Boys’ track champs are 2010’s top sports story

Published 11:03 am Friday, December 31, 2010

STATE TRACK CHAMPIONS, the Bainbridge High School Bearcats happily gather around their trophy at the State Class AAAA meet in Jefferson, Ga.

There were many outstanding sports achievements by current and former Bainbridge and Decatur County athletes during 2010 and they were all considered during our evaluation of the top 10 sports achievements of the year.

They ranged from the Bainbridge High School boys track team winning the Region 1-AAAA and State Class AAAA track championships to former Bainbridge High School Bearcats running back and defensive lineman Ken Rice receiving the highest award the Auburn University athletics department gives to former athletes. Following are the top 10 Bainbridge and Decatur County sports stories of 2010 as rated by The Post-Searchlight.

1. Bearcats track team state champions

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Led by Region 1AAAA and Albany Herald All-Area boys track coach of the year Larry Cosby, the 2010 Region 1AAAA champion Bainbridge High School Bearcats track team won the State Class AAAA championship on Saturday, May 15 in Jefferson. It was the first state track championship in school history. Leading the way for the Bearcats was the 4-by-100-meter relay team of Shawn Samuels, Brandon Handsford, Thomas Smiley and Denzel Reynolds, whose first-place time of 41.31 seconds was the best of the year throughout all Georgia classifications. Second places at the state meet were captured by Denzel Gamble with a 14.41 110-meter hurdles time and a 47 foot, 4.5 inch triple jump. Steve Crowell was fourth in the shotput with a heave 50 feet, 8 inches.

STATE RUNNER-UPS, the Bainbridge High School Lady Cats tennis team gathers around their trophy with their coaches. From left to right are Malori Maxwell, Kelly Brooks, Caroline Rollins, Anna Wells, Kylie McGlincy, Katie Monson, Kelsey Lambert, Kristen Monson, Anne Reynolds, Coach Nicki Shockley and Assistant Coach Tim Thompson.

2. Lady Cats’ tennis team second in state

Coach Nicki Shockley’s Region 1AAAA Bainbridge High School Lady Cats tennis team earned state runner-up honors on Saturday, May 8 in the State Class AAAA Final 4 Tournament at Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro, Ga. The Lady Cats opened Final 4 play with a 3-2 victory over Starr’s Mill High School of Fayette County. Number two singles player Kylie McGlincy won her match 6-1, 6-2 and the number one doubles team of Caroline Rollins and Kristen Monson won their match 6-2, 6-3. Sophomore Anne Reynnolds outlasted her opponent 7-5, 7-6, with a 6-3 tiebreaker, to clinch the victory. After taking a break of only about an hour, the Lady Cats were back out on the court taking on defending champion Marist High School of Atlanta for the state championship. Marist downed the Lady Cats 3-0 to win the state championship.

It was Marist’s ninth state championship in girls tennis since 2000 and their 20th overall.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, the Bainbridge Gymnast-A-Cats display their medals. From left to right, front row, Caroline Middleton, Gabby Hardee, Sarah Kaylee Wynn, McKenna Stegall, Annalee Lockart, Lanie Birdsong and Lucy Sloan; middle row, Haylie Wilkinson, Briana Mills, Emily Perkins, Emily Chambers, Paige Stegall, McKrnzie Findley, Karlie Bridges and Breanna Dean; back row; Sarah Oliver, Macey Roland, Jeri Sloan, Jessie Oliver, Abigail Wilson, Sydney Thompson, Megan Haire and Katie Vann.|Jeff Findley

3.Gymnast-A-Cats win Nationals

Coach Melynda Murkerson’s Bainbridge Gymnast-A-Cats became national champions July 1 through 4 at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., when they captured the first place team championship. The Gymnast-A-Cats were led by Kate Vann, who scored a perfect 10.0 on the vault. She was the only gymnast given a perfect score out of the entire competition, which consisted of 130 gymnasts from around the nation.

A TEAM LEADER, Bainbridge High Scchool Bearcats forward Devon Baulkman goes up to lay in a shot during a 70-37 victory on Feb. 2 against the Americus-Sumter County High School Panthers. Baulkman was the Region 1AAAA player of the year and led the Bearcats to their second straight State Class AAAA Final 4 appearance.|Carol Heard

4. Bearcats make Final Four again

In February, coach Rickey McCullough’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats basketball team, led by Region 1AAAA player of the year Devon Baulkman, won the Region 1AAAA championship and earned a berth in the State Class AAAA Final Four in the Gwinnett Center for a second consecutive year. They earned their berth in the Final 4 with a 56-53 victory over the Glenn Hills High School Spartans at Fort Valley State University. Their season, and 20-game win streak, ended with an opening round heartbreaking 50-46 loss to the Mays High School Raiders from Atlanta. Mays went on do edge the Richmond Academy Muskateers from Augusta 61-60 for the State Class AAAA championship.

