Madison Asher smashed her final spike for the volleyball team at Lenoir-Rhyne University on Oct. 30 as a serious injury and the pain that accompanied it prematurely ended her collegiate career.
“I retore my rotator cuff and snapped one of the anchors that had been placed in my shoulder in a previous surgery,” Asher said. “I also had tissue that had balled up on the top of my shoulder, which all caused me to not be able to properly lift my arm above my head anymore. It happened during a practice on Sept. 20. My surgeon said I had pushed my body to the absolute max and my shoulder couldn’t handle anymore because I had messed it up so bad in the past.”
The former Abingdon High School star did finish with 10 kills, one dig and one block in her final match, a South Atlantic Conference victory over Queens.
“Thankfully, I was able to participate in a retirement game, which was exactly one year from the original surgery,” Asher said. “No one is sure how I was able to do it with the shape my shoulder was in. … When I found out I was going to have to medically retire that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to cope with. This sport was my everything for 16 years of my life – I’m only 22 so that is almost my entire life. It broke my heart but I knew I was going to have to grow up and handle this in the best way I could because there was a lot of season left to play and I was going to have to still be a leader on my team.”
Asher’s injury history reads like entries in a medical journal.
“Coming into college I had just recovered from shattering my tibia and having a plate and five screws placed to repair it. During my junior season, I landed funny in a game and knew I had done something to my knee, but I finished the season. I found out after my season that I had torn my meniscus and shredded a lot of the cartilage in the knee because I continued to play,” Asher said. “I had surgery to clean everything up. My senior year during our COVID fall season overuse was causing my shoulder to act strange.
“I took a swing in a practice and felt my shoulder dislocate. I tore my rotator cuff as well as my labrum. I had to have surgery for them to place four anchors and they also found that my cartilage had turned to mush from the years of swinging. The removed my cartilage and drilled holes in the bone to give me scar tissue cartilage because that would be better than nothing. Finally, in my fifth year, I retore my rotator cuff, snapped an anchor, and the tissues balled up at the top of my shoulder requiring a cleanup surgery.”
In total, the 6-foot-1 Asher appeared in 82 matches for the Bears over the course of her time at the school in Hickory, North Carolina.
“I would say my college career has been a roller-coaster,” Asher said. “I have had phenomenal teammates, but I’ve had to face adversity at every door. We have gone through numerous coaching changes as well as the injuries I have faced. In the end my career has been successful and I’ve made lifelong friends that I consider my family. I would do it all again in a heartbeat even knowing what I know now. I am a better person because of my years here.”
It’s not over yet, either. Lenoir-Rhyne won the SAC tournament and clinched a spot in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
“I am at every practice and game cheering my girls on. I am constantly hyping up my teammates and also coaching them by giving spots or suggestions to try to help in any way I can to help the team be successful,” Asher said. “It is truly making me realize how much I would enjoy being a coach one day.”
Goins has good season
Linebacker Caleb Goins put in good work for the football team at Carson-Newman University this fall.
The John Battle High School graduate finished the 2021 season with 62 tackles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. He ranked third on the team in tackles.
Joey Dales: All-Conference
Bluefield University kicker Joey Dales (Graham) earned a first-team spot on the Mid-South Conference’s All-Appalachian Division football squad.
The sophomore was 9-for-10 on field goals with a long of 47 yards and made 29 of his 30 extra-point kicks. He was named conference special teams player of the week on four occasions.
Jordan Stout once again got his kicks for Penn State University as the Nittany Lions notched a 28-0 Big Ten Conference football win over Rutgers on Saturday.
The ex-Honaker High School standout made all four of his PATs, averaged 42.9 yards on eight punts and all five of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. He was named Big Ten Conference special teams player of the week for the fourth time this season.
The Purdue University football team received four tackles from safety Cam Allen (Graham) in Saturday’s 32-14 Big Ten Conference win over Northwestern.
Allen has amassed 53 tackles – third-most for the Boilermakers – to go along with four interceptions.
Latest on Luke
Luke Lawson (Eastside) contributed six points, four rebounds and one block to UNC Asheville’s 61-55 men’s hoops triumph over Tennessee Tech on Nov. 18.
Lawson is averaging 8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game and will play against the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight in Chapel Hill.
Elon University’s Zac Ervin (Gate City) finished with 13 points and four rebounds on Friday in a 74-56 men’s basketball loss to the Mississippi Rebels.
He is averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists through the season’s first six games.
Injury sidelines Grubb
A torn ACL has ended the season for Johnson University men’s basketball standout Gavin Grubb.
The 6-foot point guard who once starred at Sullivan East High School appeared in two games this season prior to the injury.
Colyn Sturgill (Eastside) had 12 points, six rebounds and one block on Friday in aiding Alice Lloyd College to a 73-63 men’s basketball victory over Indiana University-Kokomo.
Sturgill is averaging 6.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.4 assists per game.
Local vs. Local
Emory & Henry College (3-1) hosts the University of Pikeville (5-0) tonight in a men’s basketball clash and the head coaches at both schools are Southwest Virginia natives.
E&H boss Ben Thompson is a graduate of St. Paul High School, while Pikeville leader Tigh Compton attended Grundy High School.
Brooke Hammonds continues to put up impressive numbers for the women’s basketball team at Union College.
The Lee High graduate is averaging 20.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists through the season’s first six games and is shooting 44.7 percent from the field.
Abbey Crawford (Sullivan Central) had six points, one assist, one rebound and one steal as the Wofford College women’s basketball team cruised to a 106-55 win over Southern Wesleyan on Friday.
A 6-foot-1 sophomore, Crawford is averaging 2.6 points in five games for the Terriers.
A trio of players from Southwest Virginia made contributions to Bluefield University’s 67-43 women’s basketball win over Kentucky Christian on Nov. 17.
Tianna Crockett (George Wythe) had 12 points and two rebounds, Emily Breeding (Abingdon) scored 10 points and Emma Justus (Hurley) recorded a rebound.
Bailey Frazier (Ridgeview) and LeeAnna McNulty (Honaker) have been among the leaders for the women’s basketball squad at the University of Pikeville.
Frazier and McNulty each had 10 points in UPike’s 80-78 loss to Georgetown on Saturday.
McNulty is averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Bears, while Frazier is putting up 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest.
Locals in Nationals
A quartet of area runners competed in NCAA national cross country meets on Saturday.
Karl Thiessen (Abingdon) of the University of Tennessee finished 125th at the NCAA Division I men’s race in Tallahassee, Florida, navigating the 10K course in 30:22.2.
Ben Hazelwood (Virginia High) placed 58th at the NCAA Division III men’s meet in Louisville, Kentucky, as he crossed the finish line of the 8K event in 24:34.
At the NCAA Division I women’s race in Tallahassee, Kelsey Harrington (Virginia High) and Sasha Neglia (Dobyns-Bennett) competed for the University of North Carolina in the 6K race. Harrington was 67th in 20:16.2, while Neglia was 113th in 20:34.7.
Fiser finishes 2nd
Loras College’s Gabe Fiser (Grundy) wrestled his way to a second-place finish in the 165-pound weight class on Saturday at a tournament in Mequon, Wisconsin.
McComas vs. Hokies
Gardner-Webb University freshman Peyton McComas (Grundy) was back on a wrestling mat in Virginia on Saturday.
Competing in front of a host of family and friends, he was pinned by Virginia Tech’s Nathan Traxler in the 285-pound weight class during a dual match against the Hokies at Cassell Coliseum.
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