The Year in Stanly Sports: Championship teams, individuals earned top honors

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, December 28, 2022

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The 2022 calendar year for high school sports in Stanly County saw established championship-level individuals and teams continue to shine along with the emergence of new champions.

One high school sport Stanly has always had success in is fastpitch softball. Three of the county’s high schools have won state championships, with West Stanly’s five titles leading the way.

The Colts claimed that fifth title in June by completing a 29-4 season with a sweep of Washington in the 2A state finals series. West has won the 2A title for the past three seasons.

West also received a national honor when Walker Barbee was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

South Stanly earned the school’s third fast pitch title and second under head coach David Poplin by finishing 30-3 overall. Poplin was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the North Carolina Softball Coaches Association’s Hall in 2022 as well.

A team who made school history was the men’s cross-country team of South Stanly who earned the 1A state title in dramatic fashion. The Bulls were tied with two other teams but won the crown on the first tiebreaker, which was the best finish of the sixth runner for each team.

South continued to have sports history made in 2002 when the men’s golf team won the 1A state title in May.

One individual who repeated as state champion was Albemarle track standout Ali Currie. In May, Currie earned his second consecutive 1A state championship in the triple jump.

In terms of track and field, Albemarle’s women’s team got a tremendous boost with the transfer of Akala Garrett to the team. The senior was the youngest of Team USA competing in the recent World U20 Championships in Colombia, where she took first in the 400-meter hurdles (56.16 seconds). She was also a member of the first-place 4×400 meter relay team. She won eight 4A state championships in three years at Harding University High School in Charlotte.

West Stanly also had individual championships at the 2A state track meet when Natalie Almond won the 1,600 meter women’s run and James Shue won the men’s 1,600-meter title.

The Colts also had a runner make history when Shue won the 1A/2A indoor track state title in the 3,200-meter race.

During the end of the winter sports season, South Stanly saw the school’s fourth individual wrestling state championship when Ranfere Garcia won the 1A 145-pound title.

2022 also saw a clear-cut county champion in football for the first time since 2019 when North Stanly claimed the Stanly Cup. It was North’s first county football title since 2018 and was the final season for coach Scott Crisco.

Crisco retired as the winningest coach in North Stanly football history, finishing 60-30 overall. He has the second-best win percentage in school history.

Under Crisco, North won four Stanly Cups outright (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022), along with a share of the county title in 2021, and conference titles in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

(Sports Editor’s Note: This story was edited to reflect accidental omissions in the print version of some of the county’s champions. We apologize for the mistakes.)

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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