In a week bookended by blizzards, our Rapp athletes still managed to get in some postseason performances and produce some record-breaking performances along the way.
Varsity wrestling traveled to the state tourney in Salem last Friday (Feb. 20), arriving in town just ahead of some dire weather that shortened the season finale tournament. With forecasts worsening by the hour, VHSL made the decision to shorten the tournament to a one-day event with single elimination, finishing all wrestling that same night.
Rapp wrestlers did their best to handle the schedule hiccups, but with one exception they suffered early losses that ended their day and left them out of medal contention. That one exception was our 195-pound wrestler David Smoot, who made history by earning his 100th pin in an early match and then making it to the championship round. Unfortunately, he was hindered in the championship round by a broken thumb incurred in the semifinal match, and he ended the day with the state runner-up medal for the 195-pound weight class. But iron man kudos go out to David for doing his best and wrestling despite the injury, and kudos to the entire team and coaching staff for a great season — conference and region team runner-ups! — that promises an even stronger showing at the state meet next year.
Rapp’s varsity basketball teams, scheduled to host the Rappahannock River Conference playoffs last Monday, finally got to host those games this past Monday (Feb. 23), and again the Rapp faithful saw history being made.
In the opening Girls’ game, our Lady Panthers played the visiting Essex Trojans evenly in a seesaw match that saw multiple lead changes. But in the fourth quarter our team pulled out a commanding 10-point lead, finishing with a 50-43 victory. Leading point-getters Kayla Robey and Julia Estes again led the way in scoring, with Julia also racking up the rebounds, and defense kept the Panthers in the game, with stalwart efforts by Hannah Bennett, Sara Frye, Klaire Gubler and Brooklyn Phillips limiting the offense of the Trojans.
Winning the quarterfinal game earned the girls the right to travel to Colonial Beach High School this Tuesday for the semifinal playoff game (results too late for this article). And while an extensive records search has not been made, consensus is that it has been a decade or more since our Rapp girls were in the later stages of the playoffs as they are now.
The boys played in the second half of the playoff doubleheader, hosting the Raiders of the other Rappahannock High School. Going down by a large margin early to the Raiders, who seemingly could not miss from three-point range, the Panthers kept their heads and battled back, coming as close as 8 points in the second half. At games’ end, Rapp found itself on the short end of a 70-81 score but heads were held high in celebration of a very successful season and the promise of more to come. Key contributions by Gavin Jenkins (16 points) and Jackson Strickler (17 points) helped keep the Panthers in the game and will keep the Panther faithful coming back next year to see this team continue to improve.
Making some history of their own, the boys team saw one of its seniors, Bradlee Frye, eclipse the all-time Rapp boys basketball scoring record of 1,238 points. Bradlee scored his ninth point early in the second half, at which point the game was stopped and Frye was presented the game ball by former record-holder Mike Leake, who was on hand to witness this historic occasion and graciously pass the symbolic torch. After the two prolific scorers shared an embrace, with Mike Leake congratulating Bradlee for his accomplishment, the game continued and Bradlee finished the night with 19 points, bringing his career to a close with 1,249 points and top honors on the all-time boys basketball scoring list.
Not to be forgotten in the winter sports achievement category, our Scholastic Bowl team heads to Williamsburg this Saturday (Feb. 28) to compete in the state championship. Results of that tourney will be featured in next week’s article.
Spring sports are starting this week at Rapp, despite the heavy blanket of snow on all our outdoor facilities. Coaches are beginning with indoor practices, with JV and varsity teams starting up this week and Junior Panther teams scheduled to start next week. The Spring Sports Parent Athlete Meeting is 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Feb. 26) in the high school auditorium.
Keep up with all the results and schedules at rappahannockathletics.org and . . . Go Rapp!
— Jimmy Swindler