Last week, I took a look at how Bossier Parish schools fared during the 2015-16 sports year.
Now it’s time for the annual “best athletes in the parish” column.
As usual, there’s no shortage from which to choose.
As I’ve written in the past, I believe that to be one of the top athletes you have to excel in at least two sports. An exception is someone who wins an individual state title. To accomplish that, regardless of the sport, I believe you have to be a tremendous athlete.
I realize that I may leave someone deserving out. If you know of someone deserving who’s not in this column, my email is at the end. Feel free to let me know.
(Note: The athletes’ classes referenced are what they were in 2015-16).
I’ll start with the girls.
In 2014-15, Parkway junior Sara Funderburk was an easy choice for the best female athlete in Bossier Parish.
She didn’t have quite the same spectacular year as a senior, but it was plenty good enough to put her at the top of the list again.
Funderburk, an LSU signee, was the MVP on The Press-Tribune’s All-Parish soccer team for the second straight year. She led Parkway to the District 1, Division II title and the state semifinals.
She also won the District 1-5A cross country title. She didn’t repeat as state champion, but she very well may have if she hadn’t fallen ill during the 5A race at the state meet.
In track and field, Funderburk was the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter District 1-5A champion. She also anchored the winning 4X400 team. She won the regional 1,600 and finished runner-up in the 3,200.
At the state meet, Funderburk finished second in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200. All it all, I’d have to say she had one of the best overall high school athletic careers in the history of Bossier Parish.
There were, of course, several other worthy candidates.
Parkway junior Madelyn Elliott was the only parish athlete who made first-team All-Parish in soccer and softball.
Plain Dealing sophomore Teunna Perry was the Class 1A state champion in the long jump, triple jump and high jump. She was also a second-team All-Parish basketball selection.
Parkway senior Miranda Scotten was a first-team All-Parish soccer selection and ran on the 1-5A champion 4X400 relay team.
Haughton had several stronger contenders.
Senior Inez Green was a first-team All-Parish basketball selection. She was also a two-time 1-5A track champion, taking the shot put and discus. She was the regional runner-up in the shot.
Junior Savannah O’Neal was a first-team All-District 1-5A volleyball selection and Class 5A state runner-up in the javelin in her first year competing in track and field.
Junior Ciara White finished runner-up in singles in the Division II state tennis tournament. She was also a second-team All-District 1, Division II soccer selection.
Senior Caitlin Tibbits was the District 1-5A pole vault champion. She also an honorable mention All-District volleyball selection.
Benton sophomores Breanna Bundy and Hailey McGhee were both first-team All-Parish soccer selections. They also both ran on the Lady Tigers’ District 1-4A champion 4X400 relay team.
Benton senior Brandy Harris can’t be called a “two-sport star,” but she was the All-Parish basketball MVP and competed in track and field.
Airline and Bossier also didn’t have any athletes who fit into the “multiple-sports star” category.
Airline sophomore Brittany Roberson had an outstanding track and field season, winning the 1-5A 400, and was a member of the basketball team.
Bossier sophomore Destiny Thomas was a second-team All-Parish basketball selection. She also competed in track and field, finishing fourth in the 1-4A long jump.
Bossier’s Kiana Ruiz won the 1-4A 3,200 and finished second in the 1,600. She was also an honorable mention All-District soccer selection.
The competition for male athlete of the year was extremely tough. Many parish athletes had outstanding years. But I think it comes down to two — Plain Dealing junior Keldrick Carper and Haughton senior Antonio Woodfork.
Carper was a first-team All-Parish selection in football and basketball. He also made it to the medal stand three times in the Class 1A track and field meet.
Woodfork was named the Outstanding Performer in the Class 5A state meet, winning the high jump and 110-meter hurdles and finishing second in the 300 hurdles.
He was also a first-team All-District 1-5A selection in football at wide receiver. Woodfork also had some success on the basketball court.
Carper and Parkway senior Keondre Wudtee were the only athletes to make first-team All-Parish in basketball and football.
A case can also be made for Wudtee, the Offensive MVP on the All-Parish football team, as the parish’s top athlete in 2015-16.
Parkway and Haughton have several other candidates.
Parkway sophomore Terrace Marshall Jr. was a first-team All-Parish football selection. He was also a key member of the Panthers’ District 1-5A co-champion basketball team and ran on the district runner-up 4X200-meter relay team.
Like Marshall, junior Robert McKnight was a first-team All-Parish football selection and a starter in basketball. He also competed in track and field and was the 400-meter runner-up in the parish meet.
As I said earlier, in my opinion winning an individual state championship takes outstanding athletic ability. Parkway had two wrestling state champs — Nathan Pitts and Garrett Strozier.
Haughton junior Josh Lister was the District 1-5A and regional 100-meter champ. If not for a false start, there’s a very good chance he would’ve been the 100 state champ. He also ran on the Bucs’ state champion 4X100 relay team. Lister was a second-team All-District 1-5A football selection.
Junior Duncan Smith was the 1-5A 400-meter dash champion and a first-team All-Parish football selection. Junior Nico Broadway was a first-team All-Parish soccer selection and first-team football selection at kicker.
As usual, Airline had its share of outstanding athletes in all sports.
Senior Xavier Johnson made a good case for himself for athlete of the year. He was a first-team All-Parish football selection. He also won the District 1-5A 110-meter championship and finished third in the 300 in the state meet.
Junior Josh James was the only parish athlete who was a first-team All-Parish selection in football and baseball.
Senior Gabe Rodriguez was the MVP on the All-Parish soccer team and a first-team football selection at kicker.
Senior Tyler McCallister was the District 1-5A champ in the javelin and a first-team All-Parish football selection.
Senior Shun’Cee Thomas was a first-team All-Parish football selection. He also had success in the sprints in the spring.
Airline junior Christian Walden was a Division I state wrestling champion and one of the best in the state in any class.
Benton also had several athletes who had success in multiple sports.
Sophomore Garrett Hable was one of the MVPs on the All-Parish football team. He was also a first-team All-District 1-4A baseball selection.
Junior John Westmoreland was a first-team All-Parish selection in football at receiver. He also had success in the hurdles in the spring.
Sophomore Taylor Ward was a first-team All-Parish selection in footsoccer and first-team All-District selection in baseball. Sophomore Jordan Myles was a first-team All-Parish football selection. He was also a regional wrestling runner-up and third-place finisher in the state tournament.
Bossier senior John Langston was a second-team All-District 1-4A football selection. He also ran on the winning 4X400 team in the parish championships.
Senior Aaeron Smallwood was a first-team All-Parish football selection and runner-up in the parish meet in the discus.
Sophomore Xavier Venious swept the hurdles in the District 1-4A meet and also played football.
Of course, the athletes mentioned above are just a small fraction of those that competed in Bossier Parish in 2015-16.
My admiration goes out to all those athletes who put in the hard work and gave it their best, regardless of whether they were first-team All-Parish selections, starters or subs waiting on a chance to help their teams succeed.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org