Home Local Sports Poll: Richmond County’s top 10 male, top 10 female middle school athletes

Poll: Richmond County’s top 10 male, top 10 female middle school athletes

Cordova's Gonzalo Gonzalez and Hamlet's Madelynn Pearson were the top vote getters.
Deon Cranford - The Richmond Observer.

While many Richmond Senior High School athletes are participating in non-scholastic sports or are preparing for the upcoming fall season, Raider fans are idle hoping that that the 2021-22 school year will bring some normalcy to Raider athletic events. 

In an effort to keep sports enthusiasts engaged, various media outlets around the state develop polls and surveys about athletics in their respective coverage areas. These polls often have the added benefit of bringing attention to lesser supported sports and athletes.

During Fourth of July weekend, some future Raiders gained some attention as students, fans, coaches and parents participated in an Instagram poll allowing them to vote on their favorite Richmond County middle school athletes from the COVID-shortened 2020-21 sports seasons.  The poll, which ran for 72 hours and ended at midnight on Independence Day, received 2,127 votes with 78 different student athletes from the four middle schools receiving at least one vote.

Top 10 Boys

Codova Middle’s Gonzalo Gonzalez (122) and K’Mauri Morgan (89) were the top two vote-getters in the boys’ poll. Hamlet Middle’s Ali West (82), Jah’amere Ratliff (70), and Jayden Hamilton (69) finished third through fifth.  Rockingham Middle’s Gray Maultsby (68) grabbed sixth place followed by Hamlet’s Owen Hancock (65) in seventh.  The Rockets’ Joe Parsons (48) and Braden Baucom (44) were eighth and ninth, and Hamlet’s Jordan Bostick (39) finished in tenth.

Throughout the COVID-shortened 2020-21 school year, Gonzalez stayed busy representing Cordova Middle in four different sports – cross country, football, baseball, and his favorite, soccer.  Dozens of followers showed their support for Gonzalez in the final 24 hours of the poll pushing the multi-sport Cavalier into first place by a large margin.

“My main sport is soccer,” Gonzalez shared.  “I enjoy everything about it.  All my problems fade away when I’m playing.  I just feel at peace.”

With aspirations of being a key contributor on the soccer field at Richmond Senior High School, Gonzalez has been staying busy this summer.

“I’m doing soccer workouts this summer and when I’m not playing, I really like going running and going to the gym to stay active,” Gonzalez continued.  “I plan on playing soccer (at Richmond) and I’m trying out for wrestling.”

K’Mauri Morgan’s name did not even appear on the poll until about halfway into the 72-hour voting period, but he received overwhelming support on Independence Day lifting him to the second-place spot.  As a Cavalier, the rising freshman competed as part of the cross country, basketball, and football teams and he plans to try out for football, wrestling, and track at Richmond Senior.

Despite the Cavalier football team going 0-2, Morgan still stood out in his time on the field highlighted by an impressive 51-yard reception against county champion Hamlet and producing several big gains on smashmouth running plays during the short season.

Jah’amere Ratliff, Jayden Hamilton, and Jordan Bostick were all part of Hamlet Middle’s football team that won the county championship outscoring its opponent 100-0 in just three games.

Bostick had an impressive 112 yards and two touchdowns on just 8 carries in Hamlet’s regular season victory over rival Rockingham.  He also netted a goal in soccer against the Rockets during the Red Rams’ 5-0 victory over Rockingham during the regular season.

If you heard the word bulldozer while sitting in the stands at a Hamlet Middle School football game, someone was talking about Ratliff.  The tough Red Ram could be seen pancaking, carrying, or mowing down just about anyone on the field who was not wearing red.

Hamilton’s football season was highlighted by 197 all-purpose yards including a 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown and two rushing scores in the season opener against Cordova Middle.  He also had a 52-yard pick six at Rockingham Middle School the following week.

Ali West, a rising eighth-grader, served on Hamlet’s basketball team. His noteworthy moment from the last season was when he connected on a three-pointer as time expired to send the Red Rams’ home game against Rockingham into overtime.  His clutch shot capped a 12-0 run in the final 1:12 of regulation, but the Rockets went on to win in overtime.

“We had a good season,” said West.  “We won the county championship and we built a bond with each other. Our coaches were amazing. We are going to come back better (next year) than we were this year.”

West, who just started his summer league basketball season, plans to play at Richmond Senior following his final year at Hamlet Middle.

Owen Hancock was a member of Hamlet Middle’s undefeated boys’ soccer team.  Along with his success on the field, the active seventh-grader has been successful in the classroom appearing on the honor roll and winning state awards for BETA club.

Rising freshman Gray Maultsby played on Rockingham’s basketball and baseball teams who each only lost one game on the season.  He is already donning the green and gold as a member of the JV Renegades, Richmond Senior’s summer league team.

Joe Parsons was a multi-sport athlete for Rockingham appearing on the Rockets’ football, basketball, and soccer rosters. His large frame made him a force to be reckoned with on the football field as it took multiple defensive players to bring him down.  His height gave him a significant rebounding advantage in basketball, and he used it to help his Rockets win all of their regular season games.

