The sixth annual Knoxville High School Sports Awards, presented by Farm Bureau Health Plans, honored our community's high school athletes. The event was held in-person at the Tennessee Theatre on Thursday night for the first time since 2019.
Here is a list of the award winners.
Baseball player of the year: Dylan Loy, Pigeon Forge
Why chosen: Loy, a Tennessee commitment, helped lead Pigeon Forge to its second consecutive 2A state championship appearance. He was a 2A Mr. Baseball finalist, the District 2-2A Most Valuable Player and the Gatorade Tennessee Baseball Player of the Year. Loy was the Tigers' ace, ending with a 0.59 ERA and 126 strikeouts. He also batted .418 and hit 34 RBIs.
Boys basketball player of the year: Ja'Kobi Gillespie, Greeneville
Why chosen: The Belmont signee led Greeneville to a second consecutive state championship and was named the Class 3A state tournament MVP. He averaged 27.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and three steals. Gillespie was also Class 3A Mr. Basketball.
Girls basketball player of the year: Jennifer Sullivan, Bearden
Why chosen: The Tennessee Tech signee was named Class 4A Miss Basketball and helped lead Bearden to its first state championship. She averaged 15 points, five assists and four rebounds and surpassed 2,000 career points.
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Boys bowler of the year: Tyler Fries, Bearden
Why chosen: Fries placed 17th at the Division I boys state individual tournament, averaging 186.8.
Girls bowler of the year: Hallie Lane, Carter
Why chosen: Lane placed 33rd at the Division I girls state individual tournament, averaging 153. She also helped Carter to the Region 2 championship and an appearance in the team state tournament.
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Boys cross country runner of the year: Keegan Smith, Knoxville Catholic
Why chosen: Smith won the Division II-AA state championship in a time of 15:29.09 and lead Catholic to a fifth-place finish. He set a freshman cross country 5K national record of 14:53.79 at the Southern Showcase on Sept. 18 and was the only freshman to qualify for the Eastbay Nationals.
Girls cross country runner of the year: Andie-Marie Jones, Maryville
Why chosen: The Tennessee signee placed third at the Class AAA state championships with a time of 18:16.20. She ran a season best 17:34.42 at the McCallie Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 25.
Defensive football player of the year: Walter Nolen, Powell
Why chosen: The Texas A&M signee logged 93 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and four forced fumbles. He also scored six rushing touchdowns. Nolen was a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist for Class 5A and helped Powell to its first state championship.
Offensive football player of the year: DeSean Bishop, Karns
Why chosen: Bishop was named Tennessee Titans Mr. Football for Class 5A. He rushed for 34 touchdowns and the second-most single season yards in state history with 3,179. He was just 178 yards short of breaking Jalen Hurd's state record. Bishop also recorded two passing touchdowns, 248 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
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Boys golfer of the year: Carson Kammann, West
Why chosen: Kammann, an ETSU commitment, placed second in the TSSAA Class AA state tournament shooting 8 under. He also placed second at the Region 2-AA tournament, first at the District 3-AA tournament and shot the course record (12 under) at Three Ridges Golf Course.
Girls golfer of the year: Brylee Crouse, Kingston
Why chosen: Crouse shot 12 over to place fifth at the Class A state championships and led Kingston to a third-place finish. She was also the District 5 and Region 2 champion.
Boys lacrosse player of the year: Liam Devlin, Webb
Why chosen: Devlin led Webb in ground balls with 99 in 14 games, the most ever by a Webb player who was not a face-off specialist. He also led the team in forced turnovers with 26 and was the team’s fifth-leading scorer with 20 goals and 11 assists. He was selected to the Division II All-State team.
Girls lacrosse player of the year: Kayla Harrington, Seymour
Why chosen: Harrington led all East Tennessee girls in goals scored with 88 and also logged 17 assists and 41 ground balls. She captained Seymour to a 20-3 record and the second state semifinal appearance in program history. She was selected to the all-region and all-state teams for the second year in a row.
