BEST OF FALL: 2012 Fall Sports MVPs, All-Area teams named

info@islandpacket.comDecember 26, 2012 

Most valuable player.

Exactly what those words mean can be one of the most hotly discussed topics in sports.

The most talented player. The player with the best stats, having the best season. The player who always comes through in the clutch situations. The player, regardless of numbers, who does the most to help his or her team win.

A consensus is unlikely.

Nonetheless, the sports staff of the Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, using submissions from and conversations with coaches and drawing from coverage during the seasons, present our 2012 Fall Sports MVPs and All-Area teams.

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

Athlete of the year: Jack Manesiotis, Hilton Head High

Coach of the year: Bill Wrightson, Hilton Head High

All-area team: Colton Hennessey, Hilton Head High; Sean McMahon, Hilton Head High; Sam Beattie, Hilton Head High; Noa Pagatpatan, Hilton Head High; Joshua Tierney, Bluffton; Robert Wesle Long, Bluffton; Evans Beach, Bluffton; Jackson Henz, Hilton Head Prep

Jack Manesiotis has never seemed to favor cross country over track and field.

"I enjoy track just as much as cross country as well as the indoor season," he said. "I enjoy it all."

His recent successes may have him rethinking that, though. For the second consecutive year, the Hilton Head High standout has been named The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette boys cross country most valuable player.

In 2011, Manesiotis captured the Class 3-A individual state championship with a winning time of 15 minutes and 36 seconds, which was 43 seconds faster than the second place finisher. His work helped lead the Seahawks to a third straight championship in the process.

This year, the senior took home a runner-up finish at the event with a time of 15:29.05 while leading the Seahawks to a second-place standing.

His dominance in the sport has led the Hilton Head High star to a future spot with the Florida Gators, where he will run for an outdoor track team that won the national title this season and an indoor team that has won three consecutive championships. He will also, of course, run cross country.

"It's going to be an awesome experience," he said. "It's just eye-opening."

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Athlete of the year: Faith Lifer, Hilton Head High

Coach of the year: Bill Wrightson, Hilton Head High

All-area team: Carley McGlinn, Hilton Head High; Esther Anderson, Hilton Head High; Mallory Liggett, Hilton Head High; Abbigale Gross, Hilton Head High; Ciara McMahon, Hilton Head High; Rebeka Parent, Hilton Head High; Casey Witkowski, Bluffton; Lea Tierney, Bluffton; Savannah Schepp, Bluffton

Faith Lifer is always running.

The multisport athlete at Hilton Head High has been juggling her athletic commitments for four years now, and it never seems to come easy.

This season, it was about balancing her time with the cross country team and weekly trips to Columbia for soccer practice. In the spring, it will be about splitting her workload with Ernie Suozzi's Seahawk soccer club and the school's track team.

"It's kind of like my lifestyle now," she said, laughing.

She's getting pretty good at it. After capturing yet another state championship in the spring with Suozzi and Co., Lifer ended her cross country career with a runner-up finish at the state meet while helping the Seahawks claim a second-place spot overall.

Only Megan Stahlberger of Airport finished better -- by 38 seconds -- while 178 other runners finished behind Lifer. The Seahawks wrapped up the meet with 83 points, only 11 higher than state champion James Island. She finished her cross country career with a pair of state titles.

"The reason why I run is to run with my teammates, stay in shape and to have a good time," said Lifer, who is committed to play soccer at Wofford next year. "(I try) to have a good time and be the best I can be. I don't really run to win competitions, but it's really great (when I do)."

GIRLS GOLF

Athlete of the year: Brandi Hammonds, Bluffton

Coach of the year: David Crosby, Bluffton

All-area team: Anna Lesemann Eddy, HHCA; Nathalie Lezcano, Hilton Head High; Casidy Beckel, Bluffton; Kylie Nizolek, Bluffton; Michelle Britton, Beaufort High

Brandi Hammonds set the goal before the Bluffton High School girls golf season to be the team's most valuable player.

A tough start didn't derail her effort, and she earned Class 4-A all-state honors, finishing fifth individually to help the Bobcats to a third-place finish in the state tournament. She also tied for low medalist honors at the Region 8-AAAA tournament with teammate Kasidy Beckel.

The junior Hammonds now eyes a spot on the Bobcats boys team, Bluffton coach David Crosby said.

Crosby, the golf professional at Island West Golf Club who has known Hammonds since she was 7, said Hammonds has improved each year.

"She has just always put the effort into it," Crosby said. "She has a great feel for the golf swing."

Hammonds finished the season with two 18-hole rounds under par and nine medalist finishes. Crosby said he would like for Hammonds to try and reach 3- to 4-under par as a senior.

"She has the talent to do it," Crosby said. "She's very smart about the golf game."

BOYS SWIMMING

Athlete of the year: Andrew Faciszewski, Bluffton

Coach of the Year: Eric Kemeny, Bluffton

All-area team: Preston Suber, Beaufort Academy; Finn Koppernaes, Beaufort Academy; Sebastian Bedon, Bluffton; Jake Minasi, Bluffton; Drew O'Brien, Bluffton; Jake Waldron, Battery Creek; Tristan Cummings, Hilton Head High; Ryan Naddy, Hilton Head High; James Hammond, Hilton Head High

With Bluffton High School swimming in the Class 4-A meet for the first time, Andrew Faciszewski might not have known exactly what to expect when he entered the pool in Columbia.

