Always looking for ways to make our Best of Preps banquet better and to ensure we credit the people who deserve recognition, our sports staff expanded the number of awards to be given this year.
There will be four new awards, and one established award has been renamed to add longtime Brainerd coach Carolyn Jackson's name to Venus Lacy's for outstanding achievement in girls' basketball.
In years past both male and female athletes competed for the same awards in cross country, golf, tennis and track and field, but this year the awards for those sports are broken up to allow both a female and a male athlete to be honored in each. The expanded awards will make a total of 18 award winners to be honored at the Best of Preps banquet Monday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
The Mickey Haddock Award for cross country now will go to the area's top boys' runner, while the new award for girls' cross country is named for former University of Tennessee All-American and NCAA champion Phoebe Wright. She was an all-state honoree during her senior season at Red Bank and her career escalated at UT, where she excelled in the 800-meter run. She was a nine-time All-American and seven-time SEC champion in indoor and outdoor track, and as a Lady Vols senior she became a national champion for a fifth time.
The Jim Phifer golf award will go to the top boys' golfer, while the new award for top area girls' golfer is named for Brooke Pancake. She became the youngest inductee to the Tennessee Women's Golf Hall of Fame at 17 years old based largely on her accomplishments as a prep golfer at Baylor, where she won three individual medalist titles in the Division II state tournament and helped the Lady Raiders win four straight titles.
She continued her stellar career at Alabama, capped by a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCAA tournament that clinched the Crimson Tide's first national championship. She was a finalist for NCAA woman of the year and represented the United States as a member of the Curtis Cup team. Pancake later turned professional and now plays on the LPGA Tour.
The Guerry Award now honors outstanding achievement in boys' tennis, while the Bartlett Award has been added to recognize the area's top girls' tennis player. Like the Guerrys, the Bartlett family has had much success in the Chattanooga area. After 12 seasons of coaching basketball at Carson-Newman, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Florida, Tommy Bartlett was the coach of 1979-90 UTC tennis teams that won 13 Southern Conference championships and three consecutive NCAA Division II women's titles (1983-85), and he finished with 606 wins as a tennis coach.
His daughter-in-law, Sue, was an All-American at UTC in 1978 and more recently has coached Girls Preparatory School to five TSSAA state tennis championships. Her daughter, Claire, was a three-time state champion in Division II-AA tennis and played collegiately at Virginia and Florida.
The John Phillips Award for track and field will go to the top boys' athlete, while the new award to honor the top female track and field performer is named for former Howard All-American LaQuisha Jackson.
Jackson was a nine-time state champion at Howard and never lost an individual race in her prep career. As a freshman, she almost singlehandedly led the Lady Tigers to a team state title by dominating the 100 and 200 with the fastest times in all classifications and rallying two sprint relay teams to first-place finishes. That summer she broke a 29-year-old AAU national record in the 400 despite never having trained for that event.
As a sophomore Jackson broke a 32-year-old TSSAA record in the 200 (23.86 seconds) and also set a record in the 100 (11.46 seconds). Again that season she rallied Howard's two sprint relay teams to state titles from the middle of the pack when she took the baton for the final leg.
Now a freshman at San Diego State University, Jackson won 2013 Mountain West Conference championships in the 100- and 200-meter dashes with personal-best times in each event and also ran the anchor leg for the first-place 4x400 relay team that broke school and conference records.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.