RIPLEY – When it comes to the 2013 recipients of Ripley High School's two Athlete of the Year awards, you could say one followed nicely in the footsteps of an older brother while the other quite possibly started a family tradition for two younger sisters.

At the annual Formal Awards Assembly last Friday inside the Ripley High School Auditorium, seniors Daryl Hicks and Ali Cunningham were recognized for their excellence during the 2012-13 athletic year.

This marked the second straight year for someone with the last name of Hicks to be named the Male Athlete of the Year at Ripley High. Last year David Hicks garnered the award.

"When he got it last year, it really inspired me," said Daryl of his older brother, who has long served as a role model. "Once he got it, I kind of wanted to get it. I think every guy in high school probably thinks about getting it. It's nice."
During his senior year at Ripley, Daryl Hicks was a Class AAA Second Team All-State selection in football as a defensive lineman for outgoing Viking head coach Jimmy Frashier. Hicks also earned First Team All-Mountain State Athletic Conference honors for his play on the football field. Hicks has been chosen to play next month in the annual WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic in Charleston. He will be a member of the South squad.

This past winter, Hicks turned in an outstanding senior wrestling season that culminated with a Class AAA state championship in the 285-pound division. Hicks finished as the runner-up in the same weight class as a junior. His coaches on the mats were Matt Smith, a former state champ at Ripley and Franklin Howerton.

Hicks was also a part of the school's track and field program during his high school days, throwing both the shot put and discus. He was coached in the sport by Jason Ward and his father, Dwayne.
With high school coming to an end, Hicks is planning to compete as an athlete at the next level by wrestling for Alderson-Broaddus University in Philippi. Hicks, who wants to enter the field of criminal justice, will be part of the school's fledgling wrestling program that is under the direction of Mitch Smith (Matt Smith's brother), who was a three-time state champ at Ripley before becoming an All-American at West Liberty State University.

Hicks' father is a 1986 graduate at Ripley High, where he was a three-sport standout for the Vikings. He later played football at Glenville State College, starting at center for a young head coach named Rich Rodriguez.
By becoming the Male Athlete of the Year, Hicks and his brother are now the fifth from the same family to be honored with the school's prestigious athletic award. They become the second set of brothers to win the award joining Benjie (1990) and Brett Hunt (1994).

Also a a pair of brother-sister duos have won the award in Phyllis (1981) and Dave (1984) Chancey along with Lisa (1991) and Kevin Thompson (1999). In addition, there has been one father-son combination to be honored in Butch (1980) and Brett Barnette (2007).

Cunningham excelled in not one, not two, not three but four sports during her final year at Ripley High School.
In the fall, Cunningham, who is also the Class of 2013's salutatorian, was Ripley's leader in cross country for coaches Hilary Groves, Jimmy Groves and Bryan Thompson. She earned both All-Mountain State Athletic Conference and All-Regional honors. At the State Meet, Cunningham finished 25th overall in Class AAA.

During the winter, Cunningham proved to be a defensive specialist for the Lady Viking program of head coach Justin Frashier.

Cunningham has been a standout on the softball field since her freshman season. As a senior, Cunningham has been a vital cog in leading Ken Swisher's Ripley crew back to the State Tournament for the first time since 2009 as the team's leadoff hitter and solid center fielder.

Besides softball, Cunningham tried to squeeze in a few meets in track and field this spring. She earned the High-Point Trophy at the Viking Invitational by winning the 800 meters, 1600 meters and 3200 meters. Her coaches were Jimmy Frashier and Mike Bright.

Cunningham is the daughter of Raymon and Deanna Cunningham. Her father was a standout defensive end for the Ripley Viking football team in the season of 1982. Her mother was a cheerleader throughout her days at Ripley High.
She has two younger sisters, Molli, a talented junior athlete at Ripley High (who was named the school's best in girls track and field), and Sydni, a fifth grader at Kenna Elementary, who also loves sports.

"It was something I was passionate about. Sports meant so much to me. Of all the things I received (at formal awards), even salutatorian, this meant the most because it was voted- on by the coaches," said Cunningham.
Cunningham is heading to West Virginia Wesleyan College, her mother's alma mater, to major in business. She has earned scholarship money to run both cross country and track for the highly successful Jesse Skiles.
Hicks and Cunningham brought plenty of joy to their families for their outstanding excellence as athletes while wearing the Viking and Lady Viking blue and white. But what truly makes them all swell with pride is to see how the two have grown to become great young adults during their four years at Ripley High School.

Ripley High Athletes of the Year
1969-Terry Landis; 1970-Jay Chambers; 1971-Gerald Matheny; 1972 Joey Crum; 1973-Jim Abshire; 1974-Bobby Casto; 1975-Mike Ludwig; 1976-Rod Winters & Sherry Hunt; 1977-Ron Arthur; 1978-Mitch Carmichael; 1979-Tommy Hayes; 1980-Butch Barnette; 1981-Phyllis Chancey; 1982-Steve Jordan; 1983-Brad Hunt; 1984-Dave Chancey; 1985-Matt Carver; 1986-Cindy Lanham; 1987-Mike Duke; 1988-Paul Blankenship; 1989-Ashli White; 1990-Benjie Hunt; 1991-Lisa Thompson; 1992-Cheryl Crawford; 1993-Clifton Landis; 1994-Brett Hunt; 1995-Matt Parsons; 1996-Will Hosaflook; 1997-Amaris Easter; 1998-Jimmy Knight & Kelli Rose; 1999-Kevin Thompson & Miranda Spangler; 2000-Derek Snyder & Bobbi Boggess; 2001-Jon Spencer & Erica Shaffer; 2002-Brock Stotts & Jessica Motes; 2003-Jeff McCoy & Christina Gossett; 2004-Jonathan Melhorn & Alison Spiker; 2005-Mitch Smith & Cara Waybright; 2006-Parker Deem & Ashton Canter; 2007-Brett Barnette & Jaimie Casto; 2008-Dewey Young & Tanya Melhorn; 2009-Seth Parsons & Michelle Sayre; 2010-David Heis & Alannah Sheets; 2011-Derek Mullins & Savana Whiting; 2012-David Hicks & Ryne Hill; 2013-Daryl Hicks & Ali Cunningham