MaxWire National Blog

Covering High School Sports in America
  • MaxPreps National Player of the Year Ben Simmons is still attending classes at Montverde Academy (Fla.), but that isn't stopping LSU from making him the centerpiece of a campaign intended to drum up new season ticket holders.

    ‘He's Coming!' or '25 is Coming' were the tag lines on the LSU men's basketball Twitter account and official site. Simmons will wear No. 25 for the Tigers next season.

    Simmons, considered to be the likely top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was named MaxPreps National Player of the Year in early April after leading Montverde Academy to a 31-1 record and final national No. 1 ranking. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward averaged 27.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

    With the native of Australia on the floor, Montverde Academy went 62-1 with three Dick's Nationals tournament titles.

    Simmons plans to participate in LSU's competitive tour of Australia in August.
  • Video: MaxPreps Minute - Caleb Swanigan commits to Purdue
    5-star big man had previously committed to Michigan State.

    One of the biggest recruiting roller coasters in high school basketball's 2016 class came to an end Tuesday as Indiana Mr. Basketball Caleb Swanigan of Homestead (Fort Wayne) committed to Purdue.

    Regarded as a Top 20 prospect by 247Sports, the 6-foot-8, 265-pound forward committed to Michigan State April 10 but opened things back up earlier this month.

    Purdue took advantage and won out over Michigan State and California, giving Matt Painter his biggest win on the recruiting trail in recent memory.Swanigan averaged over 22 points and 14 rebounds per game as a senior at Homestead, leading the Spartans to Indiana's Class 4A state title.

    The big man was rewarded for his efforts with postseason trips to the McDonald's All American Game in Chicago and the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn.

    Swanigan's decision to spurn Tom Izzo and shop around has kicked up considerable dust around the Midwest. ESPN college basketball color commentator and radio host Dan Dakich chimed in via Twitter last week and boldly predicted that the Boilermakers would land the Fort Wayne star.
  • If at first you don't succeed. …

    As a blind pole-vaulter, every attempt for Rains (Emory, Texas) senior Charlotte Brown is a success.

    Screen shot from YouTube

    Charlotte Brown, Rains

    On Saturday, she accomplished a goal she's been reaching for throughout her high school career — a place on the podium at the Texas State High School Championships in Austin.

    Brown cleared 11 feet, 6 inches to take third behind winner Sydney King, an Oklahoma-bound vaulter who cleared 12-3. Brown plans to walk on to the track team at Purdue, where she's earned an academic scholarship and where her brother Lachian is a hurdler.

    View an Associated Press video report from Brown's performance

    She was born with normal vision, but quickly developed cataracts that led to vast complications. Operations and artificial lenses helped until she was 11, but since then her vision has decreased to the point of blindness, though she is not in total darkness.

    Brown is obviously a shimmering light of hope for all those fighting some sort of adversity. She placed eighth in the state as a sophomore and fourth as a junior. She's been helped throughout her journey by her service dog Vador. The pup joined Brown on the victory stand.

    "It took me three years to get on the podium and I finally did it," she told reporters afterward.

    What she told them then was something that should be bronzed to anyone – young or old – going through, well, anything.

    "One thing I thought about this story – so to speak – was that it really wasn't about me," she told reporters. "It was about that everybody struggles with something. This just happens to be something that I struggle with. I wouldn't necessarily say it's a big obstacle because there is always a way to overcome something. So if I could send a message to someone, it's that it's not about pole vaulting and it's not about track, it's about finding something that makes you happy despite whatever obstacles are in your way."
  • Valle Catholic (Ste. Genevieve, Mo.) entered Wednesday's battle against Cooter (Mo.) with the distinction of playing in the longest game in Missouri State High School Activities Association history.

    Courtesy photo
    After 18 innings of baseball between the two teams, Valle Catholic had extended its record by two innings.

