All-North Central Boys Basketball
Philip Barbour’s Yeager tabbed player of year; North Marion’s Sorine named coach of year
by Greg Talkington
SPORTS WRITER
    Class AAA champion North Marion dominated the first All-North Central West Virginia Boys Basketball Team announced today by the Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram.
    While North Marion featured three first-team selections to the honor squad, Philip Barbour’s Josh Yeager grabbed the highest honor: The 6-foot-6 senior forward won the first Player of the Year award. Yeager, who will play at West Virginia University next season, led Philip Barbour to its first state tournament appearance.
    Yeager, scoring from inside and outside, averaged more than 29 points and 13 rebounds.
First-year North Marion coach Andy Sorine was named Coach of the Year.
    Sorine led NM to its first state basketball title. The former Lincoln High School all-stater and WVU walk-on player guided North Marion to a 22-3 record.
    Canadian transfers Chris Exilus and Steveroy Dailey were big reasons why the Huskies were so successful.
Exilus, a point guard, sparked the team, averaging 17 points and 6 assists per game. The 6-foot junior plans to return to North Marion next season.
    The high-flying Dailey was North Marion’s main inside threat; his 39-inch vertical leap left many opponents dumfounded.
The 6-3 senior averaged 12.7 points.
    The third North Marion player named to the squad was senior forward Jonathan Denham.Described by Sorine as “one of the best pure shooters” he’s seen, Denham averaged 22.5 points and 6 rebounds. Like Yeager, the 6-6 swingman can score from inside or outside. Denham made 65 3-pointers.
    Class AA power Tucker County placed two players on the first team: Center Jim Aliff and forward Derek Simmons.
Aliff, a 6-6, 230-pound senior, was Tucker’s man in the middle. He averaged 15.4 points and 11.9 rebounds.
Simmons was a deadly mid-range shooter, but also used his quickness to slash to the basket. The 6-3 senior led Tucker County with 17.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
    Other first-teamers: Fairmont Senior’s Billy Stewart, Bridgeport’s Justin Belcastro, Lincoln’s Danny Hardesty and Ryan Vance of Elkins.


I-79 Speedway set to open 1999 season
by Joedy McCreary
SPORTS WRITER
    Racing at Interstate 79 Speedway begins Friday night with the local equivalent of the Winston Cup Series’ “Happy Hour.”
Local drivers will take part in an open practice at 7 p.m. Friday
    The “Happy Hour” atmosphere will give area fans a chance to whet their racing appetites. The first race of the season is the following Friday, April 16. “We’re going to let everybody come out to watch the guys run,” said Steve Baker, who along with Mark Richards runs the I-79 Speedway. “We’ll make sure everybody gets their bugs worked out by the time the season starts next week,” Baker said.
    Though the season doesn’t begin for 12 days, Baker says drivers are eager to rev their engines now. The speedway nearly is ready for racing, too, he said. “We’ve been working on the track all week,” Baker said. “We’ve got everything running and patted down, the track has been regraded and the rain has helped compact it.”
    Also on Friday, the draw for the May 2 “enduro” race will be held. The enduro race promises to be one of the more exciting races at the speedway because amateurs can participate. Baker has 42 entrants already enlisted but says there’s still time to sign up. He hopes the field will increase to about 100 cars.
    “You take a street car, take out the windows and put in a rollbar,” Baker said. “It gives wannabes a chance to get out on the track.”


D&E sweeps twinbill from Tech; A-Bloses 2 to State
From Staff Reports
    ELKINS — Davis & Elkins swept a West Virginia Conference doubleheader from WVU-Tech 12-0 and 12-3 Saturday in college baseball.
    Jimmy Layne won the first game for D&E (11-11, 3-1 WVC), while Nick Lahman went 4-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and two RBIs. Ernie Galusky was 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs, while Mike Carter was 2-for-2.
In the second game, Donnie Reeves pitched his fifth complete game of the year to get the win. He also went 2-for-4.
Lahman, Galusky and Tommy Close each had three RBIs for D&E.
    W.VA. STATE 8-13, Alderson-Broaddus 0-0: A-B’s Matt Haney took the loss  in the first game, while teammate Josh Haggerty got the loss in the second contest. Jeremy Bilotta was 2-for-3 in the first game, while Mike Johnson was 2-for-3 in the second game for A-B (6-10, 2-4 WVC).
    WVU 7-8, Seton Hall 6-3: West Virginia held off a Seton Hall  late-inning rally in the first game and used a late-inning rally of its own in the second game.

