Sarah Billiard, Covenant Day Track: Sarah Billiard has accomplished a lot in her Covenant Day athletic career.
The Covenant Day senior is a three-time, all-state volleyball player and a two-time, all-state basketball pick for the Lions.
Billiard, who is a University of Virginia volleyball signee, was also an all-Charlotte Observer selection in each sport this year.
Billiard had 525 kills and 466 digs last fall for the Lions’ volleyball team, while averaging 17 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks for Covenant Day’s basketball team this winter.
While her Covenant Day athletic career seemed to be over after the Lions’ 56-36 loss at Forsyth Country Day on Feb. 14, Billiard decided to play one last season.
“I had talked to (Covenant Day assistant) coach (Josh) Nguyen a few times about jumping for the track team and he always said to me, ‘Why not give a try your senior year, the worst that can happen is that you won’t place, so you have nothing to lose,” Billiard said.
Despite having to sit out the first month of the track season because of a concussion she suffered in a Carolina Juniors’ club volleyball game, Billiard still wanted to jump for the Covenant Day track team.
In her very first track meet in her life, Billiard won the high jump event at the CISAA conference meet at Cannon School on April 6, setting a school-record by jumping 5 feet. She also finished second-place in the long jump.
Billiard’s high jump also tied for the best jump in the state this season for a NCISAA 3A competitor. The 5-foot mark was also the NCISAA 3A state champion’s jump last season.
Billiard accomplished all of this with less than one week of formal practice, according to Nguyen.
“Honestly, I was really nervous going into the meet because it was the first track meet I’ve even been to, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Billiard, who said she also didn’t have the right shoes, wearing her tennis shoes instead of spikes. “So, when I jumped (5 feet) and finished first place I was as surprised as anyone.”
Coach Nguyen wasn’t surprised.
“Watching her play basketball and volleyball and seeing how great of an athlete she is, really nothing that she accomplishes will surprise me,” said Nguyen, who was on the track team at Porter Ridge and Guilford College. “The first day she practiced, she cleared 5 feet and looked at me and said ‘Was that good?’ I just laughed. …
“In her first meet (at Cannon, April 6), it was amazing to see how much raw talent she has. You don’t find special athletes like her that often.”
Billiard’s hopes to get in some more practice before she competes again at Cannon on April 12.
She admits both her basketball and volleyball skills have helped her in track because of the constant jumping in volleyball, and she compared high jump to “shooting a left-handed layup and then falling backwards.”
Billiard says she enjoys working with Nguyen and her jumping teammate, sophomore Taylor Weber, who also plays basketball and volleyball for Covenant Day.
As the final few months of her time at Covenant Day tick down, Billiard wants to enjoy every minute of it, including each remaining track meet.
“It would be pretty cool if I could win states (championship) in the high jump,” Billiard said. “But, I’m just trying to get better, and having fun.”
“Sarah is really enjoying jumping,” Nguyen said. “But I know she wants to win every meet. She’s just a great competitor no matter what she is doing. Sarah doesn’t want to just place, she wants to win.”
Ryan Caplis, Lake Norman Lacrosse: The Lake Norman senior midfielder, co-captain had one of the biggest weeks of his Wildcat career, leading his team to an 11-10 victory at previously unbeaten Weddington on April 4.
Caplis had five goals and an assist in helping Lake Norman (9-3) beat Weddington, who was the No. 1 team in the state, according to multiple polls.
The Stevens’ Institute of Technology signee also had four goals in a 16-2 win over Lake Norman Charter on April 6.
Caplis now has 33 goals and 10 assists this season.
Conrad Song, Charlotte Latin Lacrosse: The Charlotte Latin senior attacker scored four goals and had 11 assists to lead the Hawks (9-3) to wins over Cannon School and Covenant Day last week.
Song, a Colorado College signee, had two goals and five assists in the Hawks’ 9-8 victory over Cannon School on April 4.
Two nights later, the Hawks’ co-captain came back two goals and five more assists in a 15-2 win over Covenant Day.
Song has 16 goals and 34 assists this season.
Zach Iverson, Providence Day Baseball: The Providence Day senior outfielder/pitcher led the Chargers to a 3-0 sweep of Cannon School last week.
Iverson went 8-for-12 at the plate in Providence Day’s three wins over Cannon School, including a double, two home runs and 10 RBI in the same span.
Iverson was also the winning pitcher in the Chargers’ 6-5, nine-inning win over Cannon, April 6, throwing five scoreless innings in relief.
Iverson, a Young Harris College signee, is hitting .450 with four home runs this season.
Bailey Jones, SouthLake Christian Baseball: The SouthLake Christian junior helped the Eagles to a big, 3-1 victory over Statesville Christian on April 7.
Jones went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and two runs scored.
Jones also pitched a complete game on the mound, giving up only two hits, while striking out 15 batters.
Ashlynn Serepca, Hough Girls’ Soccer: The Hough junior had another big week, scoring three goals and dishing out five assists as the Huskies beat A.L. Brown and North Mecklenburg to stay in first-place in the MECKA 4A conference.
Serepca, who is also on the U.S. U18 National team, had a goal and two assists in a 3-0 victory over A.L. Brown.
