Free with a time of 22.14.
This is the second consecutive year Grimes has been named Summerville Communications’ Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year: Dawson Wright, Forth Dorchester High School
Junior Dawson Wright led the Fort Dorchester Boys to a Top 10 finish at the 2018 Class AAAAA Cross Country Championships. Wright finished the boys’ race with a 16:06 time to place fifth individually and help the Patriots place seventh as a team.
Wright placed third at the 5A Lower State qualifying meet with a 16:16 time to help the Patriots place third as a team. He was also the top male runner at the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Boys Cross Country Championship Race. Wright finished with a 16:23.53 time to win an individual region championship and help the Patriots capture the boys’ team region title.
During the Darlington Carnival Invitational Oct. 6, Wright finished with a time of 16:50 to place second individually and help his team place first.
Boys Soccer Player of the Year: JD Benson, Fort Dorchester High School
JD Benson was at the center of some big wins for the Fort Dorchester Boys Soccer team this season.
Benson hit one of seven Patriot shots during a PK shootout March 8 to help Fort Dorchester defeat Wando, which is now the South Carolina Class AAAAA three-time defending champion. With the senior’s help, the Patriots placed second in a very competitive region.
Benson will end his high school soccer career representing Fort Dorchester in the South Carolina Soccer Coaches Association North-South All-star match.
“Usually when we nominate a guy for an all-star game there is some discussion about whether he is the very best option for a position on the team, but when we mentioned JD everyone immediately said yes put him on the list,” Fort Dorchester coach Neal Veloso said. “He has an incredible skill set for a defender. He is the coach on the field that coordinates and organizes the defense. He also has a knack for jumping into our attack and was a great leader and captain of a very young and inexperienced team.”
A three-year varsity starter for the Patriots, Benson also represented South Carolina on the Charleston Battery Development Academy team.
Team Performance of the Year: Green Wave Football team
The Green Wave took down the Lowcountry football giant Oct. 29 in a game that won’t soon be forgotten.
Summerville defeated Fort Dorchester 43-42 in double overtime to clinch the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. The victory also broke a 34-game winning streak Fort Dorchester had against Lowcountry opponents.
“This has been a long time coming,” Summerville quarterback Jonathan Bennett said. “I told Coach (Joe) Call my freshman year ‘before I leave I’m going to bring you a region championship.’ Fort was top dog and they had all that, but there is a new top dog in town now. … We’ve been getting our behinds beat by these guys since freshman year so this feels good.”
After the teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime period, Fort Dorchester opted against kicking a field goal on fourth down on the first possession of the second overtime period. The gamble paid off as Patriot quarterback De’Andrae Sabb scored on a 2-yard run to put his team up 7 points with Kobe Shelton’s ensuing extra-point kick.
Bennett answered with a 10-yard touchdown run. Then the Green Wave gambled, going for the two-point conversion and the win instead of a field goal to tie the game and force a third OT.
On the conversion play, Bennett handed off to Pedro Rios, who then sent a reverse pitch to receiver/backup QB Andre Banks. He rolled right and threw to Bennett who fell into the end zone for the game-winning score.
“Our guys, no matter what, they fight,” Call said. “Fort Dorchester is a phenomenal team so for our guys to stay in there and continue to come back is big.”
Fort Dorchester took a 25-0 lead early in the game on a field goal, touchdown runs by Sabb and Kalil Jenkins and an interception and 46-yard return by defensive back Jy’Heim Wilson.
Defensive back Derrick Larry then gave Summerville a boost with a big kickoff return that set up a K.J. Rollins TD run.
On Summerville’s next possession, Rollins took a handoff, rolled right and threw a 34-yard TD pass to Brody Hopkins. Wyatt Olson added the extra-point kick for a 25-14 score just before the half.
Fort Dorchester attempted a 27-yard field goal on its first possession of the third quarter, but Summerville’s Kevon Gregory blocked the kick. That was the closest either team got to scoring in the quarter.