College softball

    SALEM-TEIKYO 5-6, Shepherd 1-4: Stefani Johnson held Shepherd to a run in the first game, and Tiffany Rifenbery led an eight-hit attack in the second as Salem-Teikyo swept a doubleheader. Stephanie Southern and Caroline McMillan both had two hits in the first game.
    In the second game, Salem scored single runs in the first, second and third before breaking it open with a three-run fourth.



Arnold has success with WVU swim team
by Joedy McCreary
SPORTS WRITER
    Krista Arnold, a member of the West Virginia University swim team who previously competed on swimming teams for Robert C. Byrd and the North Central West Virginia YMCA, has qualified for the Phillips 66 U.S. Championships Senior National swim meet.
    Scheduled for August on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the Senior National meet showcases some of the nation’s best swimmers. “A lot of the Olympic swimmers will swim there,” Arnold said. “And that’s who’s going to win. But just to make the cut is great. You’re swimming with the top swimmers in the nation. I’m just really excited to get to go there. “I would like to swim my best time,” Arnold said. “Just to place at that meet would be really great.”
    Arnold will compete in the 50-yard freestyle. Her time of 23.56 seconds qualified her for the meet, though she also will swim the 100-yard freestyle just to be timed.
    In the Big East Championships in February, Arnold was sixth in the 50 freestyle and set the WVU record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 52.37 seconds. Also, Arnold set a personal best in the 100 butterfly, finishing in 1:00.08.
    The Big East Championships were held at the Goodwill Games Athletic Center on Long Island, N.Y.
After setting the school record in the 100 freestyle, Arnold plans to focus on another mark during her  junior year:
“I’d like to swim my best time there,” Arnold said. “And I’d like to break the record for the 50 free.
“I have two more years to swim, and I think I can do it.”


