Since the second year that the Gazette-Mail Excellence in Sports Awards — called the Gazette Excellence in Sports Awards back then — were handed out, two schools have been locked in combat for the Class A crown.
If it wasn’t Wheeling Central coming away with the title, it was Charleston Catholic. From the 1997-98 season, the Class A GMEISA championship has been wrapped in either the maroon of the Knights or in Irish green.
For the second straight year, the Class A champs are seeing red.
With two state titles under their belts this athletic season, the Maroon Knights grabbed the GMEISA Class A title, their 10th in the history of the award. This year, the closest competitor was Williamstown, which finished with 45 points to Central’s 57.5. Charleston Catholic finished third with 41.5 points.
Central started out with a flurry, winning its two state titles in the fall. The Maroon Knights opened with a state golf title on their home turf at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, then kept the Wheeling feeling alive at the close of the fall season, winning a state football title, coach Mike Young’s seventh.
After that game, Young said it was the foundation of the Central athletic program that put his team over the top.
“I’ve just been blessed to have that many kids and that many coaches and all my health to be able to do this,” he said. “It’s my 48th year and I consider myself being around great people.’’
While the Maroon Knights might not have won another state title, they picked up another pair of runner-up finishes in cheerleading and softball. They scored GMEISA points in 10 total sports, five in boys competition and five in girls competition.
Those finishes allowed the Maroon Knights to finish at the top of both the boys and girls races. Central finished ahead of runner-up Charleston Catholic in the boys competition and ahead of runner-up Williamstown in the girls competition.
Williamstown finished second overall on the strength of a state championship in girls track and a runner-up finish to Central in football. The Maroon Knights beat the Yellowjackets 44-15 in that game. Williamstown also scored GMEISA points in 10 sports, but amassed just 18 points to Central’s 29.5.
Charleston Catholic won a state championship in boys tennis and finished runner-up in baseball, girls soccer and girls tennis. The Irish earned most of their GMEISA points in the boys race with 26.5. They finished fifth in the girls race with 15 points.