Pocahontas County High School track coach Abe Rittenhouse poses with Gus Foe, left, and Cora Hedrick who received the William Dilley Memorial Scholarship last Tuesday at the Athletic Banquet. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The achievements of the student athletes at Pocahontas County High School were celebrated last Tuesday at the annual athletic banquet.

Coaches, staff and community members honored the students for their ability to juggle academics and athletics and several seniors received awards and scholarships.

Each year, the WVSSAC selects two students and an individual or pair from the community who exemplify good sportsmanship and support the athletes of the county.

Principal Joe Riley presented the awards, beginning with the community members who were selected.

“Pocahontas County High School chose John and Anita Hall to receive the awards,” he said. “John and Anita have traveled to many events over these last few years and countless events held at PCHS. We would like to thank John and Anita for their continued support for all programs at Pocahontas County High School.”

Riley announced that the students receiving the award are Morgan Baldwin and Lauren Shisler, both of whom show support at various events and always have school spirit when participating in sports or cheering on other teams.

The Arch Wooddell Sportsmanship award was presented to Mark Jordan and Cora Hedrick.

Receiving the June Riley Math Award, which is given in memory of math teacher Riley, were Briar Wilfong and Cora Hedrick. Wilfong has a 4.0 in his math classes and placed in the top 10 at regional math field day. Hedrick has an accumulative GPA of 4.5 in her math classes and has ranked in every track event she competed in this year.

The Coalfield Conference Athlete of the Year award went to Logan Dilley, who participated in basketball and baseball; and Cora Hedrick, who ran track.

Charles Hunter Wilfong received special recognition for his exemplary display of sportsmanship, ethics and integrity on and off the field.

Mali Minter presented the William Dilley Memorial Scholarship to Cora Hedrick and Gus Foe. The award is given in memory of Dilley, who ran track at PCHS and was a dedicated supporter of his alma mater. Each student will receive $500.

Junior Hunter Shaffer presented the Shaffer/Kincaid Memorial Scholarship, worth $250 each, to Briar Wilfong and Jarret Taylor. The award is given in memorial of Shaffer’s dad, Thomas, and Richard Kincaid who were avid supporters of the athletic department at PCHS.

While students were the focus of the evening, Riley proudly presented the Coalfield Conference Coaches of the Year award to basketball coach Tim McClung and track coach Abe Rittenhouse.

Track coach Abe Rittenhouse gave a special recognition on behalf of the parents of athletes to Seneca Trail Therapy.

“There have been rumors going around that I’ve been intentionally injuring the athletes of Pocahontas County in order to add to my brother’s business,” he said. “So if I injure them enough in track season and blow their legs out, we’ll send them down to Seneca Trail Therapy, he’ll back them up and Seneca Trail Therapy’s business will continue to thrive.

“That is not the case,” he said, laughing. “I would not support him like that. For the last several years, Seneca Trail Therapy, owned by Kevin Workman, and that’s who Ben works for and works with, has done an absolutely  amazing service to our community and to our athletes here for treating our athletes free of charge.”

Rittenhouse said the parents got together and bought an award to show their appreciation to Kevin and Ben for their work with the students.

Each coach took a moment during the banquet to recognize their teams and honor the students who have excelled on the state level.

Before recognizing his team, football coach Doug Burns took the time to speak to all the seniors present and congratulated them on finishing high school.

“You guys – you’ve made it,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe. Some of you guys, I remember when you came in as freshmen. It’s just hard to believe that now you’re just a few short days from ending your time here at PCHS, but I know moving forward in whatever you do – whether it’s college, whether it’s the service, whether it’s work – whatever you do, the experience, the education that you got here and the experience you’ve gotten, whether it’s on the field, on the court, on track, whatever sport you may be in, you’re going to take away from that. The lessons you learn in athletics pay such dividends later on in life.”

Burns also addressed the underclassmen, who will continue to work hard as students and athletes.

“All you juniors, sophomores and freshmen, just understand that time – it flies,” he said. “It’s over in a minute, so enjoy every moment of it and work as hard as you possibly can to be as good as you can because, you guys – you do so much more. It’s easy just to be a student and not do anything else, but you guys chose to do more. In today’s world, I think that’s such a great quality.”

