State championships: 1 down, 1 to go

Tuesday night at home, Rappahannock County High School’s undefeated varsity volleyball team — and the capacity crowd packing the gym for the Panthers’ state semifinal match against the Chilhowie High School Warriors — erupts in celebration as the final point goes down. The girls head to Richmond for Saturday’s state championship final against 1A division nemesis Matthews.Luke Christopher | Rappahannock News
Tuesday night at home, Rappahannock County High School’s undefeated varsity volleyball team — and the capacity crowd packing the gym for the Panthers’ state semifinal match against the Chilhowie High School Warriors — erupts in celebration as the final point goes down. The girls head to Richmond for Saturday’s state championship final against 1A division nemesis Mathews.
RCHS senior cross-country runner Gavin Jenkins, training for this moment since he was 8, crosses the finish line first on Saturday at the state cross country championship meet at Great Meadow, making him the 1A division’s state champion (and the second state champion in a row for RCHS).By Laura Burt
RCHS senior cross-country runner Gavin Jenkins, training for this moment since he was 8, crosses the finish line first on Saturday at the state cross country championship meet at Great Meadow, making him the 1A division’s state champion (and the second state champion in a row for RCHS).

Tuesday win sends Panthers to first-ever state volleyball championship

Following a straight-sets victory over Region 1A West runner-up Chilhowie High School before a standing-room-only home crowd Tuesday (Nov. 15), Rappahannock County High School’s undefeated volleyball team is headed for the state 1A division championship final in Richmond on Saturday.

As game time approached on Tuesday, the Rapp gym filled to near capacity, including a large contingent from the Warriors who made the four-hour-plus trip. Both teams played evenly in the first set until Rapp pulled away at the 15-point mark, cruising to a 25-16 win that featured a heroic save and return by Kayla Robey and Brianna Settle to earn the final point.

The second game was a little closer, with the score tied at 22 towards the end. But then Rapp reeled off three straight points to take the game and a 2-0 set advantage. In the third game Rapp ran out to an 8-2 early lead and never looked back, finishing off Chilhowie by a score of 25-16.

As the postgame celebration filled the gym, the news came that Rapp would again be facing Mathews — their season-ending nemesis last year, whom the Panthers defeated last Saturday in the regional finals — in the state championship match.

The final is 11 a.m. Saturday at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Best of luck to the team as they head to Richmond to participate in the school’s first-ever volleyball state championship final.

Last Thursday, the team had hosted the Gladiators of Riverheads High School in the Region 1A East Semifinal playoff game. Rapp took the first set in dominant fashion, 25-10, and then Riverheads came alive, playing stronger but losing the second set as well, 25-20. The third set was neck and neck and Riverheads prevailed 26-24, with momentum seeming to shift. But the Rapp girls came out charged up in the fourth set, determined to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss in the regional semifinals, and led from the start on their way to a dominating 25-8 victory.

On Saturday night, Rapp hosted Matthews in the regional championship and tension mounted as game time approached. The first match was close but Rapp got the win by a score of 25-17. And that was as close as it got; Coach Courtney Atkins’ Panthers went on a roll and dominated the last two sets on their way to victory and a Region 1A East championship trophy. At game’s end, RCHS Principal Mike Tupper presented the players and coaches with regional championship medals and then the whole team received the Region 1A East Championship Trophy.

— Brandon Burley, athletic director

Rapp’s Gavin Jenkins is state champion

The 2016 cross country season is over and Rappahannock County’s Gavin Jenkins is the 1A division’s state champion.

RCHS' Gavin Jenkins caught the leader with 200 yards to go and crossed the finish line 50 yards in front of his rival with a time of 16:26 to become a state champion last Friday at Great Meadow.By David Hong
RCHS’ Gavin Jenkins caught the leader with 200 yards to go and crossed the finish line 50 yards in front of his rival with a time of 16:26 to become a state champion last Friday at Great Meadow.

Gavin was sick and his throat very swollen and sore last Friday (Nov. 11) at Great Meadow, but that didn’t lessen the Rappahannock County High School senior’s competitive spirit and commitment to win. Four hundred yards from the finish line, he had dropped into second place by 10 yards. Pushing himself to his limit, Gavin caught the leader with 200 yards to go and crossed the finish line 50 yards in front of his rival with a time of 16:26.

Sam Barnes ran a fine race earning the 12th-place medal and setting a new personal record with a time of 17:29.

Congratulations to Gavin and Sam on a great season, and a special thanks to Gavin for setting such a high standard of effort and sportsmanship in his last high school race.

