Freshman Making an Impact On Varsity Sports

Often in high school sports, seniors and juniors carry the weight of their varsity teams.  However, that wasn’t the case for many winter sports this season. There have been multiple standout freshman athletes across the board, from basketball to swimming. Not only is it remarkable that these athletes are 14-15 years olds competing at a high level, but even more incredible that they are going up against 17-18 year olds, and still producing elite results. The gap in age is enough alone to praise the freshmen for even being on varsity, but the athletes below have taken it a step further and raised their games to the likes of their peers, and in some cases, above. 

Babatunde Oladotun:

Freshmen sensation β€œBaba” transferred from Dematha to Blake early in the school year, and proceeded to start for the basketball team. He was a highly coveted player before coming to Blake and went on to show why. Baba averaged 13.3 PPG while having 2 steals and a block a game on the defensive end. During the course of the season, Baba was one of the main reasons Blake made a deep playoff run. With the combination of his size and shooting ability, Blakes offense was difficult to stop, especially when adding the other players into the equation. In addition to offense, he was an anchor on the defensive end, with many highlight blocks and transition buckets emerging from defense. These skills and traits are apart of the reason Baba was named 1st team All-County this past season.

In addition to Baba playing well individually, he lifted and led his teammates. Teammate Ravi Benson says Baba’s leadership is, β€œone of his most underrated aspects,” and that he holds everyone accountable, despite his age. Leadership is one of the most important traits an athlete can have, especially those on successful teams. To be able to lead at such a young age is impressive, and he will look to continue to be a leader for the basketball team. 

Hunter Cochran:

As younger sister of state champion Brooke Cochran, Hunter Cochran has big shoes to fill, which she has been doing this season. She’s been the only freshman of the dominant girls relays, finishing first three times, including winning at the 3A state meet. Not only is Cochran dominant in relays, but she has been exceptional in solo events as well. She has three top 10 finishes in three separate events, the 200m, 300m, and 400m respectively. Possessing this amount of versatility at her age is extremely impressive, and she is only looking to improve. Cochran will look to continue to take advice from her older sister, and cement her own legacy here at Blake. 

Zachary Oh:

Emerging track and xc star Zachary Oh has been wildly successful this season, placing top five in different events four times. Not only is he placing well, but he has shown consistent improvement in all of his events. His 800 time dropped four seconds, 1600 dropped 18 seconds, and mile time dropped seven seconds to 4:38 by the end of the indoor season. While these numbers are insignificant in a vacuum, this progress in just two months is sensational. He placed 6th and 10th in the 1600m and 800m respectively at the MPSSAA 3A West Championships, showing that he is already one of the top runners in the county. Zach will continue to learn and grow through his high school career, and keep attaining PR’s. 

Jack Dawson: 

Ranked as one of the best freshmen high school swimmers in Maryland, Jack Dawson is elite in the water. He placed 12th in the 200 yd IM, and 5th in 100 yd Breast at states, both incredible feats. On top of that, this season at invitationals, Jack has never placed lower than 5th, and usually placed in the top three. This absurd consistency has allowed Jack to be successful, as he is going up against the best of the best. This is proven by the fact that he placed 9th and 10th respectively at the PV SC Junior and Senior Championship. A freshman placing in the top 10 twice in an upperclassman championship is abnormal, which is something Jack makes look easy. He will look to continue his young swimming career and stay competitive and consistent. 

Phoenix Vaonakis:

At such an early point in his swimming career, Phoenix Vaonakis has been steadily improving in a multitude of events, and the work has paid off. He has nine top 10 finishes in the RMSC invitationals, which is an extraordinary statistic. As stated before, consistency is vital for success, which Phoenix obviously possesses. He also added on two top 16 performances at states, which is no mere thing to look over. Competing against the entire state and finishing well twice as a freshman is extremely impressive and important for his swimming career. He elevated his resume even more at the junior and senior championship, placing 16th and 22nd respectively. Phoenix clearly has a long career ahead of him, and looks poised for a successful athletic run at Blake.