School & sports news for Jan. 17

VHSL creates new conferences

Since 1970 the Virginia High School League (VHSL) has divided high schools into three size classifications for competition: single A, double A and triple A. Rappahannock has always been in the single-A category, which currently has a maximum student count of approximately 750. RCHS’ current student count is approximately 300.

Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, the VHSL is adopting a new size classification system, going from three groupings to six – 1A through 6A. Rappahannock is in group 1A, which is limited to schools of fewer than 450 students.

Each group consists of approximately 50 schools and is divided into two regions. RCHS is in region 1A East. Each region is divided into four conferences of between four and eight schools. RCHS is currently in conference 43 with Colonial Beach, Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Rappahannock and Washington & Lee, all of which are currently in the Northern Neck District.

Regular season play will largely continue as it has, with schools remaining in their traditional districts, which will still consist of schools of varying sizes. For instance, RCHS will continue to play in the Bull Run District along with eight other schools that are in groups 2, 3 and 4.

Once the regular season is over, playoff games will only be against schools in your size classification, and everyone qualifies for the playoffs. The first round of playoffs is the conference level, then the region, then the state. For RCHS, it will be Conference 43, then Region 1A East, then States.

Regular season records determine seeding in the playoffs and credit is given for losses to teams from bigger schools. District playoffs happen if the district wants them, but will have no bearing on the real playoffs – the road to a state championship – other than perhaps adding to the seeding points as extra games.

There will be state championships offered in every sport where more than half the schools in a group are playing that sport. If less than that number are playing a particular sport, that group combines with the next group up in size for a state championship. Currently RCHS will be able to compete for a state championship in the 1A classification in every sport except girls soccer (currently only 13 schools in group 1A offer it). There may still be a championship in girls soccer due to equity issues, but if not, groups 1A and 2A will combine to create a championship class.

Travel for playoffs may be longer, but compared to travel distances normally encountered in Region B, RCHS’ travels likely won’t much different. The difference will be that this new format allows RCHS to participate in playoff games that require travel.

RCHS Athletic Director Jimmy Swindler is currently serving on the Handbook Committee for region 1A East and is anticipating an active role in the leadership of the new conference 43 and region 1A East, having attended several organizational meetings with many more planned in the coming months. More updates on the developments of this new competitive format will be released as they transpire. Email jswindler@rappahannockschools.us if you have any questions.

Sperryville student earns 4.0

Tiana A. Lucking, a communication major from Sperryville, has made the President’s List at Coastal Carolina University for the fall 2012 term. To qualify for list, students must earn a 4.0 grade point average and be enrolled full-time.

Wakefield sports update

Varsity Girls Basketball: The Wakefield Country Day school Lady Owls traveled to Mountain View Christian Academy for a non-conference game on Jan. 7, ultimately losing 43-37 despite a triple-double by Maeve Dale. Dale scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. Emily Hennessey and Sydney Penza contributed seven rebounds each. Kim Pankow had six points and rebounds while gathering three assists and steals. Makenzie Magaro contributed four points and three steals.

The Lady Owls were on the road again to Foxcroft School for a Delaney Athletic Conference (DAC) game on Jan. 10, earning a hard-fought 35-29 win. Dale led the team with 14 points, Pankow scored 11 and Hennessey scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Their record is 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the DAC.

The girls were ranked sixth in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III Girls Basketball Poll released Jan. 8. Congratulations to the girls, Coach Pankow and Coach Dale for remaining in the rankings.

Varsity Boys Basketball: The Owls traveled to Fredericksburg Academy for a DAC game on Jan. 8. The Falcons controlled the game throughout as the boys struggled to score points, losing 43-18; Daniel Chadduck and Alex Foster each scored seven points and grabbed seven boards. Chadduck also had three steals. Sam Lilburn grabbed eight rebounds, blocked two shots and also scored in the game.