Lewis County High in search of new identity in athletics
by Chris Errington
SPORTS WRITER
    WESTON — Spent of energy, jersey soaked in sweat and watching the final seconds tick down on the scoreboard clock, it’s a typical night for Lewis County High School basketball player Tim St. Clair.
Another loss.
    Losing has come to symbolize Lewis County’s football, boys basketball and baseball teams — the lifeblood of the athletic department. And many associated with the North Central West Virginia school say a change is long overdue.
“Sometimes it seems hopeless,” St. Clair said. “We’ve gradually come to an all-time low. Losing is a way of life here.”
Since its inception in the 1966-67 school year, winning seasons have been hard to come by for Lewis County. But things have never been as bad as the present.
    Some of the school’s sports, like softball, track and golf, do produce winning seasons. But baseball, boys basketball and football combined for a 2-51 record last year. And while problems are easy to identify, solutions aren’t.
    “We’ve been trying to address it for a while, but it’s not one particular problem we’re dealing with,” Lewis County Athletic Director Richard Hiserman said. “The kids still play hard and the coaches are still working, but for some reason we’re still not winning.”
    Depending on who’s talking, a host of changes need to be made:
-More commitment to conditioning, especially during the offseason, from athletes.
While there isn’t a clear answer, most associated with the athletic department agree the school’s losing ways don’t stem from genetics.
    Lewis County fields nearly as many quality athletes as other schools in the area, Hiserman said. He says a lack of off-season conditioning is a culprit in Lewis County’s woes.
    Now, thanks to the efforts of head football coach Eddie Williams and his staff, the foundation for an off-season workout program has been set. Williams, whose team finished 0-10 last year following a 2-8 1997 season, says his main concern is participation.
    “The big thing is what we can do from November to August during the off-season to make us better,” Williams said. “We have four or five kids who we’ll put against anyone, but we need more. We need them in here working, but we need them to take the initiative. We can’t do it for them.”
    Football isn’t the only sport where conditioning programs are needed, basketball coach Harold Bailey acknowledges.
In his first season, Bailey’s team finished with a 21-game losing streak.
    “The kids aren’t committed all year round and they need to be physically stronger,” Bailey said. “I really believe they can play with anyone from Charleston to Morgantown if they work hard.”
-Instill a winning attitude.
    Lewis County Principal Sylvia McNeish, like most associated with the losing programs, is admittedly frustrated. Losing simply has taken its toll. She says part of the problem lies with knowing it’s taken its toll on the athletes, too.
    “Losing doesn’t affect athletes in school, but it definitely affects their egos,” McNeish said. “I see them having difficulty with other kids putting them down. It doesn’t happen often, but teen-agers always dwell on the negatives.
“It’s very frutstrating for those who put their heart and souls into it.”
    Lewis County’s economy forces some athletes to choose after-school work over sports to help support family, McNeish said. Also, the economy has caused enrollment to dwindle, she said.
    While she knows the school system can’t change the economy, there’s important factor the schools can address: Keeping athletes academically eligable.
“When you have 671 kids and you’re competing against schools with 1,200 or more, you can’t afford to lose star players to grades,” McNeish said. “It seems we lose one or two every year.” A number of in-school tutoring programs have been developed to help meet the need, but McNeish said it still comes down to the athletes. “A lot of times, they don’t take it seriously enough until it’s too late,” she said.
    For Williams, even attending off-season workouts and remaining eligible isn’t enough to change athletes’ attitudes. That can only come from knowledge. “We have some great kids, but most of them don’t know what it takes to be an athlete,” Williams said. “We’ve got to learn how to win. But before that, we need to learn how to be competitive.
“We get beaten physically sometimes, but there’s also a lot of times we get beaten mentally.”
-Move out of the North Central Athletic Conference to the Big 10 Conference or independent status.
    Though one of the smallest Class AAA schools in the state, it was Lewis County’s size that drove it from the Big 10 Conference in the late 1980s and straight into its mismatched state. “When we got into the NCAC, we got in over our head,” McNeish said.
    But as disheartening as losing may be, coaches and administrators know their options may be no better. Because the Big 10 has just two Class AAA schools, nearly all of Lewis County’s games would be played against AA opponents, severely hurting its chances to amass rating points toward a football playoff spot.
     And a move to become an independent could prove fruitless because of scheduling problems in several sports. Such a move also could drain the athletic department’s budget.
    “We need to take all the North Central teams and make a conference that is feasible for everyone,” Williams said. “Going to the Big 10 is not the answer and neither is going independent.” For Bailey, it’s a matter of pride and trust in his players.
“There’s no use in playing down. We can only get better by playing the best,” he said.
-Bring back the school’s fan base.
    Bob Simpson, Louis Wells and Chip Jordan have an encyclopedia’s worth of school athletic knowledge in their combined 163 years.
    That’s why these Lewis County residents contend the losing has hit them hardest. “High school sports used to dominate around here,” the 63-year-old Simpson said. “There was always a standing-room only crowd and most times you could hardly get through the gates at the football field. Now people are apathetic about it. Not too many people want to go watch the games.”
    Here, too, you’ll find a number of solutions — from hiring new coaches to establishing better off-season leagues to demanding more dicipline in the homes of school athletes.
    “The kids have lost so long, they don’t know what it takes to win anymore,” Jordan said. “It’s gone on too long. The coaches blame the players and the players blame the coaches. Any fool can be a loser, but it takes work to be a winner.”
The three said most of Lewis County’s residents associate themselves with the school’s sports teams. And, because of athletics and because of some of the county’s struggles with the economy, they say morale is at an all-time low.
     A winning season, in any of the sports, would be an emotional boost, not only for the athletes but for the entire county, the three say. “There’s a sense of urgency for the whole community to start winning,” Simpson said. “Maybe we were spoiled in the past, but winning now would make us all feel better. I know it would make me feel better.”
    So now, Lewis County’s work really begins. While most involved know the transformation from losing to respectability to consistently winning will take time, Hiserman believes time is the school’s most limited commodity.
    “If we’re not more competitive in three or four years, then we’re not making the progress we want,” Hiserman said. “And if that’s the case, you probably won’t find me here.”


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