The 2017-2018 Walker County Ath­letes of the Year

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

As a fresh­man, Gra­cie O’Neal turned in one of the best al­laround school years that any ath­lete in Walker County has en­joyed in a good long while.

The sopho­more year en­core was even bet­ter.

For the sec­ond straight year, O’Neal has earned Walker County Girls’ Ath­lete of the Year hon­ors, fol­low­ing a 2017-2018 sea­son that saw her en­joy in­di­vid­ual and team suc­cess in four dif­fer­ent sports at Gor­don Lee.

“It’s great and it’s crazy,” O’Neal said. “I didn’t imag­ine I would get it two years in a row.”

O’Neal’s bid to win the award for a sec­ond straight year got off to a rous­ing start in her ini­tial cross coun­try meet of the sea­son. She crossed the fin­ish line at Ridge Ferry in Rome in 18:19, shav­ing an un­heard of six min­utes off of her fastest time from her fresh­man sea­son.

She con­tin­ued to run in the 19-to-20 minute range for the rest of the year, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at a huge Chat­tanooga XC League meet at Bay­lor, win­ning the Area 3-A ti­tle at Dar­ling­ton with a time of 19:20 and go­ing on to win the in­di­vid­ual Class 1A Pub­lic School state ti­tle, while help­ing the Lady Tro­jans fin­ish as state run­ners-up. Her time on the gru­el­ing Car­roll­ton course was 20:23, a full two min­utes ahead of her next clos­est com­peti­tor. She capped the cross coun­try sea­son by plac­ing third in the Sopho­more Divi­sion of the Front Run­ner re­gional cham­pi­onships in Char­lotte, N.C.

“Cross coun­try started well,” re­called the Walker County Girls’ Cross Coun­try Run­ner of the Year. “We had a great sea­son as a team

sopho­more and again as a ju­nior, Jarvis won the Class 1A 170-pound cham­pi­onship with an 8-4 vic­tory over Brax­ton Legg of Com­merce to com­plete a per­fect 43-0 sea­son.

He fin­ished his Gor­don Lee wrestling ca­reer with four area ti­tles, three sec­tional ti­tles, three state fi­nals ap­pear­ances and the one state cham­pi­onship. His ca­reer record was 181-25, with 17 of those losses com­ing in his fresh­man sea­son.

“I knew I would have suc­cess in wrestling if I just did what I had to do,” he ex­plained.

But Jarvis said his best mem­ory came in the spring.

He turned in an­other out­stand­ing sea­son on the track team, win­ning Area 3-A ti­tles in the long jump and the pole vault, while tak­ing third in the triple jump to help the Tro­jans win an­other area team ti­tle.

He ended up sec­ond in the pole vault in the state sec­tional meet, but once he ar­rived at Al­bany for the state fi­nals, there was no stop­ping him as he cleared 13-feet to win his first in­di­vid­ual state ti­tle in the event.

“I went out there and set a new per­sonal record by a foot,” he ex­plained. “That was a re­ally good day. It just feels good to be a cham­pion. I had a cou­ple years of be­ing up­set by not win­ning it, so to win feels fan­tas­tic. It’s just an un­speak­able feel­ing be­ing a cham­pion.”

Berry Col­lege will be the next stop for the multi-sport star and his days of play­ing more than one sport will con­tinue. Jarvis re­cently signed a let­ter of in­tent to play foot­ball for the Vik­ings, while he says he also plans to com­pete on the col­lege track team.

How­ever, while he will only be about an hour from home, Jarvis said he will miss play­ing in front of the home­town folks in Chicka­mauga.

“I’ll miss the com­mu­nity and the peo­ple around here,” he added. “It’s been fan­tas­tic to rep­re­sent them and it’s been fan­tas­tic just be­ing a part of ev­ery­thing that they’ve been try­ing to build this school to be.”

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