Briggs Bourgeois and Janie O’Connor had a good idea what to expect. Winning The Advocate’s Athlete of the Year awards simply took things to another level, one the two seniors relished.
“It was exciting to win,” Bourgeois said. “I feel honored. There are some great names on that list of winners. Last year was my first year to know what this award was about, and now I do and this means a lot. It’s sort of like my goodbye for high school. … It is special.”
Bourgeois, St. Amant’s three-sport standout, received the Boys Athlete of the Year award, while O’Connor, the Zachary track star, won the Girls Athlete of the Year award to highlight the The Advocate’s Athlete of the Year/Star of Stars banquet Monday night at Boudreaux's.
In addition to honoring the Athlete of the Year winners and four other finalists as the best in Baton Rouge’s high school sports in 2016-17, The Advocate sports staff also presented awards to the Star of Stars in 15 sports. Scotlandville’s Levi Lewis and Patrick Queen of Livonia were the other boys finalists. Taylor Tidwell of St. Amant and Brusly High's Caitlyn Williams were the other girls finalists.
The contrasts between O’Connor and Bourgeois accentuate the diversity of the annual awards banquet that began in 1986.
“I was hoping I would win it, and I am excited that I did,” O’Connor, a three-time finalist, said. “I’ve wanted this award, but I also knew I was behind so many talented people in the past. That makes winning it now mean even more.
“This wasn’t the best year for me, but I think I also learned a lot from it. I had an injury and didn’t have the success I’ve had. But I learned how to pick up myself and say ‘Hey, this may not go the way you want it to go, but you’ve got to keep moving.' That’s what I tried to do.”
Bourgeois, a Southern Mississippi football signee as a kicker-punter, had the kind of year most athletes dream about. He led St. Amant to the football quarterfinals for the first time since the 1990s and in soccer for the first time 2011. Bourgeois was an All-Metro MVP in soccer and earned all-state honors in football and soccer. He then helped the baseball team make the playoffs, improving on a rèsumè that made him a finalist in 2016.
The going was tough for O’Connor, a Kentucky track signee. After taking Class 5A and Louisiana by storm as a sophomore and junior, she was limited by a hamstring injury that kept her out of a signature event, the 400 meters. But she ran Louisiana’s No. 2 time in the 100 meters at the LHSAA state meet and helped the Broncos finish as the Division I indoor and Class 5A outdoor track runners-up.
“When you look at the body of work for her career, it’s impressive,” Zachary coach Chris Carrier said. “The fact that she kept battling this year was a credit to her. Sports is microcosm of life, and she worked through it.”
St. Amant football coach David Oliver spoke in glowing terms about Bourgeois.
“I think he has generated tremendous pride in our program,” Oliver said. “He raised the level of three sports, which is special.”
Boys athlete of the year
St. Amant · Sr.
Bourgeois was a triple threat for the Gators, starring in football, soccer and baseball. He helped St. Amant’s football team advance to the 5A quarterfinals for the first time since the 1990s with 66 catches for 836 yards and 13 TDs as a receiver. The Southern Miss football signee averaged 40 yards per punt and made 13 of 15 field goals. He earned All-Metro football honors as a receiver and a kicker and Class 5A all-state as a kicker. Bourgeois was the All-Metro MVP for Divisions I-II in soccer. He led the Gators to the soccer quarterfinals with 24 goals and 21 assists and was the MVP of the LHSCA all-star game. In baseball, Bourgeois played center field, batted .316 and scored 31 runs as a leadoff hitter.
Scotlandville · Sr.
Competing for championships was what Lewis did in 2016-17. The Louisiana-Lafayette football signee was The Advocate’s Class 5A/4A Offensive All-Metro MVP after piling up 4,027 total yards and 40 TDs, including 2,450 passing yards for Division I runner-up Scotlandville. Lewis also was a key reserve/defensive specialist for the Scotlandville basketball team that won the LHSAA’s Division I title. In track, he ran sprints and was part of the Hornets’ 4x200 relay team that ran a top-10 national time of 1 minute, 25.40 seconds.
