Trophy Shop Athlete of the Week – Ben Koff (Buchholz)
*Koff pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts to lead the Bobcats to a 3-2 win over host Fletcher (Neptune Beach) and advance to the Class 7A-District 3 championship game. He improved to 8-1 on the mound. Then, in the final, Koff hit a three-run homer and added an RBI double as Buchholz defeated Fleming Island (Orange Park), 5-3, to win the district title. It was the fourth homer of the season for the senior.
April 13 – Sophia Papa (Gainesville)
Papa won a 3A state title at No. 4 singles with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 win over Katie Markham of Barron Collier (Naples). Her three points, coupled with Lauren McCains’ three points for winning a state title at No. 3 singles, accounted for six of the Lady Hurricanes eight points, which was one better than Barron Collier, as the GHS girls finished in third place at the state tournament.
April 6 – Leah Markowitz (Buchholz)
Trailing 3-1 at regionals, it all came down to the last singles match and the two doubles matches for the Lady Bobcats, who were seeking their first trip to the state tournament in 30 years. Markowitz won her singles match at No. 5, and Buchholz swept both doubles to stun Spruce Creek (Port Orange), 4-3. The freshman’s victory not only helped advanced the Lady ‘Cats to state but they also snapped a 0-for-7 streak against the Hawks coming into the match.
March 30 – Lauren McCain (Gainesville)
McCain overcame what head coach Tracey Bryant called a “devastating sprained ankle” two weeks prior to win the No. 3 singles final over Fleming Island’s Kourtney Thomas in straight sets at the district tournament. Gainesville swept all seven finals matchups to win the Class 3A-District 3 title. McCain would end up winning a state title at No. 3 singles on Tuesday, April 14th, helping lead the Lady ‘Canes to a 3rd-place finish overall at the state tournament. She defeated Natalia Vuckovic of Bradenton Lakewood Ranch, 6-4, 6-0.
March 23 – Finn Swanson (Buchholz)
Swanson had five goals and two assists as Buchholz (13-1) defeated Lincoln (Tallahassee), 15-6, on Saturday. The junior, who scored 91 points in 2014, is on the midfield for the Bobcats, who are currently ranked top 10 in the state and No. 22 nationally according to MaxPreps.
March 16 – Molly Brisendine (Williston)
The senior pitcher threw seven innings allowing no earned runs on three hits with five strikeouts as Williston defeated Eastside (Gainesville), 14-3. At the plate, she went 5-for-5 with three RBI’s. Brisendine also picked up the win in the circle against St. Francis Catholic and Union County as part of a 3-0 week. Against the Wolves she pitched six shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out six and went 2-for-4 at the plate with 3 RBI’s in a 10-0 win. In a 6-5 win against Union County, Brisendine went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI’s. She finished the week 9-for-13 at the plate.
March 9 – Katie Chronister (Gainesville)
Chronister went 3-0 in the circle for the week as the Class 6A No. 2 Lady Hurricanes posted wins against Suwanee (Live Oak), Middleburg and Lecanto. In a 9-0 win against Middleburg on Thursday, the junior pitcher threw a complete-game no hitter, allowing just one walk while striking out 10. The following night, she was also one out from a perfect game in a 3-0 win at Lecanto. Chronister finished the week with 28 strikeouts in 21 innings.
March 2 – Ashtin Strickland (Santa Fe)
The Florida Atlantic University signee dominated at the plate and in the circle as the Raiders went 5-0 during the week. Strickland went 5-0 with a no-hitter, gave up no earned runs, posted 49 strikeouts and surrendered only six hits in 26.1 innings as Santa Fe (10-2) moved back in the Class 4A state rankings at No. 10. The senior went 11-for-17 at the plate with two doubles, three home runs, six RBI’s and four runs in wins against Buchholz (Gainesville), Dixie County (Cross City), Lake Gibson (Lakeland), Union County (Lake Butler) and Ponte Vedra.
February 23 – Logan Blaser (Oak Hall)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro signee rallied to defeat P.K. Yonge ace Brandon Stewart, 9-7, in what head coach John Dickinson described as “one of the best tennis matches I have seen in 30 years.” Later in the week he defeated Trinity Catholic’s (Ocala) J.D. Taylor to improve to 6-0 on the season.
