by Aaron Garcia
One of my favorite additions that we’ve implemented recently here at Union County Weekly has been our Player of the Year features. It’s given us a chance to tell you, the reader, about some of our county’s top performers and the seasons they’ve had. Next week, we’ll unveil our final winter-season recipient when we announce our Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
But before that, we wanted to take a week to catch our readers up on the spring-sports season that’s speeding towards its conclusion, a quick State of the Union (County), if you will.
TRACK AND FIELD
The public-school Regional meets begin Saturday, May 7, and it’s a safe bet that several local athletes will challenge for medals. Starting with the girls competition, Cuthbertson’s Valerie Afam (long jump and triple jump) and Monroe’s Jamie Glenn (triple jump) each have seperated themselves this season as top contenders for their respective state championships. Other Union County athletes that have posted top-10 performances in the state, according to the website Athletic.net, include Cuthbertson’s Raven Covington (100-meter dash) and Justine Neville (300 hurdles), Monroe sprinters Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins and Ranezia Collins and Marvin Ridge’s Sarah Fell (pole vault).
Weddington’s 4×800 relay team – consisting of Carly Griffith, Chelsea Matson, Mallary Price and Shannon Martin – posted the second-best time (9 minutes, 52.85 seconds) among 3A competition this year, trailing only Charlotte Catholic (9:49.99).
In the boys meets, Marvin Ridge’s Chris Colo should be a factor in both the 1,600 and the 3,200 this year while teammate Michael Colven is looking like a favorite to claim the 800 crown. Other Union County boys athletes that have posted top-10 performances in their respective events include Weddington’s Michael Pedemonte (400); Parkwood’s Matthew Brantley (shot put); Weddington’s Cole Finch (high jump), Marvin Ridge’s Ronny Franklin (pole vault); Forest Hills’ 4×200 relay team and Weddington’s and Marvin Ridge’s 4×800 relay teams.
Marvin Ridge and Porter Ridge have been embroiled in what has to be one of the state’s most hotly contested conference races this season and, considering that each team is undefeated in Southern Carolina 3A/4A league play at 7-0 apiece, their two-game series to close out the regular season should be thrilling. The two square off Tuesday, May 3 and again Friday, May 6. The match-up will feature two of the state’s best pitchers in the Mavericks’ Caitlyn Kurtz (14-2 with a .47 ERA) and the Pirates’ Lexi Davis (14-1 with a .57 ERA).
Cuthbertson (14-4, 10-3) also has a strong hurler of its own in Melanie Recher, who’s streak of scoreless innings pitched ended at 26 in an April 14 win over Union Academy. The Cavaliers are currently tied with Piedmont for second place in the Rocky River 1A/2A race but the Panthers own the tie-breaker after beating the Cavs twice this season. There might not be a hotter team around than Cuthbertson, though, as the Cavs are 8-1 in April and have outscored their opponents 93-9 in that stretch.
Don’t forget about Metrolina Christian Academy, though. The Warriors (15-4, 9-2) have notched some huge wins this season, led by pitchers Mallory Broome and Cassi Carpenter, and should challenge for the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A title. The Metrolina Athletic Conference tournament begins Monday, May 2.
Cuthbertson has done a good job of living up to its preseason hype this season; entering their Saturday, April 30 season finale against Parkwood, the Cavaliers are 20-2 and tied West Stanly for the regular season conference title at 15-1. Piedmont wasn’t far behind at 12-9 overall and 10-4 in the league.
In the Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference, Weddington and Marvin Ridge split their two-game series and have identical 12-8, 7-2 records. The next closest team is Parkwood, but with a 4-5 league mark, the Rebels can do no better than third place as the Mavs and Warriors each have just one league game remaining. The Southern Carolina conference tournament begins Monday, May 2.
Surprisingly, Weddington was the lone county team to qualify for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs; the Warriors finished the season 9-4 but have to face undefeated Lake Norman (15-0) in the first round on Friday, April 29. Weddington finished second in the Conference 12 standings this season behind Charlotte Catholic.
Not surprisingly, Union County teams have once again peppered eurosportscoreboard.com’s state-wide rankings all season, and with the postseason approaching, five teams will enter the playoffs ranked among the top 10 of their respective classifications. In Class 4A, Porter Ridge (14-1-4) is ranked 10th with games against Anson Senior (Tuesday, May 3) and Sun Valley (Thursday, May 5) remaining. Weddington (11-3-2) and Marvin Ridge (10-3-2) are ninth and 10th in the 3A rankings, respectively. The two rivals square off Friday, May 6 in a game that could determine the Southern Carolina 3A/4A conference’s 3A race.
At 17-2 overall and 13-0 in the Rocky River 1A/2A conference, Cuthbertson looks like a lock to claim the league title this season but will have to face rival Piedmont (10-6) in the season finale. Currently, the Cavs are fourth in the 2A rankings. Central Academy (13-3-1), ranked 10th among 1A clubs, also must finish its season against Piedmont (Wednesday, May 4).