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West Forsyth wraps up spring sports

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

The high school athletic season has come and gone, and after a trying school year of navigating through COVID-19, it’s that time of the year to reflect on how the five spring sports seasons that just concluded at West Forsyth did.

State championships in the NCHSAA across the state in baseball, wrestling, boys and girls track-and-field, and girls tennis, were completed last weekend. And although there is a summer break before fall sports start in August there is only about a month before fall sports start practice in early August.

The West Forsyth baseball team finished 8-6 overall and 6-4 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. However, even though the Titans reached the conference-tournament championship, losing to NCHSAA Class 4-A state runner-up Reagan, they just missed out of a playoff berth by winning percentage.

“Honestly we ended on a good note,” Coach Brad Bullard said. “We were obviously disappointed we didn’t make the state playoffs, but we knew that. We knew it was going to be a tough year. The state playoffs were very limited. You know, looking back, we’ve had two weeks to sort of reflect on things — looking back we started the year 1-3.”

West Forsyth defeated Mount Tabor in the season opener, but lost the next three games — Charlotte Providence, which lost to Reagan in the NCHSAA Class 4-A Western Regional final, and two games to conference-rival East Forsyth.

“We had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the season. We had a lot of moving parts, not with just COVID, but with the injuries.,” Bullard said. “You know, it just took us a couple weeks to figure things out.”

West Forsyth bounced back and even defeated Reagan on May 27 in Clemmons.

“To start 1-3 and finishing winning seven of your 10 final games, I was proud,” Bullard said.

Because of injuries, some younger plays had a chance to play, which should bode well for next season.

“I think at one point I think we had three sophomores playing,” Bullard said. “Early on, playing baseball at the varsity baseball at the 4-A level, it’s tough. In the Central Piedmont conference when you’re playing Reagan, and when you’re playing East Forsyth, and when you’re playing Davie County it’s tough competition. You’ve got to be ready. I was really proud of the guys.”

Eliza Broce. Photo by Gail Broce

Despite having six juniors play on a normal basis, and having a strong sophomore class, the Titans had strong contributions from three seniors.

“When you’ve got a Banks Cox, when you’ve got a Zach Lewis, when you’ve got a Coby Warren — those are three seniors that have been on varsity, honestly, for three to four years,” Bullard said. “Those were three three guys — they got it. I trust in them, and even though it was limited due to COVID, everybody was in the same boat, but those were three guys that were just three really good kids and three kids that came to practice every day and worked hard.”

Next season will start in about nine months, but it’s never too soon to start speculating even with Mount Tabor and Parkland joining the conference next season.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Bullard said. “Obviously West Forsyth is a good program, but if you look at the teams that were in the state championship this year — you’ve got East Surry, you’ve got Randleman, you’ve got Reagan, The talent just in this area, the Winston-Salem area, it’s unbelievable.

“Obviously, I’m very biased, but I would put the Central Piedmont conference up against any conference in the state, and I mean that.”

Wrestling also had a very successful season under the direction of fourth-year Coach Jason Hooker.

Eight Titans’ wrestlers — Joseph Burns at 106 pounds, Emmanuel Jarquin (113), Collin Coulson (138), Tucker Arnold (160), Jacob Zaitawi (182), Aidan Meagher (195), Mack David (220), David Eldridge (285) — reached last weekend’s NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship at Glenn.

Two of them — Burns and Zaitawi — reached the medal stand. Burns finished runner-up after Cameron Stinson of Charlotte Mallard won by fall at 4:16. Zaitawi finished fourth after Paulique Noble of Charlotte Olympic won with a 10-7 decision.

“You always want to do better,” Hooker said. “I had a couple guys that were right there in some matches that they could’ve won to some guys that ended up being in the finals.”

The Titans finished in the top 10, and they had one of the largest groups of wrestlers competing at Glenn.

“I thought we’d have another one or two that would place, honestly,” Hooker said. “…Honestly, I thought all but about two of them could get past the quarters.”

The results of last Saturday’s state championship was evidence as to how much West Forsyth improved throughout the season.

“I think they kept getting better and better all year long in every match,” Hooker said. “The schedule was a tough schedule, and they stepped up to the challenge.”

