(January 8, 2015) – In an effort to better recognize student-athletes in Loudoun County who positively affect high school athletics in the area, the LoCoSports team has selected its November-December 2015 Athletes of the Month for basketball, cross country, football, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball and wrestling.
The selections were made from nominations based on the following criteria: success, hustle, work ethic, attitude and heart.
If you wish to nominate a student-athlete for athlete or teammate of the month, please reach out through our contact form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Owen Gotimer
Just a month into the 2015-2016 swim season, Briar Woods High School junior Camryn Barry has risen to the top of the watch list among swimmers in Loudoun County. In December – in great part due to Barry’s raw talent and work ethic – the Falcons finished 6-0 with an average margin of victory of over 100 points.
“Camryn is tremendously gifted with natural athletic talent; however, this only takes her so far. She has a very strong work ethic and puts the time in training to build upon her natural gifts,” Briar Woods head coach Eric Bateman said. “She also has the mental fortitude and competitive drive required of an elite athlete. Her infectious smile and positive attitude are also a welcome addition to the Briar Woods swim team.”
On top of her leadership qualities, Barry has dominated the waters in girls swimming in LoCo this winter. In all six individual events Barry had competed in, she had secured a top-four LoCo Top Time among all of the swimmers in Loudoun County as of Jan. 1:
- No. 1 in the 50-yard freestyle (24.56)
- No. 1 in the 100-yard freestyle (53.42)
- No. 2 in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.25)
- No. 2 in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.06)
- No. 4 in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.39)
Barry has also helped the Falcons secure the LoCo Top Times in the 200-yard medley relay and 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
“Camryn is an amazing talent. She is an incredibly versatile swimmer able to achieve great success no matter the event she is entered in,” Bateman said. “Even with a bevy of talented girls who have come through Briar Woods, Camryn has already set four school records in the 50 and 100 free, 200 IM and 100 back. She has also achieved numerous state cut times in individual events and has helped our girls team qualify in all three relays.”
After winning 13 straight matches including four in November to start the postseason, the Stone Bridge High School volleyball team – and senior hitter Ashlyn Dunlop – faced their first hiccup in their state championship journey when the Lady Bulldogs fell to Potomac Falls High School in the VHSL 5A North region championship on November 14.
“Being at VCU on the court three times really made me want [to win the state championship]even more because I know what it feels like to lose there, and I was not going to let that happen again,” Dunlop said.
The loss in the region championship and two years of falling just short of the VHSL 5A state championship was enough to fuel the Stone Bridge fire as Dunlop led the Bulldogs to the program’s first ever state championship over Potomac Falls on November 21 in Richmond.
“It feels amazing because this is something that I’ve wanted for so long. I’m so glad that I was a part of this,” Dunlop said. “As seniors, and it being our last year ever playing high school volleyball, we all wanted to win a state title. We knew that it was our year.”
Dunlop had a stellar senior season which included committing to Division I Hampton University and earning first team Conference 14, VHSL 5A North region, VHSL 5A state and Cheers and LoCoSports All-LoCo honors.
By Owen Gotimer
One of only five VHSL student-athletes to ever repeat as cross country state champion three times, Loudoun Valley High School senior Drew Hunter continued to add to his track sheet in November and December 2015.
On November 12, Hunter committed to run cross country and track for the nationally-ranked Oregon Ducks, just 24 hours before he dominated the VHSL 4A state championship – after winning the VHSL 3A state championship in 2013 and 2014. In route to his individual victory, he also helped the Viking boys to their first ever VHSL team state championship in cross country.
On November 16, Hunter was unanimously named the Cheers and LoCoSports All-LoCo boys cross country athlete of the year for the second straight year after which he was voted the viewers’ choice for the LoCo Athlete of the Fall across all sports.
On December 12, Hunter – along with Heritage High School junior Weini Kelati – flew across the country to San Diego where the LoCo duo swept the boys and girls Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships.
By Spencer DuPuis
On December 18 and 19, Enes Karaslaan and the Freedom wrestling team won the 2015 LCPS Championships. Karaslaan beat Potomac Falls’ Owen Bolyard in the final of the 285-pound weight class.
“Enes is the anchor of our lineup and a very strong one at that. We have counted on him in multiple matches to come out with wins, and he answers the call every time,” Freedom head coach Greg Northart said. “His ability to use his hips properly and be quick on his feet allows him to succeed on the wrestling mat. He also has put a lot of work into his mat wrestling which helps him immensely during his matches.”
