1. Baseball team’s success year’s top sports story
Playing under their fourth coach in four years, the Warren County High School baseball team entered the 2012 season with no expectations. The Pioneers ended the season as one of the final 16 teams left standing in the state, a feat that earned the baseball team the Southern Standard’s top sports story of the year.
After winning 17 games in the previous three seasons, new coach Adam Childs led the Pioneers to 21 wins and a trip to the substate tournament.
Something special seemed to be brewing from the very start as the Pioneers won their first five games. Warren County would go on to claim tournament title in the Franklin County Classic and earn the No. 3 seed in the District 6-AAA tournament.
Knowing only two teams would advance to regionals, Warren County had to win a three-game series against Coffee County. In the rubber match at Manchester, Logan McCormack pitched a complete game and the Pioneer bats knocked around the Red Raiders as Warren County won 12-5.
McCormack was right back in the spotlight when the Pioneers played in the regional tournament for the first time in 14 years. McCormack pitched the first six innings of a nine-inning thriller against the Ooltewah Owls.
The Pioneers won the game 4-3, getting a game-winning base hit by sophomore Logan Underhill - the District 6-AAA newcomer of the year.
Warren County’s season ended with a loss to Riverdale at substate, but the bounce-back year for the Pioneers, who featured 12 seniors, rekindled the spark at Patrick Ramsey Field 20 years after the baseball team claimed a state championship.
2. All-state players lead Lady Pioneers to district title
Making the state tournament was the Warren County High School girls soccer team’s goal when the 2012 season started. The Lady Pioneers didn’t miss by much.
Warren County won 15 games, including claiming the District 6-AAA regular season and tournament titles, on its way to being one of the final 16 teams left at the end of the season.
The Lady Pioneers advanced past the regionals for the first time under coach Todd Willmore, who took his team to the regional tournament for the third straight season.
After falling to Soddy Daisy two straight years, the Lady Pioneers beat the Ooltewah Lady Owls 5-1 in the regional semifinals. The win punched the Lady Pioneers’ ticket to the substate, where the team fell to the Siegel Lady Stars 3-0.
The journey of the substate tournament was led by a star class of 10 seniors and two All-State juniors.
Juniors Ansley Mullican, the District 6-AAA MVP, and Morgan McCormick, the District 6-AAA midfielder of the year, were named to the All-State team in a year where the duo combined to score 60 goals.
The senior class featured All-District 6-AAA selections Maddie Smartt, Lauren Roller, Annie Willmore, Rayah Kirby, Ayla Anish, Ashlyn Anish, Lyndi Dodd and Kimberly Warden. Fran Duvall and Hayle Clemons were also senior members of the squad.
Dodd and Warden were also All-Region 3-AAA members, along with McCormick and Mullican. Warden as the District 6-AAA defensive player of the year.
3. Volleyball team wins 42 games
The Warren County High School volleyball team became the first sports program in school history to win over 40 games in a season, eclipsing the mark during a year when the Lady Pioneers dominated District 6-AAA.
Warren County finished the season 42-9, a mark that set the volleyball program’s single-season win mark and helped the six-member senior class move past 100 victories in its career.
No win was sweeter than the one on Thursday, Sept. 27. After 26 years of losing to Cookeville, the Lady Pioneers defeated the Lady Cavaliers for the first time in school history.
The victory over Cookeville, a five-set thriller at Charlie Dalton Gym, helped the Lady Pioneers share the District 6-AAA championship for the first time.
While the season ended with an upset loss to Coffee County in the district tournament, which snapped a 14-game winning streak and two straight years of advancing to the regional tournament, the Lady Pioneers still had plenty of individual reasons to celebrate.
District 6-AAA MVP Caroline McKinley helped lead the seniors to 122 career victories. Fellow seniors Blair Fisher, Karaline Deaton, Kaitlin Lawrence, Megan Dishman and Emily Newman were All-District 6-AAA selections.
4. WCHS tennis continues district dominance
Stealing Pat Riley’s trademark of “Three-peat,” the Warren County High School boys tennis team claimed the District 6-AAA regular season and tournament titles for the third straight year in 2012.
The Pioneers dominated the district with senior stars Thomas Locke and Seth Grissom leading the way.
Locke and Grissom were voted to the All-District 6-AAA teams as the pair claimed the individual doubles tournament championship as well.
Senior Mitchell Fuqua clinched the third straight tournament title as his singles win put the Pioneers past White County in the tournament finals.
Warren County finished the season with 13 victories before ending the year with a loss to Cleveland in the regional tournament.
Austin Sauer and Will Marttala were also senior members of the Pioneer tennis team who racked up doubles victories through the course of the year.
