Here are this week’s early nominees for the Observer’s Athlete of the week award. A #BIG5 list of finalists will be named Monday morning and fans will be able to vote.
The winner, decided by that vote, will be announced Wednesday. Nominations, from coaches only, will be accepted through Sunday morning.
Will Achurch, Mallard Creek: The Mallard Creek junior netted a hat trick (three goals) to bring the Mavericks back from a 3-0 deficit at Mooresville that they eventually won in penalty kicks, Oct. 7
Achurch had another goal in a 5-1 at Vance, Oct. 9. Achurch has 10 goals for Mallard Creek (7-4-2) this season.
Austin Alexander, R.S. Central: The R.S. Central senior scored six more goals this week to help the Hilltoppers improve to 13-2-1 this season. Alexander started his week with two goals in regulation play to help R.S. Central win at Chase on penalty kicks Oct. 7.
Two days later, Alexander netted four goals in a 6-1 win at East Rutherford. Alexander has 45 goals this season, which is second in the state, according to maxpreps.com.
Ben Boston, Hickory: After the Hickory junior suffered a series of injuries this season, Red Tornadoes’ coach Brian Jillings moved Boston from center midfielder to center back and the team is perfect 3-0 since then with each coming in shutout fashion. Boston had two assists in a 4-0 win at St. Stephens, Oct. 7.
Two days later, Boston helped Hickory shutout McDowell, 8-0. Boston has three goals and seven assists for Hickory (11-4-3) this season.
Patrick Fenton, Charlotte Catholic Soccer: The Charlotte Catholic senior midfielder/forward had three goals in two wins last week to help the Cougars remain unbeaten at 14-0-2 overall, including 8-0 in Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) play.
Fenton had two goals in a 9-0 win over Piedmont,Oct. 7.
Two days later, Fenton scored again, notching his 20th goal of the season in another win.
Logan Gilley, East Lincoln: The East Lincoln senior had five more goals and two assists in two wins to help the Mustangs improve to a perfect 16-0 this season. Gilley, an Appalachian State commit, had two goals in a 4-0 win at Newton Conover Oct. 7. Two days later, Gilley accounted for five goals with a hat trick (three goals) and two assists in a 10-1 win at Lake Norman Charter.
Gilley has 31 goals and 15 assists for East Lincoln this season.
Patrick Hannagan, Pine Lake Prep: The Pine Lake Prep senior went 160 minutes of play in two games without giving up a goal last week.
Hannagan held Mountain Island Charter scoreless for all 70 minutes he played in goal (came out last 10 minutes) in an 8-1 win Oct. 7.
Two days later, Hannagan didn’t allow a goal for 90 minutes, including regulation and overtime, saving two penalty kicks to help Pine Lake Prep beat rival Community School of Davidson 3-2.
The Pride’s two wins helped Pine Lake Prep (10-4-2) vault into first place in the PAC 7, 1A conference (7-1).
Jordan “Gio” Martinez, Butler Soccer: The Butler senior midfielder had three goals and one assist in two critical Southwestern 4A (SW4A) conference wins to help the Bulldogs (11-5, 6-2) remain in a three-way tie for first-place with Myers Park and Porter Ridge.
Martinez accounted for both goals with a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win at East Mecklenburg Oct. 7.
The next day, Martinez had two more scores in a 4-1 win at Rocky River.
Gaston Moise, Union Academy: The Union Academy junior forward had five goals and three assists in wins over Langtree Charter and Bradford Prep.
Moise, a co-captain, had two goals and two assists before moving into the midfield to help the defense in a 5-3 win at Langtree Charter Oct. 7.
Two days later, he had a hat trick (three goals) and one more assist in a 5-1 win over Bradford Prep.
Moise has 17 goals and 11 assists for Union Academy (6-6) despite constantly facing double teams, according to Cardinals’ soccer coach Vic Johnson.
Ismael Ortiz, Concord First Assembly: The Concord First Assembly junior led the Eagles to three straight victories to win the Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) tournament.
Ortiz started the week pitching a shutout in the Eagles’ 9-0 win over SouthLake Christian Oct. 7.
The next day, Ortiz helped Concord First Assembly beat Gaston Christian (No. 7 in the state) 4-2.