Burns moved on to talk about the football season, which ended with a 7-3 record. The team was ranked 13th  in the state and lost to Tug Valley in a close game during the first round of playoffs. The team fought hard and wasn’t looking for a tie – it was looking for a win – and although they fell short, they still came out with a great attitude.

The team was made up of freshmen: David Bond, Keaton Baldwin, Dakota Dunbrack, Ty Cochran, Jacob Barkley, Alan Gibson, John Fitzgerald, Jesse Bostic, Jared Lucabaugh and Seth Day; sophomores: Dillon Shinaberry, Reese Kelley, Dustin Fitzgerald, Brody Buzzard, Dalton Hendrick and Isaac Evans; juniors: Jordan Nutter, J.D. Sharp, Kolton Workman and Cody Kiner; and seniors: Logan Dilley, Mark Jordan, Briar Wilfong, Hunter Wilfong, Morgan Baldwin, Shane Peacock, Andy Sipe, Levi Ryder and Tyler Dean.

In recognitions, making the PVC All Conference Team were: honorable mention: Hunter Wilfong, Jordan Nutter and Cody Kiner. Second team: Levi Ryder, Dillon Shinberry, J.D. Sharp, Briar Wilfong, Kolton Workman and Morgan Baldwin. First team: Mark Jordan, Shane Peacock and Briar Wilfong.

Coalfield Conference Class A Team: honorable mention, defense: Levi Ryder and J.D. Sharp. Second team, defense: Kolton Workman and Morgan Baldwin. First team, defense: Mark Jordan and Dillon Shinaberry. Honorable mention, offense: Kolton Workman and Hunter Wilfong. Second team, offense: Mark Jordan and Cody Kiner. First team, offense: Briar Wilfong and Shane Peacock.

All-State Team: honorable mention: Dillon Shinaberry. Special honorable mention: Briar Wilfong. Second team: Shane Peacock. First team: Mark Jordan.

Mark Jordan was also invited to play in the North/South game on June 9.

Moving on to play football in college are Briar Wilfong at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Morgan Baldwin at Concord University.

Several of the players set or broke school records this year. Briar Wilfong is second for passing yards in a season with a total of 1,175 yards. He is also fourth in yards in a game with 188 against Pendleton County.

Shane Peacock is ninth in yards rushing in a season with 1,328 yards. He also scores 20 touchdowns, making him sixth in PCHS history in score in a season. Cody Kiner is third in yards in a game with 112 receiving yards against Pendleton County. He is also fifth in yardage in a season with 528 yards.

Mark Jordan had 128 tackles and Dillon Shinaberry had 127 tackles with 14 quarterback sacks.

The team as a whole is eighth in school history for points scored in a season with 269 points.

Track coach Abe Rittenhouse recognized each member of the track team in attendance at the banquet.

“You’re not only looking at some of the fastest kids in the school, you’re looking at some of the fastest kids in the conference, some of the fastest kids in the region, looking at some of the fastest kids in the state,” he said.

Rittenhouse spoke about each student individually, including underclassmen Logan Woodruff, Cheylin Woodruff, Garrett Coleman, Dakin Rexrode, Hunter Shaffer, Sage McLaughlin, Laila Calhoun, Jacob Jones, Kyle Cohenour, Charity Warder, Silas Riley, Conner Spencer, Kira Bircher, Savannah McMillion, Taylor Tegtmeyer, Tessa Kiner, Sierra Rodriguez, Cody Kiner, Kiara Davis, Elijah Robertson, Cloey Sharp, Thomas Smith and Bryson Cassell.

Senior Kaitlyn Lester joined the team late, in her last year at PCHS, but was successful and made great strides in her ability in discus.

“Kaitlyn decided in her senior year she wanted to mix it up and come join track,” Rittenhouse said. “She came out, she joined the girls team and was very successful. She improved from about thirty feet when she first starting throwing, to the end of the year, she got up to the eighties in discus.”

Senior Gus Foe was very successful in both distance running and jumping competitions.