Boys soccer player of the year: Lucas Nordin, Bearden
Why chosen: Nordin helped lead Bearden to its second consecutive Class 3A state championship appearance. The junior forward broke the school record for goals in a season with 38 and also logged nine assists. He was named the Most Valuable Player of District 4-AAA, one of the most competitive districts in the state.
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Girls soccer player of the year: Brinley Murphy, Bearden
Why chosen: The South Carolina commitment recorded 30 goals and 11 assists to help lead Bearden to the Class AAA state title. She was the District 4-AAA and Region 2-AAA MVP.
Softball player of the year: Lauren Brakovec, Farragut
Why chosen: Brakovec, an Anderson signee, was named District 4-4A Player of the Year and helped lead Farragut to back-to-back state championships. She batted .492, scored 42 runs, had 64 RBIs and 12 home runs. She broke Farragut's school record for career home runs with 28.
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Girls swimmer of the year: Julia Burroughs, Maryville
Why chosen: The Tennessee signee won the 200 freestyle at the TISCA State Championships by nearly three seconds in 1:47.68, and she was the only athlete to break 50 seconds in the 100 freestyle, winning in 49.79. Burroughs also anchored the 200 freestyle relay that place second at the state championships.
Boys swimmer of the year: Bennett Greene, homeschool
Why chosen: Greene won the 1-meter dive at the TISCA State Championships for the second year in a row, scoring more than 120 points above the second-place finisher with a 555.45.
Boys tennis player of the year: Preston Johns, Gatlinburg-Pittman
Why chosen: Johns qualified for the Class A state singles tournament for the first time after qualifying for the doubles tournament in 2021. He was eliminated in the semifinals by the eventual state champion. Johns also helped Gatlinburg-Pittman to its first runner-up team finish and was the Highlanders' first singles qualifier since 2004.
Girls tennis player of the year: Maeve Thornton, Knoxville Catholic
Why chosen: Thornton won her second consecutive single state championship in Division II-AA, and she also helped lead the Irish to their second straight team title. Thornton never gave up more than two points in a set in the state tournament.
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Boys track and field athlete of the year: Jaden Stevenson, Greeneville
Why chosen: Stevenson, a Little Rock signee, won the 100, 200 and 400 at the Class AA state championship. He also placed second in long jump. Stevenson is ranked in the top 10 in the state in all three sprints, and his highest ranking is No. 2 in the 200 with a best time of 21.18. He is also tied for No. 2 in the 100 with a best time of 10.52.
Girls track and field athlete of the year: Brooke Taylor, Hardin Valley
Why chosen: Taylor, a Carson-Newman signee, placed second in the long jump and third in the triple jump at the Class AAA state championships. She is ranked No. 3 in the state in long jump with a PR of 18-9 ¼ and No. 4 in triple jump at 37-4¼.
Volleyball player of the year: Devyn Dunn, Knoxville Catholic
Why chosen: Dunn helped lead Catholic to its first state title in Division II and was named MVP of the championship game. She had 737 assists and 61 aces, and added 253 digs and 73 kills. She was also named the the Gatorade Tennessee Volleyball Player of the Year.
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Boys wrestler of the year: Kodiak Cannedy, Greeneville
Why chosen: The Arkansas signee won his fourth straight state title, winning the Class A championship by pinning his opponent in 54 seconds. He finished 32-2.
Girls wrestler of the year: Ella Murphey, Hardin Valley
Why chosen: Murphey won her second consecutive state championship and finished with a 15-0 record.
Girls athlete of the year: Brinley Murphy, Bearden
Why chosen: Murphy helped both the Bearden girls soccer team and girls basketball team to state championships. The South Carolina soccer commitment anchored the soccer team with 30 goals and 11 assists, and she earned minutes throughout Bearden basketball's state title run, scoring in all three tournament games.
