Ninety Six’s Ginger Cannon is the epitome of a multi-sport athlete.
During volleyball season, you’ll see Cannon serving her team to a win. During basketball season, she’ll be running the floor, threading the needle to teammate Tajea Barr in the paint. And come spring time you’ll find her on the track, trying to lead her team to state.
“Volleyball is my main sport,” Cannon offers as a reminder for those who’ve never seen her play. “But I enjoy playing all three different sports.”
A modest demeanor is Cannon’s approach, but the senior left out one thing: she enjoys winning, too.
Cannon is the returning region 2-2A runner of the year and has competed in the state final each year she’s been at Ninety Six. Last season she competed in the pole vault, 4x400-meter relay and the 400-meter hurdles. With the basketball season behind her, Cannon’s trying to make it four years in a row.
“My goal for track now is to go to state, definitely,” Cannon said. “I really want to try to do my best when it comes to the events I do … and get first place.”
“She’s got a lot of experience in big races,” Ninety Six coach Tyler Larkins said. “This year we’re looking for medals, and I think that’s a good, achievable and realistic goal for her as a senior.”
Larkins calls Cannon his unsung hero, a part of a senior class that has some great athletes, including the 2A state champion long jumper Cameron Saxon.
“(Ginger) is very valuable to all her teams," Larkins said. “… When you’re a part of teams that have a lot of kids in the same grade that are also good, some of them get lost in certain situations. But she’s always solid.”
Cannon elaborates more on what her coach means.
“(Coach) is saying that I’m one of those people who can do different things in the events of track,” Cannon said. “Say if I didn’t do pole vault I can come over and do jump, long jump or triple jump, just anything.”
In short, Cannon is an athlete. And her ability to excel at three different sports leaves no surprise that Ninety Six relies on her to be a key figure to the club making another run.
Larkins explains that, although track is a sport that has much to do with individual success, Cannon makes it about her teammates – much like she does in basketball and volleyball.
“She’s always thinking about that end result of what we need to do to try to win as a team," Larkins said. "Then she fits in where she feels like she can help us. It's always about the end result (for her)."
Cannon's track practices are an example of that. After running the 400 meter dash with her teammates, Larkins reminds Cannon that she has hurdles, too. So while the rest of the team is catching a water break, Cannon lines up a set of hurdles and goes through her normal routine.
"Every day when I come out to practice I try to work my hardest because I'm always thinking of that (end) goal." Cannon said. "I'm always pushing myself constantly."
The mission never changes for Cannon, just the sport or the event.
Contact staff writer Julian McWilliams at 864-223-1814 or on Twitter @JulianMack105
Look around the Lakelands
Coach - David Payne
Key losses --Boys: Ben Slimmer, Julian Assele, John Tarasidis, Jordan Anderson, Willie Reynolds, Brandon Clarke. Key losses -- Girls: Bryanna Sims, Jetil Warren
Key returners --Boys:Myles Williams, Jamori Makins, Jonathan Hines, Joseph Castillo, Michael Hodge, Cody Jay. Key returners --Girls:Elizabeth Self, Sarah Grace Chrisley, Haley McLaughlin, Rose Whitt, Pilar Calhoun
Key newcomers -- Boys:Anthony Conklin, Noah Sanders, Emmet Kelley. Key newcomers -- Girls:Emma Strong, Madeline Williams
2017 outlook (boys) -The boys lost a large group of senior leaders from 2016, but there are many promising new athletes on their roster. Their goals for the upcoming season includes finishing in the top 2 at the region championships and advancing an athlete to the state finals.
2017 outlook (girls) - After strong individual performances at the State Finals by Elizabeth Self and Haley McLaughlin, the girls team looks to add more athletes to its roster at the State Finals in 2017. The entire team will attempt to improve its place in the newly-aligned Region 2-3A.
Coach –Tyler Larkins
Key Losses - Jayden Anderson, Peyton Bryan
Key returners -- Boys: Chris Booker, Brendon Kelly, Connor Matthews, Daniel Cogburn, Zach Hemann, Addison Turner, Chris Booker. Key returners -- Girls: Callie Free, Kerry Knepley, Amber Gilbert, Ginger Cannon, Bre Waldrop, Jasmine Wallace, Chrisa Saxon, Cameron Saxon
2017 outlook (boys) - The Ninety Six boys are in good shape. With just two key seniors in Anderson and Bryan that graduated. The returners should add there already powerful track squads with another Upper State appearance.
2017 outlook (girls) - The girls are loaded. All who competed in the Upper State final last season were underclassmen and can build on the team’s success coming into this year.
Coach -Dewey Rowland
Key losses --Boys:Tevin Richardson. Key losses -- Girls:Annjella Dowtin, Sakeya Leverett, Lanterria Collier
Key returners -- Boys:Trey Turman, TiAndre Simmons, Armani Cade, Samuel Dowtin. Key returners -- Girls:Deshanna Cade, Jasmine Towns, Alexis Calhoun, Chelsea Tillman
2017 outlook (boys) - Richardson took the track world by storm last season, after winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash final last year at Upper States. He and Dowtin have both graduated, but the team can look to Simmons Turman and Cade to fill some of the void.
2017 outlook girls -The team lost three seniors that appeared in the Upper State final last season, but they still have four more that were there as well in Cade, Towns Calhoun and Tillman. Towns finished second in the 100-meter final last year, too.
Coach -Lee Atkinson
Key losses -- Boys: Keuntrai Robinson, Trey Copeland. Key losses -- Girls:Cynthia McHam
Key returners --Boys: William Scott, Vilo Boyd, Tequan Cromer. Key returners -- Girls: Keira Dendy, Maren Vondergeest, Maya Smith, Madison Bagwell
2017 outlook -The Clinton boys or girls didn’t have a runner appear in state last season. However, the team has a good chunk of its roster from last season returning and will be looking to improve on some of the success it did have the previous year.
Coach -Phillip Baker
Last year -Both girls and boys finished fourth in the region
Key losses --Anna Kathryn Stoddard
Key returners -- Boys:Tydarius Floyd, Will Culbreath. Key returners -- Girls:Shelby Seymour
2017 outlook -Anna Kathryn Stoddard now runs for USC, but the Eagles return a lot of talent, including Tydarius Floyd.
Coach -Casey Geter, Sonya Turman
Last year - Boys:Had four players place in top 10 at Upper State meet. Last year -- Girls:Had one player place in top 10 at Upper State meet
Key losses -- Boys:Zeke Dailey
Key returners -- Boys:Charles Holback, Noah Guire. Key returners -- Girls:Daeja Belton, Breanna Brown
2017 outlook -Abbeville didn't lose much from last year's team, so the Panthers should improve the number of players they send to the Upper State meet.
Coach -Anthony Irick, Garret Jones
Last year -Sent one runner to 2A state meet, Nykell Roland, who finished third in state in long jump
Key losses -Denajae Posey, Sabrina Burton, Taylor Martin, Mercedez Mathis
Key returners -Joseph McGrath, Nykell Roland
2017 outlook -All-state long-jumper Nykell Roland will be back, and Saluda should continue to grow in Class 2A.
Last year - Boys:Finished No. 17 at Upper State meet. Last year - Girls:Finished ninth at Upper State meet
Last year - Boys:Failed to make Upper State meet. Last year - Girls:Finished No. 10 at Upper State meet