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Panther Athletes Sign With Colleges

Several senior student-athletes at Piedmont are making decisions to continue their athletic careers at the next level. Among these athletes are runner Nikkita Elminowski, Aaron Brawell and Cameron Tripp for football, and Natalie Harris for volleyball. According to athletic director Bob Gearhart, “It is always exciting to see athletes who excelled in their chosen sport at Piedmont make the commitment to play in college.”

Eliminowski has committed to Catawba College and will follow in her mother’s footsteps as a college runner. According to Elminowski, “The campus is so pretty that I knew right away that I wanted to be there."  Nikkita joined the cross country team as a freshman, primarily to stay in shape for soccer, which was her sport of choice at the time. After cross country coach Josh Montenaro noted that she had talent in the sport, he encouraged her to focus on running. Nikkita qualified for the state cross country meet as a freshman and sophomore and missed out on a state championship during her junior season by just two seconds. In addition to cross country, Nikkita also competes in indoor and outdoor track. This spring, she has a goal of breaking the school record in the 3200-meter run. According to track and cross country coach Josh Montenaro, "On breaking the 2 mile record or how successful I think she will be in college: "There is not a goal out there that I think Nikki can't achieve. She is and will be one of the most determined runners that I will ever coach. Nikki is going to be successful at anything she puts her mind to because that is who she is."

Natalie Harris has committed to play volleyball at Carson-Newman after graduation. Harris began playing volleyball in the 8th grade at Piedmont Middle. She spent one year on JV before playing as a three-year varsity starter at Piedmont. As a middle blocker, she led the team in kills and blocks her junior and senior seasons. The highlight of her volleyball career as a Panther was when she had 23 kills vs. Weddington in their victory during the fall 2014 season. According to Coach Kim Cantey, "I have watched Natalie grow into a fine young lady and volleyball player over the past 4 years.  Her hard work has really paid off.  I know she will continue to be successful on and off the court and I wish her the best of luck."  Harris plans to major in biology at Carson-Newman. When asked why she wanted to continue her volleyball at Carson-Newman, Harris stated, “It’s great to just go and play the sport I love at an awesome university with great people. The atmosphere at Carson-Newman during my visit was very family and faith-oriented and I just felt like it was a good fit for me.”

Aaron Braswell signed with Davidson College on February 4th in front of family and friends at Piedmont. Braswell’s football career began at age 6 when he played recreational football in Savannah, Georgia. He continued playing football throughout middle school before transferring to Piedmont as a freshman. Braswell was a 4-year varsity player as a linebacker and played both sides of the ball his junior and senior seasons as running back and safety. He was selected to the All-Conference team as a freshman and senior and was selected for the All-County team his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. To add to his honors, he was a finalist for Student Athlete of the Year for the Charlotte Touchdown Club and holds the all-time tackles record at Piedmont with 290. Braswell plans to major in Chemistry at Davidson with the ultimate goal to be a chemical engineer. When asked to reflect on his four years of football at Piedmont, Braswell stated, “Piedmont coaches, teachers, and friends have had a great impact on my life and I have been privileged to be a part of the team and Piedmont community for the past four years.” Braswell noted that the academic reputation and atmosphere of the local community were keys to choosing to play at Davidson.

Cameron Tripp officially signed with Harvard on February 4th. Tripp had received several full scholarship offers to play football, including Alabama Birmingham, The Citadel, and West Point. Having played football since age 10, Tripp played varsity football all 4 years at Piedmont and was the starting quarterback during his junior and senior seasons. He was named All-Conference as a junior and senior and was also selected to the All-County team for the past two years. Although Harvard does not award athletic scholarship money, Tripp received the prestigious Michael A. Kahn Scholarship worth $40,000 from the Charlotte Touchdown Club in November. When asked about his outlook for his college football career at Harvard, Tripp replied, “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to attend such a prestigious university.”

Congratulations to all the senior student-athletes who will be pursuing their athletic endeavors at the next level after graduation!

Written by: Donna Helms, Web Editor
Posted: Feb 05, 2015 by Donna Helms

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