2021-22 Athletic Round-Up
McCallie Communications Office
McCallie's state champion football team celebrates their win



Three was the magic number in the Fall of 2021 for McCallie Athletics. Three as in ‘THREE-PEAT!’ The cross country team and the football team each won their third consecutive state championships.

Despite having only one senior among the cross country team’s top 12 runners, the youthful squad ran to first-place finishes at the McCallie Invitational and the FrontRunner Area Championship meet. The Blue Tornado also placed seventh as a team at the Jesse Owens Invitational in Florence, Ala., a meet featuring many of the top teams in the Southeast.

McCallie's 2021 state champion cross country team

The TSSAA Division II-AA state meet was held at the picturesque Sanders Ferry Park along the lake in Hendersonville. In a fast-paced race, McCallie’s top five runners placed in the top 17, and the Blue Tornado outscored runner up Brentwood Academy 54-69.

Sophomore Evan Simpson led the blue charge, crossing the line in fourth place followed by freshman Jack Bowen in ninth place. Junior Hugh Carlson placed 11th, sophomore Grady Outlaw was 13th, and junior Nate Armstrong was 17th. Also competing for the team were senior Jack Sullivan and junior John Gabbert. Simpson, Bowen, Carlson, and Outlaw earned All-State accolades for their performances.     

The football team capped a 13-0 overall season with its third straight TSSAA Division II-AAA state title, defeating Montgomery Bell Academy 28-7 in the championship game played at Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium.

The Blue Tornado scored a touchdown in each of the game’s four quarters and only allowed the Big Red a second-quarter score. Senior quarterback William Riddle was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player, completing 10-of-15 pass attempts for 172 yards and two scores. Senior receiver Xavier Gaillardetz eclipsed the 100-yard receiving yardage total for the seventh time on the season, leading all pass catchers with 117 yards on five catches. Junior back Ontario Price ran for 114 yards on 12 carries, and junior back Damian Scott compiled 51 yards on 13 rushes.

Head Football Coach Ralph Potter '81 and Head of School Lee Burns '87 holding a three-peat banner

Defensively, the Blue Tornado controlled the game and pressured the MBA quarterback throughout the night. The Big Red was limited to 11 first downs and 215 total yards. MBA was just 1 of 10 on third-down conversions and 0 for 3 on fourth-down tries. McCallie’s defense made eight tackles behind the line, led by two each from seniors James Howard and Thomas Pilon. Junior Andre Delinois led the squad with seven tackles, followed by Howard, Pilon and sophomore Carson Gentle with four stops apiece.

The championship game was played in Chattanooga for the first time in state history, and McCallie’s supporters showed up loud and proud and in large numbers with an unofficial count of nearly 9,000 fans in the stands.

The Blue Tornado was ranked No. 36 in the final MaxPreps national high school poll and dominated All-State player honors with six members on two different teams. Head Coach Ralph Potter was selected Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Football Coaches Association.

McCallie's 2021 golf team.

The golf team was another group of student-athletes who had a youthful roster, with Sam Levine and Will White as the only two seniors playing in the regular rotation. The squad fired a team score of 291 in the Region tournament to place second and qualify for the Division II-AA state tournament for the sixth consecutive year. A first-round score of 288 in the state event led to a third-place team finish. Junior Charles Warren tied for 10th place individually. Junior Carter Sayman and freshman Jack Martin tied for 13th place, White tied for 22nd, and freshman Billy Boroughs tied for 24th.

Covid-19 severely limited the rowing team’s competition schedule the previous year. This fall, the rowers were able to participate in five races and regattas including the Music City Head Race in Nashville, the Secret City Head Race in Oak Ridge, and the prestigious Head of the Hooch on the home waters of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. Head Coach Sean McCourt continues to build interest in the program, and the boys will be prepared for a strong spring season come March.

Winter Sports

Wilson Rankin '22

The winter months bring the boys inside as the Blue Tornado compete in basketball, bowling, swimming and diving, wrestling, and climbing. 

The basketball team put together a 21-7 overall record and forged a 14-game winning streak in the process. The season mark was the program’s 13th 20-win season in school history.  Along the way, David Conrady’s squad claimed the Times Free Press Best of Preps Area Tournament, with big wins over local teams including Tyner Academy in the finals.

