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Molly Grube of Manchester and Corvell Poag of Armstrong are the first from their schools to be named overall scholar-athlete winners.

Molly Grube stepped onto the field in Irvine, Calif., for a travel softball game, and among the fans and recruiters in the stands, one college coach stood out, wearing a familiar navy and orange. It was Joanna Hardin from the University of Virginia. That’s when the coach and player, both 3,000-plus miles from home, began a relationship.

Not long after, the Manchester pitcher visited Charlottesville and the UVA team, and before her sophomore season began, she committed to Virginia.

That was about two-and-a-half years ago, and now Grube has only one week of high school softball left before she begins her college journey. She’s one of two student-athlete award winners who will attend Virginia in the fall. Grube and Armstrong’s Corvell Poag were named the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond Sports Backers scholar-athletes of the year at a banquet at The Jefferson Hotel on Monday night. Each of them receives $7,500 grants.

They were chosen from a pool of 91 seniors who were either nominated by their school or won scholar-athlete of the month awards. Beginning in 1987, the scholar-athlete program has never chosen students from Armstrong or Manchester as its overall winners.

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Cocktail hour prior to the Scholar-Athlete Awards Dinner at The Jefferson Hotel Mon. June 3, 2019.

Back when Grube committed to UVA, it wasn’t so common to see local players join the Virginia softball team. Hardin was new, and the coach before her focused her recruiting efforts out west. Grube was the first in-state pitcher to commit to Hardin, and now several players from the Commonwealth are on the Cavaliers’ roster. She did so because the school had the right mix of athletics and academics.

At first, she felt she wanted to attend college somewhere farther away, to put some space between her and her parents. But she got a great vibe from the coaching staff, and she bonded with the players already on the team.

Manchester plays Tuesday in the state quarterfinals, looking to go one step further than last year when it lost in the state championship game. During her four years at Manchester, Grube has done plenty in the classroom, too, earning the school’s economic student of the year award in 2018 and Spanish student of the year in 2017. She’s a junior marshal and a member of the National Honor Society.

Poag wanted to give himself as many college options as possible, so when it came time to fill out college applications, he applied to 19 schools. His list included William & Mary, Howard, Washington and Lee, and Old Dominion. Before he hit the send button, he decided that if he got into Virginia, that was the school he would attend.

He kept getting brochures and advertisements from the school but no firm answer. Then he received an email saying a change had been made to his application status. He clicked his way to the application website and read the news — he got in.

“I read it like 10 times,” he said.

From public housing to UVA, Corvell Poag has a scholar-athlete story like no other

Virginia wasn’t the only school to accept him — all 19 schools on his list did.

During his four years at Armstrong, Poag has wrestled, run track and played football, soccer and tennis. He was named all-state in wrestling each of the past two years, compiling a record of 80-22. He’s the school’s salutatorian, its National Honor Society president and its senior class president.

Poag also was the winner of the Raymond Patterson memorial scholarship, which is worth $2,500. Jadah Ellison-Johnson of J.R. Tucker received the Cheryl L. Oliver memorial scholarship, also worth $2,500.

David Winters and Lily Snow were named runners-up. Winters is a wrestler and pole vaulter for Maggie Walker GS, finishing sixth in the Class 2 state wrestling tournament this past winter and third in the state track and field meet Saturday. He’ll attend Virginia as an Echols Scholar and major in math and physics. He’s co-authored two papers on the spin of electrons, and he was part of a four-person winning team that created a research project studying the physics and statistics of baseball for the Society of American Baseball Research.

Snow has won four state championships in cross country and track during her time at Deep Run. She’s been named first-team All-Metro in cross country the past three years, and she was named to the second team as a freshman. She owns four school records, including the mile in a time of 4:53. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society, and she’ll run at Richmond next year.

Sixteen other scholar-athlete finalists were presented with scholarships of $2,500 each. Altogether, $70,000 in college funds were awarded.

John Marshall won the first Community Impact Award, and $2,500 with it, for its numerous community service projects, including a Thanksgiving tradition of handing out turkeys to members of the Richmond community, taking part in Read Across Richmond by reading to elementary school students and raising funds for the annual Breast Cancer Awareness and Education Program for the Sisters Network of Central Virginia.

Scholar-athlete finalists

Boys: Sam Brooks, Goochland; Ali Ibrahim, Glen Allen; Ricky Jones, Hopewell; Jacob Moss, Powhatan; Elby Omohundro, St. Christopher’s; Corvell Poag, Armstrong; Logan Ransom, Steward; Nick Viers, Douglas Freeman; Christian White, Highland Springs; David Winters, Maggie Walker.

Girls: Hannah Ballowe, St. Catherine’s; Lexi Baumhover, Cosby; Molly Grube, Manchester; Megan Kratzer, Hanover; Emme Levenson, Douglas Freeman; Lauren Murphy, Mills Godwin; Abby Rieck, James River; Sally Snead, Trinity Episcopal; Lily Snow, Deep Run; Sierra Tutwiler, Highland Springs

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Sports reporter

Eric Kolenich writes sports stories for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, focusing on local athletes and teams. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a BA in English and joined the paper in 2009. (804) 649-6109

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