Taylor Cummings and Cyrus Jones Jr. named Baltimore Sun Athletes of the Year

Throughout their illustrious three-sport high school careers — and particularly in their senior years — Gilman's Cyrus Jones Jr. and McDonogh's Taylor Cummings had a knack for owning the big moments.

For Jones, who will play football at national champion Alabama, there was the two-point run in overtime to win the conference football championship; the hoop that made him Gilman's all-time leading scorer in basketball; and sprinting to two more league titles in track this spring. He led all three teams to Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association conference championships.

Cummings was as impressive, leading her McDonogh teams to Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships in soccer, basketball and her top sport, lacrosse, which she will play at Maryland. After a four-goal effort in the soccer semifinals led to a second straight championship in the fall, a 14-point performance sparked a comeback to win the basketball crown, and Cummings saved her best for last with the game-winning goal in the closing minutes to secure the lacrosse team's fourth straight title.

On Thursday afternoon, Jones and Cummings added another special moment by being named The Baltimore Sun's Male and Female Athletes of the Year at the 46th annual luncheon at the newspaper's downtown headquarters. Cummings is only the fourth athlete to become a repeat award winner.

C. Milton Wright senior swimmer and field hockey player Danielle King received the sixth-annual Hayley Milbourn Integrity Award for her efforts in organizing a shoe drive to help families in Ateiku, Ghana.

In being recognized a second straight year, Cummings brought gifted skills, a fierce competitiveness and team-first approach that became her trademark throughout her four years. In the fall, she finished with 20 goals and 12 assists to be selected first-team All-Metro in girls soccer. Gritty defense was her forte on the basketball court, but she showed she could do whatever was needed, with her game-high 14 points initiating a 22-point comeback for the program's first conference title in 13 years. In the spring, she came into the lacrosse season as the No. 1 rated player nationally and proved the point with 61 goals that gave her 200 for her career.  The Eagles left the season with a 69-game win streak and as the No. 1 team in the country.

"It's such a high honor, and I'm so thankful for everything," said Cummings, who won seven conference championships in her 11 varsity seasons. "Everyone here is deserving of this award, and just to be chosen is a really big honor for me.

"Sports has really taught me to work with others and really be a team player. And the friendships I've formed from all the sports I've played will be with me forever, so I'm really glad I chose sports to help lead me."

Cummings was chosen over fellow finalists Alexis Franklin (Old Mill), Autumne Franklin (McDonogh), Rachael Holehouse (Fallston), Brionna Jones (Aberdeen), Alice Mercer (Century), Hannah Oneda (Winters Mill), Alyssa Parker (Glenelg), Abby Smucker (C. Milton Wright) and Ashley Spivey (McDonogh).

Cummings joined  Dulaney distance runner Amanda White (1992-93), Gilman football and lacrosse standout Damien Davis (1998-99) and Mount Hebron basketball and lacrosse standout Kristen Waagbo (2002-03) as the only repeat award winners. 

On the football field, Jones did plenty more before capping his career with the two-point run to get the Greyhounds past Calvert hall in the MIAA A Conference championship. The All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, who played five positions, gained 2,365 all-purpose yards and finished with 24 touchdowns, while grabbing five interceptions and taking one back for another touchdown. Rated the No. 33 senior recruit in the country by ESPNU, he also was named the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and a Parade and Under Armour All-American. 

In the winter, Jones averaged 17.8 points per game at point guard to lead the Greyhounds to the MIAA B Conference crown, closing out his four years with 1,734 points. In track and field, he won MIAA titles in the 100 and 200 meters in helping the Greyhounds capture their fourth straight championship.

Already enrolled at Alabama for summer classes, Jones Jr. was not in present for the luncheon, so his father accepted the award for him.

"I'm really honored for him," said Cyrus Jones Sr., who is also the basketball coach at Dunbar. "He's a great student-athlete first off and athletically what he's done ... I don't think I've every seen anything like that. He's always been a competitor from Day 1. 

"He basically just needed the guidance and motivation to continue to work hard. He's always wanted to achieve and always wanted to finish first in whatever he was doing and through his hard work, this is where it got him."

The other boys finalists were: Roman Braglio (McDonogh), Aquille Carr (Patterson), Rob Chesson (Old Mill), Kevin Corbusier (Loyola), Mike Gamble (McDonogh), Stephen Kelly (Calvert Hall), Nathan Kraisser (Centennial), Ian Miles (Mount St. Joseph) and Ryan Ripken (Gilman).

Dana Johnson, a 1991 Athlete of the Year as an All-American basketball player at Western High before going to play at Tennessee, served as the keynote speaker, inspiring the athletes to be patient, prepared and thankful.


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