Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Best of the Prep Winners


MUS’ Class of 2013 closed out a memorable run with one last blast of hardware Friday night, dominating at the 44th Pepsi Best of the Preps, presented by The Commercial Appeal at the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

The Owls won their 15th boys school championship trophy and fourth in five years. But for the first time, since school awards were split into Memphis, suburban and private classifications in 1998, they won an overall trophy as well for large private schools. It is their first since taking a Class AA win in 1991.

“It’s a special bunch,” Owls athletic director Bobby Alston said of the group, which helped bring home team titles in lacrosse and tennis, runner-up finishes in football and bowling, thirds in golf, baseball and track and individual titles in track, swimming and tennis. “You could tell they had talent, but they also had a lot of focus and ambition, and some good coaching along the way.”

The school titles were just the tip of the iceberg. Individual Player of the Year honors were captured by repeat winners Pace Clark (swimming) and Peyton Klawinski (lacrosse) and Marshall Sharp (tennis), who won for the third time in four years. The seniors were joined by junior track star Harrison Williams, who won four state championships, including the decathlon. Coach of the Year honors went to by Joe Tyler (cross country) Bryan Parker (swimming), Elliott Dent (lacrosse) and the tennis tandem of Bill Taylor and Phil Chamberlin. In all, 10 trips to the stage.

“To be part of something like this awesome,” Georgia-bound Clark said. “You had talent across all the teams, real talent. But this group was also tight.”

Klawinski, headed to North Carolina, said “No matter who was playing, there was support from the other guys, and their fans as well.”

White Station won its seventh straight MIAA title, Houston its 15th straight suburban title. ECS won the small private school title and St. Agnes won its third straight girls title.

Male Athlete of the Year went to Donald Gray of White Station (MIAA), Brent Rooker of ECS (private) and Carlos Williams (suburban), the first AOY winner in Covington history who said quickly, “Behind any award like this is a team, and I was on great teams.” Female Athletes of the Year were Odegua Oigbokie of Ridgeway (MIAA), Erika Christian of Southwind (suburban) and Kaylah Keys of Harding (private).

Scholar-Athlete awards went to Jamarius Julious of Raleigh-Egypt (MIAA), Josh Cooley of Olive Branch (suburban) and Walker Jones of ECS (private), who has followed brother Barrett and Harrison to Alabama. “Took my first biology test in college this week, and I think I did OK,” he said. Girls Scholar-Athlete winners were Nekiaya Elam of Central (MIAA), Katlyn Dupree of Millington (suburban) and Bailey Kramer of Briarcrest (private).

In addition to Clark and Klawinski, repeating as individual Athlete of the Year were three-time winner Nina Davis of Central (girls basketball) Brooke Alford of Marion (girls golf), Kaleb Baker of CBHS (wrestling).

Whitehaven’s unbeaten state championship football team swept its awards, with Mark Dodson taking Offensive Player of the Year, Adam Collins Defensive Player of the Year and Rodney Saulsberry Coach of the Year. It’s only the second such sweep in BOP history, the last by Alston’s MUS state champs in 2009.

“I knew from the first game how good we could be,” said Collins, who’s headed to Morgan State. “And I’ll never forget Mark scoring that last touchdown to win the title.”

And White Station freshman Kenya Jones won the girls tennis award her sister Kayla won the past two years — after claiming the state title, which her sister never could.

“This and a state championship is best,” Kenya said. “But Kayla (now at UT-Chattanooga) was excited for me, and she helped me get there.”

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