Prep Insider Blog

Here are the Observer’s Fall Featured Athletes of the week

Carmel Christian golfer Kelley Topiwala
Carmel Christian golfer Kelley Topiwala Special to the Observer

Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week

Kelley Topiwala, Carmel Christian Golf: Kelley Topiwala has been playing golf for Carmel Christian since she was in the fifth grade.

In middle school, Topiwala played with the Carmel Christian boys’ golf team.

For the last two years in high school, Topiwala played individually to qualify to the NCISAA girls’ state championship, but was a one-woman team, with no Carmel Christian teammates.

This year, Carmel Christian girls’ golf coach Bill Smith and Topiwala (a junior) finally helped form a girls’ golf team.

Juniors Annalise Dale and Sarah Gilbert and 8th-grader Bethany Welch now make up the first Carmel Christian girls’ golf team in school history.

While the Cougars’ girls’ golf team is new, they are off to a great start as they are currently No. 2 in the NCISAA rankings with a 4-1 record overall.

Topiwala has led the way as is ranked No. 5 in NCISAA scoring to date, with a 3.70 (scoring) index.

Topiwala most recently led her Carmel Christian to a 10-shot victory over Charlotte Latin and Pine Lake Prep, firing a two-over par 38, to earn medalist honors in the match at Raintree Country Club, Sept. 20. She had eight pars and a double bogey in her round.

Topiwala is no stranger to success on the golf course, as she is also one of the top junior golfers in the state, currently ranked No. 18 in North Carolina, according to the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA). She was earned NCISAA all-state honors last year as a Carmel Christian sophomore.

While Topiwala hopes to make a name for herself statewide (in junior and high school golf) and beyond at the next level (college golf), she is also focused on being a part of history with the Carmel Christian girls’ golf team.

“(Kelley) is the leader and captain of our team, and and she is so excited to finally have an official girls team at Carmel (Christian),” Coach Smith said. “…In addition to her excellent golf, she (Topiwala) is an inspiring leader who is serving as a role model and example to the other girls on the team and helping them become better golfers. Kelley (Topiwala) also is an excellent student and is receiving a lot of recruiting interest from colleges across the Southeast.”

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Cannon School golfer Amanda Sambach Lila Sambach Special to the Observer

Amanda Sambach, Cannon School Golf: The Cannon School sophomore carded a 38 (nine holes) to help the Cougars remain undefeated as they beat Cox Mill by seven shots (118 to 125) at River Run Country Club Sept. 18.

Sambach, a University of Virginia commit, had two birdies on her round and got a lot of help from teammates, Muskan Uppal, who shot 39 and Sophie Holland (shot 41) in the victory.

Sambach is No. 4 in the state in the girls’ junior rankings, according to the TYGA.

Myers Park golfer Audrey Nelson Tom Nelson Special to the Observer

Audrey Nelson, Myers Park Golf: The Myers Park senior had two birdies, shooting a 35 (nine holes) to help the Mustangs to a one-shot victory over South Mecklenburg at Charles T. Sifford Golf Course Sept. 18.

Two days later, Nelson shot a 39 to earn medalist honors in a loss to Hickory Ridge at Rocky River Golf Club.

Nelson is averaging a 38 per nine holes this season for a Myers Park team that is 4-1 overall.

Rose Kenny, Charlotte Catholic Tennis: The Charlotte Catholic junior led her team to a 7-2 win at previously unbeaten Myers Park Sept. 19.

Kenny beat Myers Park’s No. 1 Katie Weber in a dramatic three-set match 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 1-0 (10-6) to spark the Cougars to victory.

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Charlotte Catholic tennis player Rose Kenny Anne Kenny Special to the Observer

Kenny blanked her singles’ opponents in straight sets in Charlotte Catholic’s 9-0 wins over Parkwood (Sept. 20) and at Cuthbertson (Sept. 21).

Charlotte Catholic is a perfect 12-0 overall this season, including 9-0 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference play.

Chandra Kusuma, Nation Ford Tennis: The Nation Ford senior was 3-0 last week at No. 1 singles to help the Falcons to three wins in three days over Fort Mill, Indian Land and Clover.

