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Area athletes, teams excelled across the board
Richmond Hills Hailey Rey gets past an Ola defender during a Class AAAAA soccer state-tourney game in April. The Lady Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight and had a 19-1 record. - photo by News file photo

From soccer to softball to football, athletes in Bryan County shined in virtually every season in 2015.

Here is a look back at some of the year’s sports highlights:

• The Richmond Hill wrestling team took third place in the Area 3-AAAAA duals tournament at RHHS. Caleb Branham, Trent Higginbotham, Colin Crawford and Derek Tucker each went unbeaten for the Wildcats.
• Richmond Hill High School’s Justin Henle signed with Darton State to play baseball.
• In the third-annual Resolution Runz, Brendan Vasher won the men’s division, while Katie Langridge won the women’s division.
• Melinda Myers of Bryan County signed with East Georgia State College to play softball.
• Former Richmond Hill point guard Andy Sharpe picked up his 200th win as a college coach when the Southern Arkansas men’s basketball team beat Champion Baptist 81-42 on Jan. 15 in Magnolia, Arkansas.
• Richmond Hill’s Caleb Branham won the 285-pound title at the Area 3-AAAAA traditional wrestling tournament at Camden County. He was one of nine Wildcats to advance to the state Class AAAAA East Sectional tourney.

• Matt LeZotte was named the new head football coach at Richmond Hill.
• Richmond Hill soccer star Sh’Nia Gordon signed a letter of intent to join the West Virginia women’s soccer program.
• Five RHHS football players signed with to play with colleges: Ronnie Harris, Charleston Southern; Pierce Lewis and Thomas Lewis, Valdosta State; Austin Berisford, Brevard; and A.J. Vandegrift, Limestone.
• The Bryan County boys’ basketball team earned a bye in the Region 2-AA tournament with the No. 2 seed, ensuring the Redskins a state-tourney berth.
• Seven Richmond Hill wrestlers placed in the top 10 of their respective weight classes at the state Class AAAAA tournament in Macon. Caleb Branham had the top RHHS placing, finishing second at 285 pounds.
• Jasmine Marquez of Richmond Hill signed a letter of intent to play college at Point University.
• The Bryan County boys’ basketball team won the consolation game in the Region 2-AA tournament. Meanwhile, the seasons ended in region-tourney play for the Richmond Hill boys’ and girls’ teams and the Bryan County girls’ team.

• Georgia Southern men’s basketball coach Mark Byington was named the Whack Hyder Georgia College Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
• Chris Vozab was fired as women’s coach at Georgia Southern. She had a 23-68 record in three years at GSU.
• Colin Dragon of the South Bryan County Recreation Department earned his second state wrestling title at the Georgia Youth State Championships in Atlanta. The South Bryan team finished 11th out of 112 teams.
• Four athletes from Elite Martial Arts placed at a taekwondo national qualifier near Atlanta.: Kyle Rushing, second-degree black belt, second place; Charles Smith, orange belt, second place; Gavin Johnson, red belt, third place; and Logan Scott, purple belt, third place.
• The Georgia Southern men’s basketball team came up just short of an NCAA Tournament bid when the Eagles lost 38-36 to Georgia State in the Sun Belt Tournament championship game in New Orleans.
• The South Bryan County Recreation Department 8U boys’ basketball team won the Georgia Parks and Recreation Association Class A title.
• The Bryan County boys’ basketball team fell in the first round of the Class AA tourney by losing 84-70 to Early County in Blakely.

• The Georgia High School Association State Executive Committee adopted a new concussions policy that allowed no more than three practices a week with full contact on no more than two straight days or for more than 30 minutes a day or 90 minutes a week.
• Three Richmond Hill football players signed with colleges: Caleb Branham, Shorter; Hayden Gorsuch, Kentucky Christian; and Johnathan Hartley, North Carolina Wesleyan.
• Bryan County finished third at the Region 2-AA boys’ and girls’ track and field championships at Southeast Bulloch.
• Richmond Hill midfielder Casey Qua signed to play soccer with Brenau.
• The Richmond Hill baseball team won its second Region 3-AAAAA title in three years with an 8-0 win over Camden County.
• Allen Cartwright was named the new head football coach at Bryan County. He previously coached at Claxton and Windsor Forest, compiling a 127-137 record in
10 seasons.
• Richmond Hill left fielder Caroline Williams signed a letter of intent to play softball at East Georgia State.