Ortiz pitched his second shutout of the week in the MAC championship, where the Eagles (13-6, No. 3 seed) won at No. 1 seed Gaston Day, which hadn’t lost a game since Aug. 27.
Sophie Fischer, Nation Ford: The 6-foot-5 outside hitter earned the Wando Invitational’s most valuable player (MVP) award for her efforts in helping Falcons win the event Oct. 11-12. Fischer, a University of North Carolina commit, led the Falcons (37-5-1) to four wins and a tie at Wando, defeating Porter Gaud 2-0 in the finals.
Raven Bailey, Mallard Creek: The Mallard Creek sophomore outside hitter had 43 kills, 18 digs and seven aces to help the Mavericks (18-7) to a perfect 3-0 week. Bailey had her best game with 13 kills, nine digs and four aces in a 3-2 win at Hopewell, Oct. 8. She also had 17 kills, seven digs and three aces in 3-0 sweep of North Mecklenburg, Oct. 10.
Alexis Cornish, Central Cabarrus: The Central Cabarrus junior middle blocker had a big week with 23 kills and 13 blocks to lead the Vikings (11-8) to road wins at Concord and A.L. Brown. Cornish had 11 kills and seven blocks in a 3-0 win at Concord, Oct. 8.
Two days later, she added 12 kills and six blocks in 3-0 victory at A.L. Brown.
Raven Gray, Cox Mill: The Cox Mill junior outside hitter had 35 kills, five blocks and five aces to lead the Chargers to a perfect 3-0 week with victories over Jay M. Robinson, Providence and Concord.
Cox Mill has won seven straight games to push their record to 20-2 overall, including a perfect 13-0 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC) play.
Cierra Huntley, Davidson Day Volleyball: The Davidson Day senior had 34 kills, 36 digs, eight aces and five blocks to lead the Patriots to three wins and a Foothills’ Athletic conference title last week.
Huntley, a Virginia Tech commit, had her best game with 15 kills, 14 digs and two aces in a 3-0 sweep at Community School of Davidson Oct. 7.
Davidson Day (15-1) has won 10 straight games.
Abbey Redding, Jay M. Robinson Volleyball: The Jay M. Robinson senior right side/setter had 20 kills, 26 assists, 11 digs and four aces to help the Bulldogs (13-6) to a 2-1 record last week
Redding’s best game of the week, she had 10 kills, 10 assists and five digs, three aces and a block in a 3-0 win over Northwest Cabarrus Oct. 10.
Kira Rymer, South Rowan: The South Rowan junior had 31 kills, 22 assists, 14 digs and 10 aces to lead the Raiders to victories over Thomasville and Lexington to help her team improve to 19-1 overall (including 16-0 in Central Carolinas’ conference play).
Rymer had 19 kills, 14 assists and four aces in South Rowan’s 3-0 sweep of Thomasville Oct. 8.
Two days later, she had 12 kills, eight assists, seven digs and six aces in a 3-0 win over Lexington to lead the Raiders to their 16th straight win.
Sydney Schulze, Charlotte Country Day Volleyball: The Charlotte Country Day sophomore outside hitter had 33 kills and 17 digs to lead the Bucs (17-4) to two CISAA conference victories last week.
Schulze had 14 kills and 10 digs in a 3-0 win at Covenant Day Oct. 7.
Three days later, Schulze added 19 kills and seven digs to help Charlotte Country Day past Providence Day 3-0.
Sophie Holland, Cannon School: The Cannon School senior shot a three-under par 69 to finish in a tie for thirrd-place individually, while leading her Cougars’ team to an eight-shot victory (222 team score) over runner-up Pinecrest.
Holland, a Lehigh University commit, is ranked No. 7 in the state in junior golf rankings, according to the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA).
Maggie Magner, South Mecklenburg Golf: The South Mecklenburg sophomore shot a 10-over par 82 to finish tied for 18th at the Pinecrest Girls’ High School Invitational at Pinehurst No. 5, Oct. 10.
Magner, who had two birdies in her round, was the top finisher from the SoMeck7 conference.
Amanda Sambach, Cannon School: The Cannon School junior had seven birdies to shoot a seven-under par, 65, to win the Pinecrest Girls’ High School Invitational at Pinehurst No. 5 Oct. 10.
