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The year in Warren County Sports
Coach Gooby Martin proudly displays the championship plaque the Lady Pioneers won in April. It was the first tournament championship in program history.

#1 WCHS softball wins program's first district tournament title

No team had more success, or collected more hardware, in 2018 than the Warren County High School softball team.

The Lady Pioneers were the toast of the town in May, when they destroyed Cookeville 17-2 to earn the first district tournament title in the softball program's 34-year history. 

The victory led to Warren County playing host to its first-ever region game, where the team's 20-7 season ended with a 10-3 loss to Walker Valley.

Warren County exercised some demons in the District 6AAA championship game. Warren County crushed Cookeville in the showdown after splitting with the Lady Cavaliers in the regular season. 

Following the game, 2B Hailey Wood was named District 6AAA MVP, Hope Mullican was honored as the district's Offensive MVP and SS Emily Mikkola was named infielder of the year.

The trio was joined by Ashton Whiles as a first-team all-district honoree, while Kyra Hillis and catcher MaKenna Mason were second-team selections. 

Hillis, Mullican and Lexie Chadwell (who later signed with Motlow) were the team's lone seniors.

#2 WCHS boys basketball wins first region game in 37 years

It was a win which culminated a tremendous season for the Warren County High School boys basketball team.

The Pioneers traveled to Walker Valley and toppled the Mustangs on their home floor 52-48 in the region quarterfinals. It proved to be a historic victory for Warren County, which hadn't won a region game in 37 years.

Senior Chance Hobbs got to play the part of hero against the Mustangs. His free throws in the final seconds iced the game, part of a team-high 14 points on the road.

Warren County had to rally from a halftime deficit to claim its first region win since 1981. The Pioneers took control with a 14-0 run out of halftime, with Hobbs and fellow senior Isaiah Grayson knocking down two 3-pointers apiece.

The Pioneers fell in the region finals 70-63 to Stone Memorial to end their season. Hobbs and senior Tyree Ladet were each named all-region after the two contests.

The Pioneers finished the year 23-8, one of the top records for the program in two decades. Grayson and Hobbs were named first-team all-district while helping the team finish second in the season and third in the tournament. 

Sloan Seymour, Irving Espinoza and Ladet were honorable mention all-district. The team also featured seniors Caleb Newby and Bunker Brock.

#3 WCMS Lady Pioneers win tournament title

It took six games in the span of two days, but the Warren County Middle School Lady Pioneers were able to emerge victorious in the Central Tennessee Conference tournament.

The Lady Pioneers concluded their run to a conference title by double dipping Franklin North 4-0 and 12-2 in the championship.

It was part of a 19-3 season for Warren County, which was under the leadership of first-year coach Joe Damon.

Madison Hollis was special in the final matchups, earning wins in both games with dominating performances. Hollis, who threw over 300 pitches in the tournament, struck out 10 in the 4-0 shutout, then followed with 11 Ks in the deciding game.

Shelby Roberts provided instant offsense, going 9-for-10 in the last two games. Roberts kicked off the scoring in the clincher, hitting a solo home run.

Hollis and Marli McBride also went deep in the blowout.

Members of the team were Hollis, Roberts, McBride, Dallis Melton, Halle Lowe, Kora Forbes, Aleya Esparza, Alyssa Mosley, Jessie Young, Halo Armstrong, Mea Starkey, Danika Reno, Brooklyn Cope, Jazlyn Ward, Isabella Pennington, Ebonie Ross, Juju Pyburn, Bella Bain and Bella Cantrell.

Coach Damon was assisted by Rodney Whiles, William Forbes and Beau Lowe.

#4 Three Pioneers qualify for state tournaments

Warren County was well represented at the state level in 2018.

Three WCHS athletes excelled in their individual sports enough that they earned bids to the state tournament.

Junior Allison Vazquez made a big run at the state werestling tournament in February, ultimately finishing fourth. It was the second straight year Vazquez had medaled in the competition.

Warren County also sent two athletes to the TSSAA track meet in May. 

Christian Locke qualified in both the 800- and 1,600-meter races, opting to only run the 800. Locke finished sixth while also setting the school record with a time of 1:56:29.

Locke, who also ran in the state cross country tournament during the 2017-18 school year, signed with Berea College.

Jayren Perkins was also a standout, finishing sixth in the high jump. Perkins also left with a school record, clearing 6-feet, 4-inches at sectionals to qualify for the state event. 

#5 Dibrell wins title, runs winning streak to 34

The Dibrell dynasty is still intact. The Wildcats have dominated local elementary basketball the last two years, winning the boys 7-8 grade title each of the last two years.

