Between them, the 1997 Daily Press male and female high school Athletes of the Year have led their teams to five state championships.
Consider the hordes of athletes who never experience even one state title and it's clear how extraordinary the talents of Hampton's football-basketball wunderkind Ronald Curry and Bruton's track and field phenom Nicole Kelly are.
Expand that consideration and remember that these two head-turning talents have just finished their junior years. They have another year to pursue more championships and cause numerous sleepless nights for opposing coaches.
Curry, who also won this honor last year, will seek an unprecedented triple-double of state championships in his senior year: ``Triple'' as in leading the Crabbers to their third consecutive state football title, and ``double'' as in back-to-back basketball championships.
``I know it's going to be real tough trying to repeat those two championships,'' said Curry, who has a chance to equal Tabb football great Terry Kirby's feat of winning three consecutive Daily Press Athlete of the Year honors. ``But the desire to win them is just as strong because you always want to go out with a bang in your senior year.
``There's not much pressure because everybody on the team shares the load. I want this to be a fun year.''
Curry earned the state's Group AAA football and basketball Player of the Year honors from both the media and the coaches. In both sports, he improved in every major statistical category from his sophomore year.
In football he led unbeaten Hampton to a No. 1 national ranking, passing for 2,293 yards and 36 touchdowns. He added 902 yards and 29 touchdowns rushing. He scored 40 touchdowns himself on the most prolific offense in state history.
On the basketball court, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Curry averaged 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Hampton won its last 19 games and finished 26-3.
Curry will stay very busy this summer. His time will be split between AAU and Nike basketball competition, and some conditioning work.
``I'm going to the annual Nike camp July 5-11 and will play in the junior nationals and some other tournaments with the Boo Williams 17-and-under AAU team,'' he said. ``I also want to add about 10 pounds to my upper body and be at 200 for the football season.''
Curry, who wants to continue playing both sports in college, is calm and focused about all the recruiting hullabaloo he'll face.
``I'm going to take all five visits I'm entitled to after football season and won't announce my decision before January,'' he said.
Virginia, North Carolina and Florida State - not necessarily in that order - head his college wish list. Duke and Michigan have also gotten some lip service.
Like Curry, Kelly matured emotionally and physically to have a banner junior year that whetted followers' appetites for her senior campaign.
The 5-foot-9, 140-pound Kelly led Bruton to its second consecutive state Group AA girls track championship. She did it by winning the long jump and high jump, running the anchor leg in Bruton's decisive 1,600-meter relay victory and finishing second in the triple jump. She competed in seven events and was often scurrying back and forth from one competition to another.
``I've never seen anyone as consistent as Nicole,'' Bruton coach Emil Davis said. ``Her work ethic is the key thing. She worked hard every day and pulled a lot of our kids with her.
``That's the kind of leadership we needed. She made up a 15-meter deficit to win the 1,600-meter relay despite the drain of competing in all those other events. She'll go into next year with a whole lot of confidence. She's soft-spoken, but says all she needs to say with her performance.''
Kelly rates the three jumps - long, high and triple - and the 200 meters as her favorite events.
Her future could well be in the heptahlon, the seven-event competition that she finished fourth in at the indoor nationals in March. The heptahlon is composed of the long jump, high jump, shot put, javelin and the 100-, 200- and 800-meter runs.
``Having success in that national competition really helped my confidence for the outdoor season,'' said Kelly, who credits the efforts of her summer team coach Allen Overton for much of her heptahlon success. ``There was a lot of pressure this year for us to repeat at state, but our confidence grew after having success in some early meets.''
Another plus this year was Kelly avoiding injury for the first time in three years.
``I did a lot more conditioning this year getting ready for the season and that helped me,'' said Kelly, who said she was considering playing basketball for the Panthers next season.
Davis said he may ask Kelly to add the discus to her repertoire next season, filling an expected team void there.
``We're going to have to fill some holes caused by graduation, but with Nicole as the nucleus we can make a run at a third straight state title,'' the Bruton coach said.
That's fine with Kelly, who would like to add some state records to her already impressive resume.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times