Summerville picked things up early in the fourth. Bennett connected with Hopkins for a 23-yard TD pass and coaches decided to go for the two-point conversion. Senior Cole Collins entered the game at tight end and caught a pass from Bennett to cut Fort Dorchester’s lead to 3.
“That was the first touchdown catch of my life,” Collins said.
Summerville took its first lead of the game when Bennett hit Bryce Ravenell for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes remaining in regulation.
The lead didn’t last long as Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a Patriot touchdown.
Summerville tied the game with a 34-yard field goal and held on for overtime.
Football Player of the Year: Jonathan Bennett, Summerville High School
Green Wave quarterback Johnathan Bennett passed for more than 2,200 yards in 2018 and was a finalist for the prestigious South Carolina Mr. Football Award. After leading Summerville on a clean sweep of its Region 8-AAAAA opponents, Bennett was named the Region Player of the Year.
The dual-threat quarterback led Summerville into the Lower State Championship game, a goal the team hadn’t reached in several seasons. After losing to Dutch Fork, the Wave ended the season with an 11-3 record.
On Dec. 19, Bennett signed to play football at Liberty University. The Flames are getting a four-time varsity letterman for the Green Wave who received his first starts at quarterback for the team as a freshman. Bennett passed for more than 5,000 yards and rushed for nearly 2,000 as a high school QB.
The QB enrolled in college early so he could take part in spring practice.
Wrestler of the Year: Jordan Aluyan, Fort Dorchester High School
Fort Dorchester’s Jordan Aluyan won the 132-pound weight class during the 2019 Class AAAAA Wrestling individual state championships Feb. 22-23 at the Anderson Civic Center. He claimed an 8-5 decision in the championship match for his class to claim his third South Carolina High School League individual state title.
Aluyan also helped Fort Dorchester claim a piece of the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. Fort Dorchester, Ashley Ridge and Summerville all finished with the same region record this season.
The South Carolina Wrestling Coaches Association named Aluyan the 2018-19 Senior Wrestler of the Year. Aluyan finished his senior season representing Fort Dorchester as a member of the South Carolina Select Team during the North-South All-stars Weekend.
Softball Player of the Year: Katie Freeman, Ashley Ridge High School
Ashley Ridge pitcher Katie Freeman led the Swamp Fox Softball team to back-to-back district championships and region championships in 2018-19.
Freeman, who has signed to pitch for the College of Charleston next school year, finished her senior season with a 25-3 record in the circle. She stuck out 256 batters while walking only 14 and had a 0.78 ERA.
She also held her own at the plate, finishing the season with a .301 batting average. She had six doubles, a triple and nine RBIs.
“Katie is an absolute gamer,” Ashley Ridge coach Larissa Shannon said. “Off the field, she is very happy-go-lucky. On the field, she is a warrior. She has a great mentality and approach to the game and brings her teammates up to another level.”
With her help, Ashley Ridge swept its region opponents this season and advanced all the way to the Lower State championship series of the playoffs.
Freeman earned five varsity letters and multiple all-region and all-state honors during her time with the AR Softball team. She is the 2019 Region Softball Player of the Year.
Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Lizzie Naval, Summerville High School
Lizzie Naval won the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Cross Country Girls Championship race with a 20:24.18 time that helped the Green Wave claim the region team championship. She also led the way for her team at the Lower State Qualifier, finishing in 19:46 to place sixth individually and help her team to a second-place finish behind James Island.
Naval finished the Class AAAAA Cross Country Championships with a 20:02 time to place 37th individually, which is the top performance for athletes in the Summerville Communications area. With her leading the way, Summerville placed 10th in the team standings.
Courage Award: Mackenzie McKinney, Pinewood Preparatory School
Mackenzie McKinney was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma on March 9, 2018. Only two games into the soccer season, she was forced to the sidelines and missed the rest of the season.