February 16 – Montayvious McKinnon (Hawthorne)
With his team facing elimination in the Class 1A state playoffs, the senior took over in overtime to help lead Hawthorne to its second FHSAA Final Four in the past three years. Hamilton County had a five point lead with a little over a minute to play, but McKinnon hit a 3-pointer to bring his team within two, then he hit a game-tying three with 40 seconds to go as Hawthorne (27-2) rallied for a 64-61 win. The senior, who finished with 19 points, added 11 points in a regional semifinal win against Lafayette (Mayo) earlier in the week.
February 9 – Kiarah Mallory (P.K. Yonge)
Mallory led all scorers with 27 points in a 64-53 win at South Sumter (Bushnell) in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs. The senior point guard added six assists and five steals as the Lady Blue Wave advanced to the regional final. Despite a season-ending 60-32 loss to Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) in the Region 2-4A Final, Mallory, one of two seniors for the Blue Wave, led the team with nine points.
February 2 – Jonathan Horodyski (Buchholz)
With its leading scorer ejected from the game, the junior caught fire in the second half, scoring all 18 of his points after half time, as Buchholz (15-10) rallied from a 3-point deficit at the break to defeat host Fletcher (Neptune Beach), 72-66, in the 7A-District 3 championship game. Horodyski hit four 3s and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line, all in the fourth quarter. He helped lead the ‘Cats to the championship game by scoring 12 points in the semifinals as Buchholz defeated Fleming Island (Orange Park), 59-29. He was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line in the tournament and finished with seven made shots behind the arc.
January 26 – Janiah McKay (Gainesville)
McKay had a game-high 25 points and six assists as Gainesville won its fifth consecutive Class 6A-District 2 title with a 60-50 win over Oakleaf (Orange Park) in the district championship game. The Auburn signee had 20 points and seven rebounds in a 66-22 win over Middleburg in the district semifinals that clinched a spot in the postseason for the Lady Hurricanes.
January 19 – Tyler Miller-Jones (Eastside)
Miller-Jones had a hat trick in the first half and scored a total of four goals in leading the Eastside boys’ soccer team to an 8-2 win over Keystone Heights in the Class 2A-District 5 championship. The senior also scored a goal in a 3-1 win over Crescent City in the district semifinals and had a pair of goals against Newberry in the quarterfinals for the Rams, who moved to #1 in the MaxPreps Class 2A state rankings.
January 12 – Kim Melton (Santa Fe)
Melton had a big week for the Class 2A-District 5 girls’ soccer champions. On Monday, the sophomore scored five goals in an 8-0 win over Crescent City in the Lady Raiders’ first match of the district tournament. In the semifinals on Thursday, she had a hat trick in an 8-0 win over Keystone Heights. Then, on Friday night, Melton scored the only goal of the game in the district championship. Her second half goal gave the Raiders a 1-0 win over Eastside and home field advantage for the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs this Thursday, January 22.
January 5 – Mike Nobles (Eastside)
Nobles had back-to-back double-doubles as he led the Eastside boys’ basketball team to a 2-0 week. The senior had 10 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and a steal for Eastside in a 66-42 win over Bradford (Starke) on Friday. Then, on Saturday, he posted 17 points, 10 rebounds and a blocked shot in an 88-57 district win against North Marion (Citra).
December 8 – Ike Smith (Gainesville)
The senior helped lead the GHS boys’ basketball team (7-1) to a 3-0 week with wins against Oakleaf (Orange Park), Columbia (Lake City) and Suwannee (Live Oak). In the win against Columbia, Smith scored 40 points, going 11-of-15 from the free-throw line and adding seven rebounds. Against Suwannee, he finished with 26 points and hit the game-winning shot with four seconds to play.
December 1 – Brook Burns (Hawthorne)
Burns scored 69 points, grabbed 36 rebounds and blocked 12 shots in three games for the Lady Hornets’ basketball team. The senior forward had 16 points and 13 rebounds in a 53-41 loss to 4A Atlantic (Port Orange).
November 24 – Denzel Washington (Live Oak Suwannee)
The senior ran for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Bulldogs (12-1) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999 with a 37-0 win over Lakewood (St. Pete) in the FHSAA Class 5A state playoffs. Washington, who scored on a 61-yard run in the first half, had eight runs of 10 or more yards and four carries for 20 or more.
November 17 – Quade Locke (Dixie County)
Locke made big plays on the defensive side of the football as the Bears advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight season in Class 1A with a 50-37 victory over Union County (Lake Butler) in the regional finals. The senior middle linebacker had 15 tackles with five assists and two interceptions, including a 95-yard pick-six. He was part of a defense that finished with five sacks and four interceptions.
