Column: Class of 2017 athletes have been something special


Kelly Graeber

Nine student-athletes signed their National Letter of Intent in the OHS Library on Wednesday, November 9.

Jared Redding, Sports Editor

On May 26, 2017, senior student-athletes will walk across the stage, shake Principal Bradley Roberson’s hand, and receive a diploma from a school that has had their support both on the field of battle and in the classroom.

When it is all said and done and after they throw their caps up in the air, hopefully they will look back at the teams they left behind and say: “I did everything in my power to leave my team better than I found it when I arrived here.”

The 2017 class has been special group. They have, in fact, left OHS a better athletic program. The numbers speak for themselves. In their time at OHS, they have been a part of 17 total state championships. They have compiled a record of 494-237 thus far in the “team sports”.

Some of these student-athletes have played a key role in their team right off the bat to begin their high school career. In football, Colton Skidmore has been the anchor of an offensive line that has allowed their offense to have record setting numbers and accomplishments from 2013-2016. Skidmore started every single game since arriving at OHS, 58 games. In basketball, Jarkel Joiner has been a scorer from the very beginning. Joiner has averaged a mind-boggling 26.9 points per game so far in his long high school career. Joiner, in the words of 20th year head basketball coach Drew Tyler, is the best player that Tyler has ever had under his wing. In volleyball, Maggee Hobson has been a wrecking ball early in her time at OHS. She has been spiking balls since the eighth grade, before she was even at OHS. Hobson finished her career playing 366 sets and earning a whooping 966 kills. The list goes on, but the point is clear, 2017 has contained some of the best athletes that certain sports have ever had or at least in certain positions on their team.

These group of seniors have led their respective teams to big and historic victories, championship appearances, and more importantly, championship wins.

Three times, the seniors contributed to a state championship appearance in football, the Chargers may have fallen short all three times, but how many teams in the state can say that they have done that? Exactly, very few teams could make it three times in a row.

The last two years, Jarkel Joiner (and in the second year, Terry Williams) have scored consistently and played key defense and led their team to the 5A quarterfinals only to fall short of the title game. They led them there, twice.

And who can forget about the back-to-back defending champion Oxford baseball team? The seniors played roles and situations that if they failed, they wouldn’t be holding up championship trophies, such as Ben Bianco’s walk-off home run against New Hope in 2015, or Giles Lamar’s walk-off run against Grenada this past year and so forth.

The volleyball team was the center piece for ending a 18 year championship drought. The cross country and track teams that have had their fair share of state championships. Who knows where they would be without runners like Kyle Rock, Swayze Elliot, Jonathan Tyler, Kenard Harris, A.J. Gable, Tiara King, or Jakira Dunn. All the other sports that are currently in progress, with or without championships, who knows where they would be without a class of athletes such as 2017.

I mean no disrespect to any of the Chargers that have fought, bled, or sweated before them. They laid a strong foundation that has led to this special class of athletes. I hope that this class will plant a seed for future seniors to do the same.

Whether they will take their talents to the college level or finish their journey in their sport, they can always claim wherever they go that they came from Oxford High School: a tradition of excellence. To the class of 2017, thank you.