MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The more things change, the more they stay the same. Well, at least to a certain extent where the Gazette's annual high school all-sports standings are concerned.A pair of Charleston schools, George Washington in Class AAA and Charleston Catholic in Class A, once again have won the annual Gazette Excellence in Sports Awards (GEISA), given to the most successful all-around high school athletic programs in West Virginia. For the Patriots, it is the fourth consecutive title. For the Irish, it is the fifth in a row and the ninth in the 17 years the newspaper has compiled the rankings.And all that reclassification upheaval that affected Class AA? Well, it merely brought back into the fold another of the traditionally most-successful athletic schools in the state, Bridgeport.The Indians took advantage of dropping back down to Class AA - where they won four straight GEISA awards before moving to Class AAA in 2003 - to more than lap most of the field in record-breaking fashion. Bridgeport obliterated the Class AA GEISA scoring record with 751/2 points, more than doubling the average winning score in the class during the last five years.The standings, compiled by the Gazette since the 1996-97 school year, are based on a system that awards points (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) to the top eight finishers in each of the 19 sports sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.While George Washington won for the fourth straight year, it wasn't by much. The Patriots scored 59 points to beat out Morgantown, which finished as runner-up for the second straight year, this time with 543/4 points. Parkersburg, which still has the most triple-A GEISA titles (seven, the last in 2007-08), was third with 50 points.Charleston Catholic once again more than doubled the point total of any other Class A school except Williamstown, and that race was almost identical to last year. The Irish outpointed the Yellowjackets 64-47, a year after winning 641/2 to 461/2. Wheeling Central, a seven-time small-schools GEISA winner, was third with 285/6 points.Charleston Catholic's nine GEISA titles are the most in any class in the 17-year history of the award.In a Class AA field that is generally tighter and lower scoring than either of the other two divisions, Bridgeport blew up both of those trends. The Indians' 751/2-point total is 17 more than Winfield's previous record of 581/2 in 2007 and almost 35 points more than the average winning score in the division over the previous 16 years.Bridgeport won by 201/2 points over another Class AAA refugee, Fairmont Senior. Frankfort was third with 321/2 points.Beginning Wednesday, the Gazette will take a closer look at each of the divisions and the champions, but here is a capsule of each race during the just-completed athletic year.Class AAAIn addition to winning the GEISA title for the fourth year in a row, this is George Washington's seventh top-two finish in as many years.For the third year in a row, GW scored in 10 of the 19 sports and easily had the best balance between boys and girls sports. The Patriots scored in five of each and were the only school to finish in the top five when the standings are broken down into boys and girls sports. They were second in both.The Patriots won four state titles - boys and girls swimming, boys tennis and volleyball - and finished second in girls soccer. GW also had top-four finishes in football, boys soccer and golf and scored in girls tennis and cheerleading.
Morgantown, though, gained ground this year. After losing by 111/2 points to GW last year, the Mohigans were just 41/4 points back this year. Morgantown actually scored in more sports (11) than the Patriots (or any other school in the division, for that matter), but had only one state title, in girls cross country. Last year MHS had four state title teams. The Mohigans were especially strong in the girls sports again with runner-up finishes in swimming and track, a third in tennis and state semifinal appearances in soccer and basketball.This is the third runner-up finish in the GEISA standings for Morgantown, which also was second in 2005.Class AAThat Bridgeport won after dropping down a class is no surprise at all. The Indians were third in Class AAA last year despite being the smallest triple-A when the enrollment figures were last compiled four years earlier.But the way Bridgeport won was astounding. The Indians had top-eight finishes in 14 of the 19 sports, a record in any class, and their 40 points in girls sports or their 351/2 in boys sports would have finished second by themselves in the overall standings.Bridgeport won just two state titles (girls soccer and girls basketball) but finished in the top four in seven other sports and in the top five in a total of 12. The only sports in which the Indians didn't score were golf, wrestling, volleyball, cheerleading and softball, and in four of those sports (all but wrestling) they have had top-eight finishes in the previous three years.
