Turning a double play

Watauga shortstop Marlie Stilwell turns a double play in the first inning in front of teammate Taylor Lipford, right, and McDowell runner Hannah Shelton. Stilwell and Lipford, both seniors, were honored by the WHS athletic department on April 27.

BOONE — Watauga’s athletic department was looking for a way to honor its athletes that are in the graduating class of 2020.

The teams are not allowed to host a Senior Night since prep athletics have been canceled for the rest of the season and the teams are not allowed to gather until athletics are reinstated.

So, Watauga got creative by turning on the lights on each playing field for the sports — baseball, softball, girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ track and field, boys’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and boys’ tennis for 15 minutes per night.

The softball team was first as its seniors Marlie Stilwell and Taylor Lipford were honored. Their jersey numbers, Lipford’s No. 25 and Stilwell’s No. 17, were painted onto the field, and the lights were turned on from 8-8:15 p.m. The year 2020 was also illuminated on the scoreboard.

NCHSAA shuts down spring athletics

BOONE — The remaining spring high school athletic seasons and state basketball championships have been canceled for the 2020 spring season.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association made the announcement April 24 after N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced that all schools have been closed to in-person learning for the rest of the academic year.

The NCHSAA released a statement to the media via email.

“In keeping with Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement today that the public schools of North Carolina will be closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has canceled all remaining winter championships and spring sports,” the statement read.

The sports included for Watauga High School include baseball, softball, girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ track and field, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, girls’ golf and boys’ tennis. Athletic teams, including those preparing for fall seasons, will not be allowed to gather for any organized practices or for skill development until athletics are reinstated.

“As of right now, we’re still operating under that,” Watauga High Athletic Director Dustin Kerley said. “We’ll wait to hear when we can get back to having some workouts with skill development or things like that. Who knows when that might be, but I’m optimistic that it will come soon enough. I think all these decisions are made with the safety of all those involved in the forefront and you can’t argue with it.”

Titans draft Evans

BRISTOL, Conn. — Former Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 29th pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He is the 93rd pick overall.

Evans, the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year and MVP of the Sun Belt Championship game, declared himself available to the draft at the end of his junior season in 2019. He led the Mountaineers in rushing with 1,480 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019. Evans ended his App State career with 2,884 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns in three seasons.

Evans also caught 39 passes for 319 yards and six touchdowns, giving him 3,203 yards and 31 touchdowns in his three years at running back with the Mountaineers.

Davis-Gaither picked by Bengals

BRISTOL, Conn. — The Cincinnati Bengals selected Appalachian State outside linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL Draft on April 25.

The Bengals made Davis-Gaither the 107th pick of the draft.

“I always carry that chip on my shoulder, regardless of if I would have went in the second round, because I know there are people out there that are doubting me,” Davis-Gaither said on a video call with Bengals reporters. “I just want to prove them wrong. (At App State), that’s our motto.”

Davis-Gaither is the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was second on the Appalachian State defense with 104 tackles, including five sacks. The Thomasville native also had an interception. Davis-Gaither finished with 105 tackles in 2018.

Fehr, Thomas agree to deals

BOONE — Two Appalachian State football players were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, which ran from April 23-25. Now that the draft is over, two other Mountaineers have also managed to find places on NFL rosters.

App State linebacker Jordan Fehr and safety Josh Thomas both agreed to sign undrafted free agent NFL contracts after Mountaineers running back Darrynton Evans and Akeem Davis-Gaither were drafted into the NFL.

“My agent Brian Hamilton met with a lot of teams (April 25) and (April 26) and thankfully the Minnesota Vikings had the best opportunity for me, so that’s who I went with,” Fehr said.

App State men’s basketball

BOONE — The Appalachian State men’s basketball team has added graduate transfer Mike Almonacy to its roster.

Almonacy, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound combination guard from Brentwood, N.Y., made his announcement on Twitter April 27. He thanked App State head coach Dustin Kerns for giving him a chance to become a member of the Mountaineers.

“For my graduate year, I will be attending Appalachian State University!” Almonacy tweeted. “I want to thank Coach Kerns and his staff for believing in me and giving me this amazing opportunity to be a part of their program.”

Almonacy started his college career at Stony Brook University, where he played for two years. He played in 20 games as a freshman and 31 as a sophomore. He scored 15 points and grabbed three rebounds in a game against Hofstra as a sophomore.

Almonacy played the 2019-20 at Southern New Hampshire University. He averaged 15.6 and 4.6 rebounds in 28 games for SNHU.

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