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WEEKLY WATCH: Spring season part 2 continues
WEEKLY WATCH

WEEKLY WATCH: Spring season part 2 continues

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Mark Parker

Mark Parker 

Record Sports Correspondent

Much of the focus of this week will center around the state tournaments for girls soccer and softball, plus regional action in boys and girls golf and boys tennis. Previews for those events will be published throughout the week.

Meanwhile, the current spring season heads into week two. Baseball and track and field are headlong into their conference season, while wrestling and girls tennis begin limited conference play. Here is some of the best of the week:

1) South Caldwell at McDowell baseball (Tuesday), St. Stephens at South Caldwell (Thursday)

After the first week in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, three teams emerged with a 2-0 start and South Caldwell will play the other two.

Until it’s proven otherwise, South Caldwell is the team to beat, having outpaced the field in the previous two completed seasons. In 2019, the Spartans advanced to the third round of the 4A playoffs. They got off to a fast start last week running up a 33-12 margin of victory in routing Hickory and Freedom.

The other 4A team in the conference is McDowell, which opened the season with wins over Watauga at Alexander Central. The later win is noteworthy, as the Cougars pushed South Caldwell for the conference crown in 2019 and, because of a strong pitching staff, were considered a 3A state contender last year.

A curious matchup will come Thursday when South Caldwell hosts St. Stephens — a game moved up a day because of St. Stephens’ prom. First-year head coach Jimmy Bowman returns to Sawmills to face the team for whom he served as a pitching coach until coming to St. Stephens. The Indians opened up the season impressively last week with routs at home over Alexander Central and Watauga.

2) South Fork 2A Conference Track at Bandys, at Lincolnton (Wednesday)

At the last North Carolina High School Athletic Association track and field championships held in 2019, the South Fork 2A Conference was represented well at the medal podium. When the results were counted, the North Lincoln boys won the 2A title with conference rivals Lake Norman Charter and Bandys in the top 10. Meanwhile, on the girls’ side, the conference had three teams in the top 10 (Lake Norman Charter 3rd, North Lincoln 4th, East Lincoln 6th) and five of the top 17.

The first conference meets were held last week, and it looks like another strong showing at the state level is at hand. With plenty of time left to improve marks, several athletes have already qualified for upcoming regionals in June.

North Lincoln, which won both the boys and girls cross championship back in January, has several distance runners set qualifying times, with four of the girls already in the 3,200-meter run.

From Catawba County, Maiden’s Chris Culliver has shifted over from the football field and hit regional marks in the high jump (6-0), the 100 meters (10.9 seconds) and the 200 meters (22.9). He is also a part of the 4x100 relay team that will race in June at regionals after running a time of 44.4 seconds.

A pair of distance runners from Bandys has also registered regional qualifying marks. Lauren Buckminster ran past regional marks in the girls’ 800 (2:32,57) and 1,600-meter (5:36.01) races. David Birkhofer has matched her on the boys’ side, running the 800 meters in 2:03.65 and the 1,600 in 4:33.01.

As a team, Bandys’ girls had a strong showing last week with a first- and second-place finish in their two meets. The Trojans will host East Lincoln, Lake Norman Charter and Newton-Conover this week, while Maiden goes to Lincolnton.

3) Maiden vs. West Lincoln baseball (at West Lincoln Tuesday, at Maiden Friday)

Two seasons ago, Lincoln County baseball fans had the thrill of seeing two of their teams play for the right to play in the 2A championship. The series between North Lincoln and West Lincoln came down to a winner-take-all in the best-of-three series, in which North Lincoln won the take the regional.

Those two teams met for a home-and-home series last week and the gap between the two has widened since that regional final nearly two years ago. North Lincoln, which won the state title in 2019, pounded out hit after hit and routed the Rebels 20-3.

So, it is in this setting that Maiden comes into the picture, as the Blue Devils will take on the wounded pride of the Rebels. During the 2019 season, Maiden was very much a part of a four-team race that came down to the wire, before it finished tied for third with Bandys. How the Blue Devils got there was odd. With its field in disarray because of drainage issues, Maiden played the entire first half of the conference season on the road and went 6-1. Set up for a big year upon returning home, things started well with wins over Lincolnton and Newton-Conover. The Blue Devils then lost four straight and saw North Lincoln and West Lincoln pass them and Bandys catch them.

