By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Athlete of the Week: West Hall's LeNiesha Kearse
Placeholder Image

Honor roll

Soccer

Rebecca Webster, Gainesville: 11 saves in goal, including three penalty kicks in a win over Oconee County

Edgar Espinoza, Gainesville: A shutout in goal in a win over Oconee County.

Idalia Avelar, West Hall: Three goals in a win over Monroe Area.

Ryan Marcano, Riverside: Three goals in a win over Lakeview.

Victor Salcido, Riverside: A shutout in goal in a win over Lakeview.

Luis Teran, Flowery Branch: Recorded 15 saves and a shutout in a win over Habersham Central.

Saul Lopez, East Hall: Two goals and three assists in a win over Union County.

Lauren Dunn, Flowery Branch: Recorded nine saves and a shutout in a win over Apalachee.

Baseball

Tyler Cole, Jefferson: Hit a grand slam in a win over North Oconee.

Logan Conley, Flowery Branch: Hit a home run in a win over Habersham Central and another in a win over Cedar Shoals.

Drew Miles, Flowery Branch: Hit a home run and had two RBIs in a win over Habersham Central and hit a second home run in a win over Cedar Shoals.

Tyler Hellmeister, Banks County: Went 3 for 5 with a double and three RBIs in a win over Rabun County.

Taylor Foster, Banks County: Allowed two hits and struck out 10 in a win over Rabun County, and added a pinch-hit, two-run double to tie the second game of the doubleheader.

Brenton Ruark, Banks County: Went 4 for 4 with two doubles, one triple, two runs scored and two RBIs in a win over Rabun County.

A.J. Benefield, Johnson: Pitched a complete-game win with 10 strikeouts and drove in the winning runs against Walnut Grove; went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI in a loss to Lumpkin County.

Trae Wilson, Johnson: Went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double in a loss to Lumpkin County.

David Gonzalez, Gainesville: Allowed just two hits with eight strikeouts and no earned runs to record the win over Monroe Area.

Caleb Whitenton, Gainesville: Went 2 for 2 with a home run and two RBIs in a win over Monroe Area.

Hunter Anglin, Gainesville: Went 2 for 3 with five RBIs in a win over Monroe Area; added a home run and two RBIs in a win over Stephens County.

Michael Gettys, Gainesville: Had two hits and one RBI, and added eight strikeouts on the mound to record the win over Stephens County.

Dylan Lee, White County: Pitched a complete-game win with six strikeouts and went 2 for 3 with a home run against Stephens County.

Kevin Alexander, White County: Went 4 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs in a win over Monroe Area.

Jesse Tallent, Jackson County: Hit a home run and went 2 for 4 in a win over East Jackson.

Quinn Grogan, Jackson County: Hit a grand slam and earned the win on the mound against East Jackson.

Chase Dunlap, Jackson County: Went 2 for 3 with a double and four RBIs in a win over East Jackson.

Zack Mize, North Hall: Went 2 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs in a win over Franklin County; added a home run in a win over Lanier.

Preston Graham, North Hall: Pitched a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts in a win over Lanier.

Colton Duttweiler, North Hall: Went 3 for 3 with three RBIs in a win over Lanier.

Jarrett Huge, Lakeview: Hit a three-run home run in a win over Social Circle.

Harrison Styles, Lakeview: Earned the win on the mound and hit a home run in a win over Social Circle.

Tennis

Connor McMorrow, Gainesville: Won 8-0 at No. 1 singles in a win over Walnut Grove.

Graham McKinnon/Jake Maddox, Gainesville: No. 1 doubles team won 8-0 in a win over Walnut Grove.

Brinkley Frankum, Gainesville: Won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles in a win over West Hall.

Grant Hocker/Will Kellemeyer, Lakeview: No. 1 doubles team won 6-0, 6-0 in a win over Towns County.

Golf

Andy Bracewell, North Hall: Scored a 36 against Lumpkin County.

Hunter Young, North Hall: Scored a 37 against Lumpkin County.

Austin Booker, Lumpkin County: Scored a 37 against North Hall.

Morgan Reece, Gainesville: Scored a 38 in a tri-match win over North Hall and Lumpkin County.

Madeline Harr, Gainesville: Scored a 39 in a tri-match win over North Hall and Lumpkin County.

Track and field

Maia Booker, West Hall: Wins in the 100-and 200-meter dashes at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Austin Eckenroth, Flowery Branch: Won the pole vault at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Katherine Randolph, Flowery Branch: Won the long jump at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Luis Gonzalez, North Hall: Won the 1600-meter run at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Tucker LoCicero, North Hall: Won the 3200-meter run at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Victoria Rogers, North Hall: Won the 3200-meter run at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Tanisha Somnerour, Habersham Central: Won the shot put at the Battle at the Branch Invitational.

Compiled by Zac Taylor

 

West Hall junior LeNiesha Kearse was already gliding over hurdles when she first set foot on the Lady Spartans track and field team as a freshman.

She ran in middle school and continues to run in an AAU program in her home state of Florida in the offseason, and has done nationals every year.

“I knew what I was getting from the middle school; she was already a phenom,” West Hall coach Cindy Herford said. “That’s what she came to me loving to do, that’s just her thing.

“In the hurdles her form is flawless, she never misses a hurdle.”

Triple jump, on the other hand, is an event that she hadn’t done since middle school until her coach needed her late last season.

Now Kearse is quickly becoming one of the top triple jumpers in the area, to go along with her excellence in the 100 and 300 hurdles, not to mention her abilities as a member of both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

“She’s just such an athlete,” Herford said. “I could put her anywhere and she’d do well.”

Last Friday night the junior put it all on display at the Battle at the Branch Invitational track meet at Flowery Branch, winning both hurdle events and the triple jump with ease, and helping the Lady Spartans relay teams to a fourth-place finish in an 18-team field.

For her efforts, Kearse is The Times Athlete of the Week.

Just about the only thing Kearse hasn’t yet done as a high school star is win state, something that no West Hall girls track and field athlete has done since Herford arrived in 2001.

This season, the Lady Spartans have two athletes taking a run at a state title. Sophomore Maia Booker finished in the top three in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes last year, and Kearse finished third in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore.

“My goal is first in state,” Kearse said.

“We’re hoping for it,” her coach added.

They probably won’t find any doubters among the participants or fans who watched Kearse blow by the field to win both the hurdles events on Friday, winning the 100 with over two seconds to spare and the 300 with nearly as much.

The 14.89-second time in the 100 and 47.7 in the 300 were her top runs of the year, but not her overall personal records. Last Friday was actually the first time she had done both events since tweaking her knee while hurdling earlier in the season.

“That was her best times of the year,” Herford said. “So I think she’s over it now.”

The coach is hoping her star athlete peaks in time to defend her region titles and then possibly grab that elusive state title.

It would be yet another accomplishment for an athlete who remembered liking the idea of hurdling from the moment she saw her other teammates try it years before.

“Back then I wasn’t able to do hurdles until (age) 11,” Kearse said. “But I watched my older teammates do it, and it looked like fun.”

She said her best event is the 100 hurdles, and her ability has colleges inquiring, her coach said.

If this season has proved anything, however, it’s that Kearse is much more than just a short-distance hurdler. At Flowery Branch she won the triple jump at 34 feet, 4.5 inches, over a foot further than second place.

"She only did it a few times last year,” Herford said of Kearse’s newest event. “She’s certainly improved on that this year.”

Regional events