High School Highlights

Sandhills Athletic All-Conference wrestling

14Caleb Long copyHere are the top wrestlers from the Sandhills Athletic Conference 2018-19 based on won-lost record.

106 — First team: Matthew Rowland, Pinecrest

Second team: Jabrial Andres Sanchez, Richmond Senior

113 — First team: Justin Kelly, Lumberton

Second team: Joseph Nicholson, Richmond Senior

120 — First team: Kevin Wanovich, Jack Britt

Second team: William Caden Scott, Purnell Swett

126 — First team: Caleb Long, Jack Britt

Second team: Richard Guzman, Seventy-First

132 — First team: Yakemiean Johnson, 

Second team: Corbin Kumor, Hoke County

138— First team: Austin Lowery, Lumberton

Second team: Dane Matthews, Pinecrest

145 — First team: Parker Corwin, Pinecrest

Second team: John Baker, Jack Britt

152 — First team: Austin Gallop, Richmond Senior

Second team: Monroe Payton, Pinecrest

160 — First team: Hunter Hillis, Pinecrest

Second team: Denzel Carrucini, Jack Britt

170 — First team: Chad Jernigan, Jack Britt

Second team: Jeremiah McRimmon, Scotland

182 — First team: Latrell Havner, Seventy-First

Second team: Ali Shahbaz, Lumberton

195 — First team: Erick Martinez, Jack Britt

Second team: Edward Brock, Lumberton

220 — First team: Alex Hammond, Lumberton

Second team: Aidan Alston, Pinecrest

285 — First team: Tray Regan, Lumberton

Second team: Chase Godwin, Pinecrest

Photo: Caleb Long

County trio named Heart of a Champion winners by NCHSAA

13Austin Hunt and Earl Early Bird Horan IVThree Cumberland County high school athletes are among 31 from North Carolina who have been named this year’s winners of the Heart of a Champion Award by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

The three from the county are Austin Hunt and Chloe Arnette of Cape Fear High School and Earl “Early Bird” Horan IV from Gray’s Creek High School.

Each of the three was nominated by their respective schools for outstanding displays of sportsmanship.

Hunt and Horan have a direct connection in their respective awards. Horan is a special needs student at Gray’s Creek who competes in both wrestling and Unified Track. Unified Track is a recent addition to the Cumberland County athletic program that offers track and field competition for the special needs population.

Hunt plays football and wrestles for Cape Fear. He and Horan met in a preliminary match between Cape Fear and Gray’s Creek this season, and Horan came away with the victory.

“What a great guy,’’ said Horan’s father, Earl Horan III, of Hunt. “He always has time for Early Bird.’’

Hunt praised the younger Horan for never holding back. “He always tries to do the best he can,’’ Hunt said. “The only thing that can stop him is himself. He goes out and chases his dreams.’’

The senior Horan said he was moved to tears when he received the letter from the NCHSAA informing him that his son had been named a Heart of a Champion winner.

Horan IV was honored earlier this year at the Patriot Athletic Conference wrestling meet as the most inspirational wrestler. He received a similar award at the NCHSAA regional wrestling competition.

“People appreciate his spunk and his bravery,’’ the senior Horan said. “He’s very driven to win and tries his hardest. He doesn’t understand he wins just by showing up.’’ Horan said he also appreciated the way other people in area treat Early Bird.

“I see his chest fill up with air and (him) walk down the hallway with a sense of pride,’’ Horan said. “He gets phone calls from friends and everything.’’

Including Hunt, some of younger Earl’s telephone friends include former Pine Forest football standout Julian Hill, now at Campbell University, and Payton Wilson, Hillsborough Orange football standout who’s now a freshman at North Carolina State.

“Without sounding pious, it’s reaffirming of the human race,’’ senior Horan said.

Cape Fear’s Arnette was honored for her diplomatic approach on the tennis court in dealing with lesser opponents in an understanding way.One of the best players in the Patriot Athletic Conference, Arnette never looks down on the opposition or makes them feel inferior.

“I make sure the growing teams are doing their best,’’ Arnette said, “that they’re having fun and need time to grow.’’ She adopts the same attitude toward her teammates. “If they are down I always try to pick them up, no matter what the situation or circumstances,’’ she said.

Hunt, Horan and Arnette will be honored with the other Heart of a Champion winners at a luncheon Saturday, April 13, at the Sheraton-Chapel Hill Hotel.

“We are honored to pause and recognize this group of 31 student athletes that have consistently demonstrated the values and traits that we hope all student athletes learn through our programs,’’ said Que Tucker, NCHSAA commissioner, in a prepared statement. “This group of award winners are to be commended for their commitment to excellence in sportsmanship and citizenship.’’

Photo:  Austin Hunt (L) and Earl “Early Bird” Horan IV (R)

Scholar Athletes of the Week

18Taryn OConnor Jack Britt copyTaryn O’Connor 

Jack Britt • Softball • Senior 

O’Connor has a 4.2 grade point average. She was a member of Jack Britt’s 2018 state 4-A champion fast-pitch softball team. She scored 18 runs for the Buccaneers last season. 