She went through months of treatment, sometimes four or five days a week, at facilities in both Charleston and Florida. The defender lost her hair and struggled with pain, fatigue and some of the various other hardships typically brought on by cancer, but eventually battled her way back to the field.
McKinney is a varsity lettermen in three sports so she also missed most of the 2018 Lacrosse season and much of the 2018-19 basketball season due to treatment and recovery. However, as a junior she started every game of the 2019 soccer season and helped the Panthers return to the SCISA AAA Girls Soccer championship game.
“For her to only a year later end up not only playing, but starting and having the fitness, the stamina, to actually compete is incredible,” Pinewood coach Gail Osborne said. “During the winter she wasn’t able to play much for the basketball team so we weren’t sure what to expect in the spring but every game she got stronger and more confident. Throughout it all the girls were very supportive of her and her family and that brought us really close as a team.”
In addition to juggling practices and games for her three teams, McKinney makes time to volunteer for Camp Happy Days, serve on the MUSC Youth Patient Advisory Council and serve as a MUSC Sunshine Kids ambassador.
Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Olivia Hughes, Ashley Ridge High School
Ashley Ridge center-back Olivia Hughes helped the Swamp Fox Girls Soccer team sweep its region this spring and advance to the third round of the 5A playoffs. Ashley Ridge ended the season with a 16-6 record after being eliminated by Wando.
“We only play three in the back so she basically takes care of everyone in the back,” Ashley Ridge coach Mark Weaver said. “She does all the organization in the back and is an extremely valuable player. She is great in the air and as good left-footed as right-footed. She is just a natural defender and we have been blessed to have her the last four years. She is also an excellent student and great person.”
Hughes has a strong leg and accurate aim, which helped her earn All-state honors this season.
She plays club ball for South Carolina United and has been selected to represent South Carolina in the Clash of the Carolinas all-star game. Hughes is one of only 18 athletes in the state to receive the honor. Only five defenders were select for the team.
Male Leadership Award: Ben Diffley, Pinewood Preparatory School
Senior Ben Diffley was a team captain for three Pinewood Prep teams and a standout for two others.
This school year, Diffley was a captain for the Panther basketball, soccer and tennis teams. He was also a starter for the Pinewood football and speed and strength teams.
With Diffley in goal, the Pinewood Boys Soccer team had 12 shutouts this season. Pinewood tied for first-place in the region and earned the No. 1 seed for the playoffs based on a tiebreaker. He was named the 2019 Region Player of the Year for Boys Soccer.
The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the SCISA AAA playoffs, where they fell to defending state champion Hammond.
On the hardwood, he averaged double-digits for both scoring and rebounds. Diffley received both all-region and all-state honors for basketball.
As a receiver for the Panther football team, he received honorable mention for the 2018 SCISA Coaches Association All-state Football Team.
Boys Golfer of the Year: Jack Robinson, Summerville High School
Jack Robinson was a consistent golfer for Summerville High School this spring.
After helping the Green Wave sweep its region opponents, he carded a score of 78 during the Region 8-AAAAA Championship match to help Summerville capture the region title. He shot a 77 at the Class AAAAA Lower State Qualifier to help the Green Wave place fourth, which is the highest the team has placed at the qualifier in several years.
The senior also helped Summerville win the Pickens Blue Flame Invitational tournament in April.
Robinson was recently named the Region 8-AAAAA Boys Golf Player of the Year.
Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Thomas McGinnis, Summerville High School
With Thomas McGinnis holding down the No. 1 singles spot, Summerville swept its Region 8-AAAAA opponents this season to claim the region championship.
McGinnis helped the Green Wave earn a 6-0 win over Cane Bay in the opening round of the state playoffs. Summerville finished the season with a 14-9 record after losing to Dutch Fork in the second round.
McGinnis was named to the Region 8-AAAAA All-region Team for his efforts.