The Blue Tornado hosted the Seventh Annual McCallie-Dr Pepper Classic in February. This year’s event featured the No. 1-ranked team in the country in Sunrise Christian Academy out of Bel Aire, Kansas. It marked the first time one of the elite invited teams held the No. 1 ranking. The starting lineup was senior-laden, with center David Craig and wings Wilson Rankin and Milos Stijepovic. Craig has signed with Mercer University to continue his academics and athletics. Underclassmen Kollin Claridy and Parker Robison, a junior and sophomore respectively, were the other two most frequent starters.

The wrestling program fielded one of its youngest rosters in a long time with only two seniors on the squad. One of the seniors, James Howard, wrestled to his second TSSAA Individual State Championship at 285 pounds. Sophomore Carson Gentle placed third in the state at 220 pounds, and sophomore Ja’Von McMahon was fifth at 195 pounds. Howard qualified for the National Preps Championships and earned a third-place finish in his weight class and All-America status.

The bowling team was also young in age but capped a rebuilding year with a Region runner up finish and advanced to the TSSAA state tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons. David Benefield led the squad in scoring average as a freshman, and sophomore Gavin Englert ranked second. Both boys qualified for the TSSAA Individual State Tournament, and Benefield placed fourth in the State.

The swimming and diving program won seven straight state titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The boys’ performances over the last few years bring back memories of those championship squads. The Blue Tornado has placed first or second in the state each of the last four years. Senior Sam Powe led the team this past season. Powe swam to a state title and a state record in the 100-yard backstroke and was part of the state record-setting 200-yard freestyle relay team. He powered McCallie to a second-place state finish and was selected as the Male Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive year. Freshman Marvin Johnson provided a glimpse of what is to come with second-place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. His 50 free time was the nation’s sixth-fastest for 16 year olds. Powe and Johnson also teamed up with Will Hanger and Jackson Vineyard to win the 200-yard medley relay in school-record time. Head Coach Stan Corcoran was voted the state’s Male Coach of the Year.

McCallie's squash team with their trophy

Playing only its second full season of competition, the squash team was able to play a good  The student-athletes qualified for the U.S. High School National Team Championships in Philadelphia and advanced to the finals of the fifth division, nearly bringing home a National Championship trophy. The Blue Tornado won their first three matches of the tournament by 5-2 scores, defeating teams from New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia to make the championship match. Whitman from Maryland was the eventual winner by the same 5-2 score. The Nationals consisted of 100 boys teams and more than 1,200 players. Competing for McCallie at Nationals included senior Andrew Negus; juniors Arthur Burns, Riley Bye, Cotton Snoddy, and Carter Wendt; sophomores Weiyi Kong and Joshua Shirley; freshman Strobe Hill, and seventh-grader Simon Monen. The program is under the direction of first-year head coach Dan Sharplin.

After having its season derailed in 2021 by Covid-19, the climbing team returned to competition this year. Coach Jake Altemus had a young squad with only two experienced returners and a large number of freshmen and sophomores. The Blue Tornado focused on qualifying as many climbers for the postseason as possible, and seven earned spots in the final competition with three others missing the standard by 10 points or less. Sophomore Teddy Respess placed second overall out of 58 climbers. Sophomore Alex Parker was the second highest team finisher in 22nd. Other McCallie competitors included seniors Ian Campbell and Jaxon Dildine, sophomores Liam Ensign and Ian Hassevoort, and freshman Kamp Vannoy.

Catch the Wave

McCallie’s athletic teams continue to make a splash, hitting like a tidal wave in 2021–22. McCallie won five team state championships for the first time since 2006 and collected 14 team and individual state titles overall.

While the fall sports teams of cross country and football kicked off the school year with championships, the spring teams wrapped it up with a big blue bow as baseball, lacrosse, and tennis earned state titles.

The baseball team captivated many with a remarkable run in May. The Blue Tornado were the only Region team to knock off defending state champion Baylor, taking one of three games in the Region series in late April. That victory ignited the boys as they won 10 of their last 12 games from that point.

As the East Region’s third seed, McCallie hosted Pope John Paul Prep in a first-round playoff series. The Blue Tornado took two of the three games to advance to the state quarterfinals where they swept two games at Christ Presbyterian Academy, the Middle Region’s top seed, to propel them to the state’s final four.

In game one of the double-elimination bracket, McCallie scored a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Baylor. Sophomore J. Michael Pierce doubled home two runs to tie the game at 2-2 in the sixth inning, and junior Sebastian Leinberger singled in what proved to be the game winner two batters later.