19Abby Heitkamp Jack Britt copy

Abby Heitkamp 

Jack Britt • Soccer • Senior 

Heitkamp has a 4.0 grade point average. Last year she was a Sandhills Athletic Conference all-conference selection in soccer. So far this season, she has one goal and one assist for the Buccaneers 

Youth League Baseball and Softball Season

thumbnailEditors Note: Breakfast with the Easter Bunny is SOLD OUT but the Easter egg hunt is still free and open to all.
When it comes to big happenings in the town of Hope Mills, there are few days more important each year than the start of youth league baseball and softball.
This year’s opening day ceremonies are scheduled Saturday, April 6, at the town’s Brower Park fields.
The event is returning to Brower Park this year after being held at the Fayetteville SwampDogs home field, J.P. Riddle Stadium, last season.
Bruce Armstrong, who is president of the Hope Mills Youth Association, said the main reason for coming back to Brower Park is to hold a ceremony dedicating a multipurpose building at the location in memory of the late Gary Dove.
“We’ve put up a big plaque and photo of Mr. Dove and we’re dedicating the clubhouse building in his memory,’’ Armstrong said. “We thought it would be appropriate to have the opening day ceremonies there so we can recognize him at the park where he gave so many years of his service to being a field supervisor and a coach.’’
Mayor Jackie Warner will read the official proclamation from the town of Hope Mills that approved the memorial for Dove. Armstrong will share his personal remembrances as well.
Dove coached in the Hope Mills Youth Association for more than 20 years in addition to his years of service as field supervisor and two-time president of the youth association. He was also chairman of the Parks and Recreation advisory board for the town of Hope Mills.
“He basically dedicated a lifetime of service to the recreation program in Hope Mills and did it in a very loveable, friendly manner,’’ Armstrong said. “He resolved conflicts with great skill. That’s part of what a field supervisor does.’’
Warner called Dove a fixture in the Hope Mills youth recreation program. “It’s wholly appropriate that some part (of the recreation program) is named for him to keep his memory alive,’’ Warner said. She noted Dove was heavily involved pushing for the construction of the building that will bear his name.
Warner said she has attended opening day ceremonies regularly since 1983, first as the parent of children involved in the youth programs and later in her capacity as mayor.
“I love being in the crowd and watching those opening games,’’ she said. “I love getting involved with the kids, especially the little ones. I look forward to it every year.’’
Armstrong said this year’s opening day ceremonies, except for the special recognition of Dove, will follow a typical pattern. The parade of teams, with roughly 45 teams and some 500 youngsters, will begin at 9 a.m.
Town dignitaries will be recognized, followed by an invocation and the ceremony for Dove.
It will be a busy day at the Rockfish Road complex as breakfast with the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg hunt will be taking place across the street at fields one and two at Municipal Park. Breakfast with the Easter Bunny requires advance reservations but the Easter egg hunt is free.
To find out if tickets are still available for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, call 910-426-4109.
Because of the breakfast and Easter egg hunt, the normal starting time of the day's first games has been moved back to noon so the younger children can take part in opening day and the events at Municipal Park.
Maxey Dove of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department said parking at the two ball parks will be tight. He encourages families who will have children playing in games on fields 3, 4, 5 and 6 at Municipal Park to park in one of the back lots toward Main Street and behind the public library, then walk over to Brower Park for opening day to help ease traffic.
The Hope Mills Police Department and members of the Hope Mills Community Emergency Response Team will be helping to direct traffic.

Terry Sanford football moves to temporary home in fall

20TSHS BulldogHere are some odds and ends of news from the Cumberland County high school sports scene. 

Vernon Aldridge, student activities director of Cumberland County Schools, recently released this year’s senior high school football schedule. View it on the page adjoining this one. 

The biggest news on this year’s schedule is that Terry Sanford will be playing all of its home games this fall at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium on Ramsey Street. 

After years of debating about what to do with Terry Sanford’s huge but aging brick stadium complex, school officials finally decided to tear it down over the summer and start construction on a new facility that won’t be ready until after the 2019 season is over. 

The Bulldogs will start the 2019 season with three road games and one open date, not playing their first game at Reid Ross until Sept. 20, when they take on Cape Fear. The Bulldogs only play four regular-season games on their temporary field at Reid Ross. Aldridge said when the Bulldogs open their new stadium in 2020 they hope to play seven home games. 

Elsewhere on the schedule for the other county teams, there are no major surprises. Gray’s Creek has a couple of nonconference meetings with Johnston County teams, South Johnston and West Johnston. Both Douglas Byrd and E.E. Smith will play an old county rival, Lee County. 

• In other news for Terry Sanford, last week, Bulldog basketball coach Darren Corbett announced on Twitter that he’s headed back to his hometown to coach at Grimsley High School in Greensboro. 

In just three seasons at Terry Sanford, Corbett compiled a 58-26 overall record, including 34-10 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. 

He guided Terry Sanford to three consecutive conference tournament championships and one regular-season title. 

His final Bulldog team compiled a 20-8 record and lost to Durham Hillside in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association basketball playoffs. 

There is no word yet on how quickly Terry Sanford will begin the search to find Corbett’s replacement. 

• Reminder: Up & Coming Weekly’s Rocket Fizz Scholar Athlete award is open to any senior high athlete in Cumberland County. 

The minimum requirements are an athlete must be a member in good standing of a varsity athletic team at his or her school and enrolled in grade 9-12. The minimum grade point average to be nominated is 3.2 unweighted. The athlete does not have to be a starter, just a current member of a varsity team. 

The award will continue until the end of May. To nominate an athlete, confirm the student’s grade point average with the school guidance department. Then email earlucwsports@gmail.com. Include the student’s GPA, sports played this year and year in school. Also include information about any clubs, extracurricular activities or community activities the student is involved with, along with a high-resolution picture of the student taken with a smartphone or digital camera. 

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