A spotlight for more Suffolk stars

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Fall Players of the Year were honored last week, but there were a host of runners-up who produced impressive performances, contributing to a city that has in it an abundance of athletic talent.

Following are some of the runners-up from each high school in the city.

Lakeland High School senior cross country runner Jacob Crowell continued to shine like he did last year, repeating as the Ironclad Conference champion in the boys’ 5,000-meter run.

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He won it this year with a personal record time of 16:51.94, passing the second-place runner in the last 10 yards of the race.

Crowell also placed 21st out of 113 runners at the Virginia High School League Group 4A South Regional championship and was the top Suffolk runner in the event.

Despite an issue with his timing chip in the Group 4A state championship, he produced an unofficial time of 17 minutes flat, which his coach, Chris Novakoski, said should have been in the top 35 out of 104 runners.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore tennis player Elvie Sellers led her team’s resurgence this year, helping it reach the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state championship match.

She was the Lady Saints’ No. 1 player, facing each opponents’ top player and was clutch in the state tournament, earning the team its fifth and winning points in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Sellers’ coach, Lindsay Raulston, said Sellers earned her first team all-state honor by defeating every No. 1 singles player at the VISAA Division II state level at least once during the season.

She finished the year with a 13-5 singles record and a 12-5 doubles record.

Nansemond River High School senior football player DeShon Saunders was a dual threat in more ways than one.

He fit the description at the quarterback position where he went 40-for-71 passing for 765 yards and seven touchdowns, while also running for 465 yards.

But he also lobbied coach David Coccoli to let him play defense and was eventually granted his request, proving to be a standout on that side of the ball, as well. He compiled 46 tackles, 17 for a loss, two sacks and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Saunders helped his team both to improve on last year, with a 5-6 overall record, and also to give higher-seeded Phoebus High School a stiff challenge in the playoffs.

King’s Fork High School senior Rachel Gist was recognized as the Ironclad Conference field hockey Player of the Year.

She led her team with 10 goals, and she tied for the team lead with seven assists. Her coach, Courtney Van der Linden, said she was a huge part of the team, not just in terms of game play, but also in terms of the spirit and the direction of the team.

Her efforts helped the Lady Bulldogs achieve an 11-6 overall record. They advanced as far as the conference tournament semifinals this season.

Suffolk Christian Academy junior soccer player Steven Effler earned a spot on the 11-man All-Hampton Roads Athletic Conference Team as one of the conference’s top players.

Though his team finished with a 4-9 overall record, he was a big positive factor for the Knights, making an impact on both ends of the field as both a striker and a fullback.

He saved goals as a defender and scored 26 goals as a striker.