Twice is nice for PHS
Parkersburg maintains grip on state all-sports honor
Wednesday June 5, 2002

By Nick Scala

PARKERSBURG &Mac247; A year ago, when told that Parkersburg High School
had won its first Gazette Excellence in Sports Award, PHS athletic
director Jim Hamric made a bold statement.

„We plan to keep it,‰ Hamric said last June. „We&Mac226;re not giving it up.‰

A year later, those words proved to be prophetic.

On the strength of four state championships and depth across the
board, Parkersburg is a repeat Class AAA winner of the GEISA, the
state&Mac226;s highest all-sports honor.

The first big-school two-time and repeat champion in the six-year
history of the award, Parkersburg accumulated 571/2 points in the
GEISA scoring system (see chart, Page 4B) for the 2001-02 school
year. That was good enough to outdistance Cabell Midland, which totaled
501/2 points to finish as runner-up for the second year in a row,
and Morgantown, which was third with 47 points.

Parkersburg didn&Mac226;t dominate the division in the manner of a year
ago, when its 68 points and 21-point winning margin established GEISA
records. Still, the Big Reds&Mac226; total of 571/2 points was the second-
highest ever garnered by a AAA school in the GEISA&Mac226;s short history
&Mac247; trailing only last year&Mac226;s monster season at Parkersburg.

The honor doesn&Mac226;t come by accident.

„This award is a goal we set,‰ Hamric said. „We take the article
[announcing last year&Mac226;s GEISA championship] and show it to all of
our coaches whenever we meet. Our goal is to be champions, and we
look at this award as proof of that. This is a good measure of how
strong our athletic program is.‰

Parkersburg won state championships in football, boys tennis, girls
tennis and swimming. No AAA school matched that four-title level,
which Parkersburg achieved for the second straight year. Capital
&Mac247; with championships in boys track, volleyball and girls basketball
&Mac247; ranked second with three titles, but the Cougars didn&Mac226;t have the
same kind of all-sports depth as PHS and finished in sixth place
overall with 35 points, tops among Kanawha Valley schools.

Parkersburg, on the other hand, scored in 10 categories &Mac247; or more
than half the 19 team sports sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary
School Activities Commission. That&Mac226;s a feat matched this year only
by crosstown rival Parkersburg South, which placed fourth overall
with 45 points. Besides the four championships, the Big Reds were
runners-up in wrestling and volleyball and had top-eight finishes
in boys soccer, boys swimming, girls cross country and girls track.

Parkersburg&Mac226;s GEISA was also earned through gender balance. The Big
Reds had two boys titles and two girls titles, and placed among the
state&Mac226;s top eight in five sports on both sides of the ledger. It
added up to a Class AAA-best 281/2 points in boys sports, edging
South (28) and Morgantown (27), while the PHS girls had 29 points,
topped only by Cabell Midland&Mac226;s 291/2.

The GEISA honor was made more satisfying to Hamric because of the
way the school year started out at Parkersburg. Just one week into
the football season, even before the first day of school, veteran
Big Reds football coach Marshall Burdette resigned amid allegations
that he improperly touched some former players. Burdette, who guided
Parkersburg to a state championship in 1999 and runner-up finishes
in 1997 and 2000, was never formally charged but agreed to remove
himself from the PHS program.

So what happened next? Well, with assistant coach Craig Farnsworth
elevated into Burdette&Mac226;s position, the Big Reds put their troubles
behind them and won the state football title.

„It was a tough fall, but that&Mac226;s the way champions act,‰ Hamric said.
„It was a year no one at Parkersburg High will ever forget, because
we overcame a lot of adversity. But once we got rolling, it got back
to normal in a hurry.‰

The Parkersburg sweep at the state tennis tournament last month provided
a bookend to a championship season and clinched the repeat GEISA
crown. Hamric gave Big Reds coach Pam Reeves credit for restoring
the Parkersburg tennis program to the elite ranks it enjoyed in previous

„Pam knew she had a chance [to win state titles] going in, and she
accepted that favorite&Mac226;s role in a very classy way,‰ Hamric said.
„She&Mac226;s symbolic of what PHS stands for.‰

As the GEISA repeat champion, Parkersburg will receive its second
permanent plaque for the school, retain possession of the GEISA Class
AAA traveling trophy and pick up another $250 cash award for use
by its athletic department and/or booster clubs.

Will Parkersburg amass another GEISA treasure trove next June? Hamric
was a little less bold on his prediction this time around.

„We had an awful strong senior class, and they were the underlying
reason we won this award two years in a row,&Mac226;&Mac226; he said. „It&Mac226;s going
to be a big challenge but, being the school we are, it wouldn&Mac226;t surprise
me if we were right back in contention for this next year.‰

To contact staff writer Nick Scala, use e-mail or call 348-7947.