NOTE: This is the second section of a two-part series that highlights both individual and team achievements from this past year in the sports scene of Ashe County. Please note that the ordering of the events is subjective to personal opinion, and only represents the views of the author.
Following where left off last Tuesday, with the final five events remaining to be revealed. To recap the first five: #10: Patel/Smith reach Tennis State Tournament, marking the first time members of the Men’s Tennis Team have reached the tournament. #9: Gift wins the SoCon Decathlon at Western Carolina University (Gift was raised here in Ashe County and a former Husky athlete). #8: Football wins first ever playoff game with 13-8 victory over South Iredell here in Husky Stadium. #7: Women’s Basketball claims their second 22-win season, which ties school record for most wins in season for women’s basketball. And #6: Men’s Basketball 23-5 record marks most wins in a season, most wins in regular season with 20 victories, and ranked in top ten of state for numerous weeks.
To head into the final five events, we will start with a team and individual events at the same time. The Lady Huskies Track Team had a very successful season as a team and individually. Team wise, the Huskies claimed third spot at the Regional Tournament with only five girls participating for Ashe, PRETTY IMPRESSIVE! More impressive was Lizzie Hanes winning the 300 Meter Hurdles at Regionals, and the Huskies 4x200 relay claiming first at regionals. Cara Church also competed strongly at regionals by finishing second in the 400 Meters. At the state tournament, the Huskies placed Hanes on the podium with a third place finish in the 300 Meter Hurdles, and Church finished sixth in the 400 Meters. The Huskies finished second in the conference prior to all the tournament success by the Lady Huskies.
Follow the Ladies Track is an amazing performance by an individual on the golf course. Claiming the #4 spot is Trey Scott of the Huskies’ Men’s Golf Team. Scott finished the conference as the MVAC Golfer of the Year, marking his second straight year of winning the award, and Scott was only a junior this season. Scott earned the Conference Co-Player of the Year last year tying with Cody Collins from North Surry, but this year outright claimed the award. Scott also placed himself in the record books as Ashe County’s first male athlete to participate in the State Playoffs as he qualified as an individual. Scott competes as the Huskies #1 seed and entering his senior year is hoping to repeat this year’s success.
The #3 spot is a multiple award winner with a member of the Lady Huskies Basketball team. This year, a feat was accomplished that has never been done before by any athlete at Ashe County High School, both men and women. The Huskies had a basketball player score her 1000th career point on February 14 during the Huskies victory at Wilkes Central. Kim McNeil, a junior for the Huskies has been on the varsity squad all three years of high school. McNeil scored her 1000th point, making her the first athlete of all time to break this milestone. McNeil also was named to the All-Northwest Team by the Winston-Salem Journal, which is also another first for an Ashe County athlete. McNeil received another honor by being nominated to the NCBCA All-District First Team. The NCBCA is the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association, and the Huskies had three athletes named to this award. McNeil was named to the first team, while her teammate, future Brevard player Kelly Hudler was named to the second team. Tommy Spagnolo, of the men’s basketball team marked the third Husky as he earned a spot on the All-District Second Team.
Having an athlete score 1000 points in a career is a hard task to find an achievement higher than this, but the Ladies Tennis Team slipped by with their all around successful season. Claiming the #2 spot of the top ten was the Lady Huskies Tennis Program. The Huskies were ranked in the top 10 teams in the state all season, and advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA Dual Team Playoffs, earning their spot in the State’s Top 16 teams. Individually, the Huskies advanced two teams of doubles to the Individual State Tournament, for the first time in school history. The Huskies advanced Roxanne Thomas and Rachel Curcio as a doubles team, and then Ivey Tant and Lorna Vega as another doubles team. Thomas and Curcio finished in the top 8 teams at the Tournament to represent the Huskies exultantly. Tant and Vega was able to advance all the way to the Tournament Semi-Finals where they lost to a doubles team from Salisbury, the team that would advance to win the Doubles Tournament. Tant and Vega earned a spot on the All-State team along with their All-Region accomplishment, and Thomas and Curcio was named All-Region. As their head coach Vickie Herman would always say, “Not bad for Ashe County girls!”
The #1 spot on the top ten is a team that did not win a conference title, did not even compete in the championship game. These ladies finished with a final record of 11-9 on the season, and spent a majority of the season realigning their roster due to injuries. However, this team bonded together when it counted, kept fighting when times were tough, hung in there and endured a game of thirteen innings to claim a 1-0 victory. This team is the Lady Huskies Softball Team, who earned the #1 spot with two upsetting victories in the State Playoffs, both of which came in extra innings.
The Lady Huskies finished the conference schedule tied for third, and claimed the MVAC third seed in the State Playoffs due to a tie breaking win over Surry Central in the Conference Tournament. In the State Playoffs, the Huskies shocked West Stanly in the first round with a 3-2 victory in ten innings. West Stanly was ranked the #1 seed from the Rocky River Conference and entered the game with a solid 20-6 record. The Huskies moved past West Stanly to face another West team at West Lincoln. The Huskies once again forced the game into extra innings and with solid defense, and a few big sticks in the top of the 13th inning, the Huskies claimed a huge 1-0 victory in 13 innings over the #1 ranked team from the Southern Piedmont Conference. This marked the first time that the Huskies advanced to the District Finals as a team, shocking many teams and people along the way. The Huskies were the only team that was ranked third or worse to move into the District Finals round, displaying the significance of their two upsetting victories during the playoffs.
The astonishing run in the playoffs by the Huskies softball team concluded the sports season for the Huskies, and brought a closing point to a very successful and historic all around season for Ashe County athletics. Husky fans can look forward to very promising seasons for next year, and hopefully more records, further advancements in the State Playoffs, and more Huskies receiving awards.