The Owls were on the road again the next day at Wakefield School. Illness had impacted the team and they again played without starters, resulting in a 63-38 non-conference loss. Coach Brown was proud of the effort of the remaining players who were up against a deep and athletic team from Wakefield School. Lilburn had a double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks. Fred Wang played well in his first start of the season, tallying a career-high 10 points and five rebounds. Sean Brown contributed five points and two assists; Foster pulled down seven rebounds. The loss dropped their record to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in the DAC.

Varsity Swimming: WCDS Swimming competed in a meet hosted by Fredericksburg Christian School on Jan. 5 at the St. Michael’s High School pool. The team was limited, with only three varsity male swimmers (Conor O’Heir, Will Scaring and Shane O’Heir) and one female (Anne Katherine Burns) varsity swimmer.

Burns earned a first place finish in the 50 Freestyle, dropping time from her personal best. She was second in the 100 Butterfly, earning her the Swimmer of the Meet award and inching her closer to States.

The three varsity athletes only competed in one individual event, with Conor O’Heir winning the 50 Freestyle The three swimmers also raced in all three relay events as exhibitions. Nile Patel contributed to the 200 Medley Relay, finishing 6th. Alex Smith added swims to both the 200 and 400 Freestyle relays, coming in 6th and 3rd respectively.

Athletes of the month

Wakefield Country Day School announced its Athletes of the Month for November and December of 2012. The male winner is varsity boys’ basketball player Sam Lilburn, of Front Royal. Lilburn has been one of the pleasant surprises of the boy’s team early in the season; he is one of the most improved players on the team.

He helped lead the Owls to a 4-2 record during that two month period and had a career-high 24 points against Saint Michael the Archangel on Dec. 10. He followed that up with 12 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Tandem Friends School the next day. Lilburn is averaging 10 points a game, seven rebounds and two blocks so far.

“Sam’s been a huge spark coming off the bench as our sixth man,” said head coach Mike Brown. “He’s been a defensive force down low, blocking shots and altering other shots because of his defensive presence.”

“Sam has made good improvement in his game as he has grown into his body,” said athletic director Mike Costello. “He is moving better without the basketball and has really stepped up in and around the basket. He has learned to use his reach defensively to alter shots and to snag rebounds. It’s been fun to watch as his improvement contributes to the team’s success.”

The female winner is varsity girls’ co-captain Maeve Dale, of Luray. Dale led her team to an undefeated 6-0 record to begin the season and has been the leading scorer in every game, averaging 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. She had four double-doubles in the first six games, scoring a season-high 30 points in the team’s 46-25 DAC win over Randolph-Macon Academy on Dec. 3. Dale helped lead her team to a state ranking in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III poll.

“Maeve does anything and everything for us; scores, rebounds blocks shots and creates turnovers,” said coach Ann Pankow. “This is not easy to do when every team knows that it needs to focus on defending her and her talents.”

“Maeve has a tremendous basketball IQ and has benefited from growing up in a basketball family,” said Costello. “She attracts a great deal of attention when she has the basketball and continues to improve her ability to work through that traffic to score. She does a nice job of using her left hand to add to her versatility. She’s also learned to distribute the ball to her teammates to make our offense more successful. She is a dependable and determined player and a leader on our team.”

Geography Bee three-peat

For the third straight year, WCDS seventh grader Douglas Griffin won the school’s Geography Bee. On Jan. 4, Griffin won the school-level competition of the National Geographic Bee – the first round in the 24th annual competition, sponsored by the National Geographic Society – and now has a chance to compete for a $25,000 college scholarship.

The school-level bee, at which students answer oral geography questions, is the first round in the contest. The bee is open to students in grades four through eight and culminates in a national championship in May in Washington, D.C.

Griffin, from Broad Run, won out over nine other Wakefield competitors. He will now take a written test for school winners. Up to 100 top scorers on this test in Virginia will be eligible to compete in the state bee in April. State champions and a teacher-escort then move on to the finals.

Wakefield teacher Christine Chatelain put the competition together and read the questions. She said, “the importance of geography is a better understanding of our world and the civilizations that are in it. For this reason, I like doing this.”

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