Dibrell saved its best performance for its final game, downing Morrison 61-29 in elementary championship game. The blowout victory was the team's 34th straight win, dating back to 2016. Jeremy Boren, named MVP,  led the Wildcats, while Nathan Elrod, Drathan Dixon and Matthew Young were named all-tournament.

The Wildcats also won the preseason Morrison Ruritan tournament, along with finishing the regular season 10-0. Dibrell added two wins over DeKalb West to finish the year 16-0. 

#6 Vandagriff named All-American angler

Samuel Vandagriff left Warren County High School as one of the most honored athletes in school history.

The standout angler for the Pioneers was named to the Bassmaster All-American team in April, one of just 12 high school students to receive the honor.

“Samuel leads off the water in his school, church and community, participating in things like hurricane relief, Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life,” said David Lowrie, Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation High School state director to Bassmaster.

“He always volunteers to assist in the setup and teardown of the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation stage and equipment for tournaments. Samuel provides leadership for Warren County’s fishing team and sets an example for other Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation high school and junior anglers.”

Vandagriff teamed with his younger brother Matthew to become one of the best teams in the state. The brothers won several tournaments together, earning them invitations to compete in events all across the nation.

Vandagriff parlayed his fishing talents into a scholarship to Tennessee Tech, where he is a member of the Golden Eagle angling team. 

#7 11 WCHS athletes earn scholarships

Local star athletes continue to find opportunities at the next level.

Warren County High School had 11 athletes sign scholarships during 2018.

State qualifier Christian Locke started the process in April, signing a track scholarship from Berea College. 

Luke Nesbitt and Trayton Rackley followed, getting football scholarships from Tusculum College and  Cumberland University, respectively.

The baseball team led the way with four signees. District 6AAA pitcher of the year Tyler Hollingsworth is now at Martin Methodist, while current Pioneers Brooks Helton, Will Cantrell and Ethan Smith have all made their pledges.

Helton will attend Faulkner University, Cantrell is headed to Bryan College and Smith will play for Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Another star on the diamond, Lexie Chadwell, has moved on to play softball at Motlow College.

Two more current athletes have already extended their careers with early signings.

Tyra Wright will take her hardwood talents to Charleston Southern in the fall, while Hailey Wood will try to lead the Lady Pioneers to back-to-back district titles on the diamond before leaving to attend the University of the Cumberlands. 

#8 Hall of Fame inducts seven new members

The attempt to resurrect the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame continued in 2018, with seven new members added in December.

After years of going without a new member, 13 individuals have been added in the last two years.

This year's class, which was honored during a home basketball game at Charlie Dalton Gym, featured a bevy of successful coaches and two standout female basketball players.

Coaches Ronnie Brown, Edd Cantrell Sr., Charlie Dalton, Bobby Haile and Pedro Paz all got the call from the Hall of Fame, while former Morrison Eagle Marie Humphrey Davis and Irving College standout Marie Barnes Caldwell were also honored.

Brown is best known for leading the 1992 baseball team to a state championship. He won over 200 games in his coaching career.

Haile also claimed a state championship for Warren County, leading the Lady Pioneers to a basketball victory in 1979. Several of his team members joined Haile at the induction ceremony.

Cantrell and Paz were honored for their contributions to the football program, while Dalton's all-around success made him an easy choice.

Davis and Caldwell were both preeminent scorers in their basketball careers. 

#9 American Legion baseball returns, wins state title

The American Legion Post 173 team came back with a bang in 2018.

After years of being dormant, the WCHS baseball program and local American Legion members worked together to bring back summer baseball locally. The dividends were immediate as the 17U Post 173 team won the state title.

Dylan Ward was named tournament MVP after leading Post 173 to an unblemished run through the event held in Columbia.

Many members of the American Legion Post 173 were on hand for the festivities, even getting to present the colors during the tournament's opening ceremony.

#10 WCHS baseball makes region in Powers' first season

The top story in 2017 was the firing of Adam Childs, who had led the WCHS baseball team to 100 wins over six years.

There was little drop-off with Trice Powers at the helm in 2018.

The Pioneers won 19 games and qualified for the region under their new coach. During one stretch, Warren County won 10 straight district games, with the streak snapped in the District 6AAA tournament championship.

Powers oversaw a talented roster, led by senior pitcher Tyler Hollingworth. The star hurler was named district pitcher of the year and signed with Martin Methodist following the season.

Brooks Helton, Hunter Adams, Ethan Smith, Brandon Hennessee and Jack Keele were also named all-district. Helton and Smith have since committed to continue their careers in college following the 2019 season.

Hollingsworth, Smith and Keele were also named all-region by the TN Baseball Report.