The Rapp cross-country girls’ team placed seventh of all 1A schools at Friday’s state championship meet, and two runners brought home medals. Jacklyn Humphries crossed the first mile in 23rd place, but ran her next 2.1 miles in good form, even passing two girls in the final stretch to place 10th at 21:14

Skylar Culbertson shot off the starting line with the leaders and was running an excellent race when around the halfway point a competitor stepped on the back of her foot and knocked her down. Skylar got up, now in pain, and finished the race placing 13th at 21:18.

MacKensie Haunold finished third for the girls’ team, coming in at 23:10. She was followed by three-time state competitor Brooke Athelli at 23:46. Caragh Heverly came in at 25:30, Savannah Hensley at 25:44, and Danelle Fryant finished the race with a time of 25:52.

The girls have pledged to return to states again next year. We are proud of our cross country runners and looking forward to next year. Some excellent runners will be moving up to varsity from JP next year. In the meantime, keep running strong!

— B.B.

Veterans Day at RCHS

Last Friday, the annual Veteran’s Day Program was held at Rappahannock County High School. This annual event was sponsored by the RCHS Band Boosters who, with the help of a donation from the Rappahannock County Lion’s Club, provided refreshments afterwards for guests of the program.

Flags planted by students greeted the veterans, family and friends attending last Friday's Veterans Day commemoration at Rappahannock County High School.By David Hong
Flags planted by students greeted the veterans, family and friends attending last Friday’s Veterans Day commemoration at Rappahannock County High School.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m. with welcoming remarks from band member Jacob Sheffield, the program hosted an audience of Rappahannock County veterans, their guests and the RCHS student body along with the RCES seventh-graders. The colors were presented by representatives from Boy Scout Troops 36 and 316 and the national anthem was played by the Panther Band, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance led by RCHS student and band member Cydney Chambers.

The guest speaker, RCHS alumnus and retired U.S. Marine Capt. Michael Del Grosso, gave a stirring talk about his experiences and the shared experiences of all veterans who made sacrifices, in some cases the ultimate sacrifices, for their country. The RCHS band performed a medley of service songs, during which guests who were members of the respective armed services were encouraged to stand and be recognized.

At the conclusion of the program band members Jacob Sheffield and Ninon Kirchman gave a stirring rendition of Taps, arguably the most widely recognized and emotional bugle call in existence, followed by the Boy Scout’s retiring of the colors. Even the brief interruption of a school bell at the end of the program failed to disrupt the solemnity of the event, serving as a reminder of one of the privileges our veterans served to protect, that privilege in this case being a free quality public education.

At program’s end the veterans and their guests were treated to light refreshments in the gym lobby. As they departed they were treated to a patriotic display in front of RCHS, where the students had ringed the bus circle with American flags that waved stridently on the gusty day.

Trash cleanup on Rock Mills Road

On Nov. 1,, members of the RCHS Leo Club led a trash pickup along 2.2 miles of Rock Mills Road, from U.S. 211 to Hunters Road. The RCHS Leo Club is sponsored by the Lions Club of Rappahannock County. Organized in 2004, the purpose of the Leo Club is to promote service activities among the youth of the community and develop the individual qualities of leadership, experience, and opportunity.

Leo Club members and Lions Club volunteers were out on Rock Mills Road earlier this month as part of a joint cleanup project.
Leo Club members and Lions Club volunteers were out on Rock Mills Road earlier this month as part of a joint cleanup project.

This particular service project idea was the brainchild of Leo member Mahlet Yirgu and came to fruition thanks to the extensive planning and preparation by faculty sponsors Lilo Wolfe and Beth Gall. Including students, staff and community members, the event epitomized the service learning focus of RCHS, the mission of the Leo Club itself and the support our schools receive from the community.

Trash was picked up in two shifts, giving multiple students the opportunity to make this work in their schedules. Participating Leo Club members included John Norris and Mikayla Johnson (who worked both shifts), Mahlet Yirgu, Galen Sanborn, Heather Smith, Lauren Petty, JoJo McKinney, Josh Racer, Mikayla Zook, Macy Montgomery and Bryce Jones.

Participating community members (and Lion’s Club members) included Larry Grove, Jim Blubaugh, Rudy Seegar and Jim Manwaring. The Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department generously loaned an emergency vehicle with flashing red lights to alert drivers to the roadside presence of the volunteers.

Thirty-seven bags of trash were picked up from the roadside, in addition to multiple random car parts and one lawn chair. The goal of the Leo Club, in addition to beautifying this spot of our county, is to complete the trash pickup on a semi-annual basis. Doing so will earn the club an official VDOT sign that notes its adoption of that stretch of Rappahannock roadway.

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