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ALBRIGHT: Braxton Amos claims 2020’s top MOV sports moment

While it may be easy for some people to say COVID-19 robbed 2020 of enough great sports moments to fill a top 5 list, that is codswallop.

Curious minds need only dig a little deeper. Then the many victorious moments pop out like a sore thumb, this first one however may have been a bit obvious:

1. Braxton Amos wins everything — When did it become apparent that the Patriot grappler could return to the top spot on this list?

When the laundry list of accolades available to him should he achieve another dominant season came to light. Seriously. Amos accomplishing even half the awards on the docket would make him shoo-in for this list.

He, however, had other plans.

As one might expect of quite possibly the best high school wrestler this state has ever seen, everything ended up with his name on it just for good measure: The 220-pound Class AAA state championship. Another undefeated season, and in turn, an undefeated high school career. A record-setting second consecutive Robert Dutton Award. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s state and regional Dave Schultz High School excellence awards, a spot on Wisconsin wrestling’s varsity roster, and the national Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award — all of them belong to him.

Not that he worried about ending up on this list, though. But now the top spot on this list is his, too.

2. Doddridge County’s Carter Lipscomb achieves perfection — They kept trying to knock him off.

None of them were successful.

There wasn’t a teammate Trent Gola here. Nor was there a Williamstown’s Zach Cannon there.

In the end, no one in the state or the Little Kanawha Conference came close to Doddridge County’s Carter Lipscomb.

He was the ultimate Class A runner this year.

No question.

From his opening dominance at the all classes-included St. Marys’ XC Invitational to the state tournament, opposing runners tried and tried to catch him. More tellingly, no one even threatened him. And so upon him crossing the finish line in Ona, he laid claim to a perfect season.

It was an inspiring sight, really. On top of this being his senior year, Lipscomb battling and overcoming the COVID map made for an extra whiff of satisfaction. And his perseverance helped him land the No. 2 spot on this list.

3. Williamstown girls cross country continues its dominance — Absolutely no one had an answer for Larry Cassady’s girls this season.

Again.

Not Doddridge County or anyone else.

As such, the Yellowjackets found themselves a top the Class A cross country world for the fourth year in a row. In more ways than one, too. It wasn’t just the team state title. Ella Hesson took home the individual state title. Brianna Winsett captured a second-place finish. Chloe Lightfritz and Natalie Sawin finished in the top 10 and the rest of the team placed in the top 30. All in all it was about as perfect a season as a team could ask for.

4. Madeline Huffman’s beautiful swan song – Parkersburg Catholic’s state tournament opening round game against Tucker County was the start of what the Crusaderettes hoped would be another run to the Class A state title game, but by halftime, it took on a completely new meaning.

No longer would the Crusaderettes just be fighting to advance, but thanks to COVID, there was a real possibility that Madeline Huffman was playing her last contest in a PC uniform.

Boy, did she make it count!

Not only did she lead her team to a victory, but it was in historic fashion. Though she did not get another shot at Huntington St. Joe, the senior still managed to wipe out an Irish player’s effort from the state tournament record books. Not that this is the most important part. But, it sure made for a lovely parting gift – one she likely never forgets.

Over the course of 48 minutes, she twirled and slashed, then dashed and passed her body and the ball to get in perfect position to deliver assists to her teammates. And not just easy assists that can sometimes come from the advantage of playing at home. No, her 15 dimes were well earned and her performance left the perfect image of the kind of player she was during her time at Catholic.

Ask anyone associated with the team, and they’ll tell you it was the most fitting way for their beloved No. 31 to go out.

5. St. Marys golfers’ Grant Barnhart and Brandon Lawhon decimate Oglebay during a regional final — While it would certainly be easy to put the Blue Devils championship repeat on this list, that wasn’t the most impressive achievement by a group of Blue Devil golfers.

But it was close …

Yet, Barnhart and Lawhon’s accomplishment on a windy day in Wheeling can’t be ignored. Not many high school players take the mountainous course, capable of turning even the most seasoned prep golfer into a mess of doubt, behind the woodshed. But that is exactly what the pair of golfers did during the region I championship. Time and time again.

No hole was too challenging and no required shot was too much.

Instead, everything for them came together in a wonderful tapestry of links beauty. When it was all said in done, the duo fired off a combined 5-under par for one of the most impressive results of high school golf you will see in the state at Oglebay.

Honorable mentions: Williamstown boys cross country rises to the occasions, Wirt County volleyball adds yet another state championship, South wrestling wins a sixth straight state championship, St. Marys literally survives the Class A football playoff bracket for a state championship, St. Marys running back Darrien Bortey’s 99-yard touchdown run that sealed the title for the Blue Devils, Fort Frye football and girls’ basketball run to the Ohio Final Four, and Ritchie County football advances to the state championship game the hard way.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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