“Gus is very dear to my heart – a true distance runner,” Rittenhouse said. “Gus is our number one miler and two miler. Gus even high jumped for a little bit just because he felt like it. So, for the last four years, Gus has smacked mile after mile, has been a great leader on the team, has set a great example of what it looks like to work hard and overcame a lot of people who may have been more talented than him, but because of his work ethic, was able to compete and beat them.”

Lastly, Rittenhouse recognized senior Cora Hedrick, who has set and broken several records in her track career at PCHS.
“I have never, ever, ever coached a track team without Cora Hedrick, and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it,” he said. “Cora Hedrick will graduate as the most successful girls distance runner to ever go through Pocahontas County High School where she holds the record for the longest race in the 3200 meter run.

“I did some calculating this afternoon, he continued. “As I sat down, I was looking at some of our training we did, Cora, and thinking about some of your off season training. Do you realize that in Cora’s four years, she ran from Pocahontas County High School to San Diego? You think I’m joking. She did.”

Rittenhouse continued by saying Hedrick’s drive and determination is rare in a student athlete and it led to her many successes.

“She ran thousands of miles in her high school career,” he said. “There are very few people who are willing to be as driven as Cora Hedrick. There are very few people who realize what it takes to succeed in off season. People think they can join track the beginning of March and be a distance runner. No. She learned and she grasped and she understood what it took to be a great distance runner.”

Rittenhouse recalled being at track meets and how proud he was every time he watched Hedrick compete.

“I had the joy of standing on the backside of the track at every single meet, cheering you on and you brought me so much joy and excitement and enthusiasm at every track meet,” he said. “You are my pride at track meets. I love going up to the starting line and the gun is getting ready to go off, and I look at the other coaches and I go, ‘hey, you all, watch this. That girl’s mine.’ I’m looking forward now to this next phase of life and standing on the backside of the track of your life and watch you run the race of life, and I pray that you do well. You are an absolute joy. Thank you so much for the example you have set for this program, for the leadership that you brought and we’re looking forward to the things that you will do in life, but the things that you have done in high school, we will not forget.”

The boys basketball team finished the season with a 21-4 record, the best in school history.

“They won the Meadow Bridge Holiday Tournament,” coach Tim McClung said. “We won the West Virginia HIT Tournament, first time ever any Pocahontas County High School team won that tournament. We were second in Big Atlantic, and played in sections and regional championships.”

The team includes manager Andrew Via, freshmen, Brandon Burns, Jacob Davis and Hadden Mick; sophomores, Dalton Hendrick, Brody Buzzard, Dakin Rexrode and Kolton Alderman; juniors,  Logan Woodruff, J.D. Sharp, Hunter Shaffer, Jacob Jones, Elijah Robertson, Jordan Nutter, Kyle Cohenour, Colton Massey and Cody Kiner; and seniors, Logan Dilley, Jarret Taylor and Briar Wilfong.

In recognitions, making the Coalfield Conference: first team: Jarret Taylor and Briar Wilfong. Second team: Logan Dilley and Elijah Robertson.

All-State Team: Honorable mention: Briar Wilfong and Logan Dilley.

Briar Wilfong was named the Most Outstanding Player for the WV HIT Tournament and Meadow Bridge Holiday Tournament.

Logan Dilley was named the Martin Luther King All Tournament player and received the Big Atlantic Heart and Hustle Scholarship worth $500.

The girls basketball team had a successful season, despite being a young team with no seniors and only one junior, coach Mike Kane said. The team completed the season with 16 wins.

Kane recognized the team members for their success in the season. Freshmen, Kiara Davis, Jazzlyn Carden, Taylor Alderman, Tessa Kiner, Breanna Sharp, Cheylin Woodruff, Sienna Bircher, Kierstin Taylor and Destiny Vandevender. Sophomores, Jerica Reed, Sage McLaughlin, Kira Bircher, Alexa Taylor, Laila Calhoun, Cloey Sharp, Tasia Davis and Charity Warder. Junior, Brianna Hefner.

In recognitions: All State Team – Honorable mention, Laila Calhoun. Coalfield Conference: first team: Laila Calhoun and Kira Bircher. Second team: Alexa Taylor.

