Local Stars Earn WNC Sports Awards - TribPapers

Local Stars Earn WNC Sports Awards

West Henderson’s WNC Sports Award winners include, L-R: Baseball’s Alex Anderson, Truitt Manuel, Jack Lyda; track hurdler Emma Hall, and soccer star Marianne Maxon. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Asheville – West Henderson Falcons won several individual and team honors, while several other locals also won Western North Carolina Sports Awards from the Mountain Amateur Athletics Club.

These are the 62nd annual WNC awards. They do not count spring 2024 sports, which were ongoing at the time of the banquet on May 19 in the Omni Grove Park Inn. Judging was over a month earlier.

The 2023 state champion baseball squads of T.C. Roberson in 4A and 3A West Henderson shared the major sport award among most populous WNC public schools. TCR went on to repeat as 4A state champs. That makes the Rams early favorites to win the award outright in 2025.

Ram pitchers Reno Jeter and Micah Simpson are both all-state for 2024. Jeter calls the repeat title a “dream come true.” He graduates on Saturday, June 15. Simpson, the cleanup hitter, was the 2023 Championship Series MVP. The rising senior sees the team’s WNC Sports Award as icing on the Rams’ championship cake.

Jack Flash, Maxon, Hall

Four West Henderson 2024 grads won individual awards in Division I (D1) for larger schools. Truitt Manuel is the overall male athlete of the year.

West swept the best athlete in a major sport awards, with Jack Lyda for males and soccer superstar Marianne Maxon among females. WCU-bound Lyda was all-state as a baseball shortstop in ‘23, when he batted .483 leading off. He averaged nearly 20 points for the last two basketball seasons. He won his award over Manuel, Roberson shortstop Nick Parham, and the Reynolds duo of LB Brandon Guest and soccer scorer James Black.

Maxon leads all WNC public school females with 186 career soccer goals. She scored 52 goals in ‘23, as West was the regional runner-up. She scored 49 times in ‘24. She sees the award as a crowning touch for her career.

State hurdles repeat champion Emma Hall is the best female in an Olympic sport. She said that her award feels quite “rewarding.” Both Lady Falcon new graduates are among those eligible for 2025 WNC awards for their spring ‘24 success.

The day after getting her WNC award, Hall starred in the 3A state outdoor meet in Greensboro. She repeated as the 300-meter hurdles champion, winning by more than a full second at 44.51. She was runner-up in the 110m hurdles, an event she won in 2023. In the winter indoor state championship meet, Hall set a state record of 7.94 seconds to win the 55m hurdles. That was the tenth fastest time nationwide in 2023-24.

Corn and Manuel each said that they are very “proud” of their team and personal honors. Manuel said of West’s many honorees, “This shows how we have so many high-character people” at the school. His father, Luke Manuel, is the principal.

Truitt Has ‘Moxie’

Three-sport star Manuel was an all-state, Shrine Bowl football player. The go-to receiver led West to its most (13) football games ever. He is West’s career basketball rebounder. He’s the first three-time all-state baseball Falcon. He was the 2023 state 3A pitcher of the year. He’ll pitch for N.C. State.

He proudly pointed out that he won the same overall WNC Sports Award as did his grandfather Mark Manuel in 1971 when at Robbinsville, and Falcon three-sport standout Luke in 1995.

Mark noted that five generations of Manuel baseball stars begin with his grandfather, “Moxie” Manuel. Baseball Reference (BR), a statistical authority, lists Moxie as pitching in the American League for Washington in 1905 and the Chicago White Sox in 1908. BR notes that the right-hander “threw left-handed a handful of times.” His nickname “Moxie” refers to the Beverage Moxie Nerve Food peppy soda pop. The slang “moxie” is defined as energy, confidence, determination, and courageously overcoming adversity.

Asheville School swimmer Virginia Thorsen won as top female Olympic athlete among smaller or private D2 schools. She won state titles in 200 and 500-meter freestyle and the 400m relay, as the Blues repeated as state champs.

Lady Cats, Rockets

Team honors went to three local squads: Dynastic Hendersonville Lady Bearcats for D2 female Olympic sports, Mountain Athletic Conference repeat basketball champions A.C. Reynolds Lady Rockets in D1, and Christ School (CS) basketball in D2 for major sports. CS Greenies repeated as 4A private school champs. They went 26-5, and won by an average of 31 points.

HHS amazingly won its fifth consecutive 2A dual match state crown, is 80-1 over that span, and was 18-0 last fall. Eliza Perry won her fourth doubles title; it was her third one with Ramsey Ross.

The academic award for D1 females went to North Buncombe distance runner Katie Johnson (4.8 GPA). Scholarship winners included these locals: NBHS distance runners Eden Barnwell and Avery Mays, Reynolds basketball’s Anna Wilcox, North Henderson wrestler Nancy Perez Ortega; Roberson soccer star Quinn Roberts and pitcher/pinch runner Carson Heath, Enka wrestler Bodhi McCormack, and Henry Stuart of Christ School basketball.