Pope John Paul II High School celebrated 13 seniors who will continue their athletic pursuits in college on Feb. 2, National Signing Day.
Those signing included:
- Ryan Bender, who signed to play baseball at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee.
“Ryan’s dedication to his game has developed him into the baseball player he is today,” said JPII baseball coach Chris Parker. “He never misses a workout with his team but can always be found working on his crafts, both hitting and pitching, on his own free time. … Today’s celebration is proof that his dedication has paid off, and if it continues the Walters State Senators will reap the benefits and Ryan will have yet another signing day in two years.”
Bender is the son of Gregory and Kathleen Bender, and is a parishioner at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville. Walters State is a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association.
- Corbin Sweatt has signed to play baseball at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.
“No matter what has been thrown his way, he has persevered and overcome it,” Parker said of Sweatt. “Now with scholarship in hand he can relax, focus on getting better, play the game he loves, and finish here a winner. CBU is getting not only a talented young man with great potential but one who is battle tested and who has persevered.”
Sweatt is the son of Clint and Sheana Sweatt. Christian Brothers competes at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Gulf South Conference.
- Keonna Chumbley has signed to play basketball at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee.
JPII women’s basketball coach Angi Puckett praised Chumbley’s work ethic. “She’s a player whose hustle never has an off day. She brings a ‘go-to-work’ mentality to every practice and game.” Chumbley has returned from an ACL injury last year to average more than 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game this year. She is a two-time All Sumner County player.
Chumbley is the daughter of Stacey Davis. Martin Methodist competes in the NAIA and is a member of the Mid-South Conference.
- Leanna Pearson has signed to play basketball at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.
“Leanna has been an amazing example of a player who put a lot of work into her game when she arrived at JPII and has elevated her game to a new level because of that,” said Puckett. “Leanna is averaging over 10 points per game and over 2 steals per game. She has also led our team in blocks over the last three seasons. Leanna has accumulated 780 points in her career up to this point.”
Pearson was named the Sumner County Most Improved Player as a sophomore and All Sumner County as a junior.
Pearson is the daughter of Timothy and Linda Pearson. Christian Brothers competes at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Gulf South Conference.
- Natalie Mertens has signed to play soccer for Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee.
“This is a great accomplishment for Nat and the result of years of hard work and dedication,” said JPII soccer coach Zack Trobaugh. “She has been a four-year varsity starter for our women’s team and an instrumental contributor in the growth of our program over these past few years.”
A team captain in her junior and senior years, Mertens scored 21 goals in 27 games the past two seasons from her midfield position. She has been named to the Division II-AA All Region Team and the All Sumner County team.
Mertens is the daughter of Michael and Amy Mertens and is a parishioner at St. Stephen Catholic Community in Old Hickory. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association.
- Ava Priest has signed to play soccer at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Priest was a three-year starter on the varsity women’s soccer team after transferring to JPII for her sophomore year. “In those three years, Ava has become one of JPII soccer’s most dynamic playmakers,” Trobaugh said. “She has contributed a total of 41 goals and assists in 37 games.”
Priest has been named to the Division II-AA All Region and All Sumner County teams and was named a team captain as a senior. “She has been a player who has led by example in her effort and attitude in every aspect of our team,” Trobaugh said.
Priest is the daughter of Whayne and Leslie Priest and is a parishioner at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Centre College competes in the NCAA Division III and is a member of the Southern Athletic Association.
- Emily Slaughter has signed to play volleyball at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.
“Emily is a strong leader whose actions earned her a spot as team captain both her junior and senior year,” said JPII volleyball coach Kim Shaver. “As a junior, Emily also earned Division II-AA honorable mention, Sumner County second team, and team Most Valuable Player. As a senior, Emily was nominated for the Lady Knights Award, the Nashville area high school female athlete of the week, Sumner County first team, and the Division II-AA All Region Team.”
In her four-year career at JPII, Slaughter has recorded more than 100 service aces, 650 kills and 900 digs. She set school records for most digs in 2019 and for most kills in 2020.
Slaughter is the daughter of Brian and Tina Slaughter and is a parishioner at Our Lady of the Lake Church. Berea College competes in the NCAA Division III and is a member of the USA South Athletic Conference.
- Lillie Van Metre has signed to play volleyball for Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.
