By The ObserveR staff
LEE COUNTY ––
Eleven Lee County student-athletes were recently selected to the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s North-South All-Star teams.
The AHSAA All-Star teams are comprised of 2023 rising seniors who excelled in their respective sport last season, each selected by a coaches committee.
The local athletes selected include: Connor Cosby (Auburn, baseball); Chapman Marlow (Auburn, boys’ soccer); Hannah Arnal (Auburn, girls’ soccer); Claire Bosman (Auburn, girls’ tennis); Lanier Bankson, Luis Jeong and Kaleb Kirkland (Auburn, boys’ tennis); Jackson Williams (Smiths Station, golf); Brandy Phillips (Beulah, softball); McKay Yountz (Opelika, softball); and Amiya Brown (Opelika, girls’ soccer).
The athletes will compete in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Sports Week July 18 through 22 in Montgomery.
Auburn High School received the most selections, with six different student-athletes being named to five different all-star teams.
Four tennis players for the Tigers — Bankson, Jeong, Kirkland and Bosman — were selected to the South team.
Bankson and Jeong finished as No. 3 doubles runners-up in the state championship, Kirkland won his sectional and Bosman captured the 7A girls’ No. 1 singles state title.
“Overall the best thing as a group that they bring is intensity,” said Auburn boys’ tennis coach Matt Hooper. “They are very competitive. Individually, they worked hard. They are the most fun group of guys to be around.”
For soccer, Marlow and Arnal each helped the Tigers to successful seasons. Marlow, the only winger selected to the boys’ South team, said “for me to make the team, it just shows the hard work and dedication I have put into this season.” Although he normally plays out wide on the right, Bill Ferguson, Auburn girls’ and boys’ soccer coach, said Marlow can play anywhere across the front of attack.
“He’s a quick player,” he said. “He has good vision, good service nad scores a lot of goals for our team.”
Arnal said the selection was “a huge honor,” even if it came as a surprise to the rising senior. Her coach, however, knows what she brings to the table.
“She is a very vocal leader,” Feguson said. “[She has] great leadership and stability from the back line.”
Cosby rounds out the selections for the Tigers, as he was a key piece to Auburn’s semi-final state tournament run this past season.
“He got us going a lot,” said Auburn head baseball coach Matt Cimo. “He is a really good baseball player. I wasn’t surprised he made it.”
Opelika was the Lee County school which received the second-most all-star selections. An all-female cast of Brown and Yountz earned the honors this year.
Under the tutelage of head coach Jaclyn Button, Brown engrained herself as a key cog in the Opelika soccer machine.
“I’m ecstatic that she was [selected],” Button said. “She’s really come a long way. I started with her as a seventh-grader and kind of brought her up to varsity. She’s definitely gotten a lot of experience and playing time on the varsity level. With her senior year coming up, I feel like she’s a great representation of how hard work and persistence pays off.”
Brown accredits her personal development to more much than her own hard work; her teammates — and mother — have been there every step of the way.
“I don’t really have a lot of confidence in myself as a player but my team really supports me and motivates me to be the best player I can be for them,” Brown said. “I was just really excited to know that my hard work Is paying off.
“I want to thank my mom. Her taking me in, pushing me to be the player I am today, she’s always supported me and comes to every game. I really want to thank her for pushing me.”
Yountz was Opelika’s best pitcher in head coach Jessica Thornton’s first year at the helm of the program. She helped lead the senior-less Bulldogs to an area championship.
Rounding out the local selections is Beulah’s Phillips and Smiths Station’s Williams.
Williams is one of five 7A level athletes to be selected to the South golf team, and the lone local selection. His 74-shot round in sectionals earned one of the two Class 7A, Section 2 individual qualifying sports at sectionals this season.
Phillips, a pitcher, was part of a Beulah team that made it all the way to the Class 3A State Championship. The rising senior is excited about the opportunity to represent the Bobcats.
““It’s actually really exciting,” Phillips said. “I actually did not think that I would get it until the day that it was announced.
“It feels really nice to represent my school in that way,” Phillips said. “I really give it all to my coaches and everyone because they’re the ones that got me to this point. So I’m really glad that
I get to go out there.”