JCI TIME: One of the top sporting events each year in Jackson County is upon us. The annual Jackson County Invitational will unfold this weekend at the Ripley Health Center.

Hopefully, a break in the weather will allow for all the schools, slated to make up the field, the opportunity to be in the county for the tournament.

The JCI has always been one of my favorites.

The tournament got started even before I hit the hallways of Ripley High School back in the ‘70s.
The wrestling programs at both Ripley and Ravenswood have done a wonderful job through the years working in harmony to make this tournament a great success.

Coaches from around the state have long bragged about the JCI being one of the better tournaments the sport has to offer each year in West Virginia.

I’ve watched a lot of great Viking and Red Devil wrestlers excel on the mats of the JCI through the years in addition to several wrestlers from other schools.

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates and the 2014 edition of the JCI is another success.

CRIMSON MAT: One of Jackson County’s all-time greatest wrestlers is finally getting a taste of competition at the collegiate level.

Adam Bicak, who won four state titles (the only county wrestler ever to do so) as a Ripley Viking in the seasons of 2009-2012, is currently 1-4 for the Crimson of Harvard.
Bicak sat out last season after having surgery on both shoulders.
Not only is Bicak getting to compete again in the sport he loves, but doing so at the prestigious Ivy League school based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

THE STAT SHEETS:  Former Ripley Lady Viking basketball standout Alannah Sheets is having a superb senior season for the Lady Bears of Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Sheets has been a four-year regular for the NAIA program that has been a part of the national tournament scene during her career.

The Lady Bears are currently 8-7.
Sheets has started all 15 games this season. She leads the team in minutes played, averaging 34 per contest. Sheets also leads the team in free throw percentage, hitting 74.6 from the line and in blocked shots with 11.  
She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 18.1 a game. She is also second in assists with 56.
Sheets is knocking down 42.6 percent of her shots from the field. She has nailed 34.2 percent of her 3-point attempts. On the season, she has pulled down 54 rebounds.

 DOUBLE-DIP: “Let’s play two.”
The words of the great Chicago Cub Ernie Banks.
On the banks of the Ohio River, there will two basketball games once again this Saturday inside Ravenswood High School’s Old Gymnasium.
The Devilettes and the Red Devils will be going up against the girls and boys teams from Braxton County.
I love the idea of back-to-back varsity games on a Saturday evening. Last weekend the two teams did so against St. Marys.

Old man weather has already forced some postponements of games here in the county. The Red Devils’ scheduled Tuesday night road trip to Tyler County was shelved, but will be made up this Friday.

REMEMBERING PETE: Jackson County has lost one of its great sports leaders from back in the day with the passing of Pete Jordan, who died on January 6.
Jordan was a fixture on the youth league sports scene for many years in Ripley. He coached a variety of sports.
His crowning achievement was guiding the Ripley Babe Ruth League 14-15 year-old all-star team to a state championship in the summer of 1977.

Earlier I touched upon the JCI here in the county. No one was more instrumental in helping to build up the sport of wrestling for both Ripley and Ravenswood than Pete Jordan. He was the ring leader of youth wrestling for Jackson County in the early ‘70s.

Pete, who was a one-time Ripley High sports star, lived just a few doors down from my family on Winters Drive. He was a wonderful neighbor and friend.