The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

May 15, 2013

Coalfield Conference honors its finest athletes

BECKLEY — Over the last 20 years, names like Independence’s Ashley Jackson, Woodrow Wilson’s Doug Legursky, Shady Spring’s Whitney Humphreys, Wyoming East’s Tank Tunstalle and the late Benny Bowles of Oceana have been enshrined forever as Coalfield Conference Impact Athletes of the Year. On Tuesday evening, four more well-deserving prep athletes joined the illustrious ranks.

Class AA’s Laura Hill (PikeView) and Joey Lacek (Liberty) and Class A’s Jessica Brown (Fayetteville) and Zach Bennett (Richwood) were given the honor, as voted on by sports writers, broadcasters, coaches and athletic directors in the region.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has had a finer high school career than Hill. A four-time all-state selection in soccer, Hill was named 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Scholar All-American, the 2012 W. Va. Soccer Coaches Association’s AA Girls Forward of the Year, W.Va. High School Midfielder of the Year and holds the state record for goals scored in a season with 59 and for assists in a season with 34. She was also named the captain of the south squad in the North-South All-star soccer game and was selected for the WV Olympic Development Program.

But through it all, Hill remains humble.

“It’s exciting to be given this award,” a smiling Hill said. “But it was very unexpected.”

She may have been the only one in the room not expecting her to leave with the award. On top of her soccer career, she was also a three-year letter winner in basketball, and on Friday she will compete in the Class AA state track meet in the 4x800, 4x1600 and open 800.  Her 4x800 team is currently undefeated.

“It’s been a good ride,” Hill said. “It’s hard it’s ups and downs. There’s been tears and happiness. It’s taught me some valuable lessons that I can take throughout my life.”

Hill will continue her soccer career in the fall at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Lacek was an intimidating figure at the plate for opposing pitchers. With his wide-open stance and bat on his shoulder, Lacek hit .515 for the season and knocked in 42 runs for the 23-8 Liberty Raiders.  

“It’s just a great honor with all these great athletes here to be recognized,” Lacek said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Lacek will be able to add his Impact Player of the Year award to his ever growing collection. He was named first team all-state honorable mention in football and is a three-time all-stater in baseball.

“It was a great ride. I’m sad that it’s over,” he said. “But I’m taking the next step. I’m looking forward to getting more awards in college.”

Lacek has signed to play baseball at Concord University but is leaving behind a legacy he hopes little brother Jake will follow.

“Jacob’s a great athlete,” Lacek said. “He has a great chance to be here and win this award, too.”

Jessica Brown is no stranger to the Coalfield Conference awards. She was Fayetteville Athlete of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was named first team All-Coalfield in volleyball in 2010 and 2012, in basketball in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and in softball in 2010.

“It makes me feel really proud,” Brown said. “But this is really unexpected.”

Brown was named second team all-state in 2011 for basketball and surpassed 1,000 career points.

“I’m going to miss it,” she added. “There’s nothing that’s going to be comparable to playing.”

Richwood’s Zach Bennett is a man of few words. He prefers to let his work on the field speak itself.

“There were a lot of fun memories,” Bennett said. “A lot of hard work.”

The hard work paid off.

Bennett was first team all-state honorable mention in football and an all-state honorable mention in basketball.

This weekend he’ll be looking to bring home the state championship in track. He qualified first in the region in the 400m, 4x200, shuttle relay and third in long jump.

n n n

Bluefield tennis coaches Cathy Bailey and Cindy Stonestreet were named the Coalfield Conference Coaches of the Year.

— E-mail: jrollins@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 042014 old white Happy birthday to The Old White

    As Greenbrier owner Jim Justice proudly stood behind the podium on the first tee box addressing a crowd at the 100th anniversary of the historic Old White TPC Course, a surprise guest emerged from the bushes by the tennis center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 bubba Watson becoming a West Virginian

    Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was glued to the television a week ago today, watching Bubba Watson try to chase down his second green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 spartans LOCAL ROUNDUP: Spartans win Spring Break Wooden Bat Classic

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • St. Joe’s Lewis named 2014 High School Coach of the Year

    Huntington St. Joseph girls basketball coach Shannon Lewis has made a habit of celebrating success in Charleston over the last few years.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 old white Old White to celebrate 100 years

    The home of The Greenbrier Classic will be having a birthday today, and the celebration should be something special.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mullens, Pineville to meet in Anderson Memorial

    After many years away from the sideline, legendary Mullens High School coach Don Nuckols is returning to the game of basketball.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 D'Antoni Lakers mum on D’Antoni

    Mike D’Antoni was still the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach when he left their training complex to spend the Easter weekend out of town with his family.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 gibby WVU trying to find speed on defense

    Tony Gibson took over as West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator over the winter with the goal of trying not to do too much to rock the boat. As the fourth coach to hold that spot in as many years, the Van native — in his second stint as a Mountaineer assistant — knew that his players needed some stability.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814 Sisler Diamond Classic continues today

    Fayetteville pitcher Kaitlyn Sisler pitched five innings of shutout softball as the Pirates beat Oak Hill 10-0 Wednesday in the Diamond Classic in Fayetteville.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni’s Lakers future still unclear

    With the Los Angeles Lakers season officially over — the Lakers beat the Spurs 113-100 Wednesday but finished 27-55 overall, the most losses in the club’s history and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1957-58 — Marshall fans will be keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Tinsel Town over the coming days.

    April 17, 2014