No. 1: Woodberry Forest’s Lindell Stone goes 14-for-17 passing with six touchdowns against FUMA
A better quarter quarterbacking could not be found. A better half neither, and one at that was big enough for any QB to wish for in a full four quarter game. Lindell Stone set a number of single season records during the 2015 Woodberry Forest football campaign, including passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season. But the way Stone dismantled Fork Union in the squads’ annual Prep League clash is the most memorable individual performance of the year.
With a downfield passing attack — this wasn’t a dump and run approach that the Tigers have sometimes used in the past to great effect — Stone was nearly perfect, going 14-for-17 for 342 yards and six touchdowns… in the first half. In fact, 271 yards and five touchdowns came in the opening quarter as Stone and his receiving corps exploded past the Blue Devils, no slouch of an opponent who had an outside shot at derailing the Tigers’ Prep League title hopes. But Stone squashed those hopes with the most efficient performance of his career, breaking Fork Union’s back early with the downfield assault.
No. 2: Fork Union’s Alex Lomong wins three VISAA D1 individual titles in track
Alex Lomong’s performance in one of the most hotly contested high school 800-meter performances in national history is what vaulted him to a scholarship spot at Ohio State. Well, that and a storied career in both track and field and cross country, from when he first arrived at Fork Union up until upon graduating this past spring.
About his day in May at the VISAA championships though. Lomong in no way backed off after that incredible race in the 800. Instead he pulled off the rare state championship triple of the 800, 1600 and 3200, piling up three individual championships for the Blue Devils. That’s unheard of. That’s dominance, and versatility on top of that.
The Sudanese native has been at Fork Union for years, coming to Central Virginia along with his brother, Peter Lomong, who now runs for Northern Arizona, and he’s been an impact runner since his freshman year. He saved his best for last though, including that 800 late in his senior campaign and the triple at the VISAA championships. That’s a great way to finish and one that could vault him to even bigger things in Columbus for the Buckeyes.
No. 3: William Monroe’s Cody Spencer throws 6-inning perfect game in home opener
Cody Spencer’s emergence as William Monroe’s ace wasn’t preordained. It was clear that he was going to be a huge part of the rotation, but the Dragons were loaded with options going into the season. Injuries to Jacob Tomlin put Spencer front and center midway through the season, but based on his showing in his first start, well, it was sign of things to come.
In mid-March, Spencer seized that ace role in his first start of the season with a perfect game against an Orange County squad that went on to earn a Region 5A North playoff berth, striking out 12 batters en route to the unblemished performance and a 10-0, six-inning win over the Hornets. It was a completely dominant outing too. Just two balls traveled out of the infield. A rock solid outing by the Monroe defense also helped spark the win, with catcher Jonathan Sexton looking steady behind the plate in just his second start. But it was Spencer who worked a devastating curve and slider combination to the victory, a perfect game and an incredible start to the year for the Dragons.
Yes, Spencer’s shutout against Turner Ashby in the Group 3A semifinals was dominant, but he had that kind of season where even that outing was outdone. And that it came in his first start where most athletes are just trying to find their stuff says a lot about the kind of year Spencer had.
No. 4: Western Albemarle’s Aidan Sinclair scores four goals in 20 minutes of Group 3A semifinals
Aidan Sinclair has been really good for a long time for the Western Albemarle boys soccer team. The senior was a first team all-state player as a sophomore during the Warriors’ 2014 state title run. But just how good Sinclair was perhaps wasn’t a matter of public record until the 2016 state semifinals.
Sinclair had been the consummate setup man his entire career, but against James Monroe with a berth in the state championship game on the line, he dropped four goals on the Jackets in the first 20 minutes of the contest. He was flat out unstoppable on the turf at Amherst that blistering afternoon, putting the game out of reach early.
It was a performance that sent the Warriors back to the state finals and Sinclair and the Class of 2016 wrapped up their high school career with Western going on to beat Blacksburg 2-1 in the title match in a thriller. Those four goals though? Odds aren’t good anyone who was there doesn’t forget those any time soon either.
No. 5: William Monroe’s Sam Brunelle sets VHSL rebounding mark versus Rappahannock
There were a lot of impressive nights for Sam Brunelle in her freshman campaign at William Monroe. There were sweeter wins too as she helped vault the Dragons to a conference title and within striking distance of the state tournament.
But the evisceration of Rapphannock proved to be an historic performance, one for the ages. Brunelle pulled down 28 rebounds and scored 52 points in the 77-46 win, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the Monroe offense while setting a Virginia High School League single game record for rebounds.
That’s an absurd number of rebounds in any game, by any player, against any opponent. For a freshman just halfway through her first varsity campaign? It’s off the charts, definitely one of the most impressive single game performances by a freshman ever in Central Virginia history.
Given Brunelle’s unreal “offseason” where she’s competed for Team USA in the U17 world championship, folks in Stanardsville are eager to see what year two of #feardabun will mean. Rest assured, the VHSL record book will be busy as long as she’s playing.
