Country Day Athletics held its first Collegiate Athlete Recognition Event of the 2019-20 school year on Friday, February 7, honoring nine members of the Class of 2020 for their commitments to continue their athletics careers at the collegiate level.
The nine student-athletes recognized at the event were:
- Reed Bolin, Baseball, Johns Hopkins University
- Clarkson Graham, Women's Track & Field, Wake Forest University
- Cameron Grainger, Women's Soccer, Washington & Lee University
- Kathryn Leighty, Women's Track & Field, Washington University in St. Louis
- Sarah Powers, Women's Lacrosse, Sewanee: The University of the South
- Katie So, Field Hockey, Yale University
- Sophie Spada, Women's Cross Country and Track & Field, University of Alabama
- Phelps Thomas, Men's Lacrosse, Sewanee: The University of the South
- Bennett Tuner, Men's Tennis, Boston College
Bolin has been a major contributor in the Bucs' pitching rotation since his sophomore year, working both out of the bullpen and as a starter. He is expected to anchor their pitching rotation this spring. His combination of a heavy fastball and a hard, late-moving breaking pitch have made him a difficult matchup for opposing hitters. Baseball Program Head Mike Hennessey also noted in his remarks about Bolin that he brings a high level of intellectualism to the team.
“More than once I have heard Reed challenging his teammates with physics problems or arguing the finer points of Marxism on the way to a game,” said Hennessey. “I’m guessing this is what bus rides are going to be like at Johns Hopkins as well.”
Graham dabbled in other sports early in high school, but eventually settled into track and field as her focus and quickly found success. Outdoors, she has already earned three individual event state championships: in the 4X200 Relay her sophomore year and in the 4X800M Relay and open 400M her junior year. Indoors, she will graduate holding school records in seven different events.
“Clarkson has a one-of-a-kind way of making the things that are the most challenging, the most rewarding part of knowing her,” said Cross Country Program Head and Assistant Varsity Rrack Coach Matt Elliott. “She has pushed our staff, team, trainers, strength coaches, teachers, and parents to think outside the box and create a mold for success in unconventional ways.”
Grainger is starting her fourth year on the Bucs' girls' varsity soccer roster and has been an impact player since her first day on the pitch. Known for her unique and powerful left-footed shot, she's earned All-Conference honors in each of her first three years at Country Day and last year added an All-State nod to her tally.
“Cameron has been a huge contributor in elevating the quality of the girls’ soccer program at Country Day,” said former Country Day Girls’ Soccer Program Head Greg Ashton. “Each year, she has demonstrated growth and maturity on and off the field. She has earned the respect of opposing players and coaches and has rightfully been recognized as one of the top players in the conference and the state.”
Leighty is coming off a highly successful junior campaign where she joined Graham on the Bucs' state champion 4X800M relay and narrowly finished second to her in the Open 400M, Her presence in the long sprint events will be a key piece of the team's make-up as they look to challenge for an NCISAA 4A team championship this spring.
“Kathryn’s drive, determination and enthusiasm for running was evident in elementary school, and she has developed into an excellent long sprinter,” said Track and Field Program Head Al Pearman. “I am looking forward to seeing her story continue as a student-athlete at Wash U.”
Powers first stepped into the cage for a varsity girls' lacrosse game in her sophomore year, and she's been a crucial part of the Bucs' success--including a state championship run that year--since then. Also a four-year member of the varsity girls' tennis team, she brings a skillset to the goalie position that not many other teams around the state are fortunate to have.
“Each spring, Powers has stepped into the role as our varsity team’s goalie and has not only found success in wins and save percentages but has, more importantly, defined for our program the role of this position,” said Girls’ Lacrosse Program Head Kristy Boyles.” She has transformed the perception of this position from one of singularity and secondary importance to one of pivotal and invaluable leadership and athleticism.”
So has been recognized as an All-Conference and All-State performer in each of her three varsity seasons, and has also garnered two NFHCA All-Region nods during that time. As a senior this past fall, when she led the Bucs to their first state title since 2014, she was also named the Charlotte Observer's Player of the Year.
“She is one of those players that, even if you do not know the sport of field hockey, you notice,” said Kayleigh Thies, field hockey program head. “She just catches your eye. Her poise, composure and love for the game floods the field each time she steps on it. She fills up the space with personality and play. I consider myself so lucky to have coached her the last three years.”
Spada has found great success in all three seasons of running. She capped off her career in cross country this fall with a victory in the NCISAA 4A state championship. Last spring, she was a double state champion on the track, joining Graham and Leighty on the 4X800M Relay squad and adding an individual championship in the 1600M. Indoors, she currently holds the top high school time in North Carolina for the 1,000M.
“I’ve known Sophie for most of her life,” said Pearman. “At an early age I could see that she was determined to be the very best Sophie she could be, both academically and athletically. But, more importantly, she was committed to the process of paying the price to be her best self.”
Thomas started his varsity boys' lacrosse career his 9th grade year as a midfielder, but it was after his switch to attack his sophomore year that he really became a major contributor. That year, he tallied 60 goals and 76 points. Last year, he followed that up with 46 goals and 79 points and had multiple-point performances in 19 of 26 games. He was an All-Conference and All-State selection both years.
“Phelps has been a standout on offense for the past two years,” said Brad Touma, boys’ lacrosse program head. “He is a dynamic, creative players who brings tremendous energy to Dowd Field. We look forward to his leadership and energy as we chase the state championship this spring.”
Turner enters his senior tennis season this year already having earned three team state championships with Country Day. In both of his last two campaigns, he has also been recognized as an All-Conference and All-State honoree and has served as a team captain. His coaches have noted his leadership, in addition to his play on the court, as having been a key component in the Bucs' success during his tenure.
“Morning workouts have been the most attended in my time here,” said Tennis Program Head Calvin Davis. “Team gatherings for lunch and sometimes breakfast have happened more often because of Bennett’s leadership. He has used every opportunity to bring the team together.”
There will be one additional recognition event in May for senior student-athletes who have not yet made their college choices or were unable to participate in Friday's event.