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Catcher Natalia Kenyatta of Bob Jones High, left, had two hits, an RBI and threw out three base runners attempting to steal to earn the Most Valuable Player honor for the North team in the AHSAA All-Star Week softball game in Montgomery. Photo- AHSAA

Local Athletes Shine At AHSAA All-Star Week Competition

MONTGOMERY- Whether in victory or defeat, the fortunate athletes chosen to partake in the recent AHSAA All-Star Week could be greeted with a lyric borrowed from the 1960’s catalog of music by The Beatles, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.” In reality, the annual eight-sport event held in Montgomery presented no losers as all participants were winners just for being included among the elite rising seniors of high school athletics.

“It was cool to be able to play with those who have never met, but you’re among the best of the best,” said Megan Jarrett of Bob Jones who played on the North volleyball team. “The experience taught me about playing with new people and gain that trust with each other. I really didn’t know how I would react so it was nice to see myself persevere through the experience.”

Samantha Menikheim of Sparkman won the girls portion of the cross country event. She said of the trip to the Capitol City, “The trip was really fun as I got to hang out with many of those runners I race with. The weather was very hot for our race, but all-in-all, it was a great experience.”

Overall, the North dominated the competition against the South winning 10 of the 13 matchups and three of the Most Valuable Player awards were presented to athletes from three of the four local schools with Bob Jones presented with two MVP Awards and Sparkman one. The Patriots winning the prestigious individual awards were Natalia Kenyatta (Softball) and Megan Jarrett (Volleyball) while Samantha Menikheim (cross country) earned the lone MVP award for Sparkman.

Softball

The South scored five runs in the seventh inning of game two to post a 6-5 victory over the North after a 3-3 tie in game one.

In game one, Natalia Kenyatta of Bob Jones was the leadoff hitter and starting catcher as she was 1-2 at the plate and had five putouts. In the second contest between the two squads, Kenyatta was catcher and designated hitter where she had one hit and six putouts. She showed her tremendous skills behind the plate earning Most Valuable Player for the North team. The North led 4-1 heading into the final inning, but the South scored five times to earn the victory and bragging rights until 2024.

Overall, the North holds the lead in the series 29-24-4.

Volleyball

The South closed out the 2023 All-Star Week with a 3-1 win the volleyball competition. The final scores were 13-25, 25-23, 25-8, 25-12 as the North took the opening game only to see the South dominate from that point forward. North MVP Megan Jarrett of Bob Jones had a match-high 15 digs and two assists from the libero position.

“I didn’t expect that honor at all as there were others on our team that played well,” said Jarrett on her MVP Award. “As a libero, the MVP Award is hard to get as some people don’t notice us on the court so this a great honor.”

Despite the loss, the North leads the overall series 15-10.

Cross Country

Local schools had prominent placement in the cross country matchup as both the boys and girls teams from the North came out victors. In the girls, the North posted a 70-84 victory as Samantha Menikheim of Sparkman High took first place with a time of 19:11.91 and earned MVP honors for the winning squad. Emma Bothern of James Clemens finished No. 14 with a time of 21:11.70. In boys, the North carved out an easy 77-113 victory capturing five of the first six spots in the final standings. Cole Robinson of James Clemens was sixth with a time of 16:12.95. His teammate Dylan Dryer was 12th at 17:26.18.

“I was not expecting to win, but I was hoping I would as I trained very hard for this event,” said Menikheim, who has looked at USA, Jacksonville State, Samford and Montevallo as possible colleges after she graduates from Sparkman in 2024. “I had a good race given the heat and humidity at 8:00 a.m. I was wanting to finish under 19 minutes, so I was close. The only thing unusual during the race was at the three-mile mark I slipped on some pine cones and almost fell. I’m so glad I participated as this helped with my college search and got my name out there in front of a lot of colleges.”

The North improved its all-time series lead in both boys and girls to 4-2.

Tennis

The North swept boys and girls tennis titles at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park led by Mountain Brook’s Pippa Roy who has won the AHSAA state championships three years in a row. The North won the boys match 6-3 to improve to 3-1 in the series while the North girls posted an 8-1 victory to up its dominance in the North-South series 4-0.

Local talent for the North included Bhavya Chalasani of James Clemens defeat Kathryn Kirkland of Auburn 6-2, 6-3 to take the No. 3 title. In doubles at No. 3, the team of Kameron Browne of Hillcrest and Jaedyn Martin of Madison Academy took an easy 6-2, 6-3 victory over their opponents.

Golf

The North All-Stars extended their domination in the golf competition in both boys and girls by sweeping the golf matches played at Arrowhead Golf Club in Montgomery. The North boys won 55-35 and the North girls posted a tough 48.5-41.5 victory. Both squads were led by Cory Wright, head coach of the squad and is the head coach of the Bob Jones program.

In the girls close match, the North team of Lauren Sheehy of Bob Jones and Clara Tran of Sparkman teamed to win the final match and secure victory for the North squad by a score of 9.5-8.5 over their South opponents. Overall, the North leads the girls series 3-1, while the North boys are now 4-0 in the annual competition.

Basketball

A short jumper with two seconds remaining lifted the South boys to an 81-79 come-from-behind win in front of a full house at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex. In girls, the South was no match for the North squad as two local players helped the North to an 80-44 dominance victory over the South.

Jamya Griffin of Sparkman was 3-4 from the field and tallied seven points and pulled down a team high six rebounds in just eight minutes of play for the North while Janiyah Bone of Bob Jones played 11 minutes scoring two points making two of two free throws and had two rebounds to help the North to the easy victory. The game’s outcome was never in question as the North opened a 35-17 lead at halftime.

Overall, the North boys lead the series 50-30 and the North girls are on top 23-3.

Baseball

The North squeaked out a win and tie to take the All-Star Doubleheader at Riverwalk Park. In game one, the North opened a 7-3 lead after three innings and never looked back on an 11-4 victory while game two was very close as each team scored five runs apiece and matched in the number of hits with nine each.

The North still has a commanding lead in the series at 24-16-4.

Soccer

The North swept the South in boys and girls at the Folmar Soccer Complex. The North girls won the opening game 3-2 to improve to 18-3-1 in the series and the North boys won the nightcap 5-3 to improve to 14-4-1 in the series.

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