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DCHS student-athletes honored at second annual Athlete of the Year banquet
The DCN Athlete of the Year winners Caroline Cranford and Ethan Smith stand with their awards following the ceremony. - photo by Rio White

On Wednesday, May 11, the Dawson County News celebrated the accomplishments of 13 Dawson County High School student-athletes at the second annual DCN Athlete of the Year Awards.

Nominated for Athlete of the Year were the following: Layne Bailey, Caroline Cranford, Samantha Dewendt, Abby Felkai, Zach Holtzclaw, Emily Kurtz, Kayleigh Moon, Luke Mulberry, Nick Mullinax, Kirklyn Porter, Jose Sandoval, Ethan Smith and Will Whalen.

These student-athletes were chosen not only for their accolades on the field this past school year, but for their role on their respective teams as leaders.

The banquet began with a meal provided by Dawsonville’s El Rio restaurant, followed by an opening announcement by DCN editor Erica Jones. 

In that announcement, Jones recognized event sponsors John Megel Chevrolet and Elite Heating and Air as well as outgoing Dawson County superintendent Damon Gibbs, who was in attendance.

The keynote speaker at the banquet was DCHS alum and former student-athlete Will Wade, who currently represents Dawsonville in the Georgia State House.

State Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) speaks at the 2022 DCN Athlete of the year Awards. Wade is a DCHS alumnus and former student-athlete. - photo by Rio White

Wade spoke about the importance of being a Dawson County student-athlete and the responsibility that comes with setting an example for others. He also emphasized that the student-athletes will carry their Dawson County experience with them through life.

Following Wade’s speech, a video was shown that included all 13 athletes describing what it meant to be a Dawson County Tiger.

Each athlete was then called up to receive a certificate and each coach had the opportunity to describe the accomplishments, character and stories of each athlete.

After all 13 athletes were called up and recognized, the final video of the night was shown, revealing the male and female winners of Athlete of the Year.

Ethan Smith won male Athlete of the Year after a season in cross country and track and field that saw him break school records, qualify for the State Finals both individually and in a relay, and become the vocal leader of both teams. 

Caroline Cranford won female Athlete of the Year after leading the competition cheer squad to a Class AAA State Championship and finishing as the first runner-up in the state as an individual cheerleader, out of over 150 in Class AAA.

Athlete of the Year interviews 2022

The 2022 Athlete of the Year nominees talk about their time at Dawson County High School.

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Caroline Cranford interview

Caroline Cranford, 2022 Athlete of the Year talks about being a Dawson County Tiger.

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Ethan Smith 2022 Athlete of the Year

Ethan Smith talks about being a Tiger

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