Then, she had two goals and three assists in a 9-0 win against rival North Mecklenburg.
Serepca, a University of Virginia commit, has 14 goals and 20 assists this season, despite that the opposing teams “always have at least one defender man-mark her for the entire game,” according to Hough soccer coach David Smith.
Mary Elliott McCabe, Charlotte Latin Girls’ Soccer: The Charlotte Latin junior, all-state forward led the Hawks to CISAA conference wins over Cannon School and Covenant Day last week.
McCabe, a University of North Carolina commit, started her week with three goals and two assists in a 5-0 victory over Cannon School on April 4.
She came back three days later with a goal in Charlotte Latin’s (8-1-1, 3-1) 5-0 win at Covenant Day.
McCabe has 14 goals and five assists this season.
Ayden Yates, Lake Norman Charter Girls’ Soccer: The Lake Norman Charter freshman forward continues to light up the scoreboard, with two more hat tricks, as she has scored three goals in four straight games and five of the last six contests.
Yates had three goals and three assists in a 9-1 win over North Gaston on April 4.
Two days later, she registered three more scores and two assists in a 9-0 victory against East Gaston.
Yates has 25 goals and 10 assists this season for the Knights (11-2, 7-1).
Sierra Gilley, East Lincoln Girls’ Soccer: The East Lincoln junior forward scored four goals and had three assists in two games to help the Mustangs (7-2-2, 6-0-1) stay on top of the Southern District 7 (SD7) standings.
Gilley had all three goals in a 3-3, double overtime tie at archrival Lincolnton on April 4.
Two days later, Gilley scored a goal and had three assists in a 5-0 win over Bunker Hill.
Gilley, who had 13 goals and 11 assists in 10 games this season, has scored in eight straight games, with six game winners this season.
East Lincoln is 7-1-2 with Gilley in the lineup.
Rea Syska, Hickory Grove Girls’ Soccer: The Hickory Grove sophomore forward scored two goals and an assist to lead the Lions to a 4-2 double overtime victory over Gaston Day, on April 4.
Syska scored one goal in regular time and one goal in overtime to help get the win over Gaston Day, keep Hickory Grove (6-1-1, 6-0) in first-place in the Metrolina Athletic conference standings.
Syska leads the MAC with 12 goals and 12 assists this season.
Andrew Redding, Cannon School Tennis: The Cannon School senior remained unbeaten in singles’ play as the Cougars’ No. 1 player.
Redding, an Indiana University signee, is 9-0 in singles’ play this season after beating Charlotte Country Day’s No. 1 Luke McClelland, 6-4, 6-0. Redding was the only Cannon player to win against Country Day.
Redding, who is 8-1 in doubles’ play for Cannon, is the No. 1 player in the state, No. 25 in the Southeast Region and No. 79 in the nation, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
Anna Easter/Abrianna Berry, Independence Softball: The Independence duo led the Patriots to a key Southwestern 4A (SW4A) win at Porter Ridge, April 4.
Easter, a sophomore third baseman, hit a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to break a tie with the Pirates.
Meanwhile, Berry, a freshman catcher, hit the game-winning homer in the 8th inning to give Independence a 6-5 win.
The Patriots (12-2, 8-1) are now in first-place (with Butler) in SW4A standings with six regular season games to play.
Paige Jacky, Butler Softball: The Butler senior co-captain went for 6-for-8 with two doubles and five RBI at the plate to lead the Bulldogs (11-5, 8-1) to wins over East Mecklenburg and Myers Park to stay atop the SW4A standings with Independence.
Jacky was 3-for-4 against Myers Park with four RBI in the 13-3 victory.
Jacky is among the SW4A conference leaders with a .533 batting average and 24 runs scored this season. She is also top five in her class academically.
Julianna Roupas, Providence Day Softball: The Providence Day senior was a perfect 3-0 on the mound last week, helping the Chargers to victories over Charlotte Christian, Covenant Day and Hickory Grove.
Roupas, an Appalachian State University signee, allowed just three runs in the three games, while striking out 29 batters in the same span.
Roupas’ best performance of the week came in a 3-0 shutout of Hickory Grove, where she struck out 10 batters. She is also hitting .500 this season.
Alyssa Ingle, Lake Norman Softball: The Lake Norman junior pitcher went 3-0 on the mound last week leading the Wildcats (11-3, 8-2) to road wins over South Iredell and Statesville and a home victory versus Mallard Creek.
Ingle, who has a 10-3 record pitching this season, was also 9-for-10 at the plate last week with a triple, five doubles, six RBI and seven runs scored.
She is batting .500 for the season with eight doubles and 17 RBI.
Sydney Yoder, South Mecklenburg Softball: The South Mecklenburg sophomore catcher went 4-for-7 with three doubles and eight RBI to help lead the Sabres (9-7, 6-4 in SoMeck8 conference) to wins at Berry and West Mecklenburg.
Yoder had one of her best games of the season in South Mecklenburg’s 21-2 win at West Mecklenburg on April 6, going 3-for-4 at the plate with three doubles, seven RBI and five runs scored.
Yoder, an East Carolina University commit, is hitting .391 this season.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELP US FIND THE ATHLETES
This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through April 9. 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 Season’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at email@example.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.