All-American Bethel High School sprinter Janelle Johnson and Kecoughtan's Kurt Jachimowski, the most dominant swimmer in Peninsula District history, were named Daily Press athletes of the year at the annual spring sports banquet Thursday night.
University of Virginia basketball coach Jeff Jones delivered the event's keynote address at the Hampton Holiday Inn. The banquet was co-sponsored by the Daily Press and the Peninsula Sports Club.
Johnson, who received a track scholarship to attend the University of Illinois, was the state indoor 300-meter champion and led the Bruins to their second consecutive state outdoor title Saturday. She won the 100- and 200-meter events as well as anchoring the championship 1,600-meter relay team.
The other female finalists were La-Keshia Frett, a Parade basketball All-American for state champion Phoebus, and Marci League, a five-sport standout at Menchville.
``I was extremely surprised at my selection because although La-Keshia and I are both All-Americans, track is not as popular as basketball,'' Johnson said. ``I just knew she would win. I'm so surprised, I'm still shaking.
``I'm just very thankful I was able to come back and finish out my senior year strong after the doctors said I may not be able to run again last winter.''
Johnson has been bothered by a recurring hamstring injury.
Jachimowski, a three-time finalist for the award, came within three-tenths of a second of qualifying for the finals in the individual medley at the Olympic trials in March. He was unbeaten in four years of Peninsula District competition.
``The most meaningful thing for me has been all the fun I've had doing this and being able to compete with the best swimmers around,'' said Jachimowski, who received a scholarship to attend Auburn University, one of the nation's premier swimming programs.
``This year has been fabulous.''
The other finalists for male athlete of the year were both football and basketball all-stars for their respective schools.
Allen Iverson, a Bethel sophomore, was the Peninsula District's leading scorer in basketball and quarterbacked the Bruins to an unbeaten football regular season.
Southampton's Percy Ellsworth, a University of Virginia football recruit, rushed for more than 1,100 yards and was the Bay Rivers District defensive player of year. In basketball he averaged 27.6 points per game.
Seventeen athletes of the year in the various winter and spring sports as well as the male and female Daily Press all-star basketball first teams were also honored.
Jones stressed the importance of academics for all athletes.
``There's another statistic besides the sports-related ones we use so often,'' he said. ``Academics is a statistic we have to make sure we don't forget. Don't lose sight of the real goal in school - receiving an education. A scholarship gives you that opportunity.