    According to the Daily Journal, the 3-1 win for Valle Catholic was the longest game ever (in terms of innings) in MSHSAA history. It was just 28 days earlier that Valle Catholic had played 16 innings in a 2-1 win over Potosi (Mo.).

    The teams combined to strand 39 runners (17 for Valle Catholic, 22 for Cooter), and unofficially the game took four hours, three minutes. Andy Grieshaber earned the win with seven innings of relief and Connor Basler pitched seven innings of scoreless relief in addition to knocking in a pair of runs.

    It could have gone longer, too. After Valle Catholic scored twice in the top half of the 18th frame, Cooter loaded the bases.

    The game may have been a long one for Missouri standards, but it didn't come very close to the national record. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations Record Book, the national record is 25 innings played between Kamehameha (Honolulu) and McKinley (Honolulu) on March 25, 1967.


  • Abbey Weitzeil found herself in a strange position Thursday at the CIF Southern Section Division I swimming preliminaries. She lost two national high school records and she gained two national records.

    The explanation, a pretty obvious one, is that the Saugus (Calif.) broke her own marks, and that's exactly what she did, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. She won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.83 seconds and the 100 free in 47.42 (set as the first leg of a relay), breaking records she had set last season. And she did them in back-to-back races.

    She has performed better than the 47.42 before, but not in high school competition.

    According to swimswam.com, Weitzeil is the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2015 but the University of California signee will defer enrollment for a year while she trains for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The CIFSS Division I finals are Saturday and she will gun for her fourth-straight title in each race.

    Modesty is certainly oozing out of this world-caliber swimmer.

    "I swam (both races) like I have the last three years. It wasn’t my best time but I was happy with them for this point in the season that I’m at,” Weitzeil told the LA Daily News.
  • As if Stephanie Rundlett didn't do enough.

    Courtesy photo
    According to the Portland Press Herald, the York (Maine) junior pitcher struck out 25 and allowed one hit over 10 innings in a 3-1 Western Main Conference win over Kennebunk on Wednesday.  For good measure, Rundlett doubled home the go-ahead run and finished 3-for-5 for the undefeated Wildcats (9-0), who are No. 7 in the MaxPreps Maine computer rankings.

    The big performance is just one of many from the 5-foot-4 Rundlett this season.

    She was named Portland Press Herald Athlete of the Week the previous week after hitting three home runs and throwing a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 15-0 win over Freeport. Rundlett earlier fired a four-hitter, striking out 18 in a 4-3 win over Fryeburg Academy.

    York is enjoying quite a turnaround season. According to stats supplied to MaxPreps, York was 1-14 last season. 
  • The Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory (Indianapolis) versus University (Carmel, Ind.) softball game had it all. Gobs of hits, steals, runs — then more hits and more runs.

    The only thing missing was a field goal. Of course, then it would have gone to extra innings.

    Photo from brebeufathletics.org

    Head coach Jenna Swain

    In the end, Brebeuf scored a wild 31-28 victory in a regular-season game. Brebeuf (4-14) averaged 5.1 runs coming into the game. It more than doubled that after the first inning.

    "It was a great game for us," first-year Brebeuf coach Jenna Swain told the Indianapolis Star. "Just a little long."

    The combined 59 runs isn't believed to be a state record — only playoff marks are recorded — and it's well off the national mark of 95, according to the newspaper.

    But it was fun.

    University (0-8), which opened the season losing 35-19 to Greenwood Christian Academy, got off to a rousing start with eight runs in the first. By the end of the first, it trailed by five.

    "It was almost like a basketball game the way the numbers were going up," Swain told the newspaper.

    Freshman Emoni Dix and junior Audrey Robins each had three hits for Brebeuf, which didn't field a team last season due to a lack of interest. After this win — only the team's fourth in 18 games — the interest will probably increase.
  • Fred Riley couldn't lie. He never saw it coming. Nobody could, he said.

    247Sports

    Jimmie Ward, 49ers

    The Davidson (Mobile, Ala.) football coach couldn't be happier that he didn't have the foresight to know that two of his players off the 2009 Warriors would not only wind up in the NFL, but on the same team — the San Francisco 49ers.

