WEST JEFFERSON — What should have been a traditional night full of honors, awards and celebration of Ashe County Huskies Athletics, the 2020 Spring Sports Awards were held Tuesday, May 19. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shuttering of Ashe County High School, the awards did not feature a stage or photo area, instead being held on a video call and broadcast on Facebook.
ACHS Athletic Director and Assistant Principal David Koontz lead the event, welcoming everyone who tuned in and thanking those who helped ACHS athletics through the year, also giving an update on the school’s standing in the Wells Fargo Cup.
“On our school’s 20th anniversary, Ashe County High School currently stands in first-place overall in the (Mountain Valley Athletic Conference) standings for the Wells Fargo Cup. This award recognizes the top athletic program in our conference for the school year,” Koontz said. “Student athletes and coaches, we are very proud of your efforts and the outstanding job you have done this season. Last year, I challenged you to work even harder this year after finishing in second-place. This year you seized that challenge.”
Koontz then took a moment to look back on the year in sports as a whole.
“Obviously, the year ended on a disappointing note and our hearts go out to our spring sports athletes whose seasons were cut short. However, looking back on the year our athletic program as a whole had tremendous success,” Koontz said.
Both the fall and winter seasons were very successful for the Huskies.
In the fall, ACHS had 31 all-conference athletes, 14 honorable mentions and football coach Brian Hampton and cross country coach Shane Greene were named MVAC Coaches of the Year in their sports. Both the football and cross country teams took home conference championships.
All of the fall teams advanced to post-season play, with football, men’s soccer and volleyball appearing in the state playoffs. The women’s golf and women’s tennis teams each competed at regionals and sent one player apiece to the 2A State Championship. The cross-country teams both competed at regionals, with the women’s team advancing to the 2A State Championship and senior Mahaley Cronk was an individual regional champion.
In the winter, ACHS saw 34 all-conference players and 19 honorable mentions. Senior Hallie Treva was named MVAC Co-Player of the Year for women’s basketball, Phil Morrison was named MVAC Coach of the Year for indoor track and both indoor track teams along with the women’s basketball team took home MVAC Conference Championships.
The women’s basketball team advanced to the third round of the state playoffs, making it one of the most successful seasons in school history, the women’s swim team sent the school’s first ever regional qualifiers to the 1A/2A Regional Championships, 12 wrestlers qualified for the regional tournament, where Jaron Greer was the 2A West Champion and state runner-up at 220 lbs. The indoor track teams sent 10 qualifiers to the state championship, where Grady Rector finished fourth in the high jump and Josh Hardin won a state title in the 300-meter dash.
Then the awards began, with Koontz announcing the addition of the Husky Tri-Athlete award, which recognizes all student-athletes who have played a sport in all thee seasons. Koontz said he got the idea from another athletic director, and fell in love with it instantly. Forty-two student-athletes played three different sports this season.
Two other awards were also introduced, the Female and Male Husky Sportsmanship Awards and the Female and Male Heart of the Husky Awards.
“Sportsmanship recognizes student-athletes who have participated in at least one varsity sport and remained ejection-free during the school year,” Koontz said. “This student athlete should exemplify what sportsmanship means which includes but is not limited to following the rules of the game, respecting the judgment of referees and officials, treating opponents with respect, and showing respect and graciousness for one’s opponent whether you win or lose.”
The Female Husky Sportsmanship Award winner this year was senior Malorie Eller. A member of the cross-country, indoor track and spring track teams, Eller was honored for the positive attitude she brings to every competition, and the effort she put in to every sport.
Winning the Male Husky Sportsmanship Award was cross-country, indoor track and spring track team member Grady Rector. Rector was honored for what Koontz described as being the “paragon of a male high school athlete who demonstrates sportsmanship,” and for showing respect to all in competition.
The Female Heart of the Husky Award winner was junior Ashley Dollar of the women’s tennis, women’s swimming and track and field teams. Koontz said Dollar was a natural leader and has 471 hours of community service to her credit. Koontz also told the story of Dollar’s injury, costing her most of last year and the fall of 2019, joining the swim team fresh off of the injury and being a key part of the team’s success.
A member of the football, wrestling and spring track and field teams, senior Drake Elliott was named the Male Heart of the Husky winner. With over 150 hours of community service, Elliott was a battalion commander in JROTC, a four-year letter winner for the wresting team and a captain for the football team’s back-to-back conference championships. He was also a team captain his senior year in track and field, where he was named all-conference.
Next up were the Male and Female Husky Athletes of the Year, which went to Cronk and junior Austin Poe.
Cronk was a member of the cross-country, indoor track and track and field teams, Cronk is the most decorated runner in school history. In cross-country, Cronk was all-conference and all-region all four years of high school, is the two-time MVAC Runner of the Year, helped her team to three conference championships and holds the school’s 5K record with a time of 19:52.
For indoor track, she received the MVP Runner award this season and qualified for the state championship in two events. She holds two school records, for the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter run. She was the MVAC female athlete of the year for track and field her freshman season, qualified for both regional and state championships in three consecutive years and was all-conference every season.
Poe has been a three-year varsity player in football, baseball and basketball, being voted all-conference in football and and basketball.
As a sophomore in football, Poe finished fourth in the state with 65 receptions for 1,450 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, following that up with 75 reception, 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns in his junior year. Both years, he was named all-conference as part of a conference championship team that made the state playoffs.
Poe was also selected to the MVAC all-conference team in basketball his junior year, averaging more than 10 points-per-game, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. In his sophomore baseball season, Poe was third on the team in batting average, tied for first in runs and tied for third in hits.
The final award was the Husky Coach of the year award, which was voted on by the coaching staff. Women’s basketball coach Brianna Ashley took home the award, following a successful winter season.
In her first two years in the role, the team has made the state playoffs both times. This season, they finished with a 21-7 record, including an 11-3 conference record, brought home an MVAC Conference Championship and made it to the third round of the state playoffs.
“I truly feel that the success of her teams has a direct relationship with the type of life lessons she is teaching her players not only on the court but off the court as well,” Koontz said. “It was a pleasure to watch her team play this season and we look forward to next season.”