NAMED THE TOP GIRLS’ PLAYER in Georgia high school basketball in 2009-2010 by the Atlanta Journal-Constution Alexis Burke comes down with a rebound in the lane during a 69-46 Tuesday, Feb. 2 Region victory over the Americus-Sumter County High School Lady Panthers. Burke was also the Region 1-AAAA Girls Player of the Year.|Carol Heard

5. Alexis Burke state player of the year

Following the 2010 basketball season, Bainbridge High School Lady Cats senior forward Alexis Burke was named State Class AAAA Girls Player of the Year by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Burke, who was also Region 1AAAA player of the year, helped lead coach Latreisha Moon’s Lady Cats to the Region 1AAAA South Sub-Region championship and into the State Class AAAA Tournament. Burke, who averaged 26.3 points and 13.8 rebounds a game in her senior season at BHS, is now a freshman with the University of Illinois Illini.

6. Thomas, Flowers school scoring record setters

In the spring, senior captains Whitney Thomas, who is now playing soccer at Young Harris College, and Leanna Flowers broke school scoring records. Thomas became the all-time leading goal scorer in Bainbridge High School Lady Cats soccer history with 61 goals, 22 of which she scored in the 2010 season. Flowers, who is second in all-time goals with 50, scored 34 this past season, tying the school single season record set by Crystal Roach in 2004.

7. Coach McCullough named to Florida Hall of Fame

Bainbridge High School Bearcats Head Basketball Coach Rickey McCullough, who led his team to the Region 1AAAA championship and the State Class AAAA Final Four while being Region Coach of the Year in each of the past two seasons, was inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) 2010 Court of Legends Hall of Fame Saturday, May 15 in Orlando. Prior to coming to Bainbridge, where he has built an impressive 86-34 record the past four seasons, Coach McCullough coached 31 years in Florida, one at Cottondale High School, three at Liberty County High School in Bristol and 27 at Chipley High School. He completed an outstanding 599-229 record at Chipley, leading his teams to 19 District championships and 15 Regional championships. He led the Chipley boys teams to four Final Fours and the Chipley girls team to one Final Four.

8. Peyton Willis hurls no-hitter, strikes out 11

Senior right hander Peyton Willis hurled a no-hitter Friday night, March 19, striking out 11 and walking just two as Coach Scott Miller’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats defeated the Westside Macon High School Seminoles 6-1 in a Region 1AAAA game at the new BHS field.

9. Pam Martin-Wells makes ladies bass fishing history

Bainbridge angler Pam Martin-Wells made bass fishing history Friday, Saturday and Sunday February 19, 20 and 21 when she, fishing as the only woman in the 50 angler field of the Bassmaster Classic, finished 22nd overall. Competing in the Super Bowl of bass fishing, on Lay Lake in Alabama, Martin-Wells fought cold temperatures and a five-inch first day snow fall to become the first angler to catch a five fish limit on both of the first two days and make it into the final day of tournament competition. She finished 22nd overall with a 15 fish limit weighing 25 pounds. She earned a berth in the Bassmaster Classic by beating out more than 160 other woman anglers to become the champion of the 2009 Women’s Bassmaster Tour.

10. Former Bearcat Ken Rice honored at Auburn

Former Bainbridge High School Bearcats running back and defensive lineman Ken Rice, who went on to earn All-America honors as an offensive lineman at Auburn, received the 2010 Walter Gilbert Award, the highest award the Auburn athletic department gives to former athletes. Rice received the award during halftime of the Saturday, Oct. 23 football game between the Auburn University Tigers and the Louisiana State University Tigers at Auburn’s Jordan-Haire Stadium.

The award is given annually in memory of Gilbert, Auburn’s three time All-America center, who went on to become vice president of Texaco’s European oil operations. Rice, who played under coach Spencer “Onion” Davis with the Bearcats and under Ralph Jordan with the Auburn Tigers, lettered at Auburn from 1958 through 1960. He was also with the Tigers in 1957, when freshmen were eligible to play with the varsity. As a sophomore at Auburn, Rice, who started on the offensive and defensive line, helped lead the Tigers to a 9-0-1 overall record and a 6-0-1 Southeastern Conference record. Following his professional football career, which included stints with the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins, Rice began a career as a contractor and developer. He eventually created Kenneth E. Rice Construction Company, where he currently serves as president and CEO. He has been a major civic contributor to numerous organizations and remains actively involved in the community of Big Canoe, Ga., where he currently resides with his wife, Billie Ann.