The Observer recently named its player of the year and all-Observer winners for the fall season. Many university-area athletes were featured and recognized for their outstanding achievements this year.
Boys' and girls' track and field had many athletes featured as both Vance, the regular season conference champions, and Mallard Creek had great seasons.
Vance junior Lamar Johnson was twice named to the second team all-Observer team. Johnson had the second best 400-meter time in the area, recording 49.47 seconds. Johnson was also a member of the 1,600-meter relay team that posted a 3:21:51 time and was second to Hopewell by just over half a second.
Seniors Cameron Tate and Courtney Barrino along with sophomore Erin Jenkins rounded out the relay team. Jenkins was named third team all-Observer for his individual 300-meter hurdles, where he recorded a time of 38.70.
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Mallard Creek sophomore Marquez North ran a time of 49.70 in the 400-meter and was also named to the third team.
The area girls' track and field was just as well represented. Dominique Weathers, a senior from Vance, and Lauren Gulley, a Mallard Creek senior, each had two all-Observer mentions.
Weathers was named to the second team all-Observer after running the second-fastest 100 meter time in the area, recording 12.09 seconds. She also was named to the third team in the 200 meters with a time of 24.59.
Gully, who has signed with UNC Charlotte, was twice named to the all-Observer team. Her 200-meter time of 24.88 and 5-foot, 5-inch high jump were both good for inclusion on the third team.
Jasmine Suydam, a Mallard Creek senior, earned second-team honors with a discus throw of 143 feet, 10 inches.
Mallard Creek baseball set a school record with 22 wins and advanced to the state semifinals. Two of their star seniors, Mikal Hill and Brandon Wilkerson, were named to the third team.
Hill, who has signed with South Carolina, hit .455 this year, scored a team high 38 runs, and drove in 19. He added 11 doubles, three home runs, 16 stolen bases and 20 walks, while striking out just six times.
Wilkerson hit .486, scored 30 runs and tied for the team lead with 33 RBIs. Wilkerson also stole 11 bases, clubbed three home runs and tied Hill for the team lead with 20 walks while striking out just four times.
The Mavericks will graduate seven seniors off its baseball team, including Hill and Wilkerson, but will look to retool in a hurry. Other teams, like the Mallard Creek girls' track-and-field team, will also lose many of its top performers.
The Cougars boys' team will be very strong again next season as Jenkins and Johnson will return and look to defend their conference crown.
It is fun to look back on a great year, but as usual, the future of these schools looks bright.