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Coach Will Squires and members of the Lady Bucs Swim Team are recognized during Thursday's first-ever Champions Day in Jawbone Park.

Winter, spring sports standouts finally have their ‘day in the sun’ on city’s first-ever Champions Day

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon on Thursday recognized the achievements of several stellar Buckhannon-Upshur student-athletes.

Mayor David McCauley said the city decided to honor these athletes during the first-ever B-UHS Student Athlete Champions Day Thursday afternoon in Jawbone Park because COVID-19 measures interfered with them receiving the laurels they otherwise would have at council meetings.

“This event was spawned by our inability to recognize accomplishments of our B-UHS student-athletes from late winter and early spring when the pandemic and quarantine began, and our council meetings became less available to the public,” McCauley said. “To atone for COVID-19 limitations, today is our community’s opportunity to do what we would have traditionally done back in March and April, one champion at a time per meeting but today, all together on Champions Day.”

Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said she was proud of the entire Buckhannon-Upshur community.

Dr. Sara Stankus congratulates student-athletes and their families at Thursday’s Champions Day.

“I love that name – Champions Day – because we know behind every successful athlete is a supportive family,” she said. “We know that your moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and neighbors have taken you to practices and stood on the sidelines of all kinds of fields, and even the wrestling mats, and the pool as you have done the things that you do in your athletic events.”

“We’re very proud of our students, we’re proud of our family, and we are proud of our Upshur County community,” Stankus added.

The first team recognized at the event was the Buckhannon-Upshur 4-H Air Rifle Team.

“On Feb. 15, our air rifle squad traveled to Morgantown, sending two teams to compete for a championship,” McCauley said. “The two teams couldn’t both win the championship, but they came close, finishing first and fourth in the state.”

Mayor David McCauley at the city-sponsored accolade ceremony.

One of the coaches of the air rifle team, Craig Presar, said the Buckhannon Upshur 4-H Air Rifle Team is the envy of every other program in the state.

“We want to say, ‘thank you’ to parents, and we’re very proud of these of these kids,” Presar said. “Another thing we’re very proud of is, we’re actually the B-U 4-H Air Rifle Team. We’ve combined 4-H shooting sports within Upshur County Schools, and we’ve got a great agreement with the Board of Education and the middle school [who have allowed us] to use their facilities, and we are one of a kind in the state.”

Members of the B-U 4-H Air Rifle Team and Coach Craig Presar.

“Other counties and other 4-H groups across the across the state are very envious of the program we’ve built here where we’ve got that kind of collaboration going on with shooting sports in general,” he added.

The next team to receive recognition was the Lady Bucs Swim Team, which placed first in the state in the 200-meter freestyle relay Feb. 20-21, 2020 in Morgantown at the new Aquatic Center at Mylan Park.

“[I just want to give a shoutout] to our support system; we have really, really good support throughout the community,” Will Squires, the B-UHS swim coach, said. “Obviously, parents come first, and then through the high school, we have a lot of teachers that are parents as well, and we just want to give a big shoutout out to Wesleyan officials, who really work with us very well to give us access to the pool. A lot of high schools in the area don’t get access to an indoor pool or get very limited access.”

He said the team deserves all the props.

“Obviously, all the praise goes to the girls because they did a phenomenal job,” Squires said. “We’re a small team, but we always punch above our weight a little bit because we work with what we have, and our relays and even individually, we just do a phenomenal job.”

The mayor also individually recognized Cadence Vincent for her outstanding performance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the fastest high school female swimmer in the history of West Virginia is right here with us today,” McCauley said. “Cadence recorded a state record of 23.69 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle, and nearly won the 100-meter freestyle, finishing second. Ms. Vincent is a freshman.”

The mayor also recognized members of the B-UHS wrestling team for their previous performances.

“I would like to start off by thanking the parents because [the student-athletes] we have made it super easy when you have a great support system,” B-UHS Wresting Coach Jacob Orr said. “Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Vincent are always super supportive. The [student-athletes] listen when you speak, and it happens it’s easy to coach that kind of kid. They put the work in, and their success speaks for itself.”

Coach Jacob Orr and members of the B-UHS Wrestling Team.

Julius Hobbs was recognized for finishing fourth in the state tournament his freshman year in the 113-pound weight class and third in the state tournament during his sophomore year in the 120-pound weight class. He was also recognized for his first West Virginia AAA Wrestling Championship win Feb. 29, 2020, when he won the 126-pound weight class.

Jacob Smithson was recognized for finishing sixth in the state tournament his freshmen year and fourth in the state tournament his sophomore year.

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