“Lillie Van Metre is one of the best female athletes I have ever coached,” Shaver said. “Lillie is a three-sport standout who has made her mark in volleyball, basketball and softball at JPII. … Watching Lillie play sports is pure joy as she plays with her heart and loves every second of competition.”
Van Metre was twice named to the All Sumner County first team and the Division II-AA All Region team. In her four-year career, she has recorded 175 aces, and more than 700 kills and 900 digs. She set the school record for most kills in 2019 and most aces in 2020.
Van Metre is the daughter of Michael and Angela Van Metre and is a parishioner at St. Stephen. Bryan College competes in the NAIA and is a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
- Timothy Lark signed to play football at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky.
“Tim is a fierce competitor who was recognized as one of the league’s top defensive backs as well as earning All-County recognition,” said JPII football coach Justin Geisinger. “Tim Lark also won our team’s most prestigious award as our Shield Award winner for 2020, again, voted on by his teammates as the player who best fit the definition of our shield, our mission, and all that embodies it.”
Lark is the son of Ronald Lark and Tammy Lark. Lindsey Wilson competes in the NAIA and is a member of the Mid-South Conference. In 2019, the Blue Raiders finished the season with a 12-1 record, their only loss in the NAIA national semifinals.
- Jarett Lucombe has signed to play football at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Lucombe is “the newest member to our football program, only a second-year high school player who has peaked the interest of many schools across the country,” Geisinger said. “When you look at Jarett Lucombe, you can clearly see the upside and potential with his large frame and athletic ability. … It takes more than that. It takes someone who is willing … buy in to something bigger than himself and not only work to maximize all he has been given physically, but to work to grow as a teammate and Christian young man knowing that the former cannot be fully realized without the latter.”
Lucombe, who played tight end and on the defensive line for JPII, is the son of Michael and Mercuria Lucombe. Western Kentucky competes in the NCAA Division I and is a member of Conference USA.
- Antwan Roberts has signed to play football at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.
“JPII will be losing one of the most talented football players to ever have walked its halls upon graduation this spring,” Geisinger said. “Antwan arrived on campus nearly four years ago as a young man we knew could be special a player. This special, I don’t know, but I know we are very thankful that he has been a big part of this program’s growth. Coaches will often tell you that they are lucky to coach a handful of great players in their careers, and extremely lucky to coach maybe one truly special talent … and I have already said, I am still a young coach and I know I have already reached that one.”
As a senior, Roberts earned All-County, All-Conference and All-State recognition for the second year in a row, Geisinger said. “He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in his career for 55 touchdowns, putting the ball on the ground only one time in four years. … You all have watched him, you have seen the electric level at which he plays, and the best part of it is, his best years are still ahead and the University of Wisconsin sees that in him too.”
Roberts is the son of Antwan and Alondra Roberts. Wisconsin competes in the NCAA Division I and is a member of the Big Ten Conference, one of the top football conferences in the country.
- Sawyer Watts has signed to play football at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
“Sawyer has committed to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he will be the newest addition to a growing list of Knights who have had standout careers with the Colonels,” Geisinger said. “Centre saw the clear and obvious talent that we all did in Sawyer as a quarterback with a live arm, excellent mobility, and the ability to extend plays and make things happen. He has been recognized as a top talent in DII-AAA for many years earning all-conference recognition this season amongst others.”
“Sawyer was voted as a team captain and it is his natural ability to lead, to build relationships, and to engage with just about anybody that will make him a continued success for years to come,” Geisinger said.
Watts is the son of Keith and Amy Watts and is a parishioner at Our Lady of the Lake Church. Centre College competes in the NCAA Division III and is a member of the Southern Athletic Association.
- Kilon Williams has signed to play football at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Williams recovered from a major injury prior to arriving at JPII as a freshman to become an impact player for the Knights as a defensive back, Geisinger said. “Kilon’s commitment to his craft and his ability to overcome obstacles in his career here was impressive to say the least,” Geisinger said. “He was not going to allow something like that to keep him from his teammates and growing their culture together … and because of this, his journey continues as Tennessee Tech University asked him to join their squad in the fall.”
Williams is the son of Ralston Williams and Shoreen Davis. Tennessee Tech competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision and is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.