ATLANTA — Tift County and Tiftarea Academy are both well represented with the release of the 2019-20 Southwest Georgia Regional Winners of Positive Athlete Georgia.

Tift County’s honorees were Spencer Shaw (swimming and diving), Jake Turner (alternative sport/air rifle) and Tiftarea’s winners were Josie Arant (golf), Adam McKinney (football).

All four are seniors.

Arant, Tiftarea’s only 12th grade golfer, earned a scholarship to play the sport at Belmont University (Tenn.). Her high school career includes a hole in one.

McKinney was chosen for the Georgia Independent School Association All-Star game. He led the Panthers with 1,073 yards in 2019 and scored 10 touchdowns.

Shaw was a state tournament alternate in the 400 freestyle relay this year. He was named All-Region and swam with the varsity all four years.

The undefeated air rifle team qualified for state in 2020 before the shutdown of athletics. Even if the Blue Devils were not going to state, Turner definitely was. Head coach Glenn Hudson said he additionally qualified as an individual. He held the highest scoring average in Area 2.

The Southwest Georgia winners cover schools as far west and north as Quitman County (Georgetown) and as far east as Berrien.

Twenty-six awards were named, which cover 14 sports, alternate and “multi-sport” categories, a male and female coach and an overall school winner. Early County was named the Most Positive School.

Southwest Georgia is one of 14 regions across the state covered by Positive Athlete.

Positive Athlete describes itself on its website (positiveathlete.org) as “a celebration of young Athletes who have overcome difficult circumstances, given back to their schools and communities in a significant way, or just have an infectious positive attitude that makes everyone around them a better person.” Nominations for the award can come from coaches, teachers and fans.

The organization was founded by Hines Ward, who starred at Forest Park and the University of Georgia before starring with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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