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Jay’s Featured Stars: Lincoln Charter star masters Rubik’s Cube, tennis court

Lincoln Charter tennis star Parker Powell
Lincoln Charter tennis star Parker Powell sfowler@charlotteobserver.com

Parker Powell has had a historic tennis career at Lincoln Charter winning 80 singles and doubles matches as the No. 1 player for the Eagles for the last four years.

Powell paired with former Lincoln Charter teammate Jackson Law to win the school’s first individual tennis state championship last season.

The Eagles also made it to the 1A state championship match as a team last year, before losing to Raleigh Charter.

This year, Powell is a perfect 12-0 (9-0 singles; 3-0 doubles) start. He’s not lost a set in singles or doubles’ play going into the South Piedmont 1A conference tournament.

“I’m not ready for this (Lincoln Charter tennis career) to end honestly,” Powell said. “Tennis season is always the time of the year that I look forward to the most. It’s sad, because right now is like the beginning of the end of my (Lincoln Charter) tennis career. So, I’m going to go out and give it everything I’ve got in these last weeks.”

While Powell will look to help Lincoln Charter contend for state title, he also has his eyes on finishing his high school career with a 1A state singles’ championship.

Powell lost in the 1A state singles’ semifinals as a sophomore, but has won a doubles’ state title and was part of his schools’ 1A state championship cross-country team last fall.

“I’ve been thinking about this year and training for this year, for the opportunity to win a state singles’ championship since I was in sixth grade,” Powell said. “It’s been great to be a part of two state championships, but this time I want to the reason I’m wearing the ring to be because of me.”

Lincoln Charter’s volunteer head coach, Scott Fowler, has watched Powell’s game evolve over the past four years. Fowler is a longtime columnist with the Charlotte Observer.

Fowler, who plays on USTA 4.5 team with Powell, said he’s never seen the Lincoln Charter standout more focused.

“The one place that Parker has improved his game the most is just in his focus,” Fowler said. “In previous years, something would go wrong and he’d lose a game and then he’d get mad and end up losing three games because of it. Now, he’s gotten really good at throwing away a bad point or a bad game, and just staying poised and in the moment.”

Powell’s mental toughness is evident both on and off the court, as he also excels in the classroom.

Powell will attend UNC Greensboro, where he will study physics and astronomy with the hopes of one day work for NASA.

Powell’s mind works quickly whether he’s on the tennis court or solving a Rubik’s Cube. He can make 60-70 moves in 11 seconds.

Powell taught himself how solve a Rubik’s Cube by memorizing the steps on YouTube.

“You can mix the Rubik’s Cube as much as you want and he will solve it a matter of seconds,” Fowler said. “It’s looks like he’s doing a magic trick.”

There are no tricks on the tennis court, where Powell will look to his power game, with his strength playing on the baseline and relying on a his forehand and serve that has hit up to 119 miles per hour in a tournament in Cincinnati.

He has also improved his game at the net by playing more doubles.

Powell says he is ready for the biggest moments in the biggest events, from the conference to the regional to the state tournaments in his final season in at Lincoln Charter uniform.

“I play better under pressure,” Powell admitted. “And I love the pressure moments in a match. So, I’m looking forward to trying to finish on top.”

Jordan Little, Hickory Grove Baseball: The Hickory Grove sophomore has five home runs in the last two weeks.

Little hit a game-winning home run to give Hickory Grove at a 4-3 win over rival Metrolina Christian April 4.

Little is hitting .526 with six home runs, 20 RBI, while score 19 runs for Hickory Grove (9-4-1, 3-1 in the Metrolina Athletic conference) this season.

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Jordan Little.jpg
Jimmy Quesinberry

Will Gray, Mount Pleasant Baseball: The Mount Pleasant sophomore also had a big week at the plate going 5-for-8 with two home runs, a double, eight RBI and three stolen bases to lead the Tigers to three-game sweep of Forest Hills.

Gray and his Mount Pleasant team outscored Forest Hills 25-6 in three victories as they won their ninth straight game after starting the season 0-4.

