The spring semester of 2020 will be one area high school seniors never forget.
The life they were used to living came to an end because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools closed in March. Social distancing and other guidelines meant that the Class of 2020 would not have a spring sports season, prom or traditional graduation ceremony.
Amid all the abnormality and cancellations, The Richmond Times-Dispatch/Sports Backers Scholar-Athlete of the Year joint venture has pressed on, thanks to online nomination forms, Zoom, and willingness by activities directors, guidance counselors, student-athletes and parents to work from home and make it happen.
One boy and one girl from the 20 finalists (10 boys and 10 girls) will follow in the footsteps of Corvell Poag of Armstrong and Molly Grube of Manchester, last year’s winners of the program’s top scholarships.
Chris Barfield Jr., L.C. Bird
Matthew Birken, Deep Run
Erik Engelke, Steward
Darius Gray, John Marshall
Malcolm Greene, Highland Springs
Simeone Holmes, Cosby
Luke Lamberson, James River
Gabriel Slate, Benedictine
Connor Speidell, Douglas Freeman
Walker Wallace, St. Christopher’s
Jailah Channer, St. Catherine’s
Rachel Crytser, Hanover
Emma Grace Ficara, Clover Hill
Samantha Finnegan, Maggie Walker
Bailey Hairfield, Cosby
Mary Caroline Heinen, Maggie Walker
Courtney Isley, J.R. Tucker
Megan Mann, Lee-Davis
Willa Shannon, St. Catherine’s
Sydney Whiting, Trinity Episcopal
The finalists were chosen during a Zoom meeting by a 10-member panel representing The Times-Dispatch and Sports Backers. The 20 were selected from a pool of 91 seniors who were nominated by their school or were Scholar-Athlete of the Month winners.
The annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year banquet and awards ceremony at The Jefferson Hotel has been modified. Instead, tune in to Richmond.com at 7 p.m. on June 1, when the finalists will be recognized during a special video presentation.
Scholarships this year total $58,500. The boys and girls overall winners receive $5,750 scholarships. The runners-up receive $3,500 scholarships and the other 16 finalists receive $2,500 each. Since the T-D/Sports Backers partnership began 29 years ago, 580 scholar-athletes have received $1,236,500 in scholarship money.
Last year, Poag became the first Scholar-Athlete of the Year from a Richmond Public School since Sean Archer from Thomas Jefferson was selected in 1993. Darius Gray, the valedictorian at Franklin Military Academy who runs track at John Marshall, is in the running this year.
The Sports Backers will present two need-based scholarships ($2,500 each) for the third year. Eric Thomas-Talley of John Marshall will receive the Raymond D. Patterson Memorial Scholarship. Lyndsay Corrigan of Colonial Heights will receive the Cheryl L. Oliver Memorial Scholarship.
Each high school in the T-D’s primary circulation area was given the opportunity to nominate one senior girl and one senior boy for the award.
The Scholar-Athlete of the Month program was halted when schools were closed in March. Only one of the monthly winners from September to February, swimmer Sydney Whiting of Trinity Episcopal, was the school’s year-end nominee.
Three finalists, Simeone Holmes from Cosby, Mary Caroline Heinen of Maggie Walker and Willa Shannon of St. Catherine’s, were Scholar-Athlete of the Month winners and not year-end nominees.
Three schools have two finalists: St. Catherine’s, Maggie Walker (two females) and Cosby (a male and female). Walker Wallace of St. Christopher’s is a co-valedictorian. Wallace’s brother, Fleet, was a runner-up four years ago. Holmes (wrestling), Heinen (cross country and track) and Jailah Channer (track and volleyball) of St. Catherine’s were named All-Metro athletes of the year.
The finalists’ sports are far ranging: football, cross country and track, wrestling, swimming, lacrosse, gymnastics and tennis.
The school nominees for Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be featured in a two-page presentation in The Times-Dispatch on Sunday, May 31.
Also during the June 1 program, Williams Mullen will present the second Community Impact Award.
Congratulations to Chandler Eddleton, Collegiate on her 3rd Team All-Metro selection.
The following athletes have achieved all Metro in the following categories, congratulations to all!!!
55 Meter Dash - Jailah Channer STC
55 Meter Hurdles - Willa Shannon STC
300 - Willa Shannon STC
500 - Archer Gurkin STC
1000 - Regan Gilman VER
1600 - Mary Kehoe - SGHS
Long Jump - Jailah Channer STC
High Jump - Jailah Channer STC
Pole Vault - Lauren Lucy COL
Ashley D'Ambrosia COL
4 x 200 STC
4 x 400 STC
4 x 800 STC
Girls: Jailah Channer
School: St. Catherine’s
The skinny: Channer is a multi-event athlete who claimed top three finishes in all of her events at the VISAA state championship meet. She scored 44.5 points at the state meet, placing in the 55m dash (1st), high jump (1st), long jump (1st), triple jump (3rd), and 300m dash (3rd). Channer also achieved two personal records at that meet in the 55m dash (7.31) and the 300m dash (42.19). Channer also claimed several top two finishes at the LIS Championship. She finished the meet placing in the 55m dash (1st), high jump (1st), long jump (1st), and 300m dash (2nd).
