MURFREESBORO – Rutherford County was represented with nominees in all seven categories for 2014 in the 17th annual Pepsi Celebration of Champions as announced by the Nashville Sports Council.
The annual awards honor the best of the best for the greater Nashville area in a variety of areas. The winners, along with the top 10 sports moments for 2014, will be announced Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Bridgestone Arena.
Here is a look at the Rutherford County nominees in each category:
• Sports Person of the Year – Former Smyrna High and Vanderbilt pitching ace Sonny Gray, now the leader of the pitching staff for the Oakland A’s, was nominated after going 14-10 with a 3.08 earned run average and 183 strikeouts over 219 innings in his first full season at the Major League level.
Other nominees include Cumberland baseball coach Woody Hunt, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, Nashville Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber and former Seattle Seahawks and current Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate, a former Pope John Paul II standout.
• Ed Temple Female Amateur Athlete of the Year – Two local athletes – former MTSU women’s basketball star Ebony Rowe and Georgia basketball standout Shacobia Barbee, a Riverdale graduate – are nominated in this category.
Rowe, the Conference USA Female Athlete of the Year for the past school year, graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. The C-USA player of the year guided the Lady Raiders to regular season and tournament league titles and a NCAA tourney berth.
A junior this season for the Lady Bulldogs, Barbee was second-team all-Southeastern Conference last season. She became the first player in program history to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
Other nominees include Trevecca softball pitcher Haley Fagan, Vanderbilt golfer Simin Feng and Vanderbilt women’s basketball player Christina Foggie.
• Ed Temple Male Amateur Athlete of the Year – MTSU basketball standout Shawn Jones was Conference USA Player of the Year after guiding the Blue Raiders to a share of the league regular-season title. He led the team in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goals made and free throws made.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward, is currently standing out for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA Developmental League. He was recently named the league’s player of the week.
Other nominees include Belmont basketball’s J.J. Mann, Vanderbilt baseball’s Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt golfer Hunter Stewart and Tennessee State linebacker Nick Thrasher.
• High School Female Athlete – Two standout basketball players – Riverdale’s Alexa Middleton and Blackman’s Crystal Dangerfield – are among the nominees. The two shared DNJ Female Athlete of the Year honors this past year.
A McDonald’s All-American and Class AAA Miss Basketball, Middleton has played in every game as a freshman this season for nationally-ranked Tennessee. She became the first player to win two skills competitions at the McDonald’s All-American Game.
After guiding Blackman to the Class AAA state championship and consensus national champion as a sophomore, Dangerfield committed to play collegiately for defending national champion UConn. After being named Gatorade Player of the Year for Tennessee and state tournament most valuable player, the point guard is a finalist for Class AAA Miss Basketball this season for the top-ranked Lady Blaze.
Other nominees include Harpeth Hall swimmer and track standout Sophie Pilkinton, Goodpasture volleyball’s Kylie Scruggs and Ensworth cross country’s Emma Slean.
• High School Male Athlete – Blackman quarterback Jauan Jennings was named Class AAA Mr. Football before signing with Tennessee and enrolling for this spring semester. He was the Class AAA state tournament MVP after leading the Blaze to a boys basketball state championship last year.
Other nominees include Braxton Blackwell, Christ Presbyterian Academy basketball; Steven Karl, Ravenwood tennis; Bruno Reagan, Clarksville wrestling; and KeShawn Vaughn, Pearl-Cohn football.
• High School Male Team – Coach Barry Wortman guided Blackman to the Class AAA state championship last season, giving Rutherford County its first boys basketball state championship in 49 years.
Other nominees include CPA football, Ensworth basketball, Franklin soccer and Montgomery Bell Academy football.
• High School Female Team – Coach Chad Hibdon not only led Blackman to the Class AAA girls state championship, but the Lady Blaze were crowned national champions by ESPN, USA Today and MaxPreps.
Other nominees include Brentwood volleyball, Clarksville soccer, Harpeth Hall track and Ravenwood tennis.
Greg Pogue, former executive sports editor at The DNJ, is host of the morning sports talk show on 94.9 FM & 95.1 FM Game 2. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ThePoguester