On the Mark: Holiday, 2022 wishes to Jackson County sports figures; bowl talk: Column

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers
Mark Martin

HOLIDAY WISHES: For those in the sports world, Santa Claus may be running a little late.

But he always has the best in mind for those who serve as administrators. For those who coach. And certainly, for those who compete.

Here are some late gifts and best wishes for 2022 to many with ties to Jackson County:

  • Eddie Smolder — Much success as the former Ripley football great and Viking head coach takes on his new job leading the proud program at Winfield High School.
  • Luke Salmons — Another glorious football season in 2022 for the one-time Ravenswood Red Devil star athlete’s Cabell Midland Knights and perhaps that first-ever state championship win.
  • Gene Morris — Another banner campaign of Nicholas County football for the 1981 Ravenswood High graduate and Red Devils state champion wrestler.
  • John Heath — The patience to build Ravenswood wrestling just the way he wants it and for this former state title winner to guide many to the top of the state championship podium.
  • Matt Smith — More wonderful memories for this one-time Ripley Viking state wrestling champ as the school’s head coach.
  • Brett Rector — A winning first season as the head coach at Salem University for this former Red Devil two-sport All-Stater. (His first team is off to a great start.)
  • Jamison Hunt — A solid beginning in the coaching career for this former Ripley Viking basketball First Team All-Stater.
  • Mick Price — A return to the state tournament and ultimate state championship during this 100th year of Ravenswood Red Devil basketball.
  • Cara Williams — A second straight trip to the state tournament for the hard-working head coach of Ravenswood Red Devilette basketball.
  • Annie Hunt — Plenty of playing time in this former Ravenswood First Team All-Stater’s inagural season of collegiate basketball at Wheeling University.
  • Derek Mullins — Lots of wins for the former Ripley High Athlete of the Year in his first season of guiding the Ripley boys basketball program.
  • John Kennedy — A long-awaited trip to the state tournament for the head coach of Ripley Lady Viking basketball.
  • Tori Starcher — Taking the next step as a collegiate runner at Stanford University for this one-time Lady Viking track and field great.
  • Brett Haskins — A trip to the top of the state championship podium for this senior Ripley Viking wrestling standout.
  • Steve Lough — Few headaches, if any at all, in scheduling sporting events as Ripley High’s athletic director during this era of COVID-19.
  • Wes Swain — An easy time coordinating events as Ravenswood High’s athletic director during the pandemic and plenty of wins on the diamond this season as the Devil head baseball coach.
  • Kenny Swisher — Knocking down the door and returning Ripley Lady Viking softball to the state tournament after just missing out last year to eventual Class AAA state champion Cabell Midland.
  • Cindy Carmichael — Helping guide Ravenswood girls softball past reigning Class A state champion Wahama in the sectional tournament.
  • Alex Easthom — A second State Amateur state title in the span of three years for the former Red Devil golf standout.
  • Davis Haynes — A glorious collegiate career on the links at West Virginia Wesleyan for the one-time Ripley Viking All-Stater.
  • Jason Philyaw — Another chance for the Ripley High graduate to call an Ohio state championship football game as the “Voice” of the Ironton Tigers.
  • Luke Jackson — More and more tackles for this one-time Red Devil football star as a linebacker at the Newport News Apprentice School.
  • Shane Casto — A second trip to the state baseball tournament for this former Ripley Viking All-Stater and current head coach.

Santa's bag was so full of gifts and well wishes that it was hard to name all of those on the list.

But please know, each individual who has a role in sports from Jackson County is appreciated more than they will ever know.

Certainly, no one enjoys them any more than this writer. It is my pleasure to chronicle their past, present and future accomplishments.

BOWL TIME: College bowl season has been in full force.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 scratched a few of the postseason affairs.

I was lucky to cover one of the early ones as Marshall met Louisiana in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

It was a great week in the Big Easy doing stories on Charles Huff’s Thundering Herd while also taking in some of the awesome scenes and enjoying the wonderful food in this unique city.

It was my second trip to the Big Easy. The first was also for a postseason game back in December 1993/January 1994 as WVU took on Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

The Superdome is one fabulous place to call a game.

As I cover bowl games, it always gets me to thinking about those from Jackson County who have had a chance to take part in these wonderful postseason extravaganzas.

Here are some who came to mind: 

Max Ludwig (Ripley — Sugar at WVU ), Frank Nester (Ravenswood — Peach at WVU), Butch Roark (Ravenswood — Peach at WVU), Joe Jelich (Ravenswood — Peach at WVU), Brad Hunt (Ripley — Bluebonnett and Sun at WVU ), Mark Johnson (Ripley — Fiesta and Gator at WVU), Adam King (Ripley — Music City and Continental Tire at WVU), Justin Johnson (Ripley — Music City at WVU),

Also, Eddie Smolder (Ripley — Motor City and GMAC at Marshall), Luke Salmons (Ravenswood — Motor City and GMAC at Marshall), Will Hosaflook (Ripley — Motor City at Marshall), Mickey Marino (Ripley — Peach at WVU ), Andy Robinson (Ripley — Peach at WVU), Howard Hartley (Ravenswood — Sugar and Rose at Duke), Cayden Keeler (Ripley — Liberty at WVU).