By PATRICK MacCOON
Less than 10 percent of athletes in all high school sports have the chance to go on to play collegiate sports.Through dedication to their craft and God-given ability, five Cleveland High School standout athletes realized lifelong dreams as they signed National Letters of Intent Wednesday.Four different Blue Raider sports were represented as three athletes will have the opportunity to play Division-I athletics and two will compete at the JuCO level.Among the signees were Emma Flowers (Lincoln Memorial University volleyball), Rheagan Hall (UTC golf), Camden Sewell (Tennessee baseball), Drew Linkous (Walters State golf) and David Isaac (Cleveland State cross country).
Less than 10 percent of athletes in all high school sports have the chance to go on to play collegiate sports.
Through dedication to their craft and God-given ability, five Cleveland High School standout athletes realized lifelong dreams as they signed National Letters of Intent Wednesday.
Four different Blue Raider sports were represented as three athletes will have the opportunity to play Division-I athletics and two will compete at the JuCO level.
Among the signees were Emma Flowers (Lincoln Memorial University volleyball), Rheagan Hall (UTC golf), Camden Sewell (Tennessee baseball), Drew Linkous (Walters State golf) and David Isaac (Cleveland State cross country).
The early signing day period lasts until Wednesday, Nov. 15 for all sports except for football, which has an early period from Dec. 20-22 before National Signing Day on Feb. 8.
The most dynamic outside hitter in the 53 years of CHS history, Flowers’ powerful punch put forth phenomenal career totals: 2,508 kills, 1,779 service points, 1,644 digs, 1,229 receptions, 507 assists, 272 aces and 52 blocks.
“Volleyball has always been the sport I wanted to go to college for,” Flowers said. “You can ask my mom, from the moment I was two and she started coaching I would tell you volleyball is what I want to do with my life.”
The 6-foot-2 all-state talent will have the opportunity to play Division-I beach volleyball and Division-II indoor with the Railsplitters.
“One of my biggest role models is Misty May Treanor,” Flowers said. “She is an All-American and gold medalist Olympian in beach volleyball. Reading her books and looking up to her it’s always something I wanted to do.”
Flowers helped lead the way to 73 total victories over the past two seasons and a pair of wins in the Class AAA state tournament as the Lady Raiders posted back-to-back top six finishes.
“I can personally say we left a legacy,” Flowers said. “We left some pretty high standards. I feel like I can contribute the same way at the next level. I am ready to work for those great opportunities to come.”
Girls' golf had never been a major sport at CHS, which was until Hall left her mark on the links.
To conclude a top-notch career, the soon-to-be Lady Moc was the low-medalist in other words won every match and tournament throughout her season up until the state tournament.
“I kind of ended on a low note at the state tournament, but looking back at what all I have accomplished while I have been a Lady Raider is special to me,” Hall said. “Walking down the hallway and seeing the first ever girls district golf championship plaque is something I worked all four years for.”
Hall led all golfers at state in birdies (11) this past season as she finished tied for fifth. As a junior she finished sixth, eighth as a sophomore and 14th overall in the large class girls’ championship in Manchester.
“It’s been my dream since I was eight years old to play Division-I athletics,” Hall said. “The fact I get to call myself a Lady Moc is so exciting because when I went on my official visit over the summer I knew right away it’s where I wanted to be.
“I want to win a SOCON championship and win a team title as well. I also want to work hard to become an Academic All-American, which means I maintain a 4.0.”
The flame-throwing right-hander, who has touched 93 miles per hour, knew he wanted to be a Tennessee Vol the minute he stepped on campus and is excited about the new coaching staff led by Tony Vitello.
“It seems unreal to be honest,” Sewell said. “It just hit me today what all has happened and how all the hard work has started to pay off. I am excited to be a part of Tennessee’s baseball team. The coaching staff has brought in a lot of energy that was really needed.”
Sewell was stellar on the bump this past season for Cleveland as he posted a 0.98 ERA (56 IP, 7 earned runs) and struck out a District 5-AAA best 76 batters (10.6 K per 7 innings).
He showcased his untouchable stuff as he went 25 2/3 scoreless innings in which he only allowed three hits and hurled a no-hitter against McMinn County on April 4.
“I hope to continue to be a great asset for my team this year,” Sewell said. “I’m not focused on myself. What matters the most to me is to see our team winning ball games first.”
Ole Miss, Mississippi State and many others came after his talents, but were too late as Sewell is excited to become a Vol For Life.
With the furthest drive of any golfer at the state tournament, Linkous’ 350-yard range is a plus to his golf game he will bring to Walters State.
However, he also knows his short game is something he can impress coaches with at the next level as he hopes to help a program that won a national championship back in 2014.
“I want to show the coaches right away I can be stellar in my short game and putting,” Linkous said. “Every coach can see you can hit tee balls, but you have to have a strong up-and-down game at the collegiate level. I am excited for the opportunity and to compete my way into the lineup.”
Linkous finished tied for eighth at the state tournament this past season and flashed his star potential early on.
“My favorite high school golf memory was this year at state,” he said. “I was leading the first round with a 3-under par score through the first six holes. That was a really cool feeling. I enjoyed my high school career and am ready for the next level.”
While told he would never be able to compete in athletics at an early age due to a birth defect that affected his foot, Isaac was determined to run and has now made it to the next level.
“Cross country has taught me to overcome my brace as well as my mind,” he said. “It is a mental sport and being able to be mentally strong helps with my running and in society as well. Even when I am having a bad day, knowing I can overcome challenges motivates me.”
Isaac will join a group at Cleveland State that now has six Cleveland High School graduates.
His favorite memory was winning a 2-mile county championship as a freshman despite being seeded 12th. His career best 5K time is 18:17.
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