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GWINNETT GRADS: Brettschneider, Thomas earn player of year honors

The same offensive talent that made them stars on Gwinnett County’s soccer fields have brought a couple of big college honors for Blake Brettschneider and Chris Thomas.

The Gwinnett grads were named players of the year this week by their respective conferences — South Carolina’s Brettschneider in Conference USA and Elon’s Thomas in the Southern Conference.

Brettschneider, also a first-team all-conference pick, shared the Conference USA MVP and offensive player of the year awards after a senior season in which he had five goals and a team-high eight assists. The Parkview grad tallied all of his assists and three of his goals once league play started.

“Just to be nominated for awards like these is a great honor,” Brettschneider said. “Conference USA is a very tough conference with a lot of great players that are probably just as deserving. I try to take our season one game at a time and help put our team in a position to get results. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great players that have allowed me to have the season I have, and without them I don’t think any of this would be possible.”

Brettschneider’s teammate, senior goalie Jimmy Maurer, was a second-team All-Conference USA pick. Maurer, a Lawrenceville resident who went to St. Pius, has seven shutouts this season, giving him 26 for his career (second-best in school history).

Thomas, who won the SoCon’s freshman of the year last season, earned the league’s top honor after scoring a conference-best 10 goals this season. Three of the Greater Atlanta Christian grad’s goals were game-winners.

SOCCER

Baker gets SEC community service award

Parkview grad Ashley Baker, a goalkeeper at Georgia, was the Bulldogs’ representative on the SEC Community Service Team for women’s soccer.

Baker’s community involvement includes running a recent clinic for 124 Girl Scouts, as well as weekly trips to the Athens Boys and Girls Club and trips to visit patients at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Parrish leads locals in Peach Belt honors

Grayson grad Stephanie Parrish, who set the Columbus State all-time scoring record last month, led a group of four Gwinnett products on the All-Peach Belt Conference first team.

Parrish was joined by Armstrong Atlantic’s Kristina Pascutti and Morgan Mitchell, both of Parkview, and Columbus State teammate Kansas Bayly, also a Parkview grad.

North Georgia’s Samantha Abrahart (Greater Atlanta Christian) was a second-team selection. North Georgia’s Juan Hurtado (Collins Hill) was a second-team selection to the men’s team.

Great South team loaded with locals

Nine Gwinnett products who play for Piedmont College were selected to the All-Great South Atlantic Conference soccer teams this week.

Grayson grads Nick Weatherby (who led the conference in goals, assists and points) and Brian Ruelbach were men’s all-conference picks as was Brookwood grad Justin Whitaker. Whitaker joined his former Brookwood teammate, Chase Rivers, on the all-freshman team.

Buford’s Justine Clay, Collins Hill’s Kaitlyn Induni, Peachtree Ridge’s Katherine Metz and Brookwood’s Laura Goodwin were selected to the all-conference team. Goodwin was the GSAC freshman of the year and an all-freshman team member along with teammate Sarah Hill of Parkview.

VOLLEYBALL

Troyer named All-SCAC

Wesleyan grad Caiti Troyer, a senior setter at Trinity University in Texas, was named to the All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference first team for the second straight year.

Troyer has 1,344 assists this season and 3,490 in her career, ranking fifth all-time in school history.

CROSS COUNTRY

Mecheso gets academic honor

Berkmar grad Girma Mecheso, a runner at Oklahoma State, was one of nine men nationwide to receive the Scholar-Baller Program’s Academic Momentum Award, given for academic improvement. The award is presented in conjunction with the National Consortium for Academics and Sports.

In addition to his academic gains, Mecheso won this year’s Big 12 individual title in cross country.

Locals finish high at conference meet

Georgia College and State University runner Rob Manning, a Collins Hill grad, was 18th at last weekend’s Peach Belt Conference Cross Country Championships with a 27 minutes, 23 seconds. Teammate Colin Conroy of Mill Creek was 22nd in 27:34.

GCSU women’s runners and Gwinnett grads Dani Destiche (27th, 26:38) and Andrea Byrnes (33rd, 27:21) also fared well.

FOOTBALL

Quick hits

Vanderbilt defensive lineman T.J. Greenstone returned last week after missing five weeks with a high ankle sprain. The Collins Hill grad had four tackles, one for a loss, and two quarterback hurries in a loss to Florida. ... Peachtree Ridge grad Mitchell Williford was voted Georgia Southern’s most valuable offensive player in last week’s win over Appalachian State. The wide receiver had four catches, two pancake blocks and a handful of knockdown blocks in the win. Shiloh’s Michael Butler also had a big interception for the Eagles.

SWIMMING

Freeman honored again

Greater Atlanta Christian grad Will Freeman was named the SEC freshman swimmer of the week after leading Georgia in a meet against Georgia Tech and Emory. Freeman won both the 1,000 freestyle (9 minutes, 13.51 seconds) and the 500 free (4:32.92) for the first victories of his college career. He also was third in the 400 individual medley (4:07.46).

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.