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Thursday, April 30, 2009
RISE National Athletes of the Week

Phenomenal high jumper James White of Grandview (Mo.) High and national softball record holder Kayla Braud from Marist High (Eugene, Ore.), have been selected as the first ESPN RISE National High School Athletes of the Week for the 2009 spring season.

James White
James White owns the national high school high jump record.

The spring version of the ESPN RISE athletes of the week will honor boys and girls athletes from baseball, softball, track & field, lacrosse, soccer and boys volleyball. There will be five regional selections for both boys and girls and among those five a national honoree will be chosen.

White created headlines in the Kansas City metro area by clearing a new national interscholastic record of 7-5 ¾ last week at the Winnetonka Invitational. He had first gone over the bar at 7-2 and then 7-4 and thought he had done it at 7-6. Officials then re-measured the height to confirm and corrected the clearance to 7-5 ¾. It is still better than the 25-year-old National Federation record of 7-5 ¼ set by Dothel Edwards of Athens, Ga.

There's much more to White's achievement than just the sheer heights, however. He's just a junior and he also stands just 5-foot-10. It's the kind of spring in someone's legs that comes around once in a generation.

Before the Winnetonka Invitational, White offered a glimpse of what was to come by taking the high jump crown at the Kansas Relays and set a meet record with a winning clearance of 7-3 ¼.

Speaking of national records, our girls honoree increases her record in every game she collects a hit for the Marist softball team. As a sophomore, she got at least one hit in every game and finished the season with a 46-game hitting streak. There wasn't a blip in that streak for all of the 2008 season, either, as Braud slapped away for a .660 average. She helped Marist win the Class 4A state title and pushed her streak to 73 games.

Last week, in a 13-0 win over Elmira, Braud cracked a two-run single and upped her streak to 92 games. It's nearly double the previously reported national record.

Braud's team at Marist entered this week with an unbeaten record and was among those included in the latest ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings. She is the granddaughter of Spartans' head coach Bob Hammitt and has signed to play at the University of Alabama. A left hander with speed, bunting skills and power, Braud is almost guaranteed of a hit by just putting the ball in play anywhere on the left side of the infield.

Athletes of the Week Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |

The full list of this week's ESPN RISE regional boys and girls athletes of the week follows:

East Region Athletes of the Week

Anthony Kostelac (Albemarle, Charlottesville, Va.) Track & Field
In perhaps the best race of the entire Penn Relays, which were held last week in Philadelphia, Kostelac ran the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay team that set the U.S. outdoor record with a 7:30.67 time. Albemarle's time shattered the previous U.S. high school record by a full two seconds. All four runners ran at least a 1:55 with Kostelac bringing home the win and record with a personal best of 1:49 after starting in second place. His 1:49 time earned him MVP of the meet honors and was the fourth fastest time in meet history in front of nearly 80,000 spectators. The team had previously broken the world junior indoor record in that same event at the Boston Indoor Championships.

Katie Trotter (Williamstown, N.J.) Softball
After staying behind and missing her senior trip to Walt Disney World, it was only fitting that Trotter not only picked up the win in the circle but also drove in the game-winning runs as the Braves won the championship at the Hammonton tournament with a 3-1 win over Rancocas Valley. Williamstown, which was 26-1 last season with their only loss coming in the semifinals of this same tournament, was in a tie game at 1-1 when Trotter came through with a two-out, two-run single for the lead which she wouldn't surrender to earn tournament MVP honors. Instead of joining her five fellow seniors on the team for a trip to Disney World, she decided she'd stay so she could pitch in the opening rounds of the tournament so the team could have a chance to win the tournament that escaped them last year. Trotter has led Williamstown to a 9-0 record at the start of this week and to the No. 3 ranking in the state, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. She has signed to continue playing at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Southeast Region Athletes of the Week

Enzo Martinez (Northwestern, Rock Hill, S.C.) Soccer
Martinez is a standout player for the No. 1 team in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 spring rankings and poured in four goals in a 6-1 win last week over Fort Mill. After a nearly two-week layoff without a game, Martinez wasted no time in getting a goal as he scored from the penalty spot before the game was even 10 minutes old. Martinez scored his second goal five minutes later and scored the final two goals of the game in the second half. Considered one of the top players in the nation, he has signed with North Carolina after a junior year that saw him score 50 goals with 22 assists while setting a state record for career goals with 143 with his senior year still remaining to add to that total.

Erika Garcia (Archbishop McCarthy, Southwest Ranches, Fla.) Softball
One of the top softball players in Broward County, Garcia ripped a two-run liner that gave her team the early boost in an eventual 2-0 upset win over Pembroke Pines Charter in the District 15-4A championship. Pembroke Pines came into the game at No. 5 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings and Garcia smacked her double off of Pembroke ace Lauren Sewell. Earlier in the same district tournament, Garcia was the winning pitcher in a 2-1 win by her team over West Broward.

Midwest Region Athletes of the Week

Bob Schuch (Brother Rice, Chicago) Baseball
A three-year starter, Schuch has been one of the top players this year for a team that began this week at 14-0 and is ranked at No. 9 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50. In a 11-4 win over St. Ignatius (Chicago), Schuch smacked a single and a double. Then in an 8-7 win in extra innings against Stagg, Schuch hit a game-tying homer in the seventh inning. He also had an RBI double earlier in that game. Last year, the Bradley University signee had a .336 batting average.

Kelly Frings (Pius, Milwaukee) Soccer
The 6-foot-1 junior goalie led her team to a win over Divine Savior Holy Angels (Milwaukee), which was ranked No. 1 in the state. Frings stopped 14 shots in a regulation 0-0 tie that her team then won with a 4-2 total in a shootout. It was her third shutout in her first six outings. Frings also was among the most honored players in Milwaukee during the recent basketball season. She averaged nearly 14 points per game.

Southwest Region Athletes of the Week

James White (Grandview, Mo.) Track & Field
Also named the ESPN RISE National Boys Athlete of the Week.

Toni Young (Del City, Oklahoma City) Track & Field
She destroyed her previous state record in the high jump and tied a national record with a jump of 6-4 at the Norman North Invitational. Her previous high of 5-11 was set in April before breaking it by five inches to tie four-time Olympian Amy Acuff's national mark. Young has won the last two Class 6A high jump state championships and also was a part of Del City's Class 6A state championship recently in basketball. She will head to Oklahoma State to play basketball where the Cowgirls will likely count on her leaping abilities to dominate the boards.

West Region Athletes of the Week

Christian Lopes (Valencia, Calif.) Baseball
Regarded as one of the top sophomore baseball prospects in the nation, Lopes is in the midst of a huge season. The slick-fielding shortstop led the Vikings to a pair of wins last week against league rival Hart (Newhall, Calif.). He went 3-for-6 in one game, then 2-for-4 and ripped his ninth homer of the season. Lopes, who is hitting close to .400 for the season, also has collected eight doubles to go with the home runs.

Kayla Braud (Marist, Eugene, Ore.) Softball
Also named the ESPN RISE National Girls Athlete of the Week.

Mark Tennis, Doug Huff, Christopher Lawlor, Sheldon Shealer, Garland Cooper, Ronnie Flores and Steve Underwood contributed to this story.