    And, playing in the same defensive backfield.

    According to this fine story at Canyon News, former Davidson teammates Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt were unlikely NFL hopefuls individually, let alone collectively.

    Ward, a 5-foot-11, 193-pound strong safety out of Northern Illinois, weighed 165 points in high school. Make no mistake, he was productive with 101 tackles, eight pass deflections, an interception, three sacks, three blocked kids and two forced fumbles. But because of his size, he didn't get any big offers.

    He was a first-round pick in the draft (No. 30 overall) in 2014. 

    Tartt, a 6-1, 218-pound safety out of Samford, played only one year of high school football. His main focus was as a basketball standout. Tartt was a second-round pick of the 49ers (pick No. 46) and reunited with Ward two weeks ago.

    The dynamic duo helped the Warriors to an 11-3 record their senior seasons.

    Tartt told reporters on a conference call that he was "ecstatic" when he learned he was reunited with Ward.

    "I prayed to God to put me in the right spot, and he came through for me. I ended up on a team with my best friend."

    Riley told the Canyon News "You just can't predict that. You knew wherever they went they were going to work hard and you also knew they could play at a higher level than what they signed. They both could have been great players in the SEC. You knew they were really going to stand out wherever they went. But is that going to be good enough to get them in the Senior Bowl and make them both millionaires? I couldn't make that call. Not at all."

    Riley had some fantastic squads from 2008-10, going 36-8. The last two seasons, the Warriors are a combined 8-12-1.


  • NFL head coaches have their causes, but most are geared toward young men, possible future clientele.

    In this case, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has sought out high school female athletes in one of the nation's toughest areas — Baltimore.

    In a region ravaged in the past weeks by violence, looting and civil disobedience, Harbaugh ran a workshop for an elite group of female student athletes. His theme: leadership.

    According to WBALtv.com, nearly 50 athletes – two from each high school in the city – soaked in Harbaugh's expertise on moving others. The program is called "Lift."

    "You can't be a great leader unless you learn how to follow, and you can't be a great leader unless you want to serve, unless you care about other people," he told the group.

    Ravens community relations employee Heather Damey said Harbaugh was the perfect man for the job.

    "We know there are so many great female athletes in our community, and we wanted to create something that allowed them to take their leadership skills to a whole new level," she said.

    Junior Daijah Butler said she was already motivated after hearing coach Harbaugh speak.

    "I feel like the words and the quotes that we might get from the players today might help us push ourselves and motivate ourselves for things that we have in our future," she said.

    Said junior De'Asia Ellis: "Whatever work setting I'm in, it'll teach me to always go for it, always try to aim for the higher position, always try to go for that promotion, always try to fight for whatever goals I set for myself."
  • Madison Wiltrout let loose with a javelin toss Thursday that would have placed her second in the NCAA Division I finals last season.

    How long was it? Well, they originally didn't have enough tape at the WPIAL AAA Central Qualifier to measure it.

    So, yeah, it was long.

    Courtesy photo
    The sophomore from Connellsville (Pa.) set the national record for longest girls' javelin throw, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, at 185 feet, 8 inches. It is unofficial as of now, but has been submitted to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

    “As soon as I let it go, I knew it was on a perfect flight,” she told the newspaper. “They said they ran out of tape. But when I heard the mark, I flipped out. I just went and slapped the ground I was so excited.”

    It was a short day of work for Wiltrout, who set the record with her first throw and then chose not to throw any more. She unofficially surpassed Gresham (Ore.) alum Haley Crouser, who threw 181-2 in 2012.

    “I surprised myself. I didn't expect it. I got four throws, but I hit it on the first one and I didn't take the other three throws."

    The NCAA Division I champ last season was Fawn Miller of Florida with a toss of 190-8. Nobody else's throws were longer than the whopper that Wiltrout unleashed.