Jackson County Sports: A year in review, by Mark Martin.
It’s not often that a wrestler in the state of West Virginia wins four state championships. Last season the prestigious list of four-time winners grew by three in the span of just a few short hours at the 65th Annual West Virginia State Wrestling Tournament inside the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
One of the three to garner his fourth crown a year again hailed from Ripley High School. Adam Bicak captured title number four with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Jesse Roman of East Fairmont in Class AAA’s 170-pound division.
It was a bittersweet moment for Bicak. A perfectionist, the talented wrestler was less than pleased with the last performance of his high school career despite winning another championship. It was also tough for Bicak from the standpoint that it marked the end of his time with a Viking program that had been such a big part of his life during his remarkable four-year stretch.
While he wasn’t happy with his last showing, it’s hard for him not to be ecstatic over what he did during his days as a Viking. Bicak was the last of the three (the other two were Parkersburg South’s David Jeffrey and Roane County’s Dylan Cottrell) to garner that fourth crown last February. By winning, Bicak became the 15th four-time state champ in West Virginia history.
While joining an elite club in Mountain State wrestling, Bicak is on a list all by himself in Jackson County when it comes to four-time state champs.
Not only did he display a gift on the mat, but also in the classroom. Bicak is now a student at Harvard University and is competing for the Ivy League school’s wrestling program.
Bicak’s fourth state title last winter has earned him the Jackson Newspapers Top Sports Story of the Year honor.
Bicak was just part of another 12 months full of sports memories covered by Jackson Newspapers.
After a successful 15-year run at Ravenswood High School, Dick Sturm stepped down as the leader of Red Devil football. Sturm had an overall record of 111-56 and guided the Devils to several playoff berths, including a spot in the 2012 Class AA state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium. Sturm first joined the program in 1967 as an assistant to Fred Taylor.
The Ripley Viking wrestling team enjoyed a banner season. The new year started with the Vikings placing 15th out of 44 teams in the prestigious Powerade Invitational. The Vikings won the Jackson County Invitational with six wrestlers grabbing titles. At the Winner’s Choice Tournament the Vikings were also team champs and had four individual title winners.
Ripley was second at the Mountain State Athletic Conference Tournament with seven Vikings garnering championships. Matt Smith was recognized as the MSAC’s Coach of the Year.
The Vikings advanced 12 wrestlers to the State Tournament in Huntington while easily winning the regional crown.
At the State Tournament, Bicak wasn’t alone on championship night. Senior David Hicks closed out his great career with a third straight state title, and second in the 215-pound class. Freshman Jake Martin started his high school career out in fine fashion with a thrilling title win in the 120-pound division.
Although two other Vikings – Preston Martin (138) and Darryl Hicks (285) – lost title matches, they were instrumental in the Ripley finishing second to Parkersburg
South in the team competition.SOUTH TEAM
-Ravenswood junior wrestler Billy Kniceley, the 285-pounder, won the Roush Wahama Wrestling Pool championship. Roush also had runner-up finishes in the Little Kanawha Conference Tournament and the regional before a fourth place showing at the State Tournament.
-Under first-year head coach Cara Williams, Ravenswood reached the Class AA State Girls State Basketball Tournament for a fourth consecutive season. The Devilettes nipped Tyler Consolidated, 56-55, in a co-regional final to earn another trip to Charleston. In the Capital City, the Devilettes were stopped in the opening round by eventual champion Westside. The Lady Renegades downed Ravenswood, 60-41, before going on to not only win the title but finish undefeated.
Junior Hannah Murray earned Class AA Second Team All-State recognition to go along with First Team All-Little Kanawha Conference honors. Junior Melonna Carmichael gained Honorable Mention All-State.
-Ravenswood’s Red Devils just missed heading to the State Tournament. The Devils were knocked off in a two-point contest at Magnolia in a Class AA co-regional final.
Zack Martin was named Class AA Second Team All-State while teammates Ben Pannell and Jeremy Lawrence were Honorable Mention. Martin and Pannell were First Team All-LKC picks with Lawrence earning Second Team status.