November 10 – Sammy Mueller (P.K. Yonge)
The junior setter had the final point of the season, which ended with a 3-0 sweep of Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale) in the 4A state title game, as P.K. Yonge (30-2) won its first state volleyball title since 2002. Mueller saved her best for last as she finished with seven kills, six digs and 27 assists in the state championship match. She had 33 assists in a 3-0 sweep of Pensacola Catholic in the state semifinals.
November 3 – Alena Kraus (Gainesville)
The freshman helped GHS to a fourth-place finish at the Class 3A state swim meet in Stuart. Kraus won her first state title by winning the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:49.81. She also finished third in the 100 free (51.05). Kraus set a school record in both events.
October 27 – Kirschtine Balbuena (Eastside)
The freshman won both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the Class 2A-District 4 swim meet to help the Lady Rams win their first district title since 2009 (when Eastside won state). Balbuena set the school record with a time of 57.77 in the backstroke, which would have placed her in the top eight at state last year. Both of her times earned her the top seed at the regional meet.
October 20 – Caysaun Wakeley (Santa Fe)
Despite falling in triple overtime at North Marion last Friday night that ended Santa Fe’s postseason hopes, Wakeley was a big reason the Raiders were close in a 35-28 loss. The junior outside linebacker recorded 14 tackles, had one sack and added two tackles for a loss. On offense, Wakeley finished with five carries for 20 yards rushing, plus both touchdowns for the Raiders (5-3) in overtime on two 4-yard scoring runs.
October 13 – Ahmad Ivey (Gainesville)
Ivey had a big night as the Hurricanes defeated Vanguard (Ocala), 36-29, in a key Class 6A-District 5 game. The senior had a pair of TDs, returned a kickoff 82 yards for a score and had the game-winning interception in the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 18.2 seconds left. Ivey, who leads the state with an average of 45.1 yards per kick return, also finished with 77 yards rushing on only 12 carries, including a 20-yard reverse on a 3rd-and-7 to keep the ‘Canes game-winning drive alive in the fourth quarter.
October 6 – Coby Weiss (Buchholz)
Weiss drilled a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift Buchholz to a 23-20 win over Gainesville, which snapped the Bobcats’ five-year losing streak to their rival. The sophomore, who made three on the night, had made a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
September 29 – Monroe Thornton III (St. Francis Catholic)
Thornton returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown, just after Oak Hall had scored the first touchdown of the game, and it gave the Wolves the spark they needed in a 49-14 win over their rival. The junior finished with 181 all-purpose yards as St. Francis won its third consecutive game for the first time in three years. Thornton had scoring runs of 31 and 10 yards and also had eight tackles on defense.
September 22 – Courtney Chappell (P.K. Yonge)
Chappell had 18 kills, 45 digs, 33 service points, six aces and four blocks in four games for the Blue Wave. The senior helped lead the Blue Wave volleyball team to a 4-0 week with wins against defending 5A state champion Bishop Moore (Orlando), 7A Tallahassee Leon, 7A Lake Nona, a regional finalist in 2013, and 2013 3A state runners-up The First Academy (Orlando).
September 15 – Antwan Durn (Union County)
Durn broke current Buffalo RB C.J. Spiller’s school record with seven touchdowns as the Tigers (4-0) defeated Interlachen, 59-0. The junior ran for 204 yards on 15 carries and also had one reception for 30 yards.
September 8 – Julian Robinson (Dixie County)
In a match-up of the top two teams in the state in Class 1A, Robinson rose to the occasion and ran for 316 yards on 28 carries and four TDs as the Bears snapped the Tigers’ 22-game home winning streak with a 48-25 win. The junior, who has an area leading 727 yards rushing, had scoring runs of 63, 52, 50 and 32 yards.
September 1 – Charles Strong (P.K. Yonge)
In his varsity debut, the freshman ran for a game-high 119 yards and a score. Strong, who averaged 9.9 yards per carry, helped lead the Blue Wave to their first 1-0 start since 2011 with a 35-0 win at Bell.
August 25 – Caelan Christian (Gainesville)
Despite a 44-43 loss in overtime to state-ranked Columbia (Lake City), Christian had a career game for the Hurricanes. The junior completed 28-of-38 for 317 yards and three touchdowns, along with a rushing score, as the ‘Canes amassed 531 yards of total offense. Christian connected with seven different receivers on the night, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dock Luckie in overtime.
The Trophy Shop Athlete-of-the-Week is presented by State Farm Agent Mark McGriff of Gainesville. For more information on auto, life and health insurance, call Mark at 352-372-8406. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.