School and Sports News for Feb. 3

Wrestlers bring home 3 medals

“Round Robin” normally conjures images of playgrounds or pee wee sporting tournaments. But, on Jan. 29, it meant a scratching and bruising wrestling showdown in Charlottesville.

The Rappahannock Panthers competed in the Monticello Round Robin tournament and brought home three medals.

“We really weren’t sure what type of tournament it would be,” coach Jamie Harris reported. “There were 12 schools. I liked the way it was set up and how they ran it. The first three rounds were round robin pools with Monticello, Amherst and Chatham. That meant head-to-head wrestling on a good faith scoring system. So, even if you lost, you still earned points for certain things.”

Three Panther athletes returned as decorated victors: CJ Sidrow, Dylan Hitt and Britt Hipple. Sidrow finished fourth and made it to the championship semifinals. He then lost to a wrestler from Madison, an opponent he had pinned twice in this season. Hitt finished second at 119 and lost in the finals to a challenger from Powhatan ranked fourth in AA. Hipple ended in fourth but lost in the semifinals and the consolation finals. Hitt and Hipple both won their pools, and both finished 3-0. Zack Armor came in seventh. Smith Clifton finished fourth, went 2-1 in his pool and 4-1 overall. Clifton had an outstanding day, but he did not earn a medal.

A battered but victorious Britt Hipple chronicled his triumphant day: “I was surprised at my 3-0 start to the day. I made it to the championship round, and that’s where my luck ran out. I was No. 2 seed going in. In the third round, I lost in points.”

It was the fourth round that generated Hipple’s loss and the large abrasion on his forehead. The match also revealed his champion’s drive. “I faced a rough guy from Heritage [Lynchburg], and I lasted almost the whole time with him. He was just stronger than me.”

Rappahannock finished seventh in the tournament. “I was missing three starters,” coach Harris said. “If we’d had them there, we could’ve been in the top three. Overall, we really showed some true grit.”

Panthers travel Saturday (Feb. 5) to the Northern Sectionals at Manassas Park High School. Catch them on the mats beginning at 10 a.m.
— Melissa Delcour

Lady Panthers fall 35-21

Monday night’s home court round ball battle ended in defeat for the Lady Panthers. Clarke County defeated Rappahannock, 35-21, in an exhausting game of perseverance.

“We were rusty,” coach Robbie Thornhill said. “The girls hadn’t practiced in a week. Plus, we were missing Olivia [Hayden-Pless] and had one player who was just coming back from a long absence.”

Even with no players on the bench, the Lady Panthers put up a scrappy fight against the Eagles. Seniors Joslyn Smith and Paula Accioly never left the court. Coach Thornhill reported: “This is the first time that Joslyn played the entire game. Those two girls played the whole time, and we rotated the other four.”

Rappahannock suffered the most turnovers on its record and flagged under the pressure of double and triple defenders. “I give our Panther defense about an A-,” coach Thornhill said. “Clarke is a pretty good team. They’re second in the district right now.

“Our girls practice hard every day. They don’t give up and neither do I. I coach until the very end.”

The Lady Panthers challenged Strasburg on Wednesday. The team travels to George Mason today. Results of those games will appear in next week’s Rappahannock News.
— M.D.

Skills winners represent RCHS at state level

January was a busy month for Rappahannock students competing in several SkillsUSA district competitions. Four Rappahannock County High School culinary arts students competed in the District X Culinary Arts competition Jan. 14 at Triplett Tech in Mount Jackson.

Madison High senior Brittany Reed, who attends culinary arts at RCHS through the school division’s cost-sharing agreement with Madison, won the District Culinary Arts competition and will represent both RCHS and Madison at the state competition in April.

Senior Nikki Dommer recently won the district competition in Job Interview and will also represent RCHS at the state competition. Talented artist and senior Jessica Boutte will represent RCHS in the state pin competition with her innovative vintage design.

Chapat Tyree, also attending RCHS through the cost-sharing program, placed third in the District Culinary Arts competition. In the District Commercial Baking competition, hosted at RCHS on Jan. 24, Keana Burroughs placed third.