The only school that was even moderately close to Bridgeport was another of the traditionally strong Class AAA schools that dropped an enrollment class this year, Fairmont Senior. The Polar Bears actually outscored the Indians in the boys sports, 421/2 to 40, but couldn't keep pace on the girls side. Fairmont had top-four finishes in eight of the nine sports in which it scored points.Class ACharleston Catholic is still dominating the division and still doing it with a fairly broad range of success, scoring in 11 sports and winning by a solid 17 points. It's just not the type of complete domination of a few years ago.
As recently as 2011, the Irish won Class A by more than doubling anyone else's score in the division (for the second year in a row) and finishing first or second in a whopping 10 sports. The last two years they've beaten Williamstown by 18 and 17 points, respectively.Still, the Irish won the most state titles in any class (five, in baseball, golf, boys soccer and both boys and girls tennis) and had a runner-up finish in boys basketball.Williamstown keeps hanging around and chipping away at the dominance of the private schools. In the 17-year history of the all-sports standings, Charleston Catholic, Wheeling Central (7) and Parkersburg Catholic (1) are the only winners. Williamstown is the only public school that has ever finished as high as second and has now finished in the top three every year since dropping from Class AA in 2002.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.2012-13 GEISA standings
Class AAA Class AA Class ASchool Pts. School Pts. School Pts.1. George Washington 59 1. Bridgeport 751/2 1. Charleston Catholic 642. Morgantown 543/4 2. Fairmont Senior 55 2. Williamstown 473. Parkersburg 50 3. Frankfort 321/2 3. Wheeling Central 285/64. Cabell Midland 411/2 4. Ritchie County 27 4. Buffalo 261/25. Hurricane 38 5. Bluefield 25 5. (tie) St. Marys 241/2
6. Huntington 36 6. Robert C. Byrd 211/2 5. (tie) Tucker County 241/27. University 351/2 7. (tie) North Marion 21 7. Doddridge County 231/28. Wheeling Park 301/2 7. (tie) Philip Barbour 21 8. Tyler Consolidated 219. Washington 27 7. (tie) Oak Glen 21 9. Magnolia 201/210. Martinsburg 261/2 10. Wayne 181/2 10. Madonna 19Past GEISA champions
Class AAA Class AA Class A Year Pts. Year Pts. Year Pts.2012-13 George Washington 59 Bridgeport 751/2 Charleston Catholic 642011-12 George Washington 621/2 Point Pleasant 381/2 Charleston Catholic 641/22010-11 George Washington 501/2 Oak Hill 32 Charleston Catholic 87 2009-10 George Washington 49) Grafton 331/2 Charleston Catholic 86 2008-09 Wheeling Park 611/2 Ravenswood 36 Charleston Catholic 78 2007-08 Parkersburg 61 Winfield 371/2 Wheeling Central 77 2006-07 Parkersburg 671/2 Winfield 581/2 Wheeling Central 70 2005-06 Parkersburg 64 Winfield 49 Charleston Catholic 671/2 2004-05 Parkersburg 62 Winfield 445/6 Wheeling Central 82 2003-04 Parkersburg 53 Winfield 551/2 Wheeling Central 58 2002-03 Parkersburg South 56 Bridgeport, Winfield 33 Wheeling Central 631/2 2001-02 Parkersburg 571/2 Bridgeport 48 Charleston Catholic 531/2 2000-01 Parkersburg 68 Bridgeport 36 Wheeling Central 433/4 1999-00 Fairmont Senior 541/2 Bridgeport 38 Charleston Catholic 481/2 1998-99 Capital 461/2 Oak Glen 351/2 Charleston Catholic 521/2 1997-98 Cabell Midland 511/2 Winfield 451/2 Wheeling Central 38 1996-97 Huntington 421/2 Winfield 391/2 Parkersburg Catholic 371/2 Total championshipsClass AAA: Parkersburg 7, George Washington 4, Cabell Midland 1, Capital 1, Fairmont Senior 1, Huntington 1, Parkersburg South 1, Wheeling Park 1.Class AA: Winfield 8, Bridgeport 5, Grafton 1, Oak Glen 1, Oak Hill 1, Point Pleasant 1, Ravenswood 1.Class A: Charleston Catholic 9, Wheeling Central 7, Parkersburg Catholic 1.