By Steve Williams
Division II did its part in the Knox County gold rush of 2021.
High school student-athletes and teams from Christian Academy of Knoxville, Webb School, Knoxville Catholic and Grace Christian Academy had their sparkling moments throughout the year.
The Webb boys’ soccer team defeated Franklin Grace Christian 1-0 in the Division II-A finals to cap a 20-0 season.
“It was an incredibly special group of young men who gave their very best for each other, their school, and this game,” said Jared Ziegler, recently recalling the unforgettable season.
“I feel honored to have been their coach and to have had the opportunity to share these experiences with them. I’ll never forget all of the memories we forged together and for how much fun we had as a team.”
In his eighth season at Webb, Ziegler coached the Spartans to their first state championship since back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
“I am thankful to have been part of many successes here thanks to the effort of my students, players, and the support of our entire Webb School community,” added Ziegler, a World History teacher.
Ben Pensky scored the only goal of the match on a first period penalty kick after Franklin Grace had been issued a yellow card. Goalkeeper Jp Quigley went the distance and had three saves.
Knoxville Catholic celebrated a pair of Division II-AA state championships in girls’ tennis and volleyball. It was the school’s first in tennis since 2017 and first in volleyball since 2016.
The Lady Irish volleyball program has been close many times over the years, having been runner-up five times. This past October, Coach Brent Carter’s team lost a five-set semifinal match with powerhouse Briarcrest but came out of the losers’ bracket to avenge that loss with a 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 victory in the finals.
Playing on the River Course at the Sevierville Golf Club for the first time, CAK’s Division II-A boys golf team won its fifth consecutive state title and ninth in 10 years. Kaleb Wilson led the Warriors and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the individual competition.
Jackson Hughey was on each of the five teams in the current streak. Ben Johnston and Wilson were part of the last four. Tyler Harwell, Hudson Schmitt and Coach Donnie Cooper have enjoyed the last two.
In all, Division II teams and athletes struck gold 17 times in 2021. The majority of that success occurred at the Spring Fling.
Webb 8th grader Lennox Langham swept the long jump and triple jump events in II-A. Ethan Fulford of CAK also was a double winner in the 110-meter high hurdles and 300 hurdles.
CAK’s Olivia Rodgers was victorious in the 400 dash.
Brianna Baker put Grace Christian in the winner’s circle with her performance in the Division II-A 300 low hurdles.
The Webb girls’4×800 relay team of Reese Wilson, Lawson Phillips, Anna Graves and Mackenzie Ivy combined for a state title.
In tennis, Catholic junior Maeve Thornton and CAK’s Allie Faulkner, another 8th grader, were the singles champions in II-AA and II-A, respectively.
Webb’s boys and girls took top honors in doubles play. Alex Juergens and Wilder Dewhirst teamed up for the Spartans, while Lili Roth and Delaney Bone got it done for the Lady Spartans.
In the fall, freshman standout Keegan Smith put a Catholic gold bow on the year by winning the Division II-AA boys cross country race.