Vivian Do and Marion Idulsa. Photo by Shana Krenz

One thing Hooker would like to see is further development through football, including Coach Adrian Snow. Hooker has already seen how that can help with David and Eldridge competing in both sports.

“I think (Snow’s) on board,” Hooker said. “I think maybe in the past, maybe there wasn’t that relationship, the trust or whatever…You’ve to have trust and I think we’ve done well this year. Two of my better guys were two of his better guys (David and Eldridge).”

West Forsyth will lose five seniors — Burns, Coulson, Zaitawi, Arnold an Claudio Pandolfi — but it doesn’t have long to get ready for next season. This past season started late and ended late, but next season will start on Nov. 1.

“That’s what I was telling my coaches after we got done with the state tournament, I said, ‘I guess we’ll have a pretty good offseason,'” Hooker said. “Meaning the state tournament was our offseason.”

Track-and-field wrapped up its season last weekend at the NCHSAA Class 4-A state track-and-field championship at N.C. A&T in Greensboro. The West Forsyth girls finished 21st with 11 points, and the boys finished 48th with two points.

The West Forsyth girls won the Central Piedmont 4-A conference championship, and finished runner-up to conference-rival Reagan in the regional final. Senior Jada Dowd finished fourth in the high jump in the state championship at 5-2, and Haley Hanes finished third in the pole vault at 11-0.

“Overall, that’s about where you finish when you get to the state meet,” Coach Nathan Newsome said. “You hope, I preface them with, ‘Hey, let’s try to do what you did at regional meet. Enjoy being here.’ I’ve learned that putting pressure on them, you’re going to have the best day of your life, usually does not yield the results that you want.”

The Titans lost seniors Dowd, Ajile Flynt and Shannaya Davis off the 4×100 relay team to graduation. Dowd also ran the 100, 200, 400, high jump, 4×200, and 4×400. They also lose Eliza Broce, who is a distance runner, and Bailey Reutinger.

“We’ve got everybody else back,” Newsome said. “So I feel good about it. I think the girls will compete again for another conference championship. That’s the goal. So, we’ll see what shakes out.”

As for the boys track-and-field team, the 4×800 relay team finished seventh at 8:15.27. Senior Jackson Nichols, who ran in the 4×400 relay, ran the 1600 and finished 12th at 4:31.92. Junior Don Robinson was 12th in the 200 at 22.65, junior Kadin Martin was 11th in the pole vault at 12-0, and senior Trey Allen finished 16th in the discus at 94-8.

“I think all individual boys that qualified, I think it was their first time competing as individuals at the state meet,” Newsome said. “And that can be nerve-wracking.”

The West Forsyth girls tennis team also had a very successful season with Coach Shana Krenz. The Titans finished 9-2 overall and 8-1 in the conference, splitting their season series with Reynolds.

Three of the players also reached last weekend’s NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship at Millbrook Exchange Park In Raleigh. Maria Nikas lost in the first round to Cary’s Brianna Viets 6-0, 6-2. And in doubles, Marion Idulsa and Vivian Do lost in the first round to Cary Green Level’s Diya Ramchandani and Arianna Mohan 6-3, 6-0.

“You’re one of the top 16 for singles and doubles in the state,” Krenz said. “That’s an excellent, excellent thing. So, I can’t complain about that at all.”

The girls tennis season is usually in the fall, so Krenz didn’t know what to expect this season.

“I never try to count on things beforehand,” she said. “I don’t ever like to go into anything recklessly confident. But I felt like we’ve got a good team of girls, good cohesion, good support within each team member. And I was positive about the season. I think they were, too.”

The Titans lost Nikas, Idulsa and Loa Britton to graduation, but they still have plenty of depth. Freshman Sam McEachran won the conference tournament and will play as a sophomore in the fall. They will also have Do, who will be a junior.

“I think we’ll be good,” Krenz said. “I think the advantage is, we are finishing up, and then in a few weeks we’re going to be starting our preseason workouts and all. This is very fluid, so I think we’ll be in good shape for starting up again so quickly.”

Practice for the fall season will start in early August, so there is about a month to rest and prepare for next season.

“Going into next season, I feel a little better where I know people are at because we’ve been working out, we’ve been playing this spring. And we’ve had good success,” Krenz said. “So, I think that’s just a great motivator for everybody involved.”