Dominant Dozen: 12 of the area’s best in ‘12

Hopewell, East Gaston and West Mecklenburg high schools featured some star-studded athletes in 2012.

From the gridiron to the golf course to the soccer field, there was a solid collection of talent emanating from the trio of schools.

Here’s a look at some of the best athletes from Hopewell, East Gaston and West Mecklenburg and their accomplishments:

Michael Bedard, East Gaston wrestling

Bedard transferred to East Gaston from Ardrey Kell High and instantly made friends with the Warriors’ wrestlers. Winning can do that for you, and Bedard won on a regular basis.

He lost only three regular-season matches and captured the bronze medal in the 120-pound weight class in the Class 4A state wrestling championship on Feb. 25 in Greensboro. Bedard lost in the quarterfinal round, but dominated the consolation rounds to take third place in the tournament.

Bedard, now a senior, finished the season with a 48-4 record and a third-place ranking in the state 120-pound class, according to www.retrorankings.com.

Alvonna Blakney, West Mecklenburg girls track and field

Blakney was the Hawks’ speed demon in her time on West Mecklenburg’s track.

Her times of 8.21 seconds in the 55-meter hurdles, 8.88 in the 60-meter hurdles, 13.93 in the 100-meter hurdles, 42.96 in the 300-meter hurdles and 1:06.29 in the 400-meter hurdles were all school records.

She finished second in the 300-meter hurdles in the Class 4A state championship in Greensboro on May 19.

Blakney’s success on the track for the Hawks also earned her a scholarship to UNC Charlotte, where she’ll join sister Joann Blakney and brother, Kerrick Williams, on the track team.

Shareé Boyd, Hopewell girls basketball

The third time was a charm for Boyd in 2012. Hopewell’s star forward led the Titans to their third straight I-MECK 4A conference championship in the 2011-12 season.

Boyd’s 15.5 points per game was tops among all I-MECK 4A players. Her 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 3.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per game earned the 6-foot Boyd I-MECK 4A Player of the Year honors.

Boyd was also named 2011-12 Girls Basketball Player of the Year by the Monitor’s sister publication The Herald Weekly.

Her exploits as a senior helped Boyd land a scholarship to Wingate, where she’s averaging nine minutes per game as a freshman guard for the Bulldogs.

Jeff Caldwell and West Mecklenburg football

Caldwell, the Hawks’ coach, oversaw an electrifying West Mecklenburg team that posted a 4-2 record in MEGA 7 3A/4A conference standings and a 9-4 overall mark in 2012.

West Mecklenburg’s season highlight, however, had to be the Hawks’ surprising 45-10 win over Hough on Nov. 2 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Before Caldwell began his third year as the head coach, the Hawks hadn’t posted nine wins in a season since 1988.

Caldwell used quarterback Jalan McClendon and running back Shaun Wilson to dominate West Mecklenburg’s last three regular-season opponents, winning by a combined 180-39.

Cassidy and Olivia Eudy, East Gaston softball

The Warriors’ dynamic diamond duo of Eudy sisters made life tough on opponents in 2012.

Cassidy Eudy posted a .448 average and earned MEGA 7 3A/4A All-Conference honors.

Olivia Eudy’s .484 batting average and 13-5 pitching record gave her MEGA 7 3A/4A Conference Player of the Year honors.

The pair ignited the team on its way to a 15-5 overall record, a 10-2 mark in MEGA 7 3A/4A play and a berth in the Class 4A state playoffs, where they advanced to the second round.

But their success didn’t stop in high school. Both signed to play in the outfield for Spartanburg Methodist College.

John and Jacob Grigg, East Gaston wrestling

The third and fourth members of the Grigg family to star for the Warriors on the mat, John and Jacob Grigg, followed brothers Jared and Jesse and set the tone for East Gaston’s 2012 season.

John’s senior year was his best. The Warriors’ top presence on the mat finished the season with a 52-4 record en route to winning the Class 4A state championship’s 132-pound class in the state final on Feb. 25 in Greensboro.

