Several athletes whose names are familiar in the Swannanoa Valley were recognized for their fall season performances in All-WNC teams that The Asheville Citizen Times announced the first week of 2018.
The players represent the top performers in their individual sports.
Owen High School freshman Hannah Larios, a standout on the cross country trails who won the Western Highlands Conference championship and was named the conference’s runner of the year, was the lone athlete from the school to earn a spot on an All-WNC team.
Her personal best of 20:30 in a 5K (3.1 miles) was a school record for freshmen. She helped lead the Warlassies cross country team to an appearance in the state championship.
Larios, the daughter of Montreat College athletic director Jose Larios, burst on the scene last season when she took first place among more than 120 runners in the annual Hyder-McMahill Invitational. (The race is named after Joe Hyder and Don McMahill, who built and maintain the In The Oaks trails that snake through Montreat College’s Black Mountain campus.)
Swannanoa Valley native Sidney Gibbs transferred to Christ School last summer, where he continued to make a name for himself as one of the region’s premiere running backs. Gibbs was named to the All-WNC first team after a season in which he rushed for 2,029 yards and 14 touchdowns in just nine games.
On his way to a gaudy 225-yard-per-game average, Gibbs earned national recognition with a Oct. 6 touchdown run against Rabun Gap-Nacoochee (Ga.) that was featured on the Top 10 segment of ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
Gibbs, the nephew of Owen’s second all-time leading rusher Shawn Gibbs, eclipsed the 200-yard mark five times in 2017 and twice rushed for more than 300 yards.
Three players from the Owen Warhorses were recognized as honorable mentions for the All-WNC football team.
Senior linebacker Kaleb Woods was the sole player on the Warhorse defense to record more than 100 tackles last season. Woods was the defensive leader for Owen, which finished the season 1-9 in a competitive WHC.
Juniors Auden Meyers and Otis Mallory were also recognized with honorable mentions. Meyers started all 10 games for the Warhorses at quarterback and threw for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Mallory, the team’s second-leading tackler, made his biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball where he played on the line. He led the Warhorses with five sacks and 10 tackles for losses.
Seniors Ashley Valencia and Jaiden Tweed were 10-5 as the Warlassies’ number one-seeded doubles team in 2017. Tweed and Valencia, who as a duo finished third in the regional tournament in October to advance to the state championship, were named honorable mentions for the All-WNC girls tennis team.