Kusuma won all three of her singles’ match in straight sets.

Kusuma is 4-1 in singles’ play this season, helping her Nation Ford team to a 4-1 record overall.

Megan Frost, Myers Park Field Hockey: The Myers Park senior scored three goals and had three assists to account for six of the Mustangs’ seven goals in 7-1 win over Charlotte Catholic Sept. 18 to remain perfect at 11-0 this season.

Myers Park and Charlotte Catholic played for the first time since meeting in the North Carolina Field Hockey Association (NCFHA) state championship game, Nov. 11, 2017.

Frost added five more goals overall in win over Mount Tabor (9-0), Sept. 20, and Asheville (5-0), Sept. 21.

Frost, a Stanford University commit, has 15 goals and 13 assists this season.

Mallard Creek volleyball player Morgan Allen Jonathan Aguallo Special to the Observer

Morgan Allen, Mallard Creek Volleyball: The Mallard Creek junior libero helped the Mavericks to critical I-Meck 4A conference wins over Hough and Mooresville last week.

Allen opened the week with 11 digs and an ace in Mallard Creek’s 3-0 at Mooresville, Sept. 18.

The next day, Allen shined with 21 digs, seven aces and four kills in 3-2 win over Hough in a showdown for first-place in the I-Meck 4A conference. Allen, who had 34 service attempts in the Hough, served from point-eight to point-22 in the Mavericks’ 25-8 win in game two of the match.

Allen has helped Mallard Creek (13-3, 8-0 in the I-Meck 4A conference) to 10 straight wins.

Allen is also less than 50 digs from 1,000 digs for her high school career, according to Mallard Creek volleyball coach, Stacey Webster.

Kennedy Smith, SouthLake Christian Volleyball: The SouthLake Christian senior outside hitter had 54 kills, 26 digs and six aces in three Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) wins last week.

Smith, a Wofford commit, had her best match of the week at Metrolina Christian Sept. 19, recording 23 kills, 14 digs and two aces.

Smith has 314 kills, 217 digs and 40 aces this season for a SouthLake Christian team (20-2, 9-0 in the MAC) has won 14 straight matches.

Kayla Spangler, Charlotte Country Day Volleyball: The Charlotte Country Day sophomore setter had 48 assists and 17 digs in two matches to help the Bucs to win over CISAA conference rivals Covenant Day and Providence Day last week.

Spangler started her week with 22 assists and seven digs in a 3-0 win at Covenant Day, Sept. 18.

Two day later, Spangler had 26 assists and 10 digs to help Charlotte Country Day to 3-0 win at Providence Day.

The Bucs (11-2, 4-0 in the CISAA conference) have won nine straight matches.

Spangler has 415 assists, 78 digs and 16 aces this season.

Katie Pou, Nation Ford Cross Country: The Nation Ford sophomore ran a season-best 18:43.39 to win the Hare and Hounds’ Girls’ Invitational 5K by nearly 35 seconds over the field.

Pou, the defending S.C. AAAAA state cross country champion, ran the states’ third-best, 5K this season, according to

Pou won the Eye Opener Invitational, Sept. 1, and finished 3rd-place in the Providence Invitational, Sept. 25.

Charlotte Observer Boys’ Athletes of the Week

Charlotte Christian QB Garrett Shrader has committed to Mississippi State. He returns after being named N.C. private school state player of the year as a junior. Langston Wertz Jr.

Garrett Shrader, Charlotte Christian Football: The Charlotte Christian senior quarterback was 13-for-16 passing for 219 yards and five touchdowns in less than a quarter and a half of play in the Knights’ 77-0 at Ravenscroft, Sept. 21.

Shrader, a Mississippi State commit, played the first quarter and was taken out of the game with 8:39 remaining in the second quarter. He also had 150 yards passing and two touchdowns called back because of penalties in the same game, according to Charlotte Christian assistant coach Gary Brown.

Shrader is 42-for-60 passing for 633 yards and 10 touchdowns this season for the undefeated Knights (4-0), despite having played only 10 quarters in the four games.

