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Tykel Landrum honored as WNC’s ‘Top Male Athlete’

Trey Robinson rushed for over 3,000 yards this year. He is shown running over Hendersonville, in 2A playoffs. He is among WNC Sports Award winners. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The two main/overall awards, sponsored by Darlene and John McNabb, were among 22 plaques presented Sunday by the Mountain Amateur Athletic Club (MAAC) in the Omni Grove Park Inn. McNabb gave tribute to Dan Hill Jr. of Duke University. The Hill family were friends of his while he attended Duke on a football scholarship years ago. The Dan T. Hill Jr. Memorial is sponsored by the John & Darlene McNabb Charitable Foundation.”Trey Robinson, WNC’s all-time leading rusher and total yards gainer and touchdown scorer, was picked as best smaller-school male athlete. Tye Mintz, who led Cherokee to the sole state title for an area school, is among other award winners. Of Buncombe schools, T.C. Roberson joined Enka with multiple winners, while A.C. Reynolds had one. ACR and TCR each had 13 finalists, while Hendersonville (HHS) and Murphy had the next-most with eight.

Landrum was also among 15 winners of $1,500 scholarships from the Darlene and John McNabb Scholarship Program. In all, 118 athletes and teams from 28 WNC high schools were finalists. The Ingles-sponsored banquet drew nearly 1,000 people, in its 57th year. Forty local businesses and people donated over $54,000 as sponsors, noted MAAC board member Keith Jarrett. He helps organize the event and handle inductions.

Also, three legendary retired coaches who won a total of 15 state titles were inducted into the WNC Sports Hall of Fame that is sponsored by Dixon Hughes Goodman. They are Reynolds football’s Bobby Poss, West Henderson volleyball’s Jan Stanley, and Cindi Simmons of Smoky Mountain girls’ basketball.

Poss won five state titles with three schools in the largest (4A) class, including two with ACR (1999, 2002) in a four-year span. He was 88-5 in nine years with the Rockets, in 1994-2002. He went on to coach football at Brevard College and be a WWNC radio commentator on local prep football.

Both women’s coaches are also in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Simmons won 512 games in basketball in 30 years, and 11 conference titles in volleyball. Stanley won state titles in both sports, and a state-record 671 volleyball matches along with five state titles. She was NHSCA national prep volleyball coach of the year in 2009. These two contemporaries are “amazingly similar” as giants in women’s sports, making it sensible to induct both in the same year, Jarrett noted to The Tribune. He is an area sportswriter since 1986.

The MAAC presented longtime Erwin statistician Gene McClure with the MOOG/Gene Ochsenreiter Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Team and individual awards were split into two levels, Division I/1 for schools in larger conferences such most Buncombe and Henderson teams, and Division II/2 for smaller ones mostly farther from Asheville. Each division had categories for major sports and for Olympic sports.

Division 1 team winners were Roberson baseball (over Reynolds baseball and football), HHS Lady Bearcats in soccer, Brevard Lady Blue Devils cross country and Brevard boys’ tennis.

John McNabb (left) and Ann Brandis present the John McNabb Division
I Athlete of the Year Award to Tykel Landrum of Hendersonville High
Sunday night at the 57th WNC Sports Awards Banquet at Omni Grove
Park Inn. Photo by Diana Gates.

Individual D1 winners were Enka wrestler Phil Daub, Roberson volleyball star Abby Krueger, Izaiah Vignali of Reynolds’ boys soccer, and TCR’s Elise Wright in cross country and track.

Landrum won the overall male D1 athlete honor over Reynolds receiver Nate St. Onge and junior quarterback Alex Flinn, TCR Ram Garrett Blaylock in baseball, Daub and Vignali (who graduated early). Anderson won the female award over Krueger, Wright, and HHS Lady Bearcat Eden Hawkins in soccer.

