It’s a familiar song that gets sung around this time each year, the seventh verse same as the first.
On the strength of three state titles and three runner-up finishes, Bridgeport High School captured its seventh consecutive Class AA title in the Gazette-Mail Excellence in Sports Awards. It is the 11th time Bridgeport has either won or shared the crown (10 outright wins, while sharing the 2002-03 title with Winfield).
Those seven wins are the longest consecutive streak in Class AA since the award began in 1996-97. The 11 championships also are the top mark in the class.
After nine seasons of watching someone else, mainly Winfield, win the class, the Indians returned to the top in 2012-13 and have stayed there ever since.
Performing to that level is something that Bridgeport’s teams don’t take lightly. After winning a Class AA state semifinal on the way to the Indians’ sixth straight state championship, baseball coach Robert Shields’ voice cracked when he discussed what just making it to the title game meant to him.
“It means a lot,” he said. “For the community, for the school and for these kids. It’s a pleasant surprise. They worked really hard to be here.”
And that hard work was rewarded with yet another state crown. The Indians spaced out their title wins through fall, winter and spring. Bridgeport copped a volleyball championship in the fall, then came back in the winter with a boys swimming title, a sport where teams in every classification compete for one championship.
Then came the spring where Shields and the Indians continued their streak of state titles, outscoring opponents 14-4 in those two games at Appalachian Power Park.
Runner-up finishes came for Bridgeport in girls cross country, girls swimming and girls track.
It wasn’t like the Indians didn’t have some stiff competition this time around. Winfield sat just 3.5 points back in the race at runner-up. The Generals actually won five state championships — boys soccer, boys and girls track, cheerleading and girls cross country — and were runners-up in boys cross country. The difference between first and second came with Bridgeport scoring GMEISA points in 13 sports compared to Winfield’s 12.
In the boys race, Bridgeport finished a close third to first-place Fairmont Senior and second-place Winfield. The Polar Bear and General boys were separated by half a point, 33.5 to 33, and Bridgeport was right behind with 31.5.
The Indians made up for it in the girls standings, winning there with 43 points with Winfield second at 38 points. Bridgeport’s 74.5 points are its third-highest total during the streak, behind 84.5 scored in 2014-15 and 75.5 scored in 2012-13.