Sambach, University of Virginia commit, and her Cannon School teammate Sophie Holland, who shot a 69 (tied for third), helped the Cougars to an eight-shot victory (222 team score) over Pinecrest.
Vanessa Wightman, A.L. Brown Girls’ Golf: The A.L. Brown golfer shot a 53 in a match against Concord at The Club at Irish Creek to bring her season scoring average below 55 to become the first Wonders’ freshman in school history to qualify for the regional play.
Wightman also shot a 55 against Northwest Cabarrus in a match also played at Irish Creek, Oct. 7.
Halle Futch, Myers Park Tennis: The Myers Park senior won her third straight Southwestern 4A conference doubles’ title, teaming with Mustangs’ teammate Carson Weber Oct. 10.
Futch and Weber beat Myers Park teammates Meredyth Barr and Mia Basinger in the doubles’ championship match.
Futch, who has lost only one doubles’ match in the last three years, is 19-3 overall this year, and 99-11 in her Myer Park tennis career, including 43-5 in doubles’ play.
The Myers Park girls’ tennis team is 77-3 in Futch’s career, including a 4A state title and two, 4A state runner-up finishes.
Maggie Gehrig/Ava Tan, Charlotte Catholic Tennis: The Charlotte Catholic sophomore duo teamed up to win four straight matches to win the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) doubles’ championship at Cuthbertson Oct. 7.
Gehrig and Tan played doubles together last year going 17-1, but teamed up with new partners (Gehrig with Caroline Prendiville; Tan with Rose Kenny) for the regular season this year.
Gehrig and Tan reunited this week to win the SCC doubles’ title, beating Weddington’s Riya Vasa and Madeline Wasulko, 6-1, 6-1, in the finals.
Gehrig is a perfect 28-0 this season (15-0 singles at No. 2; 13-0 doubles at No. 2), while Tan is also unbeaten at 30-0 (16-0 singles at No. 3; 14-0 doubles at No. 1).
Boys’ Cross Country
Tyler Christensen, Hickory St. Stephens Cross Country: The St. Stephens’ senior won the United Way Invitational running a personal-best 16:35.41 at Southside Park in Newton, Oct. 9. Christensen’s efforts also helped his St. Stephens’ team to victory in the same meet.
Christensen hopes to run for the Charlotte 49ers’ next season, according to St. Stephens’ cross country coach, Jason Fulbright.
Keegan Lisiecki, United Faith: The United Faith sophomore had a big week on the course starting with a win at the SPAA conference meet (21:28) at McAlpine Park, Oct. 7.
Three days later, Lisiecki finished as runner-up in 20:27 at Metrolina Christian.
Lisiecki has won every SPAA conference meet he has run in this season.
Samuel O’Grady, Sun Valley: The Sun Valley senior broke 21 minutes for the first time in his cross country career, running a 20:55 at Metrolina Christian, Oct. 10.
Sun Valley cross country coach Jay Pierre says it means even more because O’Grady is autistic and “he has faced so many adversities and it has been great to watch his growth and development.”
Girls’ Cross Country
Jonna Strange, North Iredell: The North Iredell senior won the United Way Invitational running an 18:24.62 at Southside Park in Newton Oct. 9.
Strange, a Furman University commit, won the United Way Invitational race by nearly 1:21 faster than the runner-up finisher.
Sarah Perkinson, Myers Park: The Myers Park senior scored the game-tying and game-winning goals to lead the Mustangs to a 3-1 win over rival Charlotte Catholic Oct. 8.
Charlotte Catholic took the lead less than a minute into the game before Perkinson scored the next two goals to help Myers Park tally three unanswered, first half scores.
Perkinson also had one goal and one assist in a 10-0 win at Weddington, Oct. 10.
Perkinson has 16 goals and 11 assists for Myers Park (16-1) this season.
Preston Howell IV, Belmont South Point: The South Point freshman led the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets’ Wheelchair basketball team to a 3-1 record and runner-up finish at the Clemson Classic, Oct. 5-6.
Howell averaged 16 points, 2.5 assists and two rebounds per game in the four-game event with a team-high, 26 points, against the Junior Hawks.
Howell was named all-tournament team for his efforts.
** Information published today includes statistics through October 13.
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 email@example.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.