Shannon Arbogast coached the boys and girls soccer teams as well as softball.

Beginning with the boys soccer team, Arbogast recognized the students for their dedication and hard work.

The team consisted of seniors, Trey Rabel, Matthew Pritt, Jarrett Taylor and Joe Whalen; juniors, Hunter Shaffer, Elijah Robertson, Kyle Cohenour, Peyton Coleman and Colton Massey; sophomores, Garrett Coleman, Kolton Alderman, Michael Hardesty, Dakota Workman, Jose Corona and Vinicious Martins; and freshmen, Hadden Mick, Tony Duncan, Bryson Cassell, Jacob Davis, Wyatt Foe, T.D. Sparks and Brandon Burns.

In recognitions, Coalfield Conference: Honorable mention: Jarret Taylor and Garrett Coleman; second team: Trey Rabel, Matthew Pritt and Kolton Alderman; first team: Hunter Shaffer and Elijah Robertson.

The girls team, seniors, Catlyn Sparks and Briana Mills; juniors, Marley Mc-Laughlin, Brianna Hefner, Josey Faris and Kayla Sharp; sophomores, Alexa Taylor, Laila Calhoun, Sage Mc-Laughlin, Kira Bircher, Cloey Sharp, Amelia Rose, Emily Casto and Elizabeth Hefner; and freshmen, Sienna Bircher and Savannah McMillion.

In recognitions, Coalfield Conference: Honorable mention: Alexa Taylor, Sage McLaughlin and Savannah McMillion; second team: Laila Calhoun, Amelia Rose and Emily Casto; first team: Brianna Hefner and Kira Bircher.

The softball team: Lauren Shisler, Charity Warder, Briana Mills, Emalee Arbogast, Aliza Carr, Courtney Dunbrack, Arianya Cagle, Jocelyn Sharp, Jennalee Meck, Sienna Bircher, Jerica Reed, Emily Henderson, Chloe Hardesty, Autumn Lane and Audrey Feury.

In recognitions, Coalfield Conference: Honorable mention: Aliza Carr, Courtney Dunbrack and Arianya Cagle; second team: Briana Mills and Emalee Arbogast; first team: Lauren Shisler and Charity Warder.

Briana Mills plans to play softball at West Liberty University.

Cheerleading coach Darlene Arbogast recognized both the football and basketball cheerleaders for their efforts as a team.
“I’m so proud of each of you young ladies for your dedication to cheerleading,” she said. “For your willingness to travel to games, for being excellent students and for your commitment and love for one another. Together you can all do great things.”

The cheerleaders are Tiler Mortensen-Smith, Caitlin Keatley, Emalee Arbogast, Courtney Dunbrack, Isabella Dean, Sydnee Butcher, Sierra Rodriguez, Andrea Rabel, Carly Keatley, Kinlee Taylor, Chloe Hardesty, Cassidy Hardesty, Courtney Buzzard, Tessa Kiner and Brianna Sharp.

Baseball coach Randy Irvine was unable to attend, so principal Joe Riley recognized the baseball team –seniors, Trevor McPeak, Briar Wilfong, Jake Gardner, Drake Paulowski, Logan Dilley, Jarret Taylor and Christian Smith, junior, Blake Kershner; sophomores, Brody Buzzard, Dalton Hendrick and Michael Hardesty; and freshmen, Jesse Bostic and Keaton Baldwin.

Pocahontas County Archery Team coach Jody Spencer recognized the high school members of the team –Taylor Tegtmeyer, T.D. Sparks, Silas Riley, Michael Hardesty, Maria Workman, Lexi McClure, Joni Barlow, Jacob Kinnison, Emma Dean, Conner Spencer, Brandon Price, Ben Davis, Ally Lane, Matthew Pritt, Laura Leyzorek, Jason Jackson and Hunter Tankersley.

Spencer recognized individual Maria Workman, who went on to shoot on the national level this year.

“She was in the top ten this year,” he said. “We talk about the dedication and the hard work the parents put in and the students put in. She is very dedicated to her craft. She went on to nationals and she placed four hundred out of thirteen thousand kids. So, we’re very proud of you Maria.”

The banquet was catered by the PCHS ProStart class.