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Gwinnett Grads: Milestone in sight

Alex Haney began play in Athens on Friday in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association South Regional, returning to her home state with a milestone within reach.

The Auburn senior team captain entered the weekend needing just seven points to become the Tigers' winningest player of all-time.

"I never once thought I could do that coming in (to college)," said Haney, a three-time Daily Post player of the year at Grayson. "I'm getting close to it. I might be able to reach it by the end of the fall. That's scary. It would be so great to have that."

Haney has played a major role in rebuilding Auburn's tennis program, which went 0-12 in the SEC during her freshman season. She also endured a coaching change, but the Tigers' program has made great strides, just like their captain.

A two-time All-SEC selection, Haney has alternated between No. 1 and No. 2 singles for most of her college career. She currently boasts a No. 51 national ranking in singles, but she's an even bigger force in doubles.

She and teammate Melissa Koning of Australia, are ranked fourth in the country in doubles and entered this weekend as the tournament's No. 2 seed (although the pair was upset in Friday's quarterfinals in Athens).

The duo, an All-American selection this past spring, still has high hopes for next spring, when they will be one of the top teams at NCAAs.

"I'm the crafty volleyer and she's the big baseline banger," Haney said. "She hits it so hard. We're total opposites but I think that's why we get along so well."

After her college tennis career concludes in the spring, Haney has another year to be a regular college student and finish a degree in entrepeneurial studies and family business. During that year, she said she may play some USTA 25K and 50K tournaments.

Then she plans to continue the pursuit of professional tennis.

"I plan on trying professional tournaments, doubles mainly, because I think I have a pretty good shot at that," Haney said. "Mainly I just want to stay healthy and keep my mind open to what's out there."

FOOTBALL

Clark's play huge for Air Force

Asher Clark, a freshman from Peachtree Ridge, has been a workhorse since taking over as Air Force's starting tailback, rushing for 86 net yards on 23 carries Thursday night as the Falcons defeated New Mexico 23-10 at Colorado Springs.

The victory moved Air Force to 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference and 6-2 overall, making the Falcons bowl eligible. Air Force plays at Army next Saturday.

Clark has 283 net yards and two touchdowns, with almost all of the work coming in the past three games. He had 109 yards in his first start and 65 in his second.

The former high school quarterback also got a chance to throw a pass against New Mexico, but it was incomplete.

Brandon Reeves, a senior starting linebacker from North Gwinnett, also had a good game for Air Force against New Mexico. He forced a fumble that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown, almost intercepted a pass and made four tackles.

Curran named to All-American team

UGA linebacker Rennie Curran was named to the Sporting News Today Midseason All-American Team on Friday.

The Brookwood grad leads the Bulldogs with 55 tackles and seven tackles for losses. He also has made three sacks and has forced two fumbles.

Buford's Hendrix close to record

Furman wide receiver David Hendrix is two catches shy of the Paladins' freshman reception record.

The Buford grad has 26 receptions (15 in the past three games) for 347 yards and a touchdown this season. He had five catches for 63 yards and a TD last week in a 34-20 win over The Citadel.

BASKETBALL

Aminu expected to make immediate impact

Norcross grad Al-Farouq Aminu has yet to play a game for Wake Forest, but the freshman is already held in high esteem.

Collegehoops.net ranked its top six players in the ACC for the 2007-08 and the site ranked Aminu as the No. 5 player behind the North Carolina trio of Tyler Hansborough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington and Duke's Kyle Singler.

The site's comment on Aminu included "it takes a real special player to crack this list ahead of some players who made All-ACC last season. Well, Al-Farouq Aminu is that special of a player. ... The bad news for Wake fans, and good news for the rest of the league, is Aminu has the makings of a one-and-done player, so don't be surprised to see him taken high in next June's NBA Draft."

CROSS COUNTRY

Mecheso fifth at pre-nationals

Former Berkmar star Girma Mecheso was fifth last weekend at NCAA Pre-Nationals at Indiana State University.

Now running for Auburn, Mecheso ran a time of 23 minutes, 37.5 seconds in the men's 8,000-meter white race.

Collins Hill grad Jesse Marino of UGA was 227th in 26:02.60.

Columbia's Jackie Drouin, a Collins Hill grad, was 94th in the women's 6,000-meter white race. Her time was 21:49.30.

VOLLEYBALL

Kerr shines at WCU

Peachtree Ridge grad Amanda Kerr is playing well at a new position for Western Carolina's volleyball team.

The junior, who moved to outside hitter from middle blocker, had 19 kills this past week as the Catamounts defeated rival Appalachian State. She also had a career-best 22 kills along with 12 digs against Georgia Southern.

Earlier in the season Kerr was an all-tournament selection at the N.C. State Hilton/RTP Classic.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.

SideBar: IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS

12:30 p.m. - Kentucky at Florida, WATL

North's E.J. Adams (No. 17) plays wide receiver and North's Ross Bogue (No. 86) plays tight end for Kentucky. Buford's Omar Hunter (No. 99) plays defensive line and Buford's T.J. Pridemore (No. 45) plays fullback for Florida.

3:30 p.m. - Georgia at LSU, CBS

For UGA, GAC's Brannan Southerland (No. 36) plays fullback, Norcross' Fred Munzenmaier (No. 48) plays fullback, GAC's Caleb King (No. 4) plays running back, Brookwood's Rennie Curran (No. 35) plays linebacker, GAC's Christian Robinson (No. 45) plays linebacker and Peachtree Ridge's Drew Butler (No. 13) is a punter. For LSU, GAC's T-Bob Hebert (No. 53) plays offensive line and Peachtree Ridge's Derrick Bryant (No. 36) plays cornerback.

5 p.m. - Wofford at Elon, SportSouth

GAC's Landon Bennett (No. 85) is a kicker, North Gwinnett's Eric Eberhardt (No. 98) plays defensive line, Buford's J.J. Miller (No. 63) plays offensive line and Dacula's Calvin Cantrell (No. 66) plays offensive line for Wofford. North Gwinnett's Clint Duggan (No. 66) plays offensive line for Elon.

6:30 p.m. - Colorado at Missouri, Fox Sports Net

Grayson's Conrad Obi (No. 93) plays defensive end for Colorado.

7:45 p.m. - Alabama at Tennessee, ESPN

Grayson's Lorenzo Washington (No. 97) plays defensive line, Norcross' Darius Hanks (No. 15) plays wide receiver and Norcross' Sam Snider (No. 45) plays wide receiver and punter for Alabama.

8 p.m. - Penn State at Ohio State, ABC

Peachtree Ridge's Cameron Heyward (No. 97) plays defensive line for Ohio State.

10:15 p.m. - USC at Arizona, Fox Sports Net

Norcross' Brice Butler (No. 83) plays wide receiver for USC.