Livonia · Sr.
Queen was a hit in football and baseball for the Wildcats. The LSU football signee was an All-District 6-4A choice as a running back and linebacker, was an All-Metro pick at running back and made the Class 4A all-state team as a linebacker. Queen ran for 1,487 yards and 19 TDs on offense and had 66 total tackles, including 42 solo tackles, on defense. In baseball, he grabbed All-District 6-4A honors as an outfielder. Queen batted .365 with 34 runs and 30 RBIs, helping Livonia to the regional playoff round.
Girls athlete of the year
Zachary · Sr.
Previously a two-time finalist, the third time was indeed the charm for O’Connor, a Kentucky track signee. A hamstring injury limited her to four outdoor meets and forced her to stay away from a signature event, the 400 meters. But O’Connor found ways to help the Broncos finish as Division I indoor/5A outdoor runners-up nonethless. She won outdoor district/regional titles in the 100 and 200 meters. O’Connor was the 5A runner-up in the 100 with a season best of 11.71 seconds, the No. 2 time in all classes, and was third in the 200. She also led two relays that won state titles, including a 4x100 relay that broke an 18-year-old record with a time of 46.32 seconds that ranks in the top 10 nationally.
St. Amant · Jr.
Tidwell pulled off an All-Metro double play in 2016-17. The LSU softball commitment was an All-Metro and LVCA all-state choice in volleyball with 417 kills, 23 aces, 380 assists, 197 digs 64 blocks. She also was the Division I, District 4 MVP in volleyball, helping the Gators advance to the Division I semifinals. Tidwell led the SAHS softball team to the Class 5A quarterfinals and played shortstop. She batted .393 with nine home runs, 44 RBIs and 50 runs to earn All-Metro and 5A all-state honors from the LSWA.
Brusly · Sr.
A Southeastern Louisiana basketball signee, Williams was a presence in three sports for the Class 3A Panthers. She averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds and led Brusly to its first basketball quarterfinal appearance in two decades and finished with more than 1,000 career points. Williams was the Division III, District 5 MVP and an All-Metro pick in volleyball. She had 519 kills and a .320 hitting percentage. Williams closed out her career by helping Brusly win the Class 3A title in outdoor track. She was the District 6-3A champion in the long jump.
Boys honors by sport
Levi Lewis · Scotlandville · Sr.
Led the Hornets to the Division I runner-up spot. The All-Metro Offensive MVP had 2,450 yards passing and 17 touchdowns along with 1,577 yards rushing with 23 TDs.
Graham Frazier · Episcopal · Jr.
Frazier, the All-Metro MVP, was the leader of the pack at the perfect time. He was the Class 2A individual champion with a three-mile time of 16 minutes, 4 seconds as EHS won its 21st title in a row.
Sion Cavana · Catholic · Jr.
Cavana swam the top freestyle times of 46.88 seconds for 100 yards and 1:41.66 for 200 yards in Louisiana to help the Bears win a fourth straight Division I title. Cavana also was the All-Metro MVP.
Sage Nugent · St. Amant · Sr.
It was a clean sweep for Nugent, who won city and Division I state titles at 182 pounds for the Gators. He had a season record of 48-3 and finished with a 148-28 career mark.
Briggs Bourgeois · St. Amant · Sr.
The All-Metro MVP for Divisions I-II, Bourgeois led SAHS to the Division I quarterfinals with 24 goals and 21 assists. The four-time All-Metro choice earned all-state honors three times.
Ja’Vonte Smart · Scotlandville · Jr.
Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball winner led the Hornets to a Division I title and was the District 4-5A, All-Metro and Class 5A MVP. Smart averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
Nick Milano · Ascension Catholic · Jr.
Milano led the Bulldogs by winning the Division V 132-pound weight class with a total lift of 925 pounds. That total included a Division V record-setting bench press of 230 pounds.
