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Since moving down to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A ranks to 2-A before the 2009-10 school year, Beddingfield and SouthWest Edgecombe have been roaming the wilderness, figuratively, of high school swimming.
The Bruins and Cougars participated in 3-A Big East Conference meets since that time but haven’t had their own conference meets. On Thursday, the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference will hold its first swimming championships at the Harrison Family YMCA pool in Rocky Mount with four of the league’s six schools — Beddingfield, SouthWest Edgecombe, Nash Central and Farmville Central — participating.
With Nash Central, which has had a swimming program since the school opened in the early 2000s, moving down from the Big East to the EPC this year, it was Bulldogs athletic director Kyle Bain steering the creation of the first EPC championship swim meet.
“He’s the one that spearheaded this. He was talking about doing this last year,” said Karen Reaves, in her second season as Beddingfield head coach.
While not having a true conference championship meet, swimmers from Beddingfield and SouthWest Edgecombe have competed in NCHSAA regional and state meets. Last year, then senior Jack Coltrane became SouthWest’s first swimming state champion when he won the 100-yard freestyle crown to go with a runner-up finish in the 50 freestyle at the state 1-A/2-A championship meet.
Reaves said that her swimmers are ready for the first Eastern Plains championship meet.
“They’re really excited and they’re eager to compete in their own conference,” she said.
Two Beddingfield swimmers, freshman Annie Greene and senior Jonathan Leyson, have been year-round swimmers as members of the Wilson Barracudas swim team, Reaves said.
There are 11 members of the Beddingfield swim team.
“That’s double what we had last year!” Reaves said.
WALSTON JOINS FIELD OF HONOR
Former Hunt High and North Johnston soccer coach Brent Walston, now the athletic director for Johnston County Schools, will be enshrined in the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association’s Field of Honor on Sunday in Raleigh.
Walston, a Wilson native and resident and 1987 graduate of Hunt, also coached at Corinth Holders. He was the athletic director at North Johnston and Corinth Holders.
He is the fourth coach with Wilson ties to join the Field of Honor. Former Hunt coach Mike Petty was honored last year while longtime Greenfield coach Ben Forbes was inducted in 2013. Lee Horton, who started his coaching career at Greenfield in the late 1970s, was part of the inaugural induction class in 2010. Horton, who has been at Charlotte Latin since 1985, was presented the national girls coach of the year award for private/parochial schools by United Soccer Coaches this past weekend.
Among the members of the NCSCA all-state team boys soccer who will be honored on Sunday in Raleigh are Hunt senior Mark Bogle, Fike senior Matt Cotton and North Johnston senior Adolfo Rosales. In addition, Greenfield’s Randol Mendoza will pick up his award as the NCSCA Private School 1-A Coach of the Year.
KILLEBREW, BEST MOURNED
Wilson mourned the loss of two significant figures in high school sports in early January.
Earl Killebrew, a pivotal member of two of Fike High’s three straight state 4-A championship football teams in the late 1960s, died Jan. 5 while Jeff Best, who coached Hunt to four state 3-A boys golf titles, passed away Jan. 12 at his home in Kenly.
Killebrew was one of the defensive leaders for the Cyclones from his linebacker position on the 1967 and 1968 state title teams. He also served as the placekicker. He earned all-state recognition his senior season in 1968 and played in the 1968 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and the North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game in 1969. Killebrew, who lived in Morehead City, went on to play football at Appalachian State University before serving in the U.S. Navy.
He was inducted into the Fike High Athletic Hall of Fame in November 2009, part of the second enshrinement class.
Best led the Warriors to NCHSAA 3-A boys golf championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2002. Stephen Satterly, one of his players on the 1996 championship team, was the state 3-A individual champion that year.
Best was a former standout basketball player at C.B. Aycock High.