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Warrior and Raider State Champs Win AOW

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Cobb Schools' Athlete of the Week (AOW) program is a weekly recognition of a male and a female student-athlete that perform at high levels in their sport, in the classroom, and in their school communities. The program is made possible by support from BSN Sports.

This week's AOW winners are state champions from North Cobb Volleyball and Walton Cross Country.

Nikol Antova, North Cobb, Volleyball

Nikol was a 6-rotation Outside Hitter for the Lady Warriors, which means that she never came off the floor. She was the heart and soul of the state championship team: the better she played, the better the team played. In addition to leading her team to a 7A state title, she was selected as Co-Player of the Year for 7A. Nikol has been playing volleyball since she was in third grade and she also plays club ball for A5.

She is also a great student, with a GPA over 3.75. Nikol was named to the AVCA Best and Brightest—which honors players nationally with the best grades—as well as being selected as an AVCA Honorable Mention All American.

"Nikol has been a great leader this year," said her coach Stephen Sansing. She has worked very hard in her three years here, and consistently gotten better each year. Her teammates love her, and she fires up our team when she makes a big kill.

"We’ve had really good teams the last few years, but have had some unfortunate draws in the state tournament and lost in the second round each time," Coach Sansing continued about his 2023 state championship team. "Once we got over that hump this year, you could see the belief in their eyes that we could go all the way. It validates the work that these players and I have put in these last few years, and even though we knew how good we could be, now the entire school and community knows how great of a program we have built."

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Joseph Minecci, Cross Country, Walton

With a time of 15:43.92—the second fastest time in all classes—Joseph won the 7A cross country state championship last Saturday. Joseph is the first Walton XC Male to win the State Championship since 2004. He has been running since his freshman year and plans to run in college. Joseph has a 3.819 GPA and is being recruited to compete at the Division 1 level. In addition, he is the drummer in a band and very artistically talented.

"Joseph is the definition of putting forth your best foot and giving your best effort daily," said Walton Head Coach Emily Navitsky. "He is approachable to all and encourages all of his teammates to be the best versions of themselves. He inspires them to give their all at practice daily, as he truly gives his all in running each and every day."

"He is a great student and leader. He had incredible success in the sport and is constantly pushing himself to be better. He received our MVP and Captain Awards at our season banquet. He is also very funny and loves karaoke and often led the team in a sing-a-long at many meets," Coach Navitsky concluded about her State Champion and Athlete of the Week.

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Great job, Nikol and Joseph! Congratulations on the state titles and great seasons overall. We know both of you have much to look forward to as you continue your academic and athletic careers at the next level!