Brotherton, Claycomb, Connelley, Naron, White selected All-Stste in spring sports

Awards keep coming in for local high school athletes. Cole Connelley, Will Naron, Ashleigh White, Sarah Claycomb and Layne Brotherton have joined their fall and winter sports peers at Monticello and Drew Central high schools by being named to All-State teams in their respective sports.

<span>Connelley and Naron, both seniors, were two mainstays on Monticello’s Class 4A, District 8 runner-up baseball team. White, also a senior, was a leader on Monticello’s softball team. Claycomb, just a sophomore, had an outstanding season for Monticello’s track and field team. And Brotherton, a junior, was the face of Drew Central’s young track and field team.</span>

<span>Finishing 14-7 overall with a disappointing 7-1 upset loss to host Ashdown in the Class 4A South regional tournament, Connelley and Naron nonetheless teamed with six other seniors to lead the Billies to an 11-3 conference record and a berth in that regional tournament. Both honorees will play baseball in college—Connelley at Southern Arkansas University and Naron at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.</span>

<span>“Both Cole and Will were top-notch baseball players for us,” Monticello baseball coach Jim Beasley said. “They were real assets to our program. Will’s one of the gutsiest players I’ve coached and Cole did the extra things a coach likes to see. If you respect the game—and Cole does—that means you’re going to work a little extra. Every time you step across the lines, you’re playing as hard as you can to get to the next level. Cole’s done that for four years with us. ”</span>

<span>As a matter of fact, Connelley, a four-year letterman, was awarded the 2013 Eric Reed Award at the baseball banquet Wednesday night for just that reason—doing the little things that make good players great. Reed was a Monticello graduate who played baseball at Texas A&M University and spent two years (2006-07) with the Florida Marlins.  </span>

<span>Naron wasn’t left out of the big awards, either. The three-year letterman was named to the Arkansas High School Coaches Association East All-Star team (see related story on this page).</span>

<span>White, also named an AHSCA All-Star (see related story on page 1C), was a four-year letter winner with the Lady Billies and a three-time all-district selection. She batted .403 with two home runs and 27 runs batted in for Monticello’s softball squad, which like its baseball counterpart reached the 4A South regional before ending its season with a first-round loss. The Lady Billies fought tooth-and-nail with eventual state champion Nashville before dropping a 9-8 decision at the Monticello softball field.</span>

<span>“Ashleigh was a pretty solid player for us,” Monticello softball coach B.J. Jackson said. “She played all over the infield and did a great job. She’s one of those players who will be missed.”</span>

<span>And like her baseball classmates, White will also continue her playing career in college. She has signed to play softball at UAM.</span>

<span>Claycomb, the only repeat All-State selection even though she’s the youngest of the five spring sports honorees, had a 10th-grade season about which many athletes, regardless of level or age, only dream.</span>

<span>She earned her first 2012-2013 school year All-State award in November, when she won the 4A girls cross country individual championship. </span>

<span>Claycomb won her spring All-State award by winning both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the 4A state track meet in Heber Springs. She capped off her amazing year by running a personal best 11 minutes, 49.90 seconds to finish second in the 3,200 at the Meet of Champions at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy, near Hot Springs.</span>

<span>“Sarah had an incredible season,” said Monticello head cross country and assistant track coach Danny Chisom, who actually coached Claycomb to her first All-State selection in 2012 when she finished second in the 3,200 at the Class 5A state meet as a freshman. “She is not only one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached, she is thoughtful in every sense of that word. She listens and pays attention to what you tell her and then applies it to her running.  </span>

<span>“She most certainly will keep improving and next year should be fun. My biggest concern is trying to keep it fun for her and still push her to achieve all she can. Sarah is so motivated that sometimes we have to remind her to enjoy the moment. </span>

<span>“Of course its always more enjoyable when you’re winning and she has given us a lot of enjoyable moments in that respect.”</span>

<span>Brotherton, the only Pirate to receive All-State honors this spring sports season, earned his award by finishing second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.21 at the Class 3A state meet at Green Forest. He was a double event winner in the 3A-8 meet, finishing first in the 800 (2:07.39) and 1,600 (5:05.53). </span>

<span>“I was highly impressed by the growth Layne exuded this year,” Drew Central track coach Shawn Curtis said. “He continually set and met his goals throughout the year. He is a mentally, as well as physically, strong young man.  </span>

<span>“As I have told Layne all year, his future is whatever he wants it to be. We have sat down and planned for the next upcoming season of cross country and track. His goals are laid out and the stars are the limit.  My goal is to make sure he is successful athletically but more importantly academically. I know his athletic talent will get him to college, but I want to see his successes pay off years later.” </span>

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