Caileen Almeida, Myers Park Girls’ Soccer: The Wofford College signee was invited to train with the U17 Puerto Rican National team, according to Myers Park soccer coach Bucky McCarley. This year, Almeida back to a lead a Mustangs’ squad that went 17-1-2 overall, including a perfect 14-0 in Southwestern 4A conference play in 2019.
Ardrey Kell Girls’ Golf Team: The Knights’ return four starters from a 2019 squad that finished fourth at the 4A state championship match.
This year, Ardrey Kell boasts a deep team with seniors Hannah Lindemann (22nd at states in 2019) and Zoey Key joining junior Shea Smith (26th at states in 2019) and sophomore Nicole Nash (17th at states in 2019) that will give the Knights another chance to be 4A state contenders in 2021.
Noah Bumgarner, West Caldwell Golf: The three-time Northwestern 3A/4A conference player of the year is coming off a standout junior season when he was named the National Junior Golf Association (NJGA) player of the year.
Bumgarner, who averaged 72.9 (per 18 holes) last season, is looking to finish his high school by helping himself and his team contend for a 2A state title (moved to Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference).
Faith Carrigan, Alexander Central softball: The Cougars’ pitcher burst onto the scene two years ago, going 16-5 on the mound with 150 strikeouts in 120 innings of work while boasting a 2.27 ERA. She also hit .375 with home runs in the same season.
Last year, Carrigan was even better going 4-0 with 30 strikeouts, while hitting .625 with two home runs in the COV-19 shortened season.
This year, the all-state pitcher with play a lead role on a team with a chance to compete for championships (conference/state), that also features three juniors: infielders Kara Hinkle and Peyton Price and outfielder Chesney Stikeleather.
Charlotte Catholic Boys’ Golf Team: The two-time defending 3A state champions (2018, 2019) lost a lot with seven seniors, including three Division I golfers from that run.
However, Charlotte Catholic senior Nick Rubino (Hampden-Sydney College commit) and freshman Cornell Beans (No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2024 in the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA), both coming off strong summers on the junior circuit, look to help the Cougars’ stay on top.
Cox Mill Girls’ Golf Team: The defending 3A state champions (2019) return the core of that team with senior Riya Modak (12th at states in 2019) and junior Kennedy Brady (16th at states in 2019) looking to lead the way to another title run.
Ellie Goins, Mooresville Softball: The N.C. State commit Mooresville shortstop hit .493 with five home runs, 10 RBI while leading the Blue Devils (27-5) to the 4A West Regional final (4A state semifinals) in 2019. This year, Goins and fellow senior, catcher, Emma Chopko (Pfeiffer University commit) hope to help Mooresville go all the way.
Mackenzie Hayes, Crest Softball: The USC Upstate commit and all-state performer looks to build on a monster sophomore season (2019) when she hit .557 with 15 doubles, eight home runs and 40 RBI at the plate, while going 14-0 with 159 strikeouts in 72.1 innings on the mound.
This year, Hayes leads a Chargers’ team with seven seniors in the line that should challenge for Big South conference and 3A state supremacy.
Hough Girls’ Soccer Team: The Huskies’ girls’ soccer team will be loaded once again as 15 players, including four, Division I commits return to the roster.
Coach David Smith has talent all over the field led by seniors in midfielder, Ella Hauser, (Clemson commit) forward, Sydney Minarik (Clemson commit), defender, Camden Poole (Charlotte 49ers’ commit), and sophomore forward, Kennedy Bell (North Carolina commit).
Hough has averaged 18 wins per season over the last five years and should be I-Meck conference and 4A state contender again this spring.
Ella Joaquin, Porter Ridge Soccer: The Charlotte 49ers’ commit, Porter Ridge senior, defensive midfielder can also make an impact on offense after scoring 16 goals, while dishing out 20 assists for 15-6 Pirates’ team in 2019 as a sophomore.
This year, Joaquin returns to lead a Porter Ridge team that returns nine starters (13 varsity players) to a team that should be a serious, SW4A conference contender and more into postseason play.
Lake Norman Charter Boys’ Golf Team: The Knights were dominant in 2019, winning the 2A state championship by 31 shots.
This year, Lake Norman Charter returns a veteran cast with senior, two-time all-state performer, Carter Busse (East Carolina commit), classmate, Brandon Spinks (Belmont Abbey commit) and junior, Ben Bailey, whose goal is to repeat.
Kylie LaRousa, Hickory Ridge Softball: The Ragin’ Bulls’ senior catcher had a breakout season in 2019, hitting .351 with eight home runs and 35 RBI.
She was also named Charlotte Area Hot Stove Catcher of the Year.
This year, the Appalachian State commit returns to lead a Hickory Ridge team that won 18 games (in 2019), including the SW4A conference title, advancing to the 4A state quarterfinals, and are hungry for more in 2021.
Myers Park Boys’ Golf Team: The Mustangs made history in 2019, winning the program’s first 4A state championship in 63 years (1956), outlasting New Bern by two shots.
Coach Jason Lockwood has another deep team with eight players back from 2020, including seniors, Cole Chambers (37.1 average; tied for 6th at 2019 states) and Pearse Lucas (37.3 average, tied for 13th at 2019 states), who will try to make another historic, championship run.
Sadie Lee, South Stanly Softball: The Belmont Abbey signee has had a career for the ages at South Stanly, going 33-7 on the mound with 222 strikeouts in 221.2 innings, including eight no-hitters and one perfect game.
This year, Lee looks to add her resume after going 19-3 with 103 strikeouts, 10 shutouts, four no-hitters and one perfect game, while also batting .400 with seven doubles, four home runs and 20 RBI for a 22-3 team in 2019.
Union Academy Girls’ Soccer Team: The Cardinals’ girls’ soccer team have won 48 straight games, including two 1A state championships (2018, 2019) in that span.
With seven starters back, led by seniors in Mia Fraticelli, Mya Manivanh and Ashley Rodgers, Coach Vic Johnson and company will be shooting for a three-peat.
Skyler Walk, Providence Girls’ Soccer: The reigning, SoMeck7 Conference player of the year (2019), Appalachian State commit had 12 goals and six assists as a sophomore. This year, Walk leads a veteran group with seven starters back from the two-time, defending league (SoMeck7) league champions.