Dynastic Raiders Win 14th, Sixth Straight, Softball Championship
The Baylor softball dynasty continued in 2021 as the Raiders eased to a sixth consecutive state championship beating Chattanooga Christian once and GPS twice, with a combined score of 27-1, in the state tournament.
Baylor busted 38 hits while holding their opponents to just three in the three games of the tourney. Junior Syd Berzon allowed two hits and struck out 13 in 6.1 innings of work; senior Acelynn Sellers allowed one hit and fanned five in 8.2 innings; and junior Raven Jones gave up one hit in two innings. Jones also provided an offensive boost, going 4-for-8 with a homer and six RBI for the tournament. Other stars included Berzon (6-for-10, 5 RBI, 3 doubles), junior Cadashia Collins (6-for-8, 4 RBI), sophomore Katie Raper (3-for-9, 4 RBI, HR, 2 doubles), freshman Holly Merritt (5-for-9, 2 RBI) and freshman Riley Oleksik (HR, 2 RBI).
The Raiders won their first 19 games this season and finished with a 27-1 record. Baylor has now won 14 state championships in softball and is the winner of the last six. There was no state championship in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baylor coach Kelli Smith ’95 has been part of all 14, the 1993 and 1994 titles as a player and the other 12 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021) as a coach.
Baylor “Three-Sweeps” at State Wrestling
The Baylor wrestling team has won six state championships in the past three years. That’s right, six in three years. The Raiders have won both dual and traditional state titles for the last three years.
After smashing Father Ryan 55-9 in the semifinals, Baylor took a solid 48-21 victory over Christian Brothers for the state duals title. The Raiders finished 4-0 in dual meets this season, with COVID-19 restrictions playing havoc with what would have been a full schedule.
Baylor also won the 2021 traditional championship — the 16th overall, and third consecutive traditional state title for the Raiders. Baylor was led by five individual champions, two runners-up, and five other medalists.
Junior Garrison Dendy won his third state title, pinning Ben Stigamier of Father Ryan in 3:04 in the 145-pound championship match. David Harper, also a junior, became a three-time state champ, winning the 195-pound title by pinning Theo Sewell of Christian Brothers in a quick 1:12. Junior Nick Corday won his third state championship – his second at Baylor – with a 13-2 major decision over Jay Eversole of Lakeway Christian in the 113-pound title bout. Corday was a state champion at Buford High before coming to Baylor. Senior Kade Hartline won the 106-pound class with a 7-0 decision over Alex Ropski of Christian Brothers. Junior Gunnar Garriques won his first state championship, taking a 7-2 decision over Gervacio Gonzalez of Christian Brothers in 182-pound title match.
Two-time state champion junior Jackson Bond was runner-up at 126 pounds, falling 3-2 in four overtime periods to McCallie’s Jack Braman. Sophomore Micah Tisdale was runner-up at 138 pounds, losing the championship match to Brayden Ivey of Lakeway Christian by technical fall, 17-1 in 4:40.
Sophomore Omaury Alvarez, a state runner-up last year, was third at 170 pounds, freshman Judson Jarrett took third place at 120 pounds, sophomore Anthony Mannella was fourth at 160 pounds, senior Heath Snodgrass was fifth at 220 pounds, and senior Matthew Smith was fifth at 285 pounds.
Baylor “Three-Peats” at State Baseball
The Baylor baseball team pitched and powered its way to a third straight state championship in 2021, cruising to a 27-4 record and outscoring their opponents – Brentwood Academy, McCallie, and Briarcrest – 20-2 in the three-game state tournament for the title.
The Raiders used just four pitchers in the tourney, seniors Jay Dill and Luke Courdin, and juniors Patrick Johnson and Jonathan Larrea, who allowed just two runs on 11 hits, struck out 28, and walked only two in 21 innings. Most of the offensive power was provided by seniors Cooper Kinney (6-for-10, 6 RBI, HR, 2 doubles) and Vito Valincius (3-for-8, 6 RBI, HR, 2 doubles) and junior Henry Godbout (6-for-11, RBI, 2 doubles).
The state championship is the fifth for Baylor baseball. There was no state championship in 2020 due to COVID-19 after the Raiders won back-to-back crowns in 2018 and 2019. Other titles came in 2003 and 2006.
Baylor Sweeps State Swimming Titles in Hybrid Meet
Baylor swept the team titles in girls’, boys’, and combined divisions at the TISCA State Swimming Championships, a hybrid event featuring head-to-head competition at four sites with results combined for the championship. For the Baylor girls, this is the 17th state title and the third straight. The Baylor boys boast their 29th state championship, which is a repeat of last year's tie for the title. And, for the combined team, it is the 30th Baylor state championship and the 16th consecutive title.
Senior Ellie Waldrep led the charge for the Baylor girls, winning the 200 yard individual medley in 1:55.73 and the 100 backstroke in 51.75. Logan Watson-Brown, also a senior, was the 200 freestyle champion, touching in 1:49.28, sophomore Lillie Boggs won the 500 freestyle in 4:56.88, and senior Bre Belcher won the 100 breaststroke title in 1:02.44. Baylor also won the 200 yard medley relay (Waldrep, Belcher, senior Lydia Bohannon, senior Callie West) in 1:42.49.
Freshman Drew Hitchcock paced the Baylor boys, winning the 200 IM in 1:49.49 and the 100 butterfly in 48.84. Sophomore Sam Flack was the 500 freestyle champion, touching in 4:26.80, and junior Charlie Han won the 100 breaststroke in 55.69. Baylor won the 400 freestyle relay (senior Daniel Snyder, Hitchcock, Flack, sophomore Josean Massucco) in 3:04.56.