Best advice you’ve been given: “Don’t be afraid of competing. You can’t compete scared, you have to go out there and do your own thing.” – Coach Derrhyl Duncan
On the day of the VISAA championship meet, Jailah Channer gave herself a pep talk to get through the meet. She knew she could finish top three in some events, but was worried about the others.
She reminded herself that she could do it, and that she could put together all the hard work her coaches were telling her to make it happen.
That afternoon, Channer scored 44.5 of St. Catherine’s 162.5 points, helping the team earn its fourth consecutive state title.
Channer said that if she could describe the season in one word it would be “eventful.”
“It was everything I could’ve asked for in my last season,” said the senior. “It had its ups, it had its downs, but I think overall, because of those things, it just made it into the perfect season I wanted it to end as.”
Last year, Channer was coming off of an injury, and was pushing to get back to top form. The determination showed this year, as she improved in all of her events.
“Honestly, just the fact that it was my last year, I wanted to make sure that I ended the season accomplishing much as I could," she said.
Channer was motivated to reach a variety of goals: setting new personal records, winning at the LIS meet and helping St. Catherine's to a state title - she accomplished all three.
She finished in the top three of all of her state championship events and top two at the conference meet. Channer was also able to post personal records in the 55m dash and the 300m dash at the state meet.
Her 4x200 relay team was able to break the school record at the St. Christopher’s Indoor Track and Field Invitational with a time of 1:48.24. Channer refers to that event as her favorite moment of the season.
“It was such an amazing feeling because none of us was expecting to break the record,” said Channer. “It wasn’t until the last leg that we came across the finish line and it was like, wow, we really just broke the record.”
At that meet, Channer also finished third in the high jump and fourth in the long jump.
After high school, Channer will continue her academic and athletic career at VCU. She will be competing as a multi-event athlete focusing on sprints and jumps.
March 23, 2020
Heads of School and Athletic Administrators
As a result of Governor Northam’s decision to close all public and private schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) will not sanction any championships for the spring 2020 season. Richard H. Kemper Jr., CMAA Executive Director Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association
Over the last 48 our schools have taken steps to keep our students, teachers, administrators and families safe with regards to the COVID-19 virus.
Collegiate, St. Anne's-Belfield, St. Catherine's, Saint Gertrude, Trinity, and St. Margaret's have suspended all on-campus learning, activites and travel from March 13th through April 3rd. At this time Norfolk Academy will be closed on Monday March 16th. Veritas School will be meeting on Monday to see what their are their next steps.
For full information for each school please click on the links below:
St. Anne's - Belfield
Statement from VISAA Executive Director Dick Kemper, CMAAInformation and Resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As this situation is fluid we will continue to post updates from our member schools and VISAA
With the current news of confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Virginia, we have started to receive questions from some schools about the potential impact on VISAA regular and postseason competition. In addition, we are aware of a false communication sent to at least one coach at a VISAA member school that was picked up by various media outlets. The purpose of this memorandum is to address the questions we have received and to provide practical information and guidelines to our member institutions to help keep participants, personnel, and spectators safe and informed.
Click here for full letter
Good luck to all who are trying out for our spring sports teams today. Can't wait to highlight all of your successes this upcoming season.
What a great weekend to be an LIS athlete, our participates proudly carried the banner. Congratulations to St. Catherine's on winning both the Indoor Track & Swimming/Diving Championships.
In addition to St. Catherine's, we had a total of 5 Teams in the top 20 in Swimming & Diving. LIS also is proud to announce that Sydney Whiting '20 TES was female swimmer of the meet. Collegiate and St. Catherine's won the Spirit awards.
Two state records were broken this weekend:
Girls 100 Free - Sydney Whiting, Trinity Episcopal
Girls 200 Free - Kayla Wilson, Norfolk Academy
Indoor Track was also a great success for our athletes, in addition to St. Catherine's winning the title we had six teams in the top 20.
Jaliah Channer (STC) was the top point scorer along with #2 Sydney Beverly (NA), #4 Willa Shannon (STC), #6 Lilly Hall (COL), #7 Archer Gurkin (STC), and tied for 8th Ashley D''Ambrosia (COL) & Regan Gilman (VER). Well done ladies.
Congratulations on amazing seasons to all.
The semifinals are set for Tuesday both games will tip at 5:00 pm. STAB will host Trinity and Saint Gertrude's will host Collegiate. Good luck to all.