Quamir Conner, Mooresville Football: The Mooresville senior running back had 258 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a 34-26 win over North Mecklenburg, Sept. 21, to help the Blue Devils remain undefeated at 5-0.

Conner rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, while catching nine passes for 163 yards and another score in the I-Meck 4A conference opening win over North Mecklenburg.

Conner has 496 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 80 carries to go with 15 catches for 266 yards and two more scores this season.

Jordan Medley, A.L. Brown Football: The A.L. Brown senior quarterback has passed for 504 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 156 yards and two more scores in the last two weeks helping the Wonders to wins over West Rowan and Davie County.

Medley went 15-for-23 passing for 228 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 61 more yards and a score in A.L. Brown’s 56-27 win over Davie County, Sept. 21.

Medley is 65 of 110 passing for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns to go with 336 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 48 carries this season for the Wonders (4-2).

Charlotte Country Day junior Twan Flip scored four touchdowns Friday against the Hickory Hawks a few days after getting his first college scholarship offer from Charlotte Jeff Siner

Twan Flip, Charlotte Country Day Football: The Charlotte Country Day junior touched the ball four times resulting in 186 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the Bucs’ 61-16 win over the Hickory Hawks at Lenoir Rhyne University, Sept. 21.

Flip scored runs of 20 and 86 yards, a five-yard touchdown catch and a 75-yard punt return in the victory to help the Bucs improve to 3-2 overall.

Flip has an offer from the Charlotte 49ers, according to Charlotte Country Day football coach, Drew Witman.

Miguel Alvarez/Wesley Zitney, South Mecklenburg Soccer: The South Mecklenburg senior co-captains both played big roles in the Sabres’ win over Providence in penalty kicks (6-5 in penalty kicks, 2-2 in regulation).

Alvarez led the Sabres’ offense with two of the three goals in regulation and overtime as well as one of South Mecklenburg’s penalty kick goals.

Meanwhile, Zitney played a big role for a Sabres’ defense that played a man-down for most of the second half and both overtimes.

The South Mecklenburg (7-3-1, 3-0 in the SoMeck7 conference) kept the Sabres atop the SoMeck7 conference standings.

Anthony Salgado Rodriguez, East Burke Soccer: The East Burke senior has been a major reason for the Cavaliers’ best start in a decade at 9-1-1 overall with 19 goals and four assists this season.

Salgado Rodriguez scored two goals and had one assist in East Burke’s 7-0 win at Draughn, Sept. 17.

Salgado Rodriguez came up big again scoring the game’s lone goal and game-winner in 1-0 victory over Freedom, Sept. 21.

East Burke (2-1 in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference) in second-place in the league standings.

Olympic soccer player Jose Cardenas Jose Cardenas Special to the Observer

Jose Cardenas, Olympic Soccer: The Olympic senior captain had four goals and two assists in two games as the Trojans tripled their win total, beating SoMeck7 conference rivals Harding and Berry last week.

Cardenas started his week with three goals and an assist in Olympic’s 5-2 win over Harding, Sept. 18.

Two days later, Cardenas had an assist in the Trojans’ 2-0 win at Berry.

Cardenas has three goals and seven assists this year for Olympic (3-8-1, 2-1 in the SoMeck7 conference) despite missing three games with injury, according to Trojans’ coach, Andrew Everheart.

Everheart also notes Cardenas is starting to get college soccer interest.

Weddington Cross Country Team: The Warriors’ cross country team had four runners finish in the top 23 to win the Hare and Hounds’ Boys’ Championship 5K, Sept. 22.

Weddington senior Jackson O’Hara led the way running a 16:01.73 to finish 18th overall, while freshman Nate Jaster finished 20th (16:03.96, seniors, Stephen Larson came in 22nd (16:09.19) while classmate Kyle Durham finished 23rd (16:10.17).

Weddington, whose runners averaged a time of 16:11, was 68 points better than the rest of the field as a team in their victory at the Hare and Hounds’ Invitational.

** Information published today includes statistics through September 23rd.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.