-Ripley’s Cody Miller, despite missing most of the season on the court, earned MSAC Second Team honors while Kade Harrison gained Honorable Mention.
-Three Ripley Lady Viking girls basketball players were honored in the postseason. Paige Smith and Rachel Stuck were MSAC Special Honorable Mention and Ryne Hill was Honorable Mention.
-Former Lady Viking standout Alannah Sheets enjoyed another productive year at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. Sheets was an All-Mid-South Conference First Team selection and earned NAIA All-America Honorable Mention during her sophomore season.
-The Ripley High archery team won a state championship while Cayla Goodson captured an individual title.
-Ripley’s Alexa Johnson took first place in the 14-15 year old division of the West Virginia State Gymnastics Competition Level Nine.
-Dylan Henry of Millwood was first place in the All-Around Level 5 competition at the Ohio State Gymnastics Meet.
-At the Mid-Valley Athletic Conference wrestling tournament Ripley Middle School placed second and crowned four individual champions in Jacob Starkey, Rocky Ford, Lucas Simpkins and Chris Jordan.
-Ravenswood’s Kaleb Horn and Cory Wratchford also won MVAC titles.
-Steve Lough was named the West Virginia Athletic Trainer of the Year by the state’s Athletic Trainers Association.
-The Ripley Middle School boys basketball team lost in the MVAC title game to Winfield.
SPRING - It was announced that Mick Price would be the next head football coach at Ravenswood High School. Price, the school’s boys basketball coach of 34 years and winner of two state titles, had worked with the program as an assistant in the ‘80s and as the Ravenswood Middle School head coach.
-Ravenswood volleyball player Kaci Sullivan signed to continue her career at Glenville State College.
-Taylor Youell and Bess McNabb teamed up to win the Class AA-A Region 1 No. 2 doubles and move on to the State Tournament in Charleston.
-Lady Viking Emily Munson of Ripley High earned a spot in the Class AAA portion of the State Tennis Tournament.
-Ripley High baseball player Jonathan Murphy signed to play baseball for the young Pioneer program.
-Ripley Lady Viking Alyssa Brozak signed to play soccer at West Liberty.
-Ripley’s Jesuz Diaz scored the lone county points at the West Virginia State High School Track and Field Meet. Diaz was fifth in the Class AAA long jump. Sammy Shaver competed in the 300 hurdles. Ripley’s 4x800 team (Troy King, Ryan Gregory, Chad Longanacre and Antonio Jones) and shuttle hurdle relay team (Tyler Jones, Sammy Shaver, Cody Harris and Gregory) also competed at the State Meet.
-Ripley Lady Viking Alyssa Brozak was a competitor in the 200 meters at the State Meet as was the shuttle hurdle relay team (Holly Farkosh, Erica Gibson, Molli Cunningham and Erin Thompson).
-In the Class AA-A portion of the State Meet, several Ravenswood athletes competed. On the girls side, Devilette Hailey Miller ran in the 400 meters and Ingrid Foslund raced in the 800 meters. Also, the 4x800 relay (Miller, Foslund, Taylor Treadway and Morgan Webb) and the 4x400 unit (Foslund, Miller, Webb and Kirsit Babylon) made it to Charleston.
-The Red Devils were represented by Patrick Watson in the long jump, Luke Sadecky in the 1600 meters and Andrew Ely in the 100 meters.
-At the State Meet, Ravenswood girls head coach Renee Swisher was honored as the Girls Track Coach of the Year.
-At Ripley High School, David Hicks and Ryne Hill were recognized as the Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively.
-Former Ripley High wrestling standout Mitch Smith was hired as the head coach at Alderson-Broaddus College, where a program on the mats was being launched.
-Ravenswood senior Hannah Gurtis signed to play soccer for West Virginia Wesleyan College.
-One-time Ravenswood softball standout Mallory Hilton wrapped up an oustanding career at West Virginia State University. Hilton earned All-West Virginia Conference Special Honorable Mention while helping lead the Lady Jackets to NCAA Division II regional play.
