Commentary

ESPN RISE Athletes of the Week

Updated: December 4, 2009, 9:18 AM ET
By Steve Underwood | ESPN RISE

It's a sweep for the Northeast as girls volleyball player Ariel Scott of Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.) and boys soccer player Alex Bramall of Newburgh Free Academy (Newburgh, N.Y.) have been chosen as the ESPN RISE National Boys & Girls Athletes of the Week.

Ariel Scott
Kelly Kline\ESPN RISE MagazineAriel Scott dominated as Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.) won its third straight New Jersey Tournament of Champions title.

Scott, a 6-foot-5 middle blocker, dominated with 12 digs and 12 kills as Immaculate Heart Academy won its third straight New Jersey Tournament of Champions title last weekend with a 25-14, 25-15 victory over previously unbeaten Bridgewater-Raritan (Bridgewater, N.J.). Her team ended the season with a 30-0 record against New Jersey teams; the loss in its 31-1 season came to FAB 50-ranked Eden (N.Y.). Scott was MVP of the tournament, undoubtedly the first of many awards that will come her way before she gets on the court again, for NCAA power Penn State.

Scott went to Immaculate Heart primarily to play basketball and had never played volleyball before joining the team as a freshman. As a junior, she was the Newark Star-Ledger's state player of the year after recording 366 kills, 107 digs, 52 blocks and 50 aces.

Bramall led his soccer team to a state title in New York last weekend. Newburgh Free Academy trailed Brentwood (Brentwood, N.Y.) 1-0 with 16 minutes left in the Class 2A final when Bramall set up a teammate for a goal. With five minutes left, Bramall scored himself. The 2-1 victory gave the Goldbacks their first New York state title.

Bramall, who has committed to St. John's University, has been a pool player in the U.S. Soccer Under-15 and Under-17 national team development program. He is regarded as one of the top midfielder college prospects in the nation.

This week's ESPN RISE Regional Athletes of the Week for fall sports (not including football):

East Boys
Alex Bramall
Newburgh Free Academy (Newburgh, N.Y.), Soccer
Also chosen as the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.

East Girls
Ariel Scott
Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.), Volleyball
Also chosen as the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.

Southeast Boys
Brian Atkinson
Melbourne (Melbourne, Fla.), Cross Country
History has been repeating itself for Atkinson much of the season, so why should the state meet be any different? For the second straight year, the senior not only found himself the favorite in the 4A race, but also with a tough slate of marks from the previous classes to beat if he wanted to be the fastest of the day. As in 2008, he did just that, with his 15:20.48 for five kilometers nipping the times of the 3A and 2A winners by one and two seconds, respectively, and winning his own race by 10. Atkinson earlier won the Great American meet in North Carolina with a time almost exactly the same as his winning Nike Cross National South time in 2008 on the same course.

Southeast Girls
Maddy Martin
Plant (Tampa, Fla.), Volleyball
A highly-regarded outside hitter, Martin punched through 22 kills to lead her team past Winter Park (Winter Park, Fla.) in the Class 6A state championship. Winter Park had won three straight Class 6A state titles, whereas Plant had won three straight in Class 5A. Martin was on the roster of all three previous state title teams and ended her career with a rare 4-for-4 sweep. She led Hillsborough County in kills this season and will play in college at Penn State.

Midwest Boys
David Osborn
Chesterton (Chesterton, Ind.), Cross Country
The Mideast Meet of Champions is an extra opportunity for top seniors in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan to get a big victory, and for those who didn't top the podium in their state meets it can be quite satisfying. Osborn was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Indiana state meet three weeks earlier, but in Kettering, Ohio, last Saturday he defeated the four-state, 48-runner field with a 15:38 -- four ticks better than Michigan's Nathan Karr.

Midwest Girls
Allison Stillwell
Tri-Valley (Dresden, Ohio), Cross Country
For Stillwell, the Mideast Meet of Champions was a chance to show that although she was fifth in her state's Division I meet two weeks earlier, the finish was a testament to the toughness of the competition and that she could compete well against a strong regional field. That's exactly what she did, running an 18:11 over five kilometers to top the 47-runner all-star field by 11 seconds.

Southwest Boys
Ryan Dohner
Klein Oak (Klein, Texas), Cross Country
There's nothing as redemptive as coming back from the worst race of your career with the best race of your career, and that's what Dohner did at the Nike Cross Nationals South Regional Championships at The Woodlands last weekend. A week earlier, Dohner -- the runner-up at Nike South -- considered himself a top-three contender or better in the big 5A state meet but finished 11th. The field at NXN South was almost identical, except with additional athletes from other Texas classes and other states added, and this time Dohner was in top form. The result was a dramatic victory in the rain and mud in 15:38.9, beating all of the top runners from Texas 5A and scoring the first major victory of his career.

Southwest Girls
Aubree Piper
Canyon Randall (Amarillo, Texas), Volleyball
The senior outside hitter had a match-high 15 kills in Canyon Randall's Class 4A state semifinal win over Seguin, then led the way in the championship match against Brenham with 10 kills. She is headed to Texas Tech. Her team also ended the season with 42 straight match wins and has earned a spot among the top 10 in the final ESPN RISE FAB 50.

West Boys
Ethan Jones
South Salem (Salem, Ore.), Soccer
A defender who doesn't score much, Jones had the game-winning goal last weekend as the Saxons edged South Medford (Medford, Ore.) 2-1 to win the Class 6A state championship. Jones has earned all-league honors for his efforts and helped South Salem (15-0-2) hold opponents to six goals this season.

West Girls
Eleanor Fulton
Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Cross Country
Fulton's third-place finish in last year's Nike Cross National Finals was a stunner. She had been fifth in her 5A state meet and fifth in the Nike Cross National Southwest meet. But after that race in Portland and a track season that saw her become No. 4 all-time in the 2k steeplechase, Fulton could no longer sneak up on anyone. Still, no one could keep up with her last weekend in the 2009 Nike Cross National Southwest meet in Tempe, Ariz., and she'll be one of the favorites in Portland after a 17:45.46 5k victory. Fulton was second in her 5A state meet in late October behind unbeaten Kelsey Lakowske.

For the fall season, the national athlete of the week honors will be given to those who participate in sports other than football. The ESPN RISE Athlete of the Week panel consists of Garland Cooper (softball), Andrew Drennen (baseball), Ronnie Flores (basketball), Doug Huff (multi-sports), Kristin Olsen (volleyball), Sheldon Shealer (soccer), Mark Tennis (multi-sports) and Steve Underwood (track and cross country).

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