But Faciszewski didn't slip, following a strong 3-A meet in 2011 with a pair of top-five finishes this past October. He led the way for Bluffton's boys, finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle, as well as taking part in a pair of top-10 relay finishes.

His finishes helped Bluffton finish eighth in the team competition.

GIRLS SWIMMING

Athlete of the year: Camille Felix, Hilton Head High

Coach of the year: Mike Lane, Hilton Head High

All-area team: Cassie Ley, Hilton Head High; Amelia Rzeczycki, Hilton Head High; Madison Field, Hilton Head High; Rachel Mangin, Hilton Head High; Lilla Felix, Hilton Head High; Danielle Faciszewski, Bluffton; Madison Wall, Bluffton; Ashleigh Pangilinan, Bluffton; Abigail Hess, Bluffton; Madeleine Gray, Beaufort Academy, Laura Roddey, Beaufort Academy; Ashley Taylor, Beaufort Academy

Camille Felix, already an accomplished swimmer entering her final high school season, continued to set a high bar.

She wanted to help her Hilton Head Island High School girls swim team win a third consecutive Class 3-A championship. And she wanted meet MVP honors.

"She was hungry," Seahawks coach Mike Lane said.

Felix accomplished both, sharing meet MVP with senior teammate Cassie Ley as the Seahawks won the team title in lopsided fashion. Felix won the 500-yard freestyle for the second time and finished second in the 200 freestyle. She was also part of the Seahawks' gold-medal winning 400 free relay. Felix also swam on the second-place 200 free relay.

Felix and Ley will be honored for their meet MVP honors Jan. 7 at a dinner in Columbia.

About a month after the state meet, Felix signed to swim at Georgia Tech. She said liked the facilities, coaches and an intriguing major -- computational media.

"And I like Atlanta," she said. "I'm never going to get bored."

GIRLS TENNIS

Athlete of the year: Brooke Busby, Hilton Head High

Coach of the year: Jennifer Weitekamper, Hilton Head High

All-area team: Logan Danzell, Hilton Head High; Charlotte Bellomy, Beaufort High; Catie Meighan, Bluffton; Allie Burak, Hilton Head Prep; Shannon O'Brien, Hilton Head Prep; Jennifer Oliver, Hilton Head High; Ellie Czura, Hilton Head Prep, Monica Bundy, Hilton Head Christian

Brooke Busby's task entering the 2012 season wasn't an easy one. The senior, leading a group of relatively young Seahawks, had to find a way to replace last year's Island Packet girls tennis MVP in Sabrina Drammis at No. 1 singles. She had to do so with the hopes that her work at the top would also lead to a sixth straight championship for Hilton Head High.

Consider her work accomplished.

Busby dominated all season at No. 1 singles as the Seahawks cruised yet again to another state title, this time over A.C. Flora. Busby capped her career at Hilton Head High with a third straight win in the state matches, this time a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Shelby Prince.

"I'm proud to say that I've been able to be on a team that's just such a winning team and a great team," she said afterward. "It's just been so much fun and I've had great friendships."

Busby also competed in the Class 3-A/4-A state singles tournament for the second straight year and once again went out with a strong showing. The 18-year-old won three matches in the event this time around after finishing fourth in 2011.

VOLLEYBALL

Athlete of the year: Jordan Franklin, Bluffton

Coach of the year: Al Stern, Bluffton

All-area team: Mackenzie Cooler, Bluffton; Abby Roulston, Bluffton; Morgan Delaplane, Bluffton; Tina Kwok, Battery Creek; Sara Anderson, Battery Creek; Carter Julseth, Hilton Head High; Sierra Davis, Hilton Head High; Brantley Herrington, Hilton Head High; Jamie Whalen, Whale Branch; Megan DeBardelaben, Beaufort Academy

Bluffton volleyball coach Al Stern said he knew the potential was there when he named Jordan Franklin his junior captain prior to the 2012 season. While she had been overshadowed by taller veterans Mackenzie Cooler and Abby Roulston, both excellent players, Franklin excelled in the role, helping to lead the Bobcats deep into the playoffs in their first season in Class 4-A.

"I wanted to be sure my teammates had someone to look up to," Franklin said. "Being a captain makes you want to be perfect, to represent your team well and make them proud. To show them how bad you want it."

Stern said he knew Franklin's leadership qualities were strong and his decision to make her a captain turned out to be a wise one.

"She's a natural leader," Stern said. "She's not afraid to take the guff off the other girls. The decision gave her the confidence and she worked hard, dedicated herself all summer.

"in practice, nobody outworked her. She did what you wish every player could do that's a good player, she makes every player around her better. Like John Wooden said, 'A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.' That describes Jordan to a T. Her stats are impressive, but not always the best. She just kind of pulled everyone a long with her."

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