-On the softball field, Ripley’s Reese Gandee earned Class AAA All-State Special Honorable Mention while Makenzie Hesson and Ryne Hill each earned Honorable Mention. Ripley’s Chelsey Hager and Hesson were Mountain State Athletic Conference First Team honorees. Ali Cunningham and Gandee were Second Team picks. Ryne Hill earned Special Honorable Mention and Dusti Fisher was Honorable Mention.
-Ravenswood softball players Katie Buckbee and Savana Casto earned Class AA All-State Honorable Mention. Casto and Callie Snodgrass were All-Little Kanawha Conference Second Team picks.
-The Ripley Middle School baseball team captured the Mid-Valley Athletic Conference title.
-Ripley baseball player Jamin Jones competed in the North-South All-Star Baseball Classic and punched a home run.
-Jones was a Class AAA First Team All-State selection. Teammate Alex Karst was a Second Team pick and Nick Barnette was Special Honorable Mention. Jones and Karst each earned All-Mountain State Athletic Conference First Team honors. Barnette was Second Team while Tyler Casto earned Honorable Mention.
-Ravenswood’s Devin Crews earned Honorable Mention in the Class AA All-State baseball balloting.
-The Ripley High archery team finished 10th in a national event.
SUMMER -Ripley’s Ryne Hill announced she would play softball at Fairmont State University.
-Ravenswood had plenty of players suit up for the West Virginia squad in the annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis West Virginia-Ohio Football Classic. Chad Burrows, Brandon Cunningham, Dustin DeRito, Kyle Griffith, Jeremy Lawrence and Tyler Newell played for the West Virginia squad that lost to the Ohioans.
-Lawrence also played for the North team in the annual WCHS-TV/FOX-11 North-South All-Star Football Classic. Ripley’s David Hicks was picked for the game, but an illness toward the end of his senior school year prevented him from suiting up for the North.
-Steve Lough, Ripley’s long-time athletic trainer, was named the new athletic director for Viking sports teams.
-Mark Isner, a Ripley native, was inducted into the West Virginia Trapshooters Hall of Fame.
-Former Ravenswood Red Devil three-sport stars Todd Ritchie and Paul Fletcher became the latest inductees into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
-Ravenswood basketball standout Ben Pannell announced his intentions to continue playing at West Virginia State University.
-Ripley’s Alex Karst signed on the dotted line to play baseball at State.
-One-time Ravenswood athlete Brett Rector was hired to be an assistant women’s basketball coach at Eastern Kentucky University. Rector had been working with the men’s program at Kentucky-based Pikeville University.
-The Ravenswood Youth Football Camp was pleased to have on hand former WVU star running back Quincy Wilson, who is now a member of the Mountaineer program as an administrative assistant.
-Ripley’s Jack Whitney was the winner of the annual Firecracker 2-Miler race through the streets of Ripley during the city’s Fourth of July celebration.
-Ripley’s 11-12 year old girls softball all-star team earned a trip to the State Tournament in Beckley.
-The West Virginia Wicked 18-and-under girls softball team (made up of Ripley players) won the USSSA regional title to advance into the World Series in Columbus, Ohio. The Wicked missed the championship at the World Series by one game.
-Ravenswood runner Meri Titus signed to compete in cross country at Davis & Elkins College.
-The Ripley archery team was fifth at the World Archery Tournament in Orlando.
FALL - The Ripley boys cross country team capped off an outstanding season by placing fifth in Class AAA at the State Meet in Ona on the campus of Cabell Midland High School. Ryan Gregory, Chad Longanacre, Caleb Casto, Jake Casto, Levi Phillips, Sammy Shaver and Dillon Welling represented the Vikings. During the season the Vikings won several meets, including the regional.
Four Vikings – Longanacre, Gregory, Caleb Casto and Jake Casto – earned All-Region honors. Longanacre was an All-Mountain State Athletic Conference performer.
-Ripley’s Ali Cunningham capped off a brilliant two-year career as a runner by placing 25th in Class AAA at the State Meet. Cunningham was both an All-Region and All-MSAC honoree.