It looked like another big year in 2020, with a 6-0 start that included a pair of conference wins. Then the shutdown from COVID happened.

Surely, after the last two years of promise, the Blue Devils feel like it’s their time. They served notice of that with a sweep of Bandys last week and with the Rebels licking their wounds, Maiden has a chance to declare its intention not only to win a state playoff berth but take the conference title, as well.

4) Bandys, R-S Central at Fred T. Foard wrestling (Thursday)

It has been a while since the glory days of Bandys in duals. The Trojans won back-to-back 2A titles in 2005 and 2006, but competing with the likes of West Lincoln and Newton-Conover has been tough. With those two schools taking the conference automatic bids annually, the Trojans have looked more to individual accomplishments in recent years.

Aside from battling the conference’s elites, part of the issue for the Trojans in recent years has been the ability to cover all 14 weight classes. Bandys enters the year with a full roster of wrestlers and that has resulted in success early with a 4-0 run last week. Included in the wins were victories over 2020 dual playoff schools Bradford Prep and Statesville.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Trojans will get a sense of where they are and how far they have to go to compete again with the state elites. This week, they’ll travel to Foard’s barn to face a deep Tigers team. Foard, the defending 2A dual champs, routed St. Stephens last week, even without three starters, including two returning state individual finalists.

But in rebuilding a program, the Trojans are ready to take some lumps and hope to dish out a few. After Foard this week, Bandys will travel to defending 4A champions Mooresville the following Tuesday before hosting St. Stephens two days later.

HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY SCHEDULE:(Schedules listed are taken from information provided by the conference secretaries, athletic departments of individual schools, from information published by the schools on its websites, or on MaxPreps.com. Schedules are subject to change without notice.)

NOTE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS: Currently, outdoor sports are limited to 50 percent of capacity for the host site. Each school will have its own policies as to whom tickets will be sold. If you are interested in attending a game, contact the school for further information.

WEEK OF MAY 3-8

MONDAY, MAY 3

BOYS GOLF

NCHSAA REGIONALS

2A West: Bandys, East Burke, Hibriten, Newton-Conover, West Caldwell at Lincolnton CC, 8:30 a.m.

3A West: Alexander Central, Freedom, Hickory, St. Stephens at River Bend YMCA Course, 9 a.m.

4A West: South Caldwell at Glen Oaks Golf Club, Maiden, 9 a.m.

GIRLS SOCCER

NCHSAA FIRST ROUND TOURNAMENT

2A WEST

No. 9 Hendersonville at No. 8 Fred T. Foard

No. 10 Hibriten at No. 7 Lake Norman Charter

3A WEST

No. 12 St. Stephens at No. 5 Southwest Guilford

No. 15 Marvin Ridge at No. 2 Hickory

4A WEST

No. 15 Page at No. 2 South Caldwell

SOFTBALL

NCHSAA FIRST ROUND TOURNAMENT

2A WEST

No. 16 Franklin at No. 1 Hibriten

No. 14 Bandys at No. 3 East Rutherford

No. 11 Bunker Hill at No. 6 North Davidson

3A WEST

No. 14 Tuscola at No. 3 Alexander Central

4A WEST

No. 13 West Forsyth at No. 4 South Caldwell

BASEBALL

Nonconference

St. Stephens at East Rutherford, 7 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

Nonconference

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 4 p.m.

WRESTLING

Nonconference

East Burke, Lincolnton at South Caldwell, 5:30 p.m.

Maiden, Polk County at Cherryville, 5:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, MAY 4

GIRLS GOLF

NCHSAA REGIONALS

1A/2A West: Draughn, Hibriten, Patton, Newton-Conover at Lincolnton CC, 8:30 a.m.

3A West: Alexander Central, Freedom, St. Stephens at Highland Creek Golf Club, Charlotte, 8:30 p.m.

4A West: South Caldwell at Salem Glen CC, Clemmons, 11 a.m.

BASEBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Alexander Central, 6:30 p.m.

