JCM’s female athlete of the year, Dezearé Higgs, was selected for her performance in cheerleading and volleyball. Higgs received the Most Dedicated Cheerleader Award all four years. Higgs was also a member of Beta Club, AVID, and HOSA, and she volunteered at the hospital. She is committed to her studies and made the Principal’s List all four years. For her athletic and academic achievements, Higgs received the Wendy’s High School Heisman award for JCM. Higgs plans to attend either Mississippi State or the University of Alabama in the fall.
JCM’s male athlete of the year, D’Vondre Williamson, played football (defensive end/wide receiver) and basketball (center) for the Cougars. During his junior season, Williamson had 4 interceptions, 61 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 touchdowns. As a senior, he had 8 sacks, 31 tackles, and 5 tackles for loss. On the basketball court, Williamson led his team as co-captain and averaged 13 rebounds, 9 points, 3 blocks, and 1 steal per game. He also had a total of 7 dunks. A member of National Honor Society, Williamson boasts a 3.6 GPA and 25 ACT and received the AKA Scholar Athlete Award. Williamson was recruited by several prestigious colleges and signed a football scholarship with the United States Naval Academy.
Madison’s female athlete of the year, Edie Buchanan, played volleyball and softball. For her accomplishments on the volleyball court, Buchanan received TSWA All-State (’12, ’13), All-West TN Team (’11-’13), All-Region Team (’11-’12), and All-District Team (’11-’13). She was also selected to the TN Athletic Coaches Association (TACA) West Team for the 2014 East-West match. During her volleyball career, Buchanan made 1615 kills, 366 aces, and 164 blocks. She made school history in 2011 as the first team to win in a state tournament match. On the softball field, she had a .361 batting average, .449 OBP, and a slugging percent of .548. Buchanan was a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, International Club, and Beta Club. As a member of the Academic Decathlon team, Buchanan received regional awards in 2013, including 1 gold for Overall Team, 3 bronzes, and 3 coppers. She received state medals as well, including 3 golds, 4 silvers, and 2 bronzes. Buchanan boasts a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend Austin Peay State.
Madison’s male athlete of the year, Nathan Combs, ran cross country and track. Combs was Madison’s Wendy’s High School Heisman winner, and he was honored in sports at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s 75th Annual Celebration Day. He placed top 15 at the Dresden County meet and top 20 at the Obion County meet. His best 1-mile record is 5:17 and best 2-mile is 11:50. Combs ran his best 5k at the South Regional Foot Locker Cross Country Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 18:15. His best 800 meter is 2:20. Combs was a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Peer Tutoring, the Forensics/Debate team, Beta Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Combs has accumulated nearly 90 hours of community service and was selected to attend Boy’s State. He boasts a 4.0 GPA and 32 ACT and ranks sixth of 112 students in his class.
Liberty’s female athlete of the year, Alana Denise Byrd, played softball, basketball, and soccer throughout her high school career. She currently serves as team captain of the soccer team. Byrd has earned many athletic recognitions and awards, including Jackson Sun’s West TN Girls Soccer Defender of the Year, TN Sports Writers Association All-State Team (soccer), TN High School Soccer Association All-State Team, District 15 A-AA Defensive Most Valuable Player (soccer), All-District Team 9th-11th grade (softball), and Region 8 All-Tournament Team (soccer). Byrd was the leading scorer for the fall 2013 soccer season. She led the softball team in hits and runs her 10th and 11th grade years and pitched two shut-out, no hitters. Byrd not only excels athletically, but academically as well. She currently has a 3.92 GPA and plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at Tennessee Technological University.
Liberty’s male athlete of the year, Avondre Dijion Cross, played football all four years for the Crusaders. Cross has been a top performer on Liberty’s football team with over 100 tackles and 9 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He was selected to the first All-District Team for two years. Cross’s determination and dedication extends off of the field through his service to the community and his school. He has volunteered at a local middle school and actively participates in the Enlightened Males Program through Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Cross has a 3.43 GPA and plans to continue his education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he will major in nursing.
JCS’s female athlete of the year, Hailey Hickerson, played basketball all four years and ran cross country and track for two years. Hickerson received many awards for her basketball accomplishments, including Defensive Player of the Year (’12-’13), Hustle Award (’11-’12), and District Honorable Mention (’11-’12). Both her cross country and basketball teamwere regional champions for the 2012-13 season. She led in rebounds her junior year with 135 rebounds (5.9 average per game). Her senior season, she had 95 rebounds, 33 steals, and 63 assists. She placed top 15 multiple times at cross country meets. Outside of sports, Hickerson was on the Homecoming Court her sophomore and senior years and was a member of SGA, chorus, National Honor Society, and Math Club. She led as an Interact Officer/Representative 10th-12th grade and attended the HOBY Leadership Conference. Hickerson boasts a 3.94 GPA and plans to attend Harding University to pursue a nursing degree.
JCS’s male athlete of the year, Matthew Harlan, played basketball and baseball all four years. Harlan was a two-year starter for the basketball team and served as co-captain his senior year. He was selected as Best Defender in 2013. A four-year baseball starter, Harlan helped lead the Eagles to a 32-12 record and a final four state tournament appearance in 2013. He led the team in stolen bases and had a .295 batting average. Harlan received the baseball Eagle Award in 2013 for outstanding academic, athletic, character, and leadership performance both on the field and in the classroom. Harlan served on the Student Council his junior year and currently serves as Student Council President. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Interact Club. As a Math Club member, Harlan represented JCS four years in the Math Competition at Dyersburg State Community College. Harlan is an active member in the Englewood Baptist Church youth group. He boasts a 4.3 GPA and plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he will major in animal sciences.
