As 2003 comes to a close, I look back at some of the performances turned in by our Columbia County athletes and I'm in awe. Whether it was soccer, baseball, track and field, softball or tennis, Columbia County teams made noise throughout the state.
When teams contend for state crowns, usually individual honors follow. So my task of choosing the top individual performers and performances of the 2003 calendar year was difficult, to say the least. But here it goes:
1. Rebekah and Sarah Madebach (Augusta Christian Schools, track and field): The Madebachs combined for three region and three state titles. Sarah also won the cross country state championship. The twins also are excellent students. I could write five columns just listing their accomplishments (10, if I included their club accolades).
2. Jordan Belcher (Augusta Christian, baseball): Belcher's numbers speak for themselves. As a senior he batted .579 with 18 homers and 46 RBIs. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and is now playing in their farm system.
3. Kristen Glover (Greenbrier High School, softball): Although only a junior, Glover has established herself as one of the county's most decorated athletes. This season she led Greenbrier to a third-place state finish by winning an astonishing 31 games! She was virtually unhittable.
4. Eric Marshall (Greenbrier High, basketball): You must understand that had this award been for 2002-2003, Marshall would have been in the top spot. However, he played only a couple of months into 2003, and part of that time included an ankle injury. Marshall was tremendous.
5. Eugene Rogers (Greenbrier, football): Rogers was brilliant in 2003 for coach Mickey Derrick. His numbers are impressive, but they only scratch the surface for what Rogers meant to the Wolfpack. Whether it was on offense (42 receptions for more than 700 yards) or defense (one of the team's top tacklers) or returns (the county's best on punts or kicks), Rogers was spectacular - and he's only a junior.
6. Cole Rabun (Augusta Christian, football and track): Not only did Rabun accumulate more than 3,000 career rushing yards for the Lions, but he also captured second in the 200-meter and helped the Lions to a state title in the 400-meter relay.
7. Matt Scott (Lakeside High School, basketball): Scott wrapped up his junior season averaging 26 points per game, and his summer was spectacular. He made the all-star game at 5-Star Camp. He also is off to a nice start this season.
8. Scott Wandless (Greenbrier, baseball): Wandless had a huge junior season for the Pack. At the plate he hit .471 with eight doubles and 28 RBIs, while he was even better on the mound, going 9-3 with a 2.19 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 77 innings.
9. Meredith Weare (Evans High School, softball): Weare is an outstanding student-athlete. She throws nearly 70 mph. She was a first-team all-state performer in softball. She also starts for the basketball team and is one of the top student-athletes in the state.
10. Taylar Stallings (Evans, track and field) and Tesha Thurmond (Greenbrier, track and field): Stallings and Thurmond each captured state championships in the discus in 2003, and Stallings finished second in the shot put.
Stallings is now performing at South Florida, while Thurmond is a senior at Greenbrier.
11. Clayton Boardman (Augusta Preparatory School, golf): Boardman was only a freshman last spring when his 66 (-6 under) led Augusta Prep to the state title at Stonebridge Country Club. It's hard to ignore that kind of performance.
12: Toya Coard (Lakeside, basketball): Coard had a tremendous career at Lakeside. She averaged 19 points per game as a senior and was named all state.
One to grow on: Rich Poythress (Greenbrier, basketball and baseball): I had to mention Poythress. Although just a freshman, last spring, he established himself as one of the area's premiere hitters. With his size (6-foot-2 1/2 and 200 pounds) and ability, the sky is the limit. Also, Poythress is a pretty good basketball player. He has the potential to go down as one of the county's all-time greats.
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