Not only has Karaslaan’s impact been felt on the mat, it has also been felt by being able to lighten up situation with his teammates with some laughs.
“He also has a positive impact on our team in that he serves as the comedic relief person for our team,” Northart said. “The season can be a grind and hard to get through at times with our tough training sessions, long runs and early mornings, but he is always the jokester in our room and lightens the mood.”
By Owen Gotimer
In three of their first four meets of the season, the Woodgrove High School gymnastics team – headlined by junior Sarah Snare – finished first including wins at the Loudoun Valley quint on December 2, the Park View quint on December 8 and the Heritage quint on December 15.
The December 15 meet at Heritage featured three of the county’s top gymnastics programs – in Freedom, John Champe and Woodgrove – yet Snare had little trouble earning the all-around title pushing past teammate Andie Matthews and Freedom gymnast’s Sydney Stotka and Cara Fragala.
“You have made a wise choice in picking Sarah [as athlete of the month]. She is a standout student-athlete,” Woodgrove head coach Margie Barnes said. “She displays the ideal leadership any coach would love to have. Sarah is consistent. She is always positive, always respectful and always works hard.”
Snare and the Lady Wolverines are back in action on January 7 when they host Loudoun Valley, Park View, Riverside and Rock Ridge in Purcellville.
By Owen Gotimer
Looking up at the scoreboard as the final seconds ticked off the clock in a 42-19 loss to Tuscarora on October 23, then-injured Stone Bridge High School senior quarterback Joe Thompson knew that even with a current top-8 VHSL 5A North region playoff ranking, the postseason would be an uphill battle for his 4-4 Bulldogs. But as the postseason started and Thompson shook of the rust, the Bulldogs’ uphill battle took a seemingly surprising turn as teams started chasing Stone Bridge rather than the other way around.
On November 20, No. 5 Stone Bridge travelled across Ashburn to play the No. 4 Broad Run Spartans in a VHSL 5A North region quarterfinal. While Thompson scored only once in the decisive, 35-10 upset victory, his 100-yard rushing game meant the Bulldogs were back in business.
After rattling off four straight wins, Stone Bridge had the daunting task of travelling to No. 1 Massaponax, but a 6-point Panther lead heading into the fourth quarter was not enough as Thompson rallied the troops to win their fifth straight game and knock off the VHSL 5A North region’s top team.
But Thompson’s battle was not over as he travelled back to Fortune Field in Leesburg in an attempt to avenge his team’s loss earlier in the season. The UNC-Charlotte-commit made up for his missed game against the Huskies on October 23, as he scored six touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to the VHSL 5A North region championship and a berth into the VHSL 5A state championship game.
Thompson and the Bulldogs finally met their match in the VHSL 5A state title game – as the nationally-ranked Highland Springs Springers won their first state crown since 1961 – but Thompson’s leadership helped to rally – what many thought to be – a struggling Stone Bridge football program to a 10-5 record and a VHSL 5A state second place finish in 2015.
By Spencer DuPuis
Nominated by Amy Perkins
On December 30, Loudoun County High School sophomore Natalie Villaflor — along with the Lady Raiders — beat CD Hylton in the final of the Oakton Holiday Tournament, 58-27. Villaflor would drop a team-leading 19 points in the victory to put a bow on the team’s eight win, one loss month.
“Natalie has had a great impact on our team and culture from day one. Those who attend our games can see her obvious talent, but she plays and practices with the joy of someone who really loves the game, and that positive approach on a daily basis is just as impressive. Nobody has more fun playing basketball than Natalie,” Loudoun County head coach Derek Fisher said. “Her dedication to the game and commitment to being a great teammate have been a huge part of the Raiders’ success. At all times her focus is on doing anything to help the team win. She’s not motivated by individual awards, achievements or praise. Her motivation is always about the quality of her next performance.”
“She’s shown tremendous improvement already this year in her individual defense, rebounding and passing. Natalie has tremendous natural ability, great speed and off the charts basketball instincts. But it’s her work ethic that has really been the main factor for her success,” Fisher said. “Natalie is always in the gym improving her skills; she’s put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to be the great player she is. While there’s always room for improvement, she’s already strong in all areas of the game, and she keeps getting better. Natalie is a special talent and has a strong desire to keep improving.”