Winter tab publishes Thursday

­-Mountain State online message boards overflowing with reasons (some irrational) why the West Virginia Sports Writers Association screwed up the all-state football teams means only one thing: Winter sports season is underway.

Debates raging on throughout December and shifting toward the gridiron award winners until the days following the release of the 2018 Kennedy Award recipient statewide Dec. 23. News flash … I believe the writers selected the most deserving candidate on the gridiron.

Deserving well describes our selections gracing the cover of the Winter Sports Tab, which fans can dig into Thursday. Representatives from Parkersburg’s three Class AAA state champions flash the No. 1 hand signal reserved for only the best of the best. Gestures likely applicable again at the end of this season for PHS girls’ swimmers (from left to right on the left trio on the bottom row): Grace Cox, Olivia Collett and Jaden Welsh, along with Big Reds’ girls basketball players (from left to right on the right trio of the bottom row): Shay-Lee Kirby, Bre Wilson and Madi Mace, and Parkersburg South wrestlers (from left to right on the top row): Braxton Amos, Tucker Windland, Zane Hinzman and Louden Haga.

My optimism may be misplaced but I believe this not the case.

Bridgeport appears the likeliest challenger to the swimming throne early on, with no challenger yet emerging to the PHS hoops’ group and South grapplers.

Oh yes, a great nucleus for each group heralds continued success at the state level.

Previews for all appear on pages 4, 9, and 12 respectively. Three great reads in my opinion, despite the fact I wrote two-thirds of the stories.

Fans and spectators a like can read up on how Shaun Smith’s Patriots’ grapplers hold history in the palm of their hands. Winning one more state championship anoints South as the only Class AAA school winners of five in a row.

Or how Scott Cozzens’ girls team lives with no option but to improve facing a loaded schedule – with a roster featuring just two seniors.

Then there exists the possibility both of Terry Nisewarners’ groups raise championships inside the WVU Natatorium after the final day of state competition. Five female school records fell alongside a state record during the Big Reds’ latest appearance in Morgantown this past February. David Snider also eyes the 100 Backstroke state mark during his final year before a likely NCAA Division I career begins wherever he pleases in October.

Not everyone cheers on the Big Reds and Patriots though which is quite all right.

Everything required to confidently follow your alma mater or selected teams journey inside the Mid-Ohio Valley resides in one neat 48-page travel-sized issue. Rosters, schedules, last year’s results, and coaches commentary on the upcoming campaign all included for consumption.

Wood County Christian supporters digest the regular sports section for info on the Wildcats.

For those readers requiring schedules only you are in luck as our schedule book releases a day later.

Lastly, a big thank you goes out to Parkersburg South Athletic Director Roger Thompson, Parkersburg High Athletic Director Chris Way, Nisewarner, Cozzens, Smith and all the athletes for their cooperation and willingness to appear on the cover.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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