Peter Dwyer, Marvin Ridge Swimming, sr.: Peter Dwyer doesn’t have to look for a reminder what he’s been through in the last nine-plus months.
The Marvin Ridge senior has a 7-inch scar on his left bicep from the April 8 surgery, where Levine Children’s hospital doctors removed what they hoped was a benign tumor.
Instead, doctors took out what they told Dwyer was: “type 1, cancer (bone) in his left arm.”
Now, a titanium plates cover the bone in his left arm.
While no one would have questioned Dwyer if he decided to sit out his final season for the Marvin Ridge swim team, instead he worked harder than ever to get back in the pool.
The scar on his left arm is now his greatest source of motivation.
“I look at that scar now more symbolically of how tough I can be,” said Dwyer, who has since had a full body scan that revealed he is now cancer free. “When I learned that I had cancer after surgery it was scary, and it was definitely the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life. But at the same time, it didn’t affect too much, and it didn’t stop me from doing what I love to do.”
Dwyer, 17, who also swims for SwimMAC Carolinas’ club team, spent most of the summer working slowly to get back into form.
He says he didn’t feel 100 percent until sometime in September, and was eager to get back in the pool full speed.
In his first, Marvin Ridge meet against Sun Valley earlier this month, Dwyer looked fast and strong, winning the 100 butterfly (53.44), the 100 backstroke (56.87), while leading both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to victory.
Now, Dwyer turns his focus to trying to contend for state championships, both as an individual and with his Marvin Ridge boys’ team. He also hopes to earn a college swimming scholarship.
But after all he’s been through, his mindset has never changed.
“There were some tough times in my recovery, but I try to never get too down, to never change my focus no matter what I was doing,” Dwyer said. “My focus is always on how I can improve, and look forward to how I can make myself better.”
Melissa Zammitti, Davidson Day Cross Country, sr.: The Davidson Day senior ran a personal-best 17:57.90 in her final high school cross country meet at the Foot Locker Southeast Regional last Saturday (Nov. 26).
Zammitti finished 12th overall in field of the best runners from across the Southeast Region. She became only the fourth N.C. girls’ runner to break 18-minutes this season, running the No. 3 time in the state (this fall).
Zammitti won the NCISAA 2A state cross country championship, Oct. 28.
Matt Price, Piedmont Wrestling, sr.: Piedmont senior, Matt Price, is off to a perfect 9-0 start to his season, including winning the Enka Jet Invitational (Nov. 23) in the 152-pound weight class last week.
Price beat 2015 state qualifier, Fred T. Foard’s Bryce Walker to win the Enka Invitational title. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the state in the 152-pound weight class (3A) by retrorankings.com.
Damian Bertino, Northwest Cabarrus Wrestling, sr.: The Northwest Cabarrus senior notched his 100th career win at the Wrestle for the Cure tournament (at Mooresville), beating Mooresville’s Trevor Rocklein.
Bertino, 6-1 this season, is ranked No. 1 in the 160-pound weight class (3A) by retrorankings.com.
Dynasty Heyward, North Mecklenburg Girls’ Basketball, sr.: The North Mecklenburg senior had a historic week, averaging 23.7 points per game, while also leading the Vikings to the Leroy Holden Classic tournament (at North Meck) title.
Heyward, the Holden Classic tournament’s most valuable player, had 24 points in the semifinal 57-51 win over Mooresville (Nov. 25) Friday night, scoring her 1,000th-career point in the same game.
Then, the 5-foot-7 guard followed that up Saturday night, scoring 20 points to lead the Vikings past Lake Norman Charter (64-37, Nov. 26) in the championship game. Heyward also had 27 points in North Meck’s 80-45 win over Garinger, Monday night (Nov. 21).
Zhania Daniel, Hickory Ridge Girls’ Basketball, so.: Hickory Ridge sophomore, “Nia” Daniel had a big week, averaging 25.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.3 steals per game last week in wins over Sun Valley and A.L. Brown.
Daniel, 5-foot-10 forward, had 25 points and 10 rebounds last Monday night (Nov. 21) in the 94-62 win over Sun Valley. She followed that up with 26 points and 10 rebounds the next night (Nov. 22) as the Ragin’ Bulls (3-0 this season) beat A.L. Brown, 80-53.
Kennedy Grier, Charlotte Country Girls’ Basketball, fr.: Charlotte Country Day freshman point guard continues to impress start to her Buccaneer varsity career, averaging 16.3 points and 4.3 steals per game through her first three games.
Grier, 5-foot-3, had her best game to date with 24 points and six steals to lead Country Day to a 59-25 victory over High Point Christian last Tuesday night (Nov. 22).
Bryant Thomas, South Mecklenburg Basketball, sr.: The 6-foot-8, South Mecklenburg forward has only been playing basketball for a year and a half now, but is off to a monster start this season.
Thomas is averaging 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks per game this season for the Sabres (1-2 through Nov. 27).
Thomas had his most complete game this season with 22 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals to lead South Mecklenburg to a 67-57 win over Concord in the Charlotte Hoops’ Challenge, Saturday afternoon (Nov. 26).
Trey Wertz, Providence Day Basketball, jr.: The 6-foot-5, Providence Day junior guard had a season-high 30 points, in the Chargers’ 76-71 win over No. 2 (Observer Sweet 16), Jay M. Robinson, in the Charlotte Hoops’ Challenge at Rocky River, Saturday night (Nov. 26).
Wertz, who has eight, Division basketball offers to date, also had six rebounds and four assists, in the same game.
Wertz is averaging 19.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season for the 5-1, Chargers (through Nov. 27).
Zane Rankin, Butler Basketball, sr.: Lander University signee, Butler senior wing, Zane Rankin is off to a blistering start this season, averaging 24.3 points per game for the 3-0, Bulldogs (through Nov. 27).
Rankin had 20 points in the Bulldogs’ 78-64 win over Hough Tuesday night (Nov. 22), only to comeback with 37 points in an 85-65 victory over Kings Mountain in the Phenom Hoops’ Showcase, Saturday afternoon (Nov. 26).
Rankin, who averaged eight points per game last season, is 13 for 29 this season (45 percent) from the three-point line.
Kody Shubert, Lincoln Charter Basketball, jr.: Lincoln Charter senior point guard had a standout performance in the Phenom Hoops Showcase last weekend (Nov. 25-26) at Cox Mill, averaging 22.5 points, 7.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and two steals wins over Northwood Temple and Piedmont.
Shubert led the Eagles (3-0 this season) with 22 points and seven assists in the 64-56 victory over Northwood Temple Friday night (Nov. 25). Then, Shubert (a Division I basketball recruit) came back Saturday afternoon (Nov. 26) with a season-high, 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds, to lead Lincoln Charter to a 69-52 win over Piedmont.
Jason Thompson, United Faith Basketball, so.: The 6-foot-6, United Faith sophomore forward averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in wins over Westminster Catawba and Concord First Assembly.
Thompson, who averages 10 points and nine rebounds per game this season, had 21 points and nine rebounds in the 63-16 win over Westminster Catawba, Tuesday, (Nov. 22), and then had 14 points and 16 rebounds in a 78-72 win over Concord First Assembly Friday (Nov. 25) in the Phenom Hoops’ Challenge at Cox Mill.
Thompson, who has helped his team to a perfect 6-0 start (through Nov. 27) is also getting it done in the classroom, where he boasts a 4.6 grade-point average.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
HELP US FIND THE ATHLETES
This Fall’s Finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Nov. 27. In most cases, the athletes featured will come from sports that don’t get a lot of recognition. However, the goal is to recognize excellence. If you want to suggest someone to be included in This Fall’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.