Baylor Crews Win State Championships, Sweep Carney/Raoul Cups
The Baylor girls’ and boys’ rowing teams had successful 2021 seasons, culminating with titles at the Mid-South Tennessee/Georgia state championship regattas for both crews and highlighted by wins in the Carney and Raoul Cup races. Along the way, Baylor rowers won medals at the Dogwood Invitational and placed boats in the Grand Final at the Southeast Regionals.
The first boat for the Baylor girls (juniors Lindsay Smith, Ella Webb, and coxswain Maya Wiisanen and seniors Caroline Chapman, Ellis Coffelt, Dana Mays, Ellie Tomisek, Gracie Tomisek, and Rebecca Watson) recaptured the Carney Cup vs. GPS for the first time in 12 years, taking early control and rowing to a 10-second margin.
The Baylor boys’ first eight (juniors Paxton Anderson, Gus Batt, Owen Eastman, and Mike Kinsey and seniors Liam Barks, Evan Jenkins, coxswain Peyson Pearce, Isaac Waxenberg, and Chris Young) held on to the Raoul Cup, steadily moving away from the McCallie boat for a 12-second win.
Baylor Crew also christened three new racing shells this year. The “Dr. Herbert Barks, Jr. ’51” honors Baylor’s fifth headmaster and the “Scott A. Wilson ’75” honors Baylor’s most recently retired headmaster. The newly launched Middle School rowing program christened the “Francis Williams.”
Raider Reign Ends, Baylor Girls are State Runner-Up
For the first time in a decade, the D-II state champion in girls’ tennis is not Baylor. The Raiders’ title streak ended at nine this spring as Knox Catholic prevailed 4-1 in a closer-than-it-sounds state championship match. Baylor finished the year 9-2, with both losses coming to Knox Catholic, and saw the title streak end at nine with championships in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. There was no state championship in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baylor also has girls’ tennis state championships in 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2000. Freshman doubles team Helen Guerry and Ensley Collins represented Baylor in the state doubles tournament and advanced to the semifinal round where they lost in three sets to Riley Collins and Anna Chambers of Ensworth.
The Baylor boys’ tennis team finished with an 8-4 record, falling to MBA in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. Seniors Manuel Achurra and Nicholas Cooper represented the Raiders in the state doubles tournament, advancing to the semifinal round where they fell to Luke Donovan and Roberto Ferrer of Memphis University School in three sets.
A Year of Firsts for State Semifinalist Boys’ Lacrosse Team
The Baylor boys’ lacrosse team enjoyed what could be called the program’s most successful year since winning the TSLA Division 2 state championship in 2011. The Raiders, in Division 1 since 2010, finished 11-3 on the season, with no loss by greater than a two-goal margin, and recorded the school’s first ever wins against three perennial state powers, Montgomery Bell Academy (16-12), Memphis University School (14-5), and crosstown rival McCallie (14-11). Baylor advanced to the state semifinal match, falling to MBA 14-13.
The Baylor girls’ lacrosse team finished 8-7 and lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Brentwood.
Culbreath Performances Highlight Track Season
Sophomore Evie Culbreath highlighted the Baylor track and field season, winning four individual events (long jump, 100 meter, 200 meter, 100 meter hurdles) at the Front Runner Individual Championships, taking three region championships (100 meter, 200 meter, 100 meter hurdles), leading the Raiders to a fifth-place finish at the state meet, and setting and re-setting a school record.
At the state meet, Culbreath finished second in the 100 meter hurdles, an event she set the school record in twice this season, with 14.66 being her fastest time. The old record was 15.09. She was also third in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and finished sixth in the state pentathlon. Also for the Baylor girls, freshman Jada Cooper was the 400 meter region champion, senior Janie Pippenger won the 800 meter region title, and the Baylor 4 X 100 meter relay team (junior Aliya Cooper, sophomore Julia Kaufman, junior Emily Barker, eighth grader Franny Brooksbank) was region champion.
Representing the Baylor boys at the state meet were sophomore Brycen Sanders (discus), juniors Garrison Dendy (pole vault) and Xian Campbell (3200 meter), and two relay teams – the 4 X 100 meter (sophomore Evan Haynie, senior Luke Hill, junior Jeremiah Skipworth, freshman Colin Watson) and the 4 X 800 meter (Campbell, sophomore Brooke Murphy, sophomore Bowen Allan, freshman Garrison Corley). Baylor was second at the region meet.
Raegyn Conley Named All-State
Baylor senior Raegyn Conley was named to the D-II AA All-State basketball team in 2021. At 6' 2", Conley averaged 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Raiders. She was a finalist for the TSSAA Miss Basketball award her junior year.
The Baylor girls were forced to manage an array of COVID interruptions this season and finished 10-11, losing to Ensworth in the state quarterfinals.
The Baylor boys enjoyed an eight-game winning streak at one point of the season and finished with a 13-6 record, also losing in the state quarterfinal round to Brentwood Academy.
Region Champion Soccer Team Ousted in Shootout
The Baylor soccer team was the East region champion in 2021, finishing undefeated against region opponents Chattanooga Christian, Knox Catholic, and McCallie. After a state quarterfinal win over CCS, the Raiders were beaten 3-2 in the state semifinals by Father Ryan in an overtime match settled by a penalty kick shootout. Baylor finished 11-5-2 for the season.
Raiders named to the All-Region team were senior Ethan Nuñes, juniors David Danquah and Riley Shankle, and sophomores Gui Gragnano and Phelipe Spielmann. Nuñes, Danquah, Gragnano, and sophomore Jake Kellerhals were named All-State.