Braden Baucom was also on Rockingham’s boys’ soccer team.  The booter was the only sixth-grader (rising seventh-grader) to earn one of the poll’s top ten spots.  Baucom’s highlight moment was his two goals in Rockingham’s 5-1 victory at Cordova.

Top 10 Girls

For the girls, it was Hamlet’s Madelynn Pearson (112) and Trinity Lockhart (100) who collected the most votes.  Rockingham long-distance runner Presley Dawkins (97) finished third.  Lady Red Rams’ Quanna Bostic (94), Nevaeh Harris (88), and Jakayla Steele (80) finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Tess Bryant (77, Rockingham), Hayden Robinson (66, Hamlet), Jamyia Lindsey (62, Rockingham), and Riley Howell (53, Hamlet) all rounded out the top 10.

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Pearson pitched in all seven games for the Hamlet softball team who went undefeated and won the county championship.  The rising freshman averaged 8 strikeouts per game in the circle for the Lady Red Rams and recorded a no-hitter against rival Rockingham at Hamlet during the regular season.

“I’ve played softball since I was little and I’ve always loved it,” Pearson said.  “Every other sport that I tried didn’t really work for me.  I like to hit things, so that’s a plus.”

Pearson wants to play for the Lady Raiders.  She is currently playing travel ball with the Scotland Bombers and participating in at least two tournaments a month.

“My coaches for middle school ball were really great coaches, especially Ms. Gardner,” Pearson shared.  “She was such a great coach and very competitive.  I also had really great teammates my eighth-grade year – especially Jakayla Steele and Trinity Lockhart.  I really hope we get to play together at Richmond.”

Lockhart and Steele each also claimed a spot in the top 10.

Lockhart, a rising ninth-grader, was one of only three students whose vote tally reached triple-digits finishing just behind Pearson (112) with 100 votes.  She recorded at least one hit in each of Hamlet’s softball outings in 2021.  She was also a cheerleader at Hamlet appearing at the school’s football and basketball games.

Steele was on a trio of rosters throughout her eighth-grade year at Hamlet Middle.  Along with being a key contributor to the Lady Red Rams softball team, she also played basketball and volleyball.  She knocked one out of the park in 2021’s softball season opener at Ellerbe Middle and never looked back. Steele has spent some time playing alongside Pearson with the Scotland Bombers and is expected to be in the mix when Richmond Senior softball resumes next spring.

Like Steele, Hayden Robinson also served on the volleyball, basketball and softball teams for Hamlet Middle.  Robinson’s softball season highlight was her performance in Hamlet’s 13-3 win over rival Rockingham Middle.  She went 3-for-4 at the plate in the game including a homerun, a triple and 2-RBIs.  Robinson was the team’s leadoff batter and recorded at least one hit in each contest.

Presley Dawkins earned a spot in the poll due to her success in a lesser celebrated sport in Richmond County – cross country.  She and teammate Mariana Mendoza represented Rockingham Middle well by finishing in the top two spots for the girls in each of the county’s cross country meets of 2020-21.

“I was very blessed to have the best teammate to run with,” Dawkins said of Mendoza.  “Mariana became one of my best friends throughout the cross country season. She is a great runner and friend.”

Dawkins’ love of running isn’t limited to scholastic competitions and her choice of running mates isn’t limited to student athletes.

“It’s my passion,” said Dawkins.  “I love winning races and running with my dad.  I love that me and my dad can experience it together.  I have been running races all summer and will continue to do so.”

She also played soccer for the Lady Rockets.  She has one more year at Rockingham Middle, but plans to run for the Lady Raiders cross country team in 2022.

Nevaeh Harris, Quanna Bostic and Riley Howell were each members of the Hamlet Middle soccer team that won the 2021 county championship after upsetting Rockingham 1-0 in the title game.

Harris scored the only goal of the championship game which was also her first goal of the season.  Harris along with Howell served as part of a very aggressive Lady Red Rams team that was not afraid to attack the ball and use their bodies to protect the ball from their opponents.  Both were also cheerleaders during their time at Hamlet Middle.

Quanna Bostic was a tri-sport athlete representing the Lady Red Rams in cross country, basketball and soccer.  As the goalkeeper, she impressed onlookers throughout the soccer season with her ability to defend an unusually large area than typically covered by a goalie.  She was also one of the leading scorers for the team in each of Hamlet Middle’s basketball contests.

Jamyia Lindsey was a force to be reckoned with as a member of the county champion Rockingham Middle girls basketball team.  Her scoring stat reached double-digits in nearly every game she played at Rockingham over the last three years.  In 2021, she finished with an impressive 32 points in a game against rival Hamlet and could have easily padded her overall stats but she often saw limited action in an effort to avoid running up the score.

Lindsey represented Richmond Senior basketball in summer league play over the last few weeks snagging a MVP tournament award at the Fred Lynch Invitational in Wilmington.  Lindsey was also a playmaker on the soccer field for Rockingham. Her 2021 soccer season highlight was a hat trick against Cordova.

Bryant, a rising freshman, was a first-year player for Rockingham Middle’s county champion volleyball team.  She was a key contributor to Rockingham’s success as one of its leading scorers.  She often collected aces from the service line allowing the Lady Rockets to string together points creating leads that were difficult for their opponents to recover from.  Bryant also represented Rockingham Middle as a golfer.

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