Gray is hitting .410 with two home runs, 14 RBI and 15 runs scored for Mount Pleasant (9-4, 9-0 in the Rocky River conference) this season.

Nolan Fauchier, Providence Day Lacrosse: The Providence Day senior goalkeeper came up big with 37 saves combined in three wins over Cannon School, Charlotte Latin and Charlotte Catholic.

Fauchier had 11 saves in a 16-5 win at Cannon, Apr. 2.

Two days later, he had 14 saves in a 14-6 victory over Charlotte Latin.

Fauchier capped his week with 12 saves in a double-overtime win at Charlotte Catholic.

Fauchier had 110 saves this season and is second on the team with 35 groundballs for Providence Day (10-4, 4-0 in the CISAA), who has won six straight games.

Zach Weisgarber, Butler Lacrosse: The Butler junior led the Bulldogs to 10-9 comeback overtime victory over South Mecklenburg April 1.

Butler rallied from a five-goal deficit to tie the game and sent it to the extra session.

Weisgarber, who had four goals in victory, scooped up a groundball and went the length of the field to score the game-winning goal in overtime to clinch the win over the Sabres.

Butler is 8-5 overall this season.

Austin McConnell, Mountain Island Charter Lacrosse: The Mountain Island Charter freshman scored five goals to lead the Raptors to an 11-8 win over Queens Grant, their first victory in school history April 4.

McConnell, a co-captain, also had three goals in a 13-3 to the Gaston County Patriots April 2.

McConnell has 12 goals for Mountain Island Charter (1-4) this season.

Caleb Surratt, Union Academy Golf: The Union Academy freshman shot a 3-under-par 69 to win the Monroe Country Club Invitational April 3.

Surratt had five birdies in his round as he best the 18-team, 90-player field.

Surratt, who has won all seven PAC 7, 1A conference matches this year, is averaging a 34.2 per nine holes this season.

Ian Johnson, Lake Norman Charter Golf: The Lake Norman Charter shot a two-under-par, 70 to win medalist honors while helping his Knights’ team to a school-record score of 293 as they won a South Fork 2A conference match at Cowans Ford Country Club in Denver April 3.

Johnson, who averages a 37.7 per nine holes this season, earned medalist honors for the second time this year.

Lake Norman Charter is 6-0 in league play this season, and has lost only one league match in the last three years.

Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week

Anna Redding, Former Cannon Golfer, University of Virginia Golf: Anna Redding has teed off thousands of times in her golf career.

AnnaReddingCannonUVaGolfer2019.jpg
Augusta National Women's Amateur

But the former Cannon School standout and current University of Virginia golfer became the first woman to hit a shot in the inaugural,Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) Tournament April 4. The final round of the event was the first women’s tournament held at Augusta National.

Redding hit the opening tee-shot at Augusta National in front of about 1,500 people, including the likes of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and LPGA hall of famers Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez plus two-time Masters’ champion Bubba Watson.

“I was extremely nervous on that first tee, I was shaking,” said Redding, who played Augusta National in November of 2014, a graduation present from her father. “When you hear the words, ‘Augusta National,’ there’s so much history there. You don’t get to say you were a part of history but maybe one or two times in your life. So, to say that I hit the first shot by a women in a competitive tournament ever, is something I will remember forever.”

Redding played well, shooting 73, 74 and 76 to tie for 26th in the 72-player field that featured most of the best amateur players in the world.

Redding is currently ranked No. 32 in the World Amateur Rankings.

But what Redding accomplished at Augusta, just a week before the Masters’ Tournament will be held, cannot be measured on a scoreboard.

“It was incredibly special, and an honor just to playing in the event,” Redding said. “”The course was so different because last time I played in November, this time it was April. The course was in perfect condition, nothing is out of place at Augusta (National). The whole vibe in the air was amazing, we all knew we were making history.”

While playing Augusta National is the highlight of Redding’s golf career to date, she hopes to make more memories as a professional on the LPGA tour.

