By Collin Brooks
Five Daniel Boone athletes signed to continue their careers at the next level during a ceremony at the high school on Friday, Jan. 27.
Cross country runners Caleb Sells and Zac Branham signed with Tusculum College, while Makenzy Bennett signed to continue her basketball career at King University. Makayla Ledford will pursue her education through volleyball at UVa.-Wise and Lexie McDowell will spend some of her college career at Walters State Community College
“We are very pleased to see what they’ve done and we are excited to see what they can do,” said Daniel Boone cross country coach Len Jeffers about his two runners that earned all-conference and all-region during their final two seasons.
The duo became the 24th and 25th signee from the cross country program since 2009.
“I am very happy with my decision and I am looking forward to it and I’m excited,” Branham said. “I really like their team, they feel like a family, which is something that Boone always had.”
Branham and Sells have been friends since first grade and it will be nice to continue their friendship as they pursue their dreams.
“Being able to go to the next level with him, it’s going to be pretty cool; to have your friend there,” Sells said.
Bennett scored 435 points, dished out 153 assists and tallied 130 steals during her varsity career, but most notable is her hard work and dedication, according to her coach Travis Mains.
“She has been a player that has worked her tail end off,” Mains said. “The thing that she has done is every year she has progressed and gotten better and that is because she wanted to.”
Staying close to home was a big drawing point for Bennett, who said she wanted to be far enough to do stuff on her own, but close enough to make it home when she needed to.
But ultimately she was just excited to have an opportunity to play at the next level.
“I have put in a countless amount of hours and I’ve worked every single day on trying to be a better player and better person, and there are a lot of coaches and teammates that have pushed me,” Bennett said.
That drive was also instilled in Ledford, but she said that it’s coming from a higher place now, tearing up as she mentioned her fallen teammate Kaylee Rabun.
“Her and I were always competitive against each other, she always pushed me to do better,” said Ledford who amassed 903 assists, 419 digs and 222 kills during her junior and senior seasons. “Now every time I step on that court, I’m like, ‘This is for Kaylee, I have to do it for her.’”
McDowell was a new kid on the block last year when she transferred in from North Carolina. But Daniel Boone softball coach Jeremy Jenkins said she caught on quickly and never looked back .
“I don’t know why we worried. She just took it like it was wildfire and went on with it,” Jenkins said. “She has a tremendous skill set and is a tremendous athlete.”
The senior catcher said that heading back to a smaller school is where she feels comfortable.
“I like knowing who everybody is and being a big part of the community and the school,” McDowell said. “Going to a big school, you don’t have that as much. So I am excited going back to it, being at Walters State.”