The following day, junior pitcher Olin Johnson shut down Knoxville Catholic on three hits and 10 strikeouts in an 8-2 win to send Head Coach Tim Costo’s squad to the championship series. In a high-scoring affair with Lipscomb Academy, the Blue Tornado were down 13-9 in the bottom of the final inning. Senior Carter Hewitt slugged a three-run home run, and sophomore Zach Porter set off a wild celebration as his single scored Nolan Sergeant and Hudson Calhoun for the walk-off victory. It was McCallie’s third state title and first since 2014.

McCallie's state championship baseball team celebrates their win

The lacrosse team used a blend of a strong senior class with talented underclassmen to capture its ninth state championship and first since 2015. 

Head Coach Eamon Thornton, in just his third year directing the program, continued the success of the tradition-rich program. The Blue Tornado, 15-4 overall, went 2-0 on the Memphis swing, defeating Briarcrest 12-5 and Memphis University School 10-8. They were undefeated in Region play including a sweep of Baylor (20-3 and 10-6) and had statement wins over Montgomery Bell Academy, Hoover (Ala.), Woodward Academy (Ga.), and Ravenwood. Two of the losses were by one goal each.

McCallie's state championship lacrosse team celebrates their win

On the road to the title game, McCallie dispatched Pope John Paul Prep 19-3 and eliminated MBA 19-9. In the state finals against MUS, McCallie scored early and often and held off an Owls’ charge for the 17-9 victory. 

All-America and All-State honorees for the Blue Tornado included seniors Hayden Downs, Weston Hammond, and Matthew Mathias, and sophomore Zach Chari. Also earning All-State accolades were senior Kane Smith and junior Jack Forrester. Thornton was voted Coach of the Year.

The tennis team raised the bar in 2022. The Blue Tornado were ranked No. 1 nationally by Universal Tennis throughout the season. They lived up to the billing, going undefeated and losing only one team point on the year, which basically resulted in an 89-1 record in dual matches.

The squad shut out everyone on the schedule with the exception of Wesminster who managed the lone point on the season for an opponent in a 6-1 McCallie win. The streak included two 7-0 wins over Baylor, and victories over No. 10-ranked Sidwell Friends (Va.), St. Xavier (Ky.), Lambert (Ga.), and Montgomery Bell Academy. Along the way, Head Coach Jeff Clark’s team won three tournament titles (the Chattanooga Rotary, MBA’s Carter Invitational, the TSSAA East Region).

McCallie's three-peat state champion tennis team

McCallie won its third straight state championship and 11th overall, beating MBA in the state semifinals and MUS in the finals. Seniors Will Leathers and Colin Tuttle joined forces to win the state doubles title, besting teammates Charlie Griffin and Henry Imorde in the finals. Junior Andreas Sillaste advanced to the finals of the individual state singles championship and was the state runner up.

The rowing team hit its stride late in the season. At the MidSouth Championships, the Varsity 8 boat out powered those from Baylor and MBA to claim the state title. Head Coach Sean McCourt’s crew qualified several boats for the annual Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s National Regatta. The highlight was the Junior Varsity 8 racing to the National Championship of its level, beating 24 other teams. In the Junior 8 boat for the Blue Tornado were juniors James Grauley, Beck Honebein, August Michels, Bo Miltenberger, and Jack Moran, sophomores Walker McClelland, Grey Richmond, and John Testerman, and freshman coxswain Whit Lifsey. The Varsity 4+ advanced to the national semifinals and placed 11th, and the junior varsity 4 also competed.

The varsity 2 crew team placed 1st in the National Scholastic Rowing Championship

While the track and field team only produced one individual state champion, it had enough depth and scorers to finish in second place at the state meet just 19 team points behind first-place Christian Brothers.

Hugh Carlson ran a fantastic 3200 meter race to win his first state title. Top-three finishers included Joseph Eldridge (tied for second in the pole vault), Aaron Crowder (second in discus), Carlson (second in the 1600), the second-place 4 x 800 relay team, and Kavan Reynolds (third in the 400).

The soccer team forged an overall mark of 6-5-2. Its most impressive outings were draws against eventual state champion Baylor (2-2) and state semifinalist Father Ryan (0-0).

The Blue Tornado defeated Montgomery Bell Academy 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs and went on the road to shut out Christ Presbyterian Academy 3-0 in the quarterfinals. The win earned the boys a spot in the state tournament for the seventh consecutive year, although they fell short in the state semifinal match.