All Sports Award: George Jenkins, All Saints' Academy Excelled This Year
Sun. June 10, 2012 at 4:11 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
George Jenkins' Ashley Lopez, left, goes up for a header near the goal against Ida Baker's Ashleigh Weaver during the FHSAA Class 4A State Girls Soccer Championship game in February. (Photo by SCOTT WHEELER | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER | THE LEDGER
LAKELAND | George Jenkins claimed district titles in seven sports this year and made a dominating run to the state finals in girls' soccer. The Eagles were also county champs in four sports and had four athletes qualify for the state tournament in swimming, diving and track and field.
The achievements came in Diane Werrick's final year as athletic director, a tumultuous one, and were enough for Jenkins to claim the 2012 PolkPreps.com large-school All Sports Award.
"A lot of this award belongs to Diane," said Jestin Bailey, who took over for Werrick after she resigned in early February, "and I'm happy she got to win it in her last year. She was a big part of why we were, and always have been, so successful."
Werrick resigned less than a week after a school clerical error eliminated the boys soccer team from postseason play. Bailey, the school's wrestling coach, took over her spot about two weeks later. Werrick is still at the school as the director of student activities.
It's the second year in a row that Jenkins claimed the title, and seventh in eight years. Werrick was Jenkins' athletic director through all of them.
The Eagles logged 293 points. Winter Haven placed second with 247. Lakeland, which had two regional team champions, one in football and another in girls tennis, came in third with 234 points.
All Saints' Academy had successful seasons across the board, including two teams that made it to the state tournament. The baseball team, carried by pitcher Carson Fulmer, lost in the state semifinals, and the boys tennis squad had a doubles team that was one step away from playing in the state finals in Class 1A. As a result, the Saints finished with 257 points to win the small-school All-Sports Award, 50 points better than second-place Lakeland Christian.
McKeel Academy, district champs in seven sports, finished third with 202 points.
Strong performances were expected for All Saints in baseball and boys' and girls' tennis, but a district title in volleyball was a bit of a surprise.
"It was our first title in volleyball. That was big for us," said Steve Canlon, All Saints' athletic director.
Canlon said maintaining success on and off the field was important, a message he relayed to all his coaches before the 2011-12 school year started.
"We've tried to bring more continuity and cohesiveness to the sports programs, just having some type of vision and have that common theme. I'm very pleased that the coaches, the players and the community have bought into it," he said.
Twelve of Jenkins' teams finished with winning records, including girls soccer, a team ranked as high as No.3 nationally by ESPN at one point in the season. The Eagles, led by Tori Abnathy's 45 goals, only had one loss on the season, and it happened in the state finals.
They got there with a new coach, too.
"We just have a good group of girls and boys and it trickles down," Bailey said. "Good coaching doesn't hurt, that's for sure."
[ Solange Reyner may be reached at 863-802-7526 or firstname.lastname@example.org ]
ALL-SPORTS AWARD STANDINGS
Here are the results for The Ledger’s 2011-12 All-Sports Awards. Scoring system: All schools get five points for participating in a sport. In sports where there is a county tournament, the top five finishers get 10-5-4-3-2 points respectively. Teams then get 10 points for winning a district
championship, five for being the runner up, 10 for being regional champ, five for being runner-up, two for being third or fourth in the region, 10 for a state title and five for being the state runner-up. In individual sports, schools were awarded two points for an athlete advancing to the state meet and five additional points for an individual state championship.