Warriors jump out of Fall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

When a high school sports team is outnumbered 6-2 citywise in district competition, as Suffolk schools are by Chesapeake in the Southeastern District, it can be hard to get noticed, Nansemond River athletic director Phil Braswell noted at his school’s Fall Sports Banquet on Tuesday night.

&uot;Even in a school as small as ours,&uot; Braswell said, &uot;we’ve received a lot of All-Region and All-State awards. If we win something, we have to be really good at it. As far as I’m concerned, we represent ourselves very well.&uot; Warrior athletes like Eric Berry, Trayce McPherson, Dusty Alexander, Ali Mowry, Whitney Eley, Ashley Cox, and other players from the school who tore through the district in their respective sports last season gave Braswell the right to make that statement.

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Junior varsity cheerleading coach Kristin Stewart, substituting for varsity counterpart Aileen Dozier, was the first to address the crowd. &uot;What you see here is a wonderful-looking group of ladies,&uot; she said of the older cheerleaders, who finished sixth in the district competition last weekend.

Mary-Kate Mansfield, the squad’s captain, received the Coach’s Choice award. &uot;She was incredible,&uot; Stewart said of Mansfield, who along with teammates LaKeisha Copeland, Christina Maupin and co-captains Maia Jones and Kenedra Davis won national honors at the Sprit X-Press Cheerleading Camp in North Carolina last summer.

The Most Spirited Award went to senior cheerer Nikki Anderson. &uot;Every game, no matter what was going on, she was always smiling, always full of spirit,&uot; Stewart said

The girls cross country squad was the first in recent memory to make it to regional competition, led by Most Valuable Runner Julia Thompson. Malik McBride was the boy’s top star, and Scott Roybal received a four-year-letterman award.

Don Horne’s golf team nearly shocked the District, coming within mere strokes of finishing fourth in the district competition, which would have won them a bid in regionals. &uot;I’m going to enjoy working with them again next year,&uot; he said. &uot;This is a great team that’s full of sportsmanship.&uot;

The Most Valuable Golfer award was given to Horne’s &uot;second-best golfer. He was very strong at the beginning, and then he let up a little, and played well at districts and regionals to qualify for state for the second consecutive year.&uot; He was referring to junior Jonathan Faw, who made first-team All-District honors. Faw tied a school record by shooting 70 at the Suffolk Golf Course.

Then came Greg Hunt, who stormed through the District and Eastern Region like a tornado. &uot;He’s the best we have,&uot; Horne said of Hunt, who ran away with both the district and regional championships, shooting record scores in both. &uot;He’s got a great future ahead of him.&uot;

At the beginning of the season, said field hockey coach Daryl Yandle, &uot;We set a goal to make it to regionals.&uot; Then the Lady Warriors made the goal an accomplishment, finishing second to Lakeland in the district regular season and tournament to reach the regionals. Heather Horton, Tiffany Porter, Natalie Sims and Megan Belch all got three-year-letterman awards.

&uot;Last season,&uot; Yandle said, &uot;we lost two of the top scorers in the region (Tara Williams and Ashley Witt). Next year, we’re going to try without (Most Valuable Player and four-year-letterman) Mowry, but I’m scared!&uot;

The team’s other four-year-letterman, Ashley Darden, got the Coach’s Award. &uot;She was there every game,&uot; Yandle said. &uot;She’s selfless, puts the team first, and does her best all the time.&uot;

Most coaches might not have seen a 2-5 season as an improvement, but girls tennis coach Skip Williams was able to do so. &uot;That was one more win than last year!&uot; he said to the crowd. &uot;To me, you measure a great season by whether you see the players improving throughout the year. All the girls worked hard. If I were to give a ‘Most Improved’ award, it would go to every single one of my girls.&uot; Kathleen Sexton was the Most Valuable Player, and Elizabeth Fishburne was the Most Outstanding Player.

Nancy Richey called the volleyball team that brought her her first District Coach of the Year honor in 13 years of leading the Lady Warriors, &uot;one of the best volleyball teams to ever come through this school. These were some of the best girls I’ve ever coached.&uot;

Cox and Eley, both of whom made the first All-District team, were named the Most Valuable Player and Coach’s Award winners. It was Cox’s second straight MVP award, and she was the only team member to receive a four-year-letterman award (although Eley probably would have had she not moved to Suffolk until her sophomore year). In boy’s competition, Justin Sorensen was the Defensive Player of the Year, and Dustin Alexander the top Offender (both are four-year-lettermen, and made All-District last season, as did Quinton Boykins).

Though the football team didn’t live up to last year’s 7-3 phenomenon, players like Berry and McPherson still helped put their squad on the map. Berry broke a school record with 140 tackles (eclipsing Durrell Flythe’s 136), and McPherson turned in his second straight 1,000-yard season, setting a school record with 280 yards in his team’s 17-7 season-ending win over Churchland. Both players were named to the First-All District team, and Berry was voted the top defender in the league. Berry and McPherson were the top Defensive and Offensive players, and Daniel Spaulding received the Coach’s Award. Berry, Fred Spratley, Dennis Conley and Kyle Austin received four-year-letterman awards.

&uot;It feels well-deserved,&uot; Berry said. &uot;I feel delighted to be presented with this award, but I’ll have to start all over and work even harder next year in college, as far as my skills are concerned.&uot; Clemson and Wake Forest are two of his top prospects.

&uot;You’re going to see a couple of these guys play college ball on Saturdays next season,&uot; said coach Bryan Maus, choking back tears. &uot;We only had nine seniors on this team this year, so we could have as many as 30 back next year. I think we’ll be pretty tough.&uot;