North Side’s female athlete of the year, Norma Barahona, played soccer, basketball, and softball. She received the National Sojourner’s award and was named Honorable Mention All-West Soccer Team and MVP her freshman year. As a four-year starter, Barahona had 3 goals and 12 assists freshman year, 5 goals and 10 assists sophomore year, and 6 goals and 12 assists junior year. Her best season was during her senior year with 14 goals and 7 assists. She also holds the rank of captain in the Junior ROTC. Barahona was selected into the North Side Hall of Fame Senior Who’s Who, and she was named by the Young Scholars Academy as most likely to succeed in college. Barahona will graduate with honors and received the Tennessee Technology Scholars Award.
North Side’s male athlete of the year, Derrick Lane, played baseball for two years. Lane served as team captain his senior year and won the team’s 42 Award, given to a player who shows perseverance throughout the season. As a junior, Lane led the team in homeruns with 5 and was second on the team for runs batted in with 26. Lane is a member of the NAACP Youth and College Division, National Society of Black Engineers, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and St. Andrew A.M.E Church’s youth group. Lane has a 3.9 GPA and aspires to be a biomedical engineer and professional baseball player.
South Side’s female athlete of the year, Jessica Neff, shined on the volleyball court as a four-year starter. She was named to the All-District Team three years, All-Region Team two years, and Jackson Sun All-West TN Team in 2014. She was also recognized as the 2014 District 14 AA Player of the Year and was selected to play in the 2014 TN Athletic Coaches Association (TACA) East-West All Star match. Neff maintains a 3.42 GPA and looks forward to continuing her education in college.
South Side’s male athlete of the year, Mason Taylor, succeeded on the football and baseball field. During his football career, Taylor had 13 receptions, 1 touchdown, 42 solo tackles, 15 assists, 7 tackles for a loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, and 2 pass deflections. On the baseball field, Taylor’s batting average was .341, and he led the team in RBIs. He was named 2013 District 14 AA Co-MVP. Taylor ranks 12th in his class of 176 and boasts a 3.92 GPA. Taylor is currently undecided on where he will attend college.
Trinity’s female athlete of the year, Kayce Stovall, led the Lady Lions soccer team as goal keeper. During her career, Stovall had 411 saves, 13 goals, 8 assists, and ended her senior year with 6 shutouts. Stovall was named All-State Goal Keeper in 2013 by the Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association (THSSCA), All-District (’10-’13), Jackson Sun All-West TN Team (’12 and ’13), and Goal Keeper of the Year. She’s also a member of the Tennessee 96 Olympic Development team. In addition to playing for TCA, Stovall played for the Jackson Wolves travel team that won the state title in 2013 and were 2012 and 2013 Region III President’s Cup semifinalists. Stovall plans to continue her soccer career and education at Cumberland University.
Trinity’s male athlete of the year, Chase Diggs, excelled as both a football and baseball player. On the football field, Diggs had 51 catches, 87 yards, and 10 touchdowns in 2013; 52 catches, 946 yards, and 14 touchdowns in 2012; and 28 catches, 453 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 2011. He’s a two-time All-State Wide Receiver (’12 and ’13), three-time All-District (’11-’13), two-time Jackson Sun All-West TN Team WR (’12 and ’13), and three-time Academic All-District (’11-’13). As a baseball player, Diggs had a 370 batting average and pitched a no hitter and perfect game back-to-back in 2013. He was named All-District in 2013. A National Honor Society member, Diggs boasts a 4.2 GPA and ranks in the top ten percent of his class.
USJ’s female athlete of the year, Haley Hall, succeeded in basketball, softball, volleyball, and cross country. Hall garnered many awards, including Division II-A All-State Softball (10th), All-West TN Softball (10th), All-District Softball (9th-11th), All-West TN Softball Honorable Mention (9th and 11th), All-District Basketball (10th and 11th), All-Region Basketball (10th and 11th), and All-District Basketball Honorable Mention (12th). She also received several USJ awards—Coaches Award Basketball (11th), Co-MVP Basketball (10th), Most Charges (9th), and Cross Country Most Improved (10th). Hall’s career batting average is .400, and she scored 945 total points during her basketball career. Off the field and court, Hall was Yearbook Editor her junior and senior year, Vice President of her senior class, Homecoming Queen, and a member of the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta. Hall plans to attend the University of Alabama on a Presidential Scholarship and Engineering Leadership Scholarship.
USJ’s male athlete of the year, Austin Orr, excelled in football, basketball, and baseball. For his accomplishments on the football field, Orr was recognized as All-State Football (11th and 12th), All-District (11th and 12th), Jackson Sun All-West TN Football Team (11th and 12th), and 2013 Football District Offensive Player of the Year. He was also selected to play in the West TN All Star football game. During his football career, Orr had 98 receptions with an average of 15 yards per reception, 26 touchdowns, and a 102-yard interception for a touchdown. In 2012, Orr was the short stop for the state champion baseball team. Off the field, Orr served as Speaker of the Honors Council, President of Spanish Club, USJ Student Ambassador, and Junior Rotarian. He was a member of Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, and National Honor Society. Orr’s classmates elected him as Mr. USJ. Orr boasts a 4.2 GPA and plans to attend Union University to play baseball.