• Richmond Hill was swept by Northgate in the first round of the Class AAAAA state baseball tournament.
• Former Bryan County softball standout Tiffany Howard was named to the All-Southeastern Conference second team and all-defensive first team after a stellar season at Auburn.
• Richmond Hill opened its new rubberized-surface running track.
• Bryan County’s A.J. Simmons signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Gordon State.• The Richmond Hill girls’ soccer team’s great season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to North Atlanta in the Class AAAAA state-tourney quarterfinals. The Lady Wildcats ended the season with a 19-1 record and made the Elite Eight for the third time in four seasons.
• Richmond Hill alumnus Shaquille Walker finished second in the 800-meter run and anchored Brigham Young University’s second-place 4x
400 relay team at the NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas, to qualify for the national outdoor meet in both events.
• Auburn was eliminated from the Women’s College World Series. Bryan County alumna and Auburn star Tiffany Howard was named third-team All-American.

• Richmond Hill pitcher Chandler Newman was selected by Cleveland in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
• Bray Emerine of the Richmond Hill Elite Wrestling Club won all three style divisions in his weight class at the USA Wrestling
2015 Georgia state tournaments. He also took first place in two divisions at the USA Wrestling Southeast Regional in Atlanta.
• Brigham Young’s Sha-quille Walker, a Richmond Hill graduate, finished fifth in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He also anchored BYU’s fifth-place men’s 4x400 relay team.
• The South Bryan County Recreation 8U and 14U all-star baseball teams each took first place in their divisions at the Georgia Recreation
and Park Association District 2 tourneys in Richmond Hill.

• Former Richmond Hill High School and Lincoln Memorial University basketball standout Lorenza Ross announced he had signed a contract to play professionally in Switzerland.
• Richmond Hill alumnus Shaquille Walker earned the gold medal in the 800-meter run running for the United States at the World University Games in South Korea.
• Jonathan Argyle finished first overall in the Red Hot Chili Pepper 5K in Richmond Hill.
• Sarah Edwards of Bryan County won the Matt Warren Memorial Championship golf tourney in Savannah.

• Bryan County lost to Metter 16-0 to spoil the first game for new BCHS head football coach Allen Cartwright.

• Richmond Hill got a resounding 58-0 win over Johnson in Richmond Hill in the regular-season debut of new head football coach Matt LeZotte.
• In his first game as the starting quarterback at The Citadel, Richmond Hill alumnus Dominique Allen had 81 yards rushing and two touchdowns and was 5-for-5 passing for 67 yards and a score in the Bulldogs’ 69-0 win over Davidson in Charleston, South Carolina.
• Bryan County got its first win under new head football coach Allen Cartwright by beating Groves 27-12 in Garden City.
• The Richmond Hill competition cheerleading squad won the Class 5A, grand-champion and junior-varsity titles at the Coastal Georgia Cheer Classic at Effingham County.

• The Richmond Hill softball team won the Region 3-AAAAA title and eventually made the Sweet 16 round of the Class AAAAA state tournament before losing to Dalton in a best-of-three series.
• The Bryan County softball team reached the Final Four of the Class AA state tourney in Columbus before dropping a 3-1 contest to eventual state-champion Gordon Lee.
• The Richmond Hill cross-country boys’ and girls’ teams each won their divisions at the Region 3-AAAAA meet in Richmond Hill.

• Richmond Hill ended the football season with a 3-
7 record after losing 53-14 to Liberty County in the Wildcats’ season finale.
• Richmond Hill’s Jennifer Thorpe finished ninth overall and teammate Daryn Lane Petite was 20th at the Class AAAAA state cross-country meet in Carrollton.
• Bryan County’s football season ended with a 35-0 loss at Screven County in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
• Eight local athletes signed to compete in sports at the collegiate level: Brooke Barfield, Bryan County softball, Georgia Tech; Samantha Mault and Natalie Corbin, Richmond Hill softball, Armstrong; Jordyn Gulle, Richmond Hill swimming, Georgia; Kyle Luigs, Richmond Hill baseball, North Georgia; Layton Harrell, Bryan County softball, Shorter; Will and Rachael Hammesfahr, Richmond Hill cross-country, Augusta University.
• Richmond Hill’s Samantha Mault was named the Region 3-AAAAA softball pitcher of the year.
• The Georgia High School Association announced its proposed region realignments for the 2016-17 school year. Richmond Hill will go into Region 2 of Class AAAAAA, while Bryan County will stay in Region
2 in Class AA.
• The Citadel, with Richmond Hill native Dominique Allen starting at quarterback, made it to the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs before losing 14-6 to Charleston Southern. The Bulldogs ended the season 9-4.

• The Bryan County boys’ basketball team won two of the three overtime games it played in the span of five days in early season action.
• Georgia Southern accepted a bid to play in the GoDaddy Bowl for the program’s first-ever bowl appearance. The Eagles beat Bowling Green 58-27 in the bowl game in Mobile, Alabama.

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