Hickory at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

South Caldwell at McDowell, 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Fred T. Foard, 6 p.m.

East Burke at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at Patton, 6 p.m.

West Iredell at Bunker Hill, 7 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Maiden at West Lincoln, 7 p.m.

Newton-Conover at Bandys, 7 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

Nonconference

Fred T. Foard at Hickory, 4 p.m.

Hibriten at Alexander Central, 4 p.m.

WRESTLING

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Fred T. Foard (nonconference), McDowell at Watauga, 5 p.m.

Bunker Hill (nonconference) St. Stephens at Alexander Central, 5:30 p.m.

Nonconference

Bandys, West Wilkes at West Iredell, 5 p.m.

East Gaston, R-S Central at Newton-Conover, 5:30 p.m.

Freedom, Patton at Draughn, 5:30 p.m.

Hibriten, South Caldwell at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5

GIRLS SOCCER

NCHSAA SECOND ROUND TOURNAMENT

Teams and Sites TBD

SOFTBALL

NCHSAA SECOND ROUND TOURNAMENT

Teams and Sites TBD

GIRLS TENNIS

Nonconference

Lincoln Charter at Bandys, 4 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central, Ashe County (nonconference), McDowell, South Caldwell at Watauga, 4:30 p.m.

Freedom, St. Stephens at Hickory, 4:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A

Bunker Hill, Fred T. Foard, Hibriten at West Iredell, 4 p.m.

Draughn, Patton, West Caldwell at East Burke, 4 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

East Lincoln, Lake Norman Charter, Newton-Conover at Bandys, 4 p.m.

Maiden, North Lincoln, West Lincoln at Lincolnton, 4 p.m.

THURSDAY, MAY 6

BASEBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

St. Stephens at South Caldwell, 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Fred T. Foard at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at East Burke, 6 p.m.

Patton at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 7 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

South Fork 2A Conference

Lake Norman Charter at Bandys, 4 p.m.

Maiden at Newton-Conover, 4 p.m.

Nonconference

Fred T. Foard at Alexander Central, 4 p.m.

Patton at Freedom, 4 p.m.

South Caldwell at Hibriten, 4 p.m.

WRESTLING

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

North Lincoln (nonconference), Watauga at St. Stephens, 5:30 p.m.

Nonconference

Ashe County, Patton at Lincolnton, 5:30 p.m.

Bandys, R-S Central at Fred T. Foard, 5:30 p.m.

Bunker Hill, East Forsyth at Statesville, 5:30 p.m.

FRIDAY, MAY 7

GIRLS SOCCER

NCHSAA THIRD ROUND TOURNAMENT

Teams and Sites TBD

SOFTBALL

NCHSAA THIRD ROUND TOURNAMENT

Teams and Sites TBD

BOYS TENNIS

NCHSAA INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT

2A West: Bandys, Draughn, East Burke, Fred T. Foard, Hibriten, Maiden, Patton at Gardner Webb Univ. Boiling Springs, 1 p.m.

3A West: Hickory, St. Stephens at Jackson Park, Hendersonville, 1 p.m.

4A West: South Caldwell at Ardrey Kell, 1 p.m.

BASEBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at Hickory, 6:30 p.m.

Freedom at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at Newton-Conover, 7 p.m.

West Lincoln at Maiden, 7 p.m.

GIRLS TENNIS

Nonconference

Alexander Central at North Lincoln, 4 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD

Nonconference

Ashe County, St. Stephens, University Christian at Bunker Hill, 4 p.m.

WRESTLING

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom, Hickory at South Caldwell, 5:30 p.m.

Newton-Conover (nonconference), Alexander Central at McDowell, 5:30 p.m.

Nonconference

South Iredell, West Wilkes at Maiden, 5 p.m.

SATURDAY, MAY 8

BOYS TENNIS

NCHSAA INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT

2A West: Bandys, Draughn, East Burke, Fred T. Foard, Hibriten, Maiden, Patton at Gardner Webb Univ. Boiling Springs, 1 p.m.

3A West: Hickory, St. Stephens at Jackson Park, Hendersonville, 1 p.m.

4A West: South Caldwell at Ardrey Kell, 1 p.m.

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