Fike's Bryson Boyette, shown during a 3-A Big East Conference golf match in March, helped the Golden Demons to a dominating conference championship in boys golf in addition to his NCHSAA 3-A individual title. On Thursday, Fike reclaimed the Wells Fargo Conference Cup for the Big East after a one-year absence. Tom Ham | Times
By Jimmy Lewis
After a one-year absence, the Fike High athletic program is back on top of the 3-A Big East Conference.
That was the decree handed down upon Thursday morning’s release of the final Wells Fargo Conference Cup standings for all North Carolina High School Athletic Association conferences.
The Golden Demons won the Cup for the 2014-15 school year, but had ceded control to Rocky Mount for 2015-16.
A companion to the Wells Fargo Cup at the statewide level, the program recognizes schools with the best overall athletic program within each conference. Each conference is given autonomy to devise its own scoring system outside of the statewide Cup races.
This was on display particularly in the Big East, with Rocky Mount finishing No. 11 among 3-A schools statewide. However, in the Big East, the Gryphons were situated third behind Fike’s 177 points and the 170 of Hunt.
Following the fall sports season, Fike sat in third by one point to second-place Hunt and three to front-running Rocky Mount. However, a pair of championships in wrestling and girls swimming helped boost Fike into the lead over Rocky Mount, allowing the Demons to simply add to their margin with a consistent spring that saw no fewer than four sports finish first or second in the conference.
“I think it speaks highly of all of them throughout the year,” Fike athletic director Toni Varacchi said of her student-athletes and coaches. “Every little bit counts. Whether it’s first, second, or third, it all adds up to points to help Fike, to help our program and to get recognition. The coaches are the ones doing the work in the offseason, in the weight room, in skill development and are committed to the players and helping them in any way they can.”
Fike finished the year with a seven-point cushion over Hunt thanks to an overwhelming championship in boys golf and a trio of second-place showings in boys tennis, softball and girls soccer. While Varacchi, also the girls soccer coach, wasn’t happy with settling for a second-place showing in her on-field area of expertise, it still helped the Lady Demons a large share of available points.
“There’s no real rhyme or reason for it,” Varacchi said of Fike’s strong spring close. “But spring has really carried us to the end and just made our consistency throughout the year. Of course, I wasn’t happy with a second-place finish in soccer, but like I said, any place we get is worth points.”
Hunt moved up from third to second at the close of spring on the back of conference championships in baseball and softball. Rocky Mount (169), Northern Nash (162.5), Nash Central (158.5) and Southern Nash (151) were third through sixth, respectively.
Nash Central will leave the Big East for the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference in 2017-18, to be replaced by Franklinton.
BRUINS 4TH IN EPC
In the EPC, the Washington Pam Pack ended their four-year run in the league the same way it entered.
Washington won their third Cup in four years, holding off a strong spring surge from North Johnston. The Pam Pack picked up 70.5 points, with North Johnston four points back at 66.5.
Only North Pitt in 2014-15 briefly interrupted Washington’s run at the top of the conference. North Johnston, which was fourth after the winter sports season, surged into the runner-up spot with conference championships in baseball and softball.
Beddingfield swept the EPC boys and girls track titles during the spring, allowing it to gain one spot in the final standings. North Pitt (56.5), Beddingfield (55), Farmville Central (52) and SouthWest Edgecombe (46.5) rounded out the field.
Greene Central secured a third-place finish in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference, buoyed by a share of the league title in softball with Cup champion South Lenoir. The Blue Devils ruled the 2-A ECC standings with 580 points, with North Lenoir (485), Greene Central (475), Ayden-Grifton (470), Goldsboro (395) and Kinston (365) following.
The split 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference saw Charles B. Aycock continue dominion over its 3-A league mates in Wayne County rivals Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne. Although that recognition is unofficial in split conferences, CBA accrued 71 points to finish ahead of Eastern Wayne (59.5) and Southern Wayne (44.5).
In the 4-A portion, Winterville D.H. Conley outpointed New Bern 115-92.5 to win the Cup. Greenville Rose (83.5) and Winterville South Central (77) followed. Both Rose and Conley will drop down to the 3-A ranks in the next realignment to join CBA, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne in the jockeying for playoff positions.