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- C A R E E R ACHIE VEMENT AWARD GANNON WILCUTTS, WESTERN ALBEMARLE, SENIOR SPORTS: CROSS COUNTRY, INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD, OUTDOOR TACK AND FIELD

Western Albemarle’s Gannon Willcutts somehow seems to take everything in stride. He never seems rattled and never too excited, because he competes with a rare joy. No matter where he is -- on the track practicing, on the trail climbing a hill or celebrating a state title -- Willcutts always seems happy, thrilled to take on the next challenge. With the way things have gone at Western, the Princeton-bound senior has every reason to be that happy, especially after capping his career with a senior season that was one for the books. That included a fifth-place finish in the Penn Relays in the 3000 meters, a state championship in the 1600 meters (while in part just trying to get in a fast race in preparation for New Balance nationals) and a region title in the 800 meters just during outdoor track. Before that was an indoor state title double in the 1000 and 1600 as well as individual and team state championships in cross country back in the fall. In a long history of accomplished runners at Western Albemarle, Willcutts stands out in part because of his versatility. He’s won outdoor, indoor and cross country individual championships. No matter

what the season and no matter what the distance, Willcutts always seems to get the job done. Over the last three years, he’s been a fixture on the state cross country scene, breaking through with the individual title this year that helped spark Western to a team championship. He’s also taken care of business in the classroom, opening up the chance to head to one of the Ivy League’s finest institutions. The most memorable moment though may just be one of the first Willcutts created back in the fall of 2013. That year, there were a lot of question marks beyond then-senior Ryan Thomas of Albemarle. There was unknown after unknown in every lineup and one local coach said before the race “don’t worry, some Western kid is about to come out of the woodwork.” It could have been coincidence, but it felt more prophecy when Willcutts came clocking in on the two-mile relay course with the second fastest individual split behind Thomas to lead the Warriors to a win. Willcutts seized the spotlight that day and he hasn’t given it back since, putting together a tremendous career for the Warriors. ✖

- SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR KAREEM JOHNSON, ST. ANNE’S-BELFIELD, SENIOR SPORTS: FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, LACROSSE

Some things speak for themselves. Kareem Johnson played three sports for St. Anne’s-Belfield, as usual. But in 2016, the worst any of those teams finished was in the VISAA final four. Johnson was a big time playmaker at receiver and linebacker for the Saints during football season. He had 793 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns to lead state finalist STAB’s passing attack and he’s sixth all-time in Central Virginia for career receiving yards. On the other side of the ball he was the VISAA Divison 2 player of the year as a linebacker that moved like a free safety. He’ll suit up for William and Mary in football this fall. Just weeks later, Johnson took to the hardwood where the Saints put together their best season since 2008. As a guard, Johnson was a two-way force as well. He averaged 8.5 points and 1.8 assists to go along with 4.3 rebounds and

2.1 steals. Yes, it was the Javin DeLaurier show and for good reason for the Saints on a nightly basis, but Johnson was a pivotal role player and a consistent one at that, allowing DeLaurier to shine as a the featured athlete. The Saints won 20 games and made it to the Division II final four, falling in the semfinals to eventual state champion, Virginia Episcopal. And there’s lacrosse. As a defender, Johnson was goalkeeper Patrick Blake’s best friend. Johnson flew around the field, was a ground ball machine and physical defenseman who did not shy away from contact. And, surprise, the Saints made it to the Division I title game. He was All-VISAA D1. Johnson was a team player in all three sports and his teams won a lot of games. His 2016 was as succesful and well-rounded as any we’ve ever seen in the seven years we’ve been around. ✖

www.scrimmageplay.com :: 08

Volume 7, Issue 19  
Volume 7, Issue 19  
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