No. 6: Orange County’s Bradley Hanner strikes out 19 against Fluvanna County
Perhaps the best part of Hanner’s unreal spring was that he had spun together a few gems that had the baseball community buzzing about his stuff heading into the Hornets’ first meeting with Fluvanna County. Add to it that the Flucos made huge strides this year to help turn the Jefferson District into the craziness, making it the wildest and most wide open since 2009, and well… the results and the story afterwards speak for themselves.
Hanner struck out 19 in a no-hit 9-0 win over Fluvanna. And for good measure offensively, the junior went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Hanner only missed the VHSL strikeout mark by two. Of course, in a seven inning game, that meant that Hanner only had his defense account for two outs. Were it not for one error, he would have had a perfect game — but no pitcher is ever going to complain about a 19-strikeout no-hitter.
After that showing, Hanner stayed dialed in, posting a sub-1 run ERA the rest of the way and leading the Hornets to a Region 5A North semifinal showing. It was quite the year for Orange, a true comeback story for a program that’s struggled since 2010. And as good as a year as the Hornets had, there’s no getting over that night in April in Palmyra. Hanner had his stuff and it’s awfully good stuff that nobody could do anything about.
No. 7: Charlottesville’s Destinee McDonald goes off for 32 points versus Orange County
Perhaps the coolest part of Destinee McDonald’s big night against Orange County was that she was pretty much oblivious to just how much damage she did until.
“Really, I had 32?” McDonald quipped after the game when her coach, Jim Daly let her know before a post game interview.
Those 32 came in a game where Charlottesville needed them against Orange County. The Black Knights surged in the second half at home in their first meeting with the Hornets back in December. McDonald shot 60% from the field and also added four assists, four rebounds and five steals.
It was big win, and an early one that helped the Black Knights establish some confidence. The Jefferson District was a carousel on the girls side, but in the end, with McDonald becoming an established regular threat to aid fellow junior Alijah Ragland on offense, Charlottesville was able to win the JD title.
The breakout game against Orange turned out to be a breakout season for McDonald, and in turn, helped to keep the Black Knights in a familiar place in the JD race — out in front.
No. 8: Western’s Gannon Willcutts and STAB’s Maddie Hunter win cross country state titles
Let’s call this what it is — two storied cross country runners walking off into the sunset in perfect fashion. Given their dominance over the years, Willcutts and Hunter really only had one way to finish up their cross country careers. It was state title or bust and both delivered, in two ways, not just one.
Hunter, who took 3rd place as an eighth grader, wrapped up her XC career with a VISAA Division 1 championship. Her 19:02 race at Woodberry Forest was 12 seconds better than her closest competition, Julia Lambert’s of Norfolk Academy. But shortly after Hunter crossed, so did a slew of her teammates and St. Anne’s-Belfield came away with a state title as a team.
Willcutts won the Group 3A championship in convincing fashion. The Western Albemarle product ran his race at Great Plains in 15:25, a full 15 seconds faster than the next closest runner, Blacksburgs Sam Teller. But it was a bigger day than just his own race, as Willcutts and the Warriors left Northern Virginia with a Group 3A team championship as well.
They’ve been the two most dominant cross country runner’s this area’s seen over the last four years and they both went out on top, both as individuals, and coincidentally enough, as members of state championship teams. That’s a pretty serious accomplishment for cross country in Central Virginia.
No. 9: STAB’s Joe Robertson scores seven times on seven shots versus Collegiate
Between the regular season meeting and the VISAA Division 1 state quarterfinal meeting with Collegiate, St. Anne’s-Belfield fans were treated some exceptionally entertaining lacrosse in back-to-back games. But it was the regular season finale with the Cougars that saw Joe Robertson put on a shooting clinic for the ages.
In that 17-10 win over Collegiate that gave St. Anne’s an outright Prep League championship, Robertson tapped into NHL legend Wayne Gretzky’s mantra of “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Robertson didn’t miss a single shot against the Cougars. He shot seven times, he scored seven times.
Robertson’s outstanding game paired with a strong effort on defense allowed the Saints to celebrate more than just an outstanding individual performance and Prep League title — it sent STAB into the state tournament brimming with confidence where it went on to play in the VISAA D1 championship game for the second straight year.
No. 10: Blue Ridge’s Malik Johnson scores five touchdowns versus North Cross
Five touchdowns is a lot for just one player. But when they aren’t all balled up in one way, well that just means the day is yours. Blue Ridge was feeling it against North Cross as they won 50-21. Yes, it was a team win, but one guy was carrying the load in a special in that victory.
Malik Johnson had two rushing touchdowns in the win. He had two receiving touchdowns. And then just for good measure, the Barons’ biggest play maker on the field that day also had an interception return for a touchdown. That’s 30 points in all. But add to it that he was banged up coming into the game, and well, it’s just one those performances you don’t forget.
The Barons had a big year and made the VISAA Division 2 state semifinals with Johnson being the electrical force for the squad all season long. His game against North Cross serves as that pinnacle moment where he was bigger than the game, even when though he wasn’t 100%, which makes his effort that much crazier.