Boys athlete of the year: Ja'Kobi Gillespie, Greeneville
Why chosen: Gillespie led Greeneville to its second consecutive basketball state championship and was named the state tournament MVP in Class 3A. The Belmont signee averaged 27.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and three steals. He was also a standout on the Greeneville football team, fielding multiple Power 5 offers and recording 892 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Girls team of the year: Bearden basketball
Why chosen: Bearden won its first state title in program history in its first championship appearance. The Bulldogs beat rival Farragut five times, including in the championship game, and upset eventual national champion Montverde Academy at the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational to finish with a 36-3 record. They lost to just one in-state team, eventual Division II-AA state champion Ensworth.
Boys team of the year: Hardin Valley cross country
Why chosen: Hardin Valley went undefeated against Tennessee opponents, winning every meet except the Great American XC Festival, a national invitational at which they placed third. The top five of Kaden Keller, Nathan Hillis, Isaac Legault, Asa Mazow and Mitchell McCown all placed in the top 30 at the Class AA state championship to win the Hawks’ second consecutive state title. Keller also placed third as an individual.
Coach of the year: Ryan Radcliffe, Bearden soccer
Why chosen: Radcliffe led the Bearden girls soccer team to its first state championship since 2007. The Bulldogs went undefeated with a 23-0-1 record. Radcliffe then led the Bearden boys soccer team to a second consecutive runner-up finish in the 3A state championship. The Bulldogs lost just one regular season game.
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Lifetime Achievement Award: Carol Mitchell, Gibbs softball
Why chosen: Mitchell has one of the most decorated resumes of any softball coach in Tennessee. She has led the Eagles to five state championships, four state runner-up finishes, and has missed the state tournament only twice in 28 seasons as coach. She has 974 career wins and hare first two years coaching the Eagles were the only losing seasons in her career.
Courage Award: Avery Flatford, Farragut softball
Why chosen: Flatford was given a life expectancy of approximately 30 years when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 18 months old. At 18 years old, Flatford is a two-time state champion with Farragut softball and a Tennessee Tech signee. She is believed to be the first Division I softball player with cystic fibrosis. Flatford was named the 2021 and 2022 District 4-4A Pitcher of the Year, and finished the 2022 season with a 1.16 ERA and 267 strikeouts. She ended her high school career with 694 strikeouts.
Academic Award: Quinn Brennan, Knoxville Catholic
Why chosen: Brennan graduated from Knoxville Catholic with a 4.52 GPA. He had straight A's through all four years of high school and only earned one final grade lower than a 97%. He scored a 1520 on his SAT and will attend Notre Dame.
Brennan, who was an All-State soccer selection at Catholic, was also involved in student council and served as an Irish Ambassador for three years. He volunteered at Second Harvest food bank, Family Promise homeless shelter and raised money for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital NICU. Brennan also worked a summer job at Taco Bell to learn about business, which he plans to study in college.
Leadership Award: Gracen Worley, Jefferson County
Why chosen: Worley has held every leadership position in the JROTC at Jefferson County, including the highest cadet rank, battalion commander. She was the captain of the JROTC Academic competition team and of the Vex Robotics team. She was also commander of the Army JROTC Raiders, a military-style athletic team, and led them to the national competition for the first time in school history. Worley was involved in student government and tutored peers in ACT preparation.
Worley also volunteered with local COVID medical clinics, veterans recognition events and Access Life, an organization that supports people with disabilities and their families. She was selected to attend the Summer Leader Experience for the US Military Academy, Naval Academy and Coast Guard Academy. On top of school, athletics and activities, Worley obtained over 35 hours of flight instruction and completed a solo cross-country flight to work towards her private pilot’s license.
Worley was a three-sport athlete at Jefferson County, competing in soccer, swimming and tennis. She graduated with a 4.57 GPA and earned a superscore of 35 on her ACT. She was accepted to all three military service academies and will attend the Air Force Academy.
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eaadams6.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville High School Sports Awards: Meet the 2022 winners