High School scholar athletes recognized

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June 6, 2022 by Shirley Adams - Views: 214

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High School scholar athletes recognized

Outstanding Graduates from Local High Schools in 2022 Class_

Editor’s Note:

The Simpsonville Sentinel congratulates these three students for their accomplishments in academics as well as varsity sports. We wish them continued success in their future endeavors.

Caleb Byrd - Mauldin High School


Caleb Byrd

Raised in this area, Caleb Byrd played on the Mauldin Mavericks Varsity Basketball team all four high school years. His position was point guard, and his jersey bore the number five. Caleb’s fondest memory and greatest claim to fame occurred on February 21, 2022, during a critical game against Dorman High School, one of Mauldin’s fiercest competitors. Just as the buzzer sounded, Caleb made this shot that landed them three points, making the score 69 to 68 and catapulting the Mauldin team to the Upper State Championship. He still remembers the thrill and the joy that he and his team felt that night. The team’s victory made ESPN, WTAE channel 4, and Greenville On-Line coverage.

But Caleb is not just an outstanding athlete and basketball player. He is a member of Beta Club and has a 4.7 GPA with fifteen semester hours of college credit.

And it has not always been easy for Caleb. His biggest challenge came during his sophomore year when he required two knee surgeries for osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a condition of the knee joint where the cartilage is loosened from its supporting bone. It took nine months of physical therapy to completely recovery. This experience gave him a unique perspective and influenced his career goals. Caleb wants to help others who become benched in their favorite sports due to an injury.

Now that he has completed high school, Caleb looks forward to a vacation in Florida. He plans to focus on basketball, work a little bit, and spend time with his family, especially his brother Joshua. His outside interests include drawing, playing disc golf, and listening to music.

But come fall, Caleb will be attending Newberry College where he will continue playing basketball. Caleb is fascinated with kinesiology, the study of human anatomy with respect to muscle movement. He plans to major in psychology and hopes to establish a career as a sports psychologist or an athletic trainer.

Caleb says that he grew as a person during these last four years. He also declares that he will miss the whole high school experience because he had a lot of friends as well as great teachers and wonderful coaches along the way.

Caleb likes to quote two people who have inspired him to do his best in whatever he undertakes. His mother, Charmaine, is fond of saying, “I do what I can while I can so that I don’t feel bad.”  Caleb also paraphrases a quote from Dwyane Wade, an American former professional basketball player. “My belief in myself is greater than anyone’s doubt.”


Bennett McDowell - Woodmont High School


Bennett McDowell

Born and raised in this area, Bennett McDowell played receiver and safety positions on the Woodmont Wildcats Varsity Football team all four high school years. Bennett wore jersey number thirty-two, and the Wildcats won regionals during his sophomore year. Bennett also wrestled as a freshman and sophomore and was designated “Rookie of the Year” during his first year in that sport. If that’s not enough, Bennett also played golf.

In addition to his athletic abilities, Bennett excels academically. He is a member of the National Honor Society and PLTW (Project Lead the Way) in computers. He took all honors and AP courses and achieved a GPA of 4.6.

What makes Bennett’s story so amazing is that he was born three months premature and weighed only one pound, fourteen ounces at birth. The doctors did not expect him to live. He spent three months in the hospital and eight months on oxygen therapy. Despite this difficult beginning, Bennett went on to excel in both his schoolwork and sports!

Bennett is inspired by his dad’s having played sports. Following in his father’s footsteps, both he and his brother played football together at Woodmont High School. He says that he really wants to make his dad proud.

This summer, Bennett plans to take a brief vacation and play golf to relax. However, he starts classes at Clemson University two weeks after graduation. He does not know about a job yet but really wants to concentrate on his studies for now.

In the fall, Bennett will major in computer science at Clemson University. At this point, he is undecided about his ultimate career goal. However, machine language and especially artificial intelligence (AI) intrigue him. For now, Bennett does not plan to play sports in college.

Reflecting upon his high school years, Bennett says that the one thing he will miss is the team. He adds that they had some great times together and made some wonderful memories.

Bennett looks forward to his future studies at Clemson. He declares, “With hard work and dedication, you can do anything!”


Ryan Stansell - Hillcrest High School


Ryan Stansell

More than anything, Ryan Stansell wanted to play on the Hillcrest Rams Varsity Girls Volleyball team. But those hopes were dashed when she got cut from the team during her sophomore year. It hurt, but she did not give up. Ryan kept working out and practiced every day that summer. It paid off because she made varsity her junior year and continued on the team during her senior year, proudly wearing jersey number sixteen.

In addition to her passion for volleyball, Ryan is an accomplished student who especially enjoys math and science. She took difficult classes such as AP Biology and Probability and Statistics, graduating summa cum laude with honors, and achieving a GPA of 5.168 as well as an award for the highest SAT math score. Ryan belongs to the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, the Teacher Cadet National Honor Society, and the Beta club. To top it off, Ryan served as one of the Hillcrest Student Advisors, a select group of upper-class students who promote the school and connect with prospective students.

In her spare time, Ryan engages in CrossFit training. She coaches middle school recreational volleyball and works at two jobs as a lifeguard and server. Her involvement with the Brookwood Church Youth Group rounds out her busy schedule. This summer, Ryan plans to spend time with her favorite people, train in CrossFit, and work a lot!

And next fall, Ryan begins her studies in nursing at Anderson University. Her professional goal is to become a nurse practitioner. But Ryan explains that her personal goals are most important to her, “to raise a family, to be happy, and to live her life following Jesus.”

In reflecting over her high school years, Ryan wants to thank her amazing family, especially her parents, for supporting her dream of playing volleyball as well as her coaches who pushed her to do her best. Ryan will miss spirit week, the lively discussions in her classes, the amazing teachers, and the great friendships.

But she is ready for the whole new experience of college and is looking forward to this next chapter of her life. She says that three things always inspire her to do her best, “being underestimated, a desire to help others, and seeing others serve.” Then, she points to two quotations that inform her life. Mahatma Gandhi has been credited with saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Also, Ryan likes this quotation, “Good things come to those who work hard.”

The Simpsonville Sentinel congratulates these three students as well as all those who have graduated from high schools in our area, wishing them every success in their future endeavors.

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