Trey Kauffman · Dutchtown · Sr.
They say you can’t win them all, but Kauffman came close. He won 27 of 31 matches and helped the Griffins advance to the LHSAA semifinals with a season average of 217.
Nick Watson · Catholic · Jr.
A run of perfection continued for Watson, who won his third straight Division I singles title to help the Bears win a state title. He was 8-0 in the spring and has a 44-0 career mark.
Dawson Fontenot · Live Oak · Sr.
A first-place finish on the high bar provided a high point for Dawson, who finished third in the all-around competition at the LHSAA meet with 69.60 points for the Eagles.
Trey Winstead · University · Sr.
The year ended with another Division III LHSAA title for Winstead. He won a third individual title with a two-day score of 139 and led U-High to a second straight team title.
Blayne Enlow · St. Amant · Sr.
Don’t let Enlow’s 5-3 record fool you. The Gators ace pitched five complete games in 11 starts, yielded just 10 earned runs for an ERA of 1.01 and struck out 101 in 69.2 innings.
TRACK AND FIELD
Derius Davis · West Feliciana · Jr.
The Saints marched to a second straight 3A track title in part because of Davis, who ran 46.86 seconds in the 400 meters, had a 21.41 in the 200 meters and led a winning 4x200 relay.
Girls honors by sport
Melanie Miller · St. Joseph’s · Sr.
Who says a defensive specialist can’t play a lead role? Miller, a Southern Miss signee, was the Divisions I-II All-Metro MVP and finished with 635 digs, 127 assists and 56 aces.
Alicia Stamey · Episcopal · Sr.
The All-Metro MVP for the second time. Stamey won four races, had a top three-mile time of 18 minutes, 5 seconds at Highland Road Park and ran the No. 4 time in all classes at the LHSAA state meet.
Jolee Liles · Parkview Baptist · So.
Liles is an All-Metro MVP who made waves by with a time of 2 minutes, 2.96 seconds in the 100 individual medley, which broke a 20-year City meet record. She also had a top mark of 4:53.27 in the 500 freestyle.
Audrey Viso · St. Joseph’s · Sr.
The All-Metro Divisions I-II and Division I, District 3 Overall MVP led the Redstickers to the quarterfinals. Viso finished the season with six goals and eight assists.
Skyler Goodwin · Parkview Baptist · Sr.
Goodwin netted All-Metro MVP honors for the second time and was the Class 3A MVP. She led the Eagles to the Division II state title with averages of 28 points, 10 rebounds and six steals.
Raegan Willis · Central · Jr.
Willis broke her Division I state record with a deadlift of 465 pounds and also had a squat lift of 445 en route to a total lift of 1,140 to win the 181-pound weight class.
Heather Zumo · Central · Sr.
Zumo was the driving force behind the Wildcats’ run to the Class 5A title, their first in 22 years. Zumo finished 19-14 in the circle with three saves and had a 2.43 ERA.
Keondra Eaton · Baton Rouge High · Sr.
Eaton led the way among local competitors with an average of 212 pins for the Bulldogs. Eaton won 30 of 36 matches and placed third in the LHSAA singles competition.
Whitney Hamilton · St. Michael · Jr.
Hamilton won the Division II girls singles title for the second straight season while leading the Warriors to a state title. Hamilton was 18-0 this spring and has a career record of 47-3.
Mackenzie Westmoreland · East Ascension · Sr.
Westmoreland set the pace for local competitors by placing third in all-around competition at the LHSAA meet. Westmoreland’s 37.600 total included a first-place finish on the balance beam.
Anna Heine · St. Joseph’s · Sr.
Heine saved her best for last, closing her high school career as the Division I individual champion. Her two-day total of 143 helped the Redstickers place second.
TRACK AND FIELD
Janie O’Connor · Zachary · Sr.
O’Connor claimed this honor for the third straight season. She posted the No. 2 time of 10.71 seconds at the LHSAA outdoor meet and ran the 200 meters in 24.14.