2023-24 Wilburn C. Clary Medal Award Winners

The Clary Medal is made possible through the generosity of the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation. The Clary Medal is presented in honor of Wilburn Clary’s athletic career which included coaching, officiating and athletic administration. He coached multiple sports for almost 30 years, was an outstanding official at the high school and collegiate levels and served as the executive secretary of the Western North Carolina High School Activities Association from 1949 through 1977 until it merged with the NCHSAA. He was the first collegiate football official to be inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

The Clary Medal annually recognizes an outstanding high school male and female athlete, based on the individual’s excellence in athletic participation, extra-curricular activities and community service. Each recipient receives a $3,000 scholarship to further his or her educational endeavors.

The 2023-24 winners are Lorelei Elberson from South Davidson High School and John Howard from Ragsdale High School.

Lorelei Elberson was named to the All-Conference team in both softball and volleyball in her career at South Davidson. She was a captain of the softball team in her junior and senior years and on the volleyball team, was voted the Best Defensive Player as she ranked in the top five in the 1A West in digs. 

She is a two-time winner of the Rhonda Shaw Community Service Award, winner of the Miss Asheville Scholarship Pageant Community Service Award, Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen and Southeast Threshers Queen. She was the Chief Junior Marshall. 

In addition to her participation with the Impact Club, Student Government, Pep Club, FCA and the National Honors Society, she has accumulated 1,787.5 hours or community service and helped raised $21,700 for causes including cancer research, Farmer Elementary Spring Fling, Special Olympics and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

She plans to study nuclear medicine or genetics to help people like her father, who had open heart surgery and is partially paralyzed. 

“Lorelei is both a leader in the classroom and on the field, but also in the community,” said Ryan Oaks, her softball coach. “She has participated in many volunteer activities throughout her high school career. She is passionate about her community and the people in it. Overall, Lorelei is an exceptional student-athlete. I have enjoyed working with her as she has shown dedication, pride, and commitment to her team, peers, school, and community.”

John Howard is a two-time Metro 4A Conference Cross Country Champion and Male Runner of the Year and a three-time Guilford County Champion. He was named team MVP four times and twice on the Track and Field team and this year was named the Ragsdale High School Fall Athlete of the Year. 

Howard is also a USATF NC State Champion in the 3000M and 2000M steeplechase and a USATF Cross Country All-American. 

He has 4.0 unweighted GPA and ranks second in his class. Howard is the Treasurer of the Student Council, an AP Scholar, National Honors Society Historian, a Peer Mentor, Healthy Kids Running Series Volunteer and he operates the sound board and helps with youth events at his church.

He plans to study finance at Appalachian State University.

“Beyond his impressive athletic achievements, John embodies the qualities of a true student-athlete,” said Suzanne Ladka, his Guidance Counselor at Ragsdale. “He demonstrates exceptional time management skills, balancing rigorous training schedules with academic responsibilities. His commitment to excellence extends beyond the track, serving as a testament to his character, discipline, and resilience.”