A special thank you goes to local judges and bakers who made the District Commercial Baking competition possible: Brooke Parkhurst, owner of Triple Oak Bakery in Sperryville; Sherri Fickel, owner of Hopkins Ordinary in Sperryville; and John Garretson of Rudy’s Pizza.
— Mary Arthur

Bob Lander, center, hands over books to Rappahannock Elementary librarian Barb Wheatly, left, and administrator Amy Gubler.

Scrabble School donates books

Segregation in America and its impact on African-American children are the topics of books the Scrabble School Preservation Foundation donated to local libraries in honor of Martin Luther King and Black History Month.

Bob Lander presented the books to Hearthstone School, Rappahannock County Elementary School, Wakefield Country Day School and to the Rappahannock County Library.

Titles included “Dear Mr. Rosenwald” by Carole Boston Weatherford (Scholastic, 2006), an award-winning picture book featuring a series of “letters” thanking Julius Rosenwald for helping Weatherford’s community build a school for African-American children such as herself. The description of the desperate need for the school and the commitment shown by parents and neighbors closely parallels the history of Rappahannock’s own Scrabble School.

The presentations were Lander’s last official act as president of the Foundation. On Jan. 25, Melanie Kopjanski was elected as his replacement.

School classes and private groups are welcome to tour the school by special arrangement. To schedule an appointment, email (preferred) or call Susanna Spencer at 540-923-4441.

The Foundation also welcomes the public to Scrabble School for a celebration of Black History Month on Feb. 19, at 4 p.m. The Unity Gospel Choir will perform. Guest speakers will be Dr. Aldridge A. Boone, superintendent of Rappahannock County Schools, and Stephanie Deutsch.

Boys basketball faces rebuilding

If Rappahannock County head boys varsity basketball coach Terence Johnson sounds as if he has given up on the 2010-11 season, well, he really hasn’t.

“It’s very strenuous on these kids, especially after the snow and their exams,” he said. “Playing with five or six kids, it’s draining on me, and I’m not even playing.”

The Panthers are winless, with just four, Group A Bull Run District games left. They dropped recent decisions to Clarke County, 91-25, and George Mason, 85-27.

“All we want to do is finish the season,” Johnson said. “Finish out strong.” Then, start to rebuild the program.

That project will begin during the off-season in the school’s weight room.

Every Monday, Tuesday and Friday, Johnson said that there will be supervised workouts. Any Rappahannock County student is welcome to attend.

“I’d prefer if all 300 plus kids show up,” he added, “or at least the 140 or so boys who are eligible to play sports.”

Regular lifting and weight training will make the students better prepared for the rigors of a long season, Johnson said.
— Christine Krapf

REC gives scholarships to students

From contributed reports
High school seniors have the opportunity to receive one of 15 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC). The scholarships recognize distinguished scholastic achievement.

The cooperative has helped high school seniors pursue their career goals through the LEARN (Literacy, Education and Rural Networking) program since 1996. The LEARN program is designed to provide financial assistance to those students who are seeking to advance their education beyond the high school level.

“REC is committed to helping local students reach their education goals,” says Ann Lewis, REC’s director of public relations. “The LEARN program accomplishes this by rewarding high school students for their scholastic achievements with financial assistance to reduce educational expenses such as tuition, books or room and board.”

To be eligible, a student must be a current high school senior with a parent or guardian who is a member-owner of REC (meaning they receive electric service from the cooperative), and be enrolled or plan to enroll in an accredited educational or training institution. Interested students must complete an application and write a 500-word essay.

“The application process is really quite simple,” adds Lewis. “Students can pick up an application through their high school guidance department, at any REC office or download them online at We encourage all eligible high school seniors to apply.”

Winners will be selected based upon their scholastic achievement, community involvement, recommendations, extracurricular activities and interest in rural affairs. Completed applications must be dropped off at one of REC’s offices or postmarked by April 4.

For additional information on the LEARN Scholarship program, contact Brian Wolfe, REC’s public relations specialist, at 1-800-552-3904, ext. 5914 or

REC provides electric service to more than 154,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. Rappahannock maintains more than 16,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For information about REC, visit

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