-The Ravenswood girls cross country team was fifth in Class AA-A at the State Meet. Hailey Miller led the way with an 11th place finish just missing All-State honors. Taylor Treadway, Hannah Murray, Taylor Love, Mariah Currey, Larissa Hayman and Josie Hayman also represented Ravenswood. Taylor and Treadway were both an All-Region and All-LKC runner.
-Luke Sadecky closed out his cross country career at Ravenswood by being the lone Red Devil at the State Meet. He earned both All-Region and All-LKC.
-Ripley Middle’s Remy Boyce won the Mid-Valley Athletic Conference cross country title.
-Ravenswood’s boys soccer team enjoyed a fine 14-6-2 record. Mason Carte was Class AA-A First Team All-State.
James Carmichael was Second Team All-State. Nick Ballard, Jesse Mize, Pat Berry and Dalton Gandee earned Honorable Mention. Carte, Berry Gandee and Nick Johnston were All-Little Kanawha Conference First Team picks. Carmichael, Ballard, Mize, Andrew Ely, Devin Wilson and Nate Schiefer were All-LKC Honorable Mention.
Carte, Ballard, Carmichael and Mize were chosen to compete in the annual North-South All-Star Soccer Classic.
-Anna Flesher and Jordan Danko of Ravenswood earned Class AA-A Second Team All-State honors in girls soccer. Bess McNabb and Erica Cullen were Honorable Mention.
-Ripley had several players honored in the postseason for their performances on the pitch. Noah Ross, Parker Lively and Jo Jo Greely-Fay earned Class AAA Honorable Mention All-State honors. Lively and Chuck Sleboda garnered Mountain State Athletic Conference Honorable Mention.
-Ripley’s Callen Banks and Holly Farkosh earned Honorable Mention All-MSAC.
-The Ripley Middle School soccer team won the Mid-Valley Athletic Conference title. It was a banner year for Remy Boyce, who nailed a mind-boggling 54 goals.
-In volleyball, Ravenswood’s Katie Buckbee was Class AA First Team All-State with Haley Palmer earning Honorable Mention.
-Ripley’s Kaitlyn Weaver earned Class AAA All-State Special Honorable Mention on the volleyball court. Weaver and teammate Ashley Mellinger garnered All-Mountain State Athletic Conference and Honorable Mention, respectively.
-The football season in Jackson County ended with the Ripley Vikings and Ravenswood Red Devils battling to overtime in the annual Battle of the Hatchet. A blocked extra point allowed the Vikings to escape Flinn Field in Ravenswood with a narrow 17-16 win. The victory gave Ripley a final record of 5-5 while Ravenswood ended at 2-8.
-Ravenswood’s Brad Titus earned Class AA First Team All-State honors in football while Rhys Jelich and Devin Crews garnered Honorable Mention.
Titus was the Little Kanawha Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Devin Crews was another All-LKC First Team pick. Rhys Jelich, Dillon Gandee, Mason Carte and Kyle Hickman were Second Team honorees.
Jackson Newspapers recognized the following Red Devils: Crews (Co-Offensive Player of the Year), Ryhs Jelich (Co-Offensive Player of the Year), Titus (Defensive Player of the Year), Connor Jelich (Lineman of the Year), Mason Carte (Special Teams Player of the Year) and Donavyn Estep (Breakout Player of the Year).
-Ripley’s Daryl Hicks was a Class AAA Second Team All-State pick while fellow Viking Justin Hinzman picked up Special Honorable Mention.
-Hicks was an All-Mountain State Athletic Conference First Team pick. Andy Mellert, Preston Martin and Justin Hinzman were Second Team selections. Jake Martin and Quaseem Fields earned Honorable Mention.
Jackson Newspaper honorees were Jake Martin (Offensive Player of the Year), Hinzman (Defensive Player of the Year), Hicks (Lineman of the Year) and Fields (Special Teams Player of the Year).
-Three Ripley cheerleaders were honored by the MSAC. Ali King was First Team, Kelsey Casto was Second Team and Regan Parsons was Honorable Mention.
-Ravenswood’s Taylor Youell signed to play college tennis at the University of Charleston.