Drew Central honors athletes with Senior All-Sports Banquet

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The Drew Central School District honored the participants of the 2021-22 sports season with the annual All-Sports Banquet held on Tuesday, May 10.

The banquet is designed to honor all athletes that participated at the senior sports center throughout the year.

The banquet started with a dinner for parents, coaches, staff, athletes, and guests followed by opening remarks by head girls’ basketball coach and Athletic Director Michael Goad.

Coach Goad would open the banquet with an overall review of the sports year for Drew Central.

This past season, the Pirates and Lady Pirates produced 32 All-Conference selections, eight All-State selections, and sent eight teams to postseason play.

Drew Central also have several players being looked at to continue their athletic careers at the next level with Aiden Jones having a commitment to Arkansas Baptist for baseball and Antonio Remley having a commitment for football at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Presenting the first awards of the banquet was head tennis coach and girls head softball coach, Becca Greenwood.

For tennis, Nate Cooper was the conference singles champion and was top eight in the state. Drew Central was the 8-3A Conference Champions as well as having the conference doubles champions in Kaleb Love and Michael Herman. All three advanced to the state tournament and won their opening round matches.

Next up was head football coach Matt Gonzales. Despite finishing with an 0-10 record, coach Gonzales is excited for the coming season despite losing some key seniors off this year’s team.

Gonzales announced that assistant and offensive coordinator, Daryl Scott, would be departing Drew Central to take the head coaching position at Mountain Pine.

For the Pirates, there were five players selected to the second team All-Conference with those players being Ashton Kelly, Cade Kling, Parker Cruce, Brayden Millett, and Luke Phillips.

The Pirates also produced two All-Conference First Team selections with Kade Bodiford and Antonio Remley.

Moving on to basketball, head boys’ basketball coach CJ Watson gave an overview of this past season’s accomplishments with the Pirates finishing with an overall record of 20-10 finishing third in conference.

The Pirates were the runners-up in the annual Holiday Classic and were also the runners-up in the 3A Region 4 Tournament after entering the tournament as the fourth seed from the 8-3A. With the runner-up placement, the Pirates qualified for the 3A State tournament for the sixth consecutive season, the only 3A team that has accomplished the feat over that time frame.

The Pirates had four All-Conference selections with Drew Burton, Tralon Miller, Kade Bodiford, and Tristian Butler receiving the honors and Kade Bodiford being selected as an All-State selection and Butler being named to the State Tournament team.

For the Lady Pirates, the team finished with an overall record of 23-11 and went 11-1 in 8-3A Conference play becoming the regular season 8-3A Conference Champions.

The Lady Pirates finished as the Holiday Classic runner-up and were victorious in their opening game of the 3A Region 4 Tournament the Lady Pirates became the first Lady Pirate team to qualify for the 3A State Tournament in four or five seasons.

The Lady Pirates had five All-Conference selections with Hannah Meeks, Jaila Bunn, Gracie Connard, Edriana Hunter, and Kaisa Orr receiving the honors.

Connard would also be selected as an All-State selection. It would be her second All-State selection in her career at Drew Central for basketball.

Sayveona Durden was selected as a part of the 3A All-Tournament team.

Kelsey Jackson and Emily Howard, who coached this season's Drew Central cheer teams came to the podium to announce the cheer participants and to hand out individual awards.

It will be the final season as cheer coach for the two teachers.

Becca Greenwood returned to announce the softball awards. The Lady Pirates were able to advance to the 3A Region 4 Tournament to end the season, it was the first appearance for the Lady Pirates in the tournament in a couple of seasons.

The Lady Pirates had several young ladies receiving All-Conference honors with Zoe Johnson, who was also nominated to the Junior Classic; Bailey Chapman, who recorded 47 hits; Kinnlee Graves, who recorded 34 hits; and Mallory Jackson, who recorded 45 hits.

Gracie Connard was also an All-Conference selection as well as an All-State selection. Connard also received the Golden Spike, Golden Glove and Silver Slugger award after recording 55 hits and striking out 45 batters as a pitcher. Connard was also nominated to the 3A State All-Star team.

Aaron Goad, head baseball coach, was the next presenter, as the Drew Central Pirate baseball team also had an appearance in the 3A Region 4 Tournament and had five All-Conference selections and one All-State selection.

Nate Cooper, Jase Watt, Aiden Jones, and Drew Burton were selected as All-Conference selections. Jones has also committed to Arkansas Baptist to play baseball.

Drew Burton was selected as an All-State selection.

For those players that were selected as All-State selections in any sports category meant that they were selected by the coaches across the state and are only one of four players chosen as an All-State selection in their sport.

In the final showcase of student athletes of the night, the 2022 Drew Central Track and Field were honored.

The Drew Central Track and Field team captured multiple top five finishes in district and in the State Meet. The team also saw top finishes at the Meet of Champions.

On the boy’s side, Aiden Jones placed in the top five in three events during the district championship meet. Jones placed third in the 100-meter dash and second in the 200-meter dash and high jump.

Gabe Butcher had a fifth-place finish at district in the 400-meter dash.

Sam Bostian placed first in the 800-meter run, first in the 1600-meter run, and second in the 3200-meter run.

The Pirates placed fourth in the 4x800 meter relay.

In the girl’s district events, Jaila Bunn placed first in the 100-meter dash, first in the 200-meter dash, and fourth in the high jump.

Edriana Hunter placed third in the 100-meter dash, fourth in the 200-meter dash, and first in the 400-meter dash. Kalyiah Miller placed fifth in the 100 meter and 200-meter dash, and second in the long jump.

Kaisa Orr placed first in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the high jump. Ali Jo Cruce placed first in the 3200-meter run, first in the discus throw, and second in the shot put.

The Lady Pirate relay team placed first in the 4x100 meter and second in the 4x200 and 4x400.

Moving on to the 3A State Meet, Jaila Bunn captured State Championships in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. Edriana Hunter placed fifth in the 400-meter dash.

Drew Central’s relay teams would win a State Championship in the 4x200 meter relay and second in the 4x100 meter relay after finishing first in the prelim race.

Drew Central had 10 runners selected to the All-District team with Kaliyah Miller, Edriana Hunter, Meleri Herman, Ali Jo Cruce, Sayveiona Durden, Aiden Jones, Sam Bostian, Kaisa Orr, and Gabe Butcher.

Also being selected to All-District was Jaila Bunn who concluded her career at Drew Central.

In her career, the senior runner has amassed seven State Championships in the 1x100 meter dash, 1x200 meter dash and as a part of the Drew Central relay team.

Bunn and the relay team also qualified for the Meet of Champions that was held at Russellville High School on Wednesday, May 11.

In the Meet of Champions, Bunn would place third in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the 200-meter dash with the relay team placing 12th in the 4x200 meter relay.

After the announcement of the track awards, Coach Goad would take the podium for the final award presentation of the night, the male and female Student Athletes of the Year also known as Mr. Pirate and Ms. Pirate awards.

The basis of the awards not only involves the athlete’s participation in their prospective sports but also involves their overall performance in the classroom as well as their overall attitude and discipline during the school year.

The award is presented to an outgoing senior each year with the participants being the feature photo on the Drew Central website, www.dcpiratenation.com, for the next school year until the next Mr. and Ms. Pirate are crowned.

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