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2022 recap: Top highlights of Dawson County sports
The Dawson County varsity football team celebrates after defeating Lumpkin County and winning the Region 7-3A title. - photo by Rio White

With 2022 officially in the rearview mirror, it’s that time again to look back at the top highlights of the past year. Here are some of the top moments in Dawson County sports from 2022. 

Chase Elliott wins five races, including first trip to victory lane in Atlanta

Dawsonville native Chase Elliott continued his run as one of NASCAR’s best drivers during the 2022 season, winning a series-best five races and finishing fourth overall in the final playoff standings.

During the season, Elliott achieved another career milestone by winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time in the Cup Series. 

Chase Elliott celebrates after winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo courtesy of James Gilbert/Getty Images)

“I’m just proud to be from here, still live here and grateful that the fans from this state have always kept me as part of the family,” Elliott said after the Atlanta race.

Elliott also continued his reign as the sport’s Most Popular Driver, winning the award for the fifth year running.

He finished the 2022 season with his five wins, 12 top-5 finishes, 20 top-10 finishes and 857 laps led.

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Dawson County varsity football wins region championship

For just the second time in school history, the Dawson County varsity football team won a region title, this time securing it with a triumphant win over rivals Lumpkin County.

The Tigers posted an 8-3 overall record during the 2022 season but went undefeated in region 7-3A, posting two shutouts along the way.

In the team’s eighth season under head coach Sid Maxwell, the Tigers used a stout defense and a strong core of running backs to find success.

The season culminated in the last regular-season game, where Dawson and Lumpkin faced off for the biggest matchup in the rivalry’s history. The Tigers prevailed 38-10 and would earn a state playoff spot, falling to Monroe Area in the first round. 

Cross Country teams both finish top 6 at state championship

The DCHS boys and girls cross country teams both made major improvements from the previous season, with the girls finishing fifth at the class 3A state championship and the boys finishing sixth.

Despite bringing a relatively young group of runners, the girls team had three top-20 state finishers, including a ninth-place overall finish by freshman Hayden Hand.

The Dawson County varsity cross country team comes together after the Region 7-3A championship, where the girls team placed second and the boys team placed third. - photo by Rio White

Just a couple weeks earlier, the girls team had finished as runner-up in the region championship, just a year after not qualifying for state.

The boys moved up to a sixth-place finish a year after finishing 11th. This time around, junior Tyler Tangel led the way for a team that had finished third at the region championship.

Track and Field continues sustained success

In fresh examples of the storied history of DCHS track and field, the 2022 season saw school records broken, two region champions and four top-6 finishes at the State Finals.

Early in the season, junior Emily Kurtz broke the school’s pole vault record with a height of 8 feet 7 inches.

At the Region 7-3A championship, both the boys and girls 4x400 relay teams won their region championships

The Dawson County boys and girls 4x400 relay teams take a group photo after both won the Region 7-3A championship race. - photo by Rio White

School records were broken by both 4x200 relay teams and individually by 800-meter runners Ethan Smith and Anna LeCave. 

At the State Finals, the girls 4x400 group would finish fourth in all of class 3A after breaking a school record while the girls 4x800 team would finish sixth.

Individually, Smith finished fifth in the 800-meter race and LeCave finished sixth.

Volleyball has winningest season, makes state tournament

The DCHS volleyball team had its winningest season in program history, finishing the 2022 season with a 26-18 record and making the state tournament. 

Throughout the season, the Lady Tigers established themselves as force in Region 7-3A, winning matches against eventual region champion White County during the regular season.

Four players from the team earned All-Region honors — Abby Felkai, Kirklyn Porter, Megan Roche and Emerald Sallee.

DCHS Alums hired as head coaches

A pair of former Dawson County student-athletes earned positions as coaches, with Logan Burt hired as head baseball coach and Will Anglin hired as head girls basketball coach.

Cheer team wins 21st region title

A year after winning the class 3A state championship, the DCHS competition cheer team won its 21st Region 7 title under head coach Kim Fleming.

Smith and Cranford named DCN Athletes of the Year

At the second annual Athlete of the Year event hosted by DCN, track and cross-country athlete Ethan Smith and cheerleader Caroline Cranford were named Athletes of the Year.

Smith broke school records as a Tiger, most notably the 800-meter run time. In that event, he has two career top-6 finishes at the class 3A championship. He won numerous regular season races in that event and was an integral part of multiple relay teams. 

Cranford was a leader of the 2021 state championship team, named as an All-State cheerleader as well as the Class 3A cheerleader of the year in 2021. 

Hughes named as All-State golfer, finishes sixth at State Championship

DCHS golfer Alex Hughes capped his Tigers career in top form, placing sixth at the class 3A state championship with an overall score of 1-under par. He was then selected to the All-State team.

New homecoming king and queen named

At halftime of the Dawson County football game on Sept. 23, seniors Trinity Cruse and Macy Clark were named as DCHS homecoming king and queen. 

Trinity Cruse and Macy Clark were named as the 2022 Dawson County High School homecoming king and queen. - photo by Rio White

The son of Justin and Jaclyn Cruse, Trinity is a member of the DCHS soccer team, National Honor Society, Beta Club, an officer for the Key Club and treasurer for the Future Business Leaders of America chapter. 

Cruse plans to continue his educational path with the hopes of attending the University of Georgia on a Pre-Med track, working toward the medical field.

The daughter of Andy and Charity Clark, Macy is the active president of FBLA, vice president of NHS and will be traveling to Europe next summer as part of the International Club.

Clark plans to attend college to work toward a degree in health promotion to become a hospital administrator.