Landrum is WNC’s career receiving yards leader with 4,558. Last year he had 1,913 all-purpose yards with 1,246 in the air, to surpass 1,200 receiving yards for the third year in a row. He peaked with 1,775 (18.5 ypc.) and 23 TDs receiving, in ’16. He shined in the Shrine Bowl win over S.C., as a safety. He made an interception and led everyone with six solo tackles — four in the first half. He made 11 interceptions as a junior.

St. Onge caught 100 passes for 1,115 yards and 12 TDs in ’17. Flinn led WNC by passing for nearly 4,000 (3,972) yards, with 40 TDs and 10 picks. He completed two out of every three passes, and looms as a premier star in 2018.

Kloyee Anderson, who took home the top female award, is hailed as the first softball player ever from this state to sign to play softball for Alabama. The lefty was all-state for all four years. She led the Sugar Jets to state titles in 2015 and ’16, in her first two seasons. She also starred in Enka volleyball.

(L-R) Retired Reynolds High football coach Bobby Poss accepts Hall of
Fame plaque from Mountain Amateur Athletic Club.

Daub, also from Enka, won state titles in the 106-pound class as a freshman wrestler, then 152 pounds in February to wrap up an unbeaten season. He ended in the top three in the state for all four years, and regional champ each time. Daub set WNC career marks in wins (235) and pins (145). The West Palm Beach, Fla. native was 55-1, 58-5, 63-3 then 59-0.

Roberson’s Wright in November became the 10th Lady Ram to win an individual state cross country title since 1986, as the powerhouse squad averages one champ per three years. She won the 3A crown, with a time of 18:13.05.

TCR swimming swept the two student-athlete awards. Reid Arwood beat Asheville tennis’ Zachary Theodossiou and others. Anna Newman won over TCR volleyball’s Emma Binns and others, for the female award.

The 15 scholarship winners included Landrum and HHS kicker Tanner Gilliam, Asheville High’s Izzy Garcia-Perez, ACR’s Corey McVay and Chloe Profitt, Owen’s Kaleb Woods, Carolina Day’s Zaria Joyner, and Mintz.

The smaller D2 battle was a quarterback extravaganza for both overall best male athlete (Trey Robinson of Mountain Heritage), and major sport male won by Mintz.

Enkaʼs Kloyee Anderson accepts the overall Female Player of the Year Award for larger schools. Mountain Amateur Athletic Club board members Ann Brandis and Dr. David Cappiello present award. Photo courtesy of Diane Gates Photography.

Robinson piloted a fierce Heritage rushing attack, as its QB. He led the state in rushing with 3,146 yards, 45 TDs (averaging three per game) and 316 points in 2017. He rushed for 10 yards per bone-crunching carry. He surpassed Owen’s Jager Gardner as WNC’s all-time rusher early last season, and kept advancing far beyond 8,000 ground yards. Robinson will walk on at East Tennessee State, perhaps as a running back or safety.

Robinson was overlooked for the Shrine Bowl. But he beat out Shrine Bowlers Joey Curry of Murphy and Mintz, a fourth dual-threat QB in Ben Young of his nearby rival Mitchell, and basketball standouts Josh Cottrell of Hayesville and Christ School’s Jalen Lecque. Jarrett agreed it was the most “loaded” set of QBs as WNC award finalists in memory. The same five were in the hunt for D2 major-sport male athlete, with Mintz winning that one.

Mintz’s Cherokee was WNC’s lone major-sport state champ, by winning the state 1A football title. The Braves won as D2 major-sport team — ahead of Murphy, Christ School and Heritage football and Heritage and Murphy basketball. Other top D2 teams were Asheville Christian volleyball, Carolina Day girls’ cross country, and Robbinsville wrestling.

Christ School’s track star Kevin Snyder won as best D2 Olympic male athlete. Top D2 female athletes were Murphy’s Jessica Beckner in hoops and volleyball, and Asheville School’s Rachel Kuehn in golf and tennis.

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