His last match as a high school wrestler was arguably his best. Grigg finished off his career with a 9-6 win over Southern Pines Pinecrest’s Dallas Roemer to capture the state crown.

Jacob’s sophomore year was also impressive, with a 52-11 mark in 2011-12.

Dominique Heath, Hopewell football

The Hopewell Titans must have a soft spot for players with the last name “Heath.”

Denzel Heath anchored the Titans’ offense at running back in 2011. His younger brother, Dominique, carried the family torch in 2012. Dominique was a favorite target of quarterback Tijuan Sifford all season, because of his soft hands as a receiver.

But Heath’s impact extended well beyond receptions. His speed around the corner made him a dangerous running back and a tough player to catch in the open field.

What’s good news for Hopewell fans won’t be for their opponents: Heath will be back for the 2013 season.

Haley Helton, East Gaston girls golf

Helton made the golf course her personal playground in 2012. The Warriors’ top golfer earned MEGA 7 3A/4A Conference Player of the Year honors after medaling in all six of her matches.

She averaged a stout 40 in her five nine-hole MEGA 7 3A/4A matches in the regular season, a number 15 strokes better than her closest competitor, Darrah Stubblefield from Olympic High.

Helton’s exploits on the course also helped East Gaston garner the MEGA 7 3A/4A team title in 2012, not that it was much of a surprise. The Warriors went 12-0 in conference matches.

Tijuan Sifford, Hopewell football

Sifford made his senior season at Hopewell count in a big way.

The Titans’ 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback turned in a memorable season, passing for 472 yards and five touchdowns in a 61-59 loss to eventual Class 2A state champion East Lincoln High on Aug. 24.

Sifford’s solid numbers didn’t stop as the season wore on.

Hopewell coach David Johnson relied on Sifford’s dual-threat capabilities to get the Titans out of trouble on numerous third-and-long situations. If Sifford’s wide receivers were covered and he had some running room, chances were the Titans were soon moving the chains. Sifford guided the Titans to the Class 4A state playoffs, where they lost in the first round.

Cole Tesar, Hopewell boys soccer

Tesar was all around the goal for the Titans in 2012, but he wasn’t the team’s keeper. He just put the ball in the right place.

Despite missing three weeks with a knee injury, Tesar scored a team-best 11 goals, posted nine assists and led the Titans to an 11-7-4 record and a 7-5-2 mark in I-MECK 4A conference play as a junior. He scored 15 goals as a sophomore in 2011.

For his efforts in 2012, Tesar was named to the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association Class 4A All-State team and the I-MECK 4A All-Conference team.

Robert Washington Jr., SouthLake Christian football

You could say Washington made a solid impact with the Eagles as a freshman running back in 2012.

He rushed for 1,012 yards and 11 touchdowns as SouthLake Christian came one win shy of a state championship. Washington, a running back and team captain for Team USA’s Under-15 squad in 2011, was impressive enough – despite battling an in-season hip injury – to garner a scholarship offer from Mississippi State.

Washington committed to the Bulldogs and coach Dan Mullen on Nov. 17, becoming the youngest football player to accept a scholarship offer from a Southeastern Conference school.

Michaela Williams, West Mecklenburg track and field

Williams was a major part of the Hawks’ track and field success in her time at West Mecklenburg.

She ran with the Hawks’ state championship-winning 400- and 800-meter relay teams in 2010 and 2011, but 2012 was Williams’ year to shine.

Williams set a West Mecklenburg school record time of two minutes, 25 seconds in the 800-meter run on April 17 in a meet at Olympic High.

The new record paired well with Williams’ still-standing records in the 1,500-meter run (6:04.88) and the 3,000-meter run (13:23.64), both of which were set in 2010.

Williams’ record-breaking results at West Mecklenburg earned her a scholarship to Western Carolina.

– compiled by Aaron Burns


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