Churchland High School is headed into its spring sports season in hopes of bringing home a few championships.
So how will our fair-weather teams perform this year? It may be too early to tell.
But one positive for CHS is the hiring of a new athletic director, Coach Michael Whittington, who hopes to turn things around.
“It’s a cool opportunity,” says Whittington of his new role. “It’s going to be a challenge, but once I develop a system, it should be alright.”
Things are looking good for varsity baseball, but the Great Bridge Wildcats are still expected to be the best in the conference.
“My hardest competition in Conference 17 is still going to be Great Bridge,” said Coach Younkins. “They were the champions last year when they came in. They were the new team in the conference last year.”
The varsity team has a guaranteed 12 seniors. Some of these players include: catcher Brennan Gutt, second baseman Wyatt Fly, and outfielder Shane Sanchez-Tiller.
Coach Younkins is hopeful for the future, saying, “We have some younger guys on the JV team that will be very important next year.”
Varsity softball has a new coach this year, Matt Arrington, who has years of previous softball coaching experience.
His returning players are Helen Bradshaw, Faith Crowder, Taylor Casey, Mackenzie Vick, Torii Edmonds, Seletta Huron and Ariyana Keels.
Among those moving up to the varsity level this year are former JV standouts Lauren Sheppard and Kennedy Brinkley, both welcome additions to the team.
The stiffest competition for the girls this year will come from conference rivals Great Bridge and King’s Fork.
Coach Ronemus is excited about the boys’ season. “We’ve got some new players and some players coming back, and hopefully we’re as successful as possible,” he says.
The team has some very good players, including numbers 1 and 2 - Ben McCoury and Tyler Barkley.
There are some tough teams for them to beat though (including Maury and Granby), but Churchland’s five veterans should help the Truckers this year.
Girls tennis, coached by Mrs. Schutz, has five returners. Star players Alivia Parker and Makia Anderson will be battling for the number one seed.
The girls’ toughest competition will be Maury.
The boys’ track team is coached by Alonzo Ricks (Coach Zo), who has been at the helm for the past nine years.
With runners like Cameron Spears and Johnny Thompson, Coach Zo is confident about this season. “Deep Creek and Great Bridge are really talented, but I feel like we have the depth and the more quality runners. So, we’ll be able to compete with those guys, but they’ll be tough competition for us,” he says.
The girls’ track team is coached is by Mr. Broady, who compares coaching to Christmas.
Like many other teams, their toughest competition will be Great Bridge.
Girls’ track has 10 returners and if they can get past Great Bridge, they should be good for the season.
The boys soccer team is coached by Ryan Baumgardner. “I'm excited about this year's squad,” he says. “We had seven student-athletes graduate last year but we are rich in young talent. The boys have only lost one match in Conference 17 play over the past two years, winning two back-to-back regular season titles and one tournament title.”
The strongest player is senior captain Daryn Damelio, a Virginia Wesleyan College soccer commit, who leads the newcomers to the team. Those newcomers are Nathaniel Morrison, Blake Hall, Alexander Moody, Tory Brown, Ben Coker, Ryan Long, and Samuel Reineberg.
Great Bridge will be their toughest competition.
Boys soccer is trying to build on past success, hoping to three-peat as Conference 17 champs.
Photos: Elijah Macklin