Athletes wrap up with awards and college commitments

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Dan Finnerty

The Western North Carolina Sports Awards Banquet is slated for May 19 at Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, where it has been held annually for more than 35 years. The Mountain Amateur Athletic Club (MAAC) will conduct the event, which started in 1959.

Award finalists are chosen by the MAAC for athletic performance from the 2023 spring sports season through the 2024 winter sports season. Franklin High School (FHS) will be well represented this year at the banquet. Award finalists on this year’s invite list include the following, with specific nomination categories to be announced:

  • Individual – Tori Ensley (softball); and Boston Stringer, Elijah Cochran, Logan Russo, and Barrett Stork (track).
  • Scholarship – Avery Moffitt (softball); Hope Smith and Aaron Jennings (track); and Laura and Lydia Holland (tennis).
  • Team – 2023 FHS women’s tennis, men’s outdoor track and field, and women’s outdoor track and field.

Seniors signing on with colleges

In all, 11 FHS seniors have signed on with various colleges this school year for athletic scholarships. On Dec. 1, Avery Moffitt committed to North Georgia on a softball scholarship. Following her, Hope Smith signed on with Gardner Webb for track January 11; Malachi Hayes and Abram Apel both decided to attend N.C. Wesleyan – Surry Community College for baseball and had their ceremony Jan. 25. 

FRANKLIN HIGH School Swim Coaches Dwain and Dina Picou pose with Claire Ballard at her college signing ceremony, May 1, in the Panther Den. Claire is one of 11 FHS seniors to receive a college athletic scholarship this year.

Bree Carver agreed to attend Montreat College on a softball scholarship Feb. 12 while track standout Logan Russo signed on at UNC-Asheville for both track and cross-country Feb. 28. 

Gabe Nickerson continued college commitments March 6 when he signed on to N.C. Wesleyan College for football, followed by Jacob Gibson committing to City College of San Francisco, Calif., March 15 to play football. Natalie Claire Ballard held her ceremony April 25, when she agreed to attend Roanoke College in Virginia on a swimming scholarship. 

Boston Stringer committed to the College of Charleston in South Carolina May 1 to compete in track. On May 10, Elijah Cochran will round out the list when he signs on to compete in the track and field program at Western Carolina University.