The roster also included Bryce Caten, Jake Hunt, Kirkland Sauer, Matthew Austin, Ben Gawel, Blake Basham, Daniel Campos, Jared Hutchins, Eric Cantrell and Steven Felty.
5. WCHS football team snaps losing streak
A rare Thursday night game at Nunley Stadium was just the platform the WCHS Pioneer football team needed to snap a 15-game losing streak.
After losing their last three games in 2010, going winless in 2011 and starting the 2012 season with two losses, the Pioneers finally put one in the win column with a 37-13 whipping of the Cumberland County Jets.
Lee Carden threw for three touchdowns, Cameron Lusk rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown and the Pioneer defense suffocated its District 6-AAA rival to win for the first time in 696 days.
Carden would help lead the Pioneers to three wins during the season on his way to earning the District 6-AAA offensive MVP honors.
Warren County also defeated Coffee County 43-32 and Soddy Daisy 55-35 at Nunley Stadium during the season.
The Pioneers finished the year 3-7, missing out on the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
6. Girls golf team wins district title
Saylem Powell was the final golfer to turn in her scorecard at the District 6-AAA tournament, but the wait was worth it for the Warren County High School girls golf team.
Powell, a freshman, turned in the lowest round shot at McMinnville Country Club and it gave the Lady Pioneers a District 6-AAA championship.
With Powell shooting 84 and sophomore Brittany Myers turning in a 90, Warren County edged Cookeville for the championship.
It was part of a stellar season that saw the Lady Pioneers win the Golf Capital Classic tournament and six matches during the season.
The season ended with the Lady Pioneers failing to qualify for the state tournament at the regional competition held at Harrison Bay Golf Course in Chattanooga.
Senior Katelyn Davenport was also a vital member of the Lady Pioneers, along with freshmen Brynn Craven and Lauren Childers.
7. Powell qualifies for state golf tournament
Nicholas Powell got an early start at writing his name in the record books at Warren County High School when he became one of the youngest golfers in school history to qualify for the state tournament.
Powell, a sophomore on the Pioneer golf team, came out of nowhere at the regional tournament held at Harrison Bay golf course to make the 72-person state tournament field.
Powell earned an individual invite to the regional tournament and he made the most of it. Shooting a 1-over 73 tied Powell for second place at the regional event, where the top four finishers qualified for the state tournament held at WillowBrook golf course.
It was a hot stretch on the back nine where Powell made his move. Powell shot 3-under on the final nine holes, but his blistering play slowed down at the state tournament.
In his first major event of his career, Powell turned in his two highest scores of the year at the Manchester course.
Powell shot 92 on the first day, then followed with an 81 on the final day. Powell finished 70th in the event.
8. Emerson runs at state meet
Amiel Emerson ended his record-setting career at Warren County High School by qualifying for the state track tournament for the second straight year.
Emerson ran in the 800-meter race, finishing 14th out of a field of 16 runners.
Emerson was a standout for the Pioneers over his career. Emerson set the school record in the 800 meters as a sophomore, then broke his own record six times over the course of his last two seasons.
Emerson’s best time was 1 minute, 58.3 seconds, which he ran at the sectionals this year to qualify for the state tournament.
Emerson has continued his track career in college at the University of the South in Sewanee.
9. All-Stars win state
A 12-year-old Warren County All-Star baseball team won the state championship in July, marking the second straight year the town had a team that could call itself the best in the state.
The Warren County All-Stars beat Franklin in the championship, along with Brentwood in the semifinals.
The team earned a bid into the Southeast regional tournament in Glenn Allen, Virginia, but was unable to attend.
Members of the team were, Keaton Welch, Tyler Prater, Noah Fann, Cole Estes, Garrett Gilliam, Alex Steiner, Noah Campbell, Micah Woodlee, Trayton Rackley, Aiden McVey, Colton Smith and Grant Hitchcock. The team was coached by Ryan Campbell, David Hitchcock and Jamie Smith.
10. Pioneerettes win again
The WCHS Pioneerettes made it back-to-back state champonships in November. The team danced its way to a first-place finish in small varsity pom during TSSAA competition in Murfreesboro. The Pioneerettes also won the state title in 2011.
The program, which has gotten back to its winning ways that includes several national championships in the 1980s and 90s, has thrived since dropping to the small varsity level in the last two years.
The Pioneerettes feature senior Leala Marlin, juniors Rachel Mathis, Sierra Pedigo, and Leslie Moulton, sophomores Lydia Wilson, Taylor Elgouhary, Jarah Anderson, Katie Tubb, Catherine Haley and Sabrina Caldwell and freshmen Courtlyn Sauer, Raylee Pack, Shelbie McCormack, Eden Fryar, Abby Hutchins and Ally Locke.