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Faces in the Crowd

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Blake Fisher

Hometown: Avon, Ind.
School: Avon High
Sport: Football
Date of Birth: March 25, 2003
Position: Left Tackle

The night before he made his commitment to Notre Dame official, five-star recruit Blake Fisher thought about his late sister, Breonna. Disabled and afflicted by a virus that attacked her heart, she couldn’t walk or talk and died in 2011, at age 10, when Blake was eight. “She would chuckle at stuff I’d say,” he recalls. “When people say my sister’s keeper, it was that type of bond.”

Blake carried a framed photo of Breonna on signing day, Dec. 16, at Avon High’s fieldhouse. There he saw Maison Gibson—the jovial 13-year-old boy with Down syndrome whom he met during a blowout in the 2019 opener. After that game Blake asked coach Mark Bless to make Maison a captain, and he joined the Orioles’ sideline for the rest of the season. “That’s my little bro,” says Blake of Maison. “Seeing him, that put a huge smile on my face. Having a special-needs sister . . . it makes me want to go above and beyond for those kids.”

At 6' 6" and 330 pounds, Blake is the state’s top-rated prospect, a punishing blocker who drives defenders 15 yards downfield. He set a school record with seven pancakes in a 54–13 defeat of Ben Davis High. “I know I’m the baddest dude on the field at all times,” Blake says. “It’s like the quarterback is my mom and the running back is my sister: I don’t want either one getting touched.”

Notre Dame fans dubbed Blake “The Mayor” after he took on the role of unofficial lead recruiter, shouting out players on Twitter, maintaining a group chat with commits and meeting with guys when they visited South Bend. The result: The Fighting Irish landed their best class since 2013. Blake connected with alumni, too, and counts Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith as his mentor. Says Blake: “He’s told me, ‘Don’t try to be the next anybody. Be the next Blake Fisher.’ That’s my plan.”

Keyarah Berry

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Sport: Basketball Town: Rockmart, Ga.

Keyarah, a 5' 11" senior forward for Rockmart High, scored 50 points and had six rebounds and five steals in a 69–63 win over Ringgold. Last year she averaged 32.1 points and led the Yellowjackets to their first Class 2A semifinal. Through 11 games Keyarah, who has committed to Indiana, was 571 points shy of the state’s career scoring mark.

Ryleigh Heck

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Sport: Field Hockey Town: Voorhees, N.J.

Ryleigh, a junior forward for Eastern Regional High, scored five goals and had one assist in a 9–0 defeat of Shawnee High to secure the Vikings’ 22nd consecutive Group 4 title. A North Carolina commit, she finished the season with a state-high 76 goals.

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Update: Coming Up Rose

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Earlier this year, because of the pandemic, Rose Zhang didn’t set foot on a golf course for nearly three months. She spent time in her Irvine, Calif., garage, mashing old balls into a net and practicing her putting stroke.

Then, in August, Rose battled through tendinitis in her left wrist to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., beating the tourney’s defending champ, Gabriela Ruffels, on the 38th hole. Four weeks later Rose, 17, shot an 8-under 280 at the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to break the tournament’s amateur record by one stroke and earn an exemption for the U.S. Women’s Open in June.

A Stanford commit, Rose appeared in the Oct. 2, 2017, issue of FACES IN THE CROWD after winning the Girls Junior PGA Championship. She finished 2020 as the world’s No. 1 amateur. “I don’t really look at rankings,” Rose says, “but it’s super nice to see.”

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