Redding, 22, will graduate from University of Virginia this May, and retain her amateur status for the summer, playing in several big tournaments, including the British Amateur in Ireland.

Then, next fall, she will go to Qualifying School (Q-School), to try to earn her way on the LPGA tour.

“I know it’s going to be tough,” said Redding of the Q-School “But my goal is definitely to be playing on the LPGA tour.”

Marissa Hart, Providence Day Soccer: The Providence Day star scored four goals and had four assists in two key CISAA conference wins over rivals Cannon and Charlotte Latin.

Hart started her week with three goals and three assists in a 7-2 win over Cannon School April 2.

Two days later, Hart scored the game-winning golden goal in a 3-2 overtime win over Charlotte Latin. Hart also had an assist in the victory.

Hart, a Princeton University commit, had 13 goals and 13 assists for Providence Day (6-2-1, 3-0 in the CISAA) this season.

Kailah Marshall, South Pointe Soccer: The South Pointe senior scored four goals in two games to help the Stallions inch closer to the first Region III 4A title in school history.

Marshall had two goals in a 6-0 win at Richland Northeast April 2.

Three days later, Marshall poured in two more scores to lead South Pointe to a 4-0 over York, their second victory over the Cougars ever (the first was earlier this season).

Marshall, a USC Lancaster commit, had six goals and two assists for South Pointe (8-1, 7-1 in Region III, AAAA) this season.

Falon Spearman, Providence Day Track: The Providence Day freshman set a personal-best and set a meet record for the second week in a row to win the 300-meter hurdles at the Queen City Relays at Myers Park April 6.

Spearman ran a 43.77 to win the 300-meter hurdles at the Queen City Relays, shaving nearly a second off her previous-best (44.58) at the Weddington Invitational, Mar. 30. Her time was also the No. 1, 300-meter hurdle run in the state this outdoor season.

Spearman was also a critical part of the 100-meter shuttle hurdles relay that took first-place with teammates, her twin sister, Santana Spearman, Eliza Cardwell and Camryn Taylor.

Netanya Linares, Cuthbertson Track: The Cuthbertson senior won all four events she competed in at the Union County Championships April 4.

Linares set school-records in winning the high jump (5-5), the 100-meter hurdles (14.90) and the pole vault (11-0) at the Union County Championships. She also won the long jump (17-6.25) at the same meet.

Linares is a Wofford College track signee.

Diamond Worthy, York Track: The York junior had made the best three discus throws in school history in the last two weeks.

Worthy broke an 11-year old school record (previous-best 107-0) with a 113-1 in a York home meet March 21.

Five days later, she had the second-best throw in school history with a 109-7 at South Pointe.

Worthy broke her own school-record with a 113-4.5 to win the discus at the York County Championships April 4. Her throw was the 12th best in the state this outdoor season.

Deanna Waddell, Jay M. Robinson Softball: The Jay M. Robinson junior led the Bulldogs to back-to-back wins over rival Cox Mill.

Waddell allowed just three runs on seven hits in five innings of work to lead the Robinson to a 14-9 win over the Chargers on the road April 2, their first win over Cox Mill since 2013. She was also 1-for-3 with an RBI at the plate in the same game.

Two days later, Waddell was even better tossing a no-hitter in Robinson’s 10-0 win over Cox Mill.

Waddell is 5-3 on the mound with 46 strikeouts in 45.1 innings of work on the mound for Cox Mill (6-8, 5-6 in the South Piedmont conference) this season.

Maya Douglas, Independence Softball: The Independence sophomore had a monster week at the plate going 5-for-7 with three home runs and 10 RBI in wins at East Mecklenburg and at Porter Ridge.

Douglas started her week with a bang, going 3-for-3 with two home runs and seven RBI in the 21-1 win at East Mecklenburg April 3.

The next day, Douglas added another home run, three RBI and a double to lead the Patriots to a 9-3 victory at Porter Ridge.

Douglas is hitting .575 with four home runs and 26 RBI for an Independence team (11-3) that is a perfect 10-0 in Southwestern 4A conference play this season.

** Information published today includes statistics through April 7.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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