Beaufort's broad range of athletes impressive

August 7, 2011 

When it comes to pinning a sporting identity on Beaufort, it's not an easy task -- and not because the town doesn't have any athletes or teams worth identifying with.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Athletes from Beaufort are making their mark in so many different areas recently that it's tough to focus on any one sport or star.

A large contingent of athletes from Beaufort helped the Team Savannah weightlifting squad put on a dominating performance at the AAU Junior Olympics last week in New Orleans, where the team claimed its 14th overall male team title in 15 years.

Beaufort High School student Alex Silon earned best male lifter honors, and coach Ray Jones, another Beaufort resident, was named the coach of the year. But we'll have to tell you more about Team Savannah's exploits next week, because there's plenty more exciting news to share.

The same weekend, two Beaufort teams won titles at the Challenge National Tour 3-on-3 Soccer National Championships at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. That's an indication that the unprecedented success Beaufort High's boys soccer team enjoyed last spring might become the norm over the next few years.

On the golf course, Beaufort tends to take a back seat to the golf paradise that is Hilton Head Island, but Beaufort golfers have done more than hold their own recently. Mark Anderson is enjoying a solid campaign in his second season on the Nationwide Tour, where he ranks 39th on the money list, Rob Simmons won the Hilton Head Amateur Championship last weekend and 15-year-old Josh Fickes was the youngest player to qualify for this week's S.C. Golf Association Amateur Championship.

Before Fickes turned his focus to golf, he was quite a baseball player, too. If he had stayed on that track, he probably would have been on the Beaufort all-star team that played host to the Dixie Boys World Series last week.

And in case you missed it, the hosts weren't terribly hospitable between the lines. They won their first two games and were among the last four teams standing, suffering their two defeats to the two teams who played for the championship.

Perhaps one of those all-stars will follow in the steps of former Beaufort High star Asher Wojciechowski, who is in his first full season of pro ball, pitching for the Class A Advanced Dunedin (Fla.) Blue Jays.

Speaking of pro athletes, Beaufort native Ron Parker is trying to break into the NFL after signing a free-agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks last week. Parker was an all-America defensive back at Newberry College and signed with the Seahawks after going undrafted in the spring.

If Parker makes the team, he'll join former Battery Creek star Greg Jones among Beaufort's football royalty. Jones is entering his eighth season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The next bunch of potential NFL players from Beaufort are ready to make a big impact on Saturdays this fall. Devin Taylor is entering his junior season at South Carolina, where he was a first-team all-SEC defensive end as a sophomore. And his former high school teammate Justin Parker is poised for a breakthrough year playing linebacker at Clemson after Tigers coach Dabo Swinney called him the team's most improved player during spring drills.

No matter how you cut it, that's a lot of success across a broad range of sports for a town of Beaufort's size.

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