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Sumter High School girls swimmer Hayden Kirkhart has officially been voted the 2018-19 Sumter Item Hines Furniture Athlete of the Year. Kirkhart defeated Crestwood boys soccer player Christian Acevedo in the championship round to secure the overall victory.
"I feel like she definitely put the work in", said Sumter head coach Cathy Kirkhart. "She gave up dance to focus on swimming, and I think she's doing so much for a sport that's relatively unknown. I'm thankful that the sport of swimming is getting the recognition it deserves."
Kirkhart, a sophomore, has qualified for the state meet four years in a row. She's been all-region four straight years and the team's most valuable player each of those four years. She scored 23 points in the 2018 state meet.
Kirkhart advanced to the championship round after beating out Thomas Sumter Academy boys cross country runner Josh Fugate in the semifinals, Robert E. Lee girls bowler Santana Christmas in the quarterfinals, and Thomas Sumter Academy girls archer Cassidy Brunson in the second round.
The Sumter Item Hines Furniture Athlete of the Year contest began in mid-July when The Sumter Item sports chose the Player of the Year in 24 sports. Beginning on Monday, July 29, fans were given the opportunity to vote for the overall top athlete from among the 24 individual winners in a bracket-style competition.
Kirkhart will be presented her 2018-19 Athlete of the Year award in a ceremony to be held at Hines Furniture in Sumter.
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