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Appalachian State University track and field head coach, John Weaver, was named the Southeast Region Women’s Indoor Head Coach of the Year on Friday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced.

“It is special when your colleagues recognize your program with such an award,” said Weaver. “However, it is because of the hard work and dedication to the pursuit of success from each of our athletes as individuals and as a team that this award has come to me. I am proud to be a part of our team’s success and I am proud to be a Mountaineer!”

Weaver was one of nine women’s coaches to receive the honor for the country’s nine regions and is now a four-time recipient of such distinction (three for women/one for men). The recognition comes after he was named the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Indoor Track and Field Head Coach of the Year on Wednesday.

The women’s team took first place at the SBC Indoor Championships, two points ahead of defending champion Texas State, for the school’s first-ever Sun Belt title. The Mountaineers improved their standing from sixth to first, point total from 54 points to 101.5 and were led by Tristin Van Ord’s (Chapel Hill, N.C./Chapel Hill) titles in both the 3,000 and 5,000.

Those two awards join an already packed trophy case for the veteran leader, who was a Southern Conference Coach of the Year 41 times including 12 times for women’s indoor, 11 for women’s outdoor, nine for men’s outdoor, five for men’s indoor, and four for women’s cross country.

Weaver now leads the men’s and women’s teams into the outdoor season, which begins on March 18-19 at the Wake Forest Invitational.

Hickory Motor Speedway will kick off its 65th season of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition this Saturday with the Spring Classic.

Classic is an appropriate name for the event for Americas Most Famous Short. From NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Ned Jarrett, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Isaac, Jack Ingram and Junior Johnson to current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Matt DiBenedetto – many legendary names in NASCAR either called Hickory Motor Speedway home or won races or championships at the .363-mile track.

The next future NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star could be competing at the track this weekend as Junior Motorsports development driver and former Hickory Motor Speedway Track Champion Josh Berry will be joined by two-time Track Champion Austin McDaniel, Shane Lee and Dexter Canipe Jr. and many others in the feature event.

Headlining Saturday’s season-opening schedule will be the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Bojangles Late Model division in a 100-lap feature. Other divisions in action include 35-lap features for the Limited Late Models and Super Trucks. The Street Stocks will battle for 30 laps and the Renegade division will also have a 20-lap race.

The Spring Classic will also feature a special start time of 5 p.m. with gates opening at 3 p.m. For the fourth consecutive season the track will also feature the Paramount Kia “Big 10” Challenge for its feature division. This is a special 10-race series featuring special purse amounts and bonus awards for drivers who compete in the special series to highlight the Late Model Stock drivers.

“We’re very fortunate to have a well-known and established company like Paramount Auto Group to step up and partner with the track to give our competitors a prestigious series and give the fans a great show during this 10-race challenge,” said HMS track promoter Kevin Piercy. “Paramount’s support allows us to give Late Model stock drivers from across the state and region an opportunity to race for respectable purses and the prestige that comes with being a feature race winner at Hickory Motor Speedway.”

Since Gwyn Staley won the first race held at the track in 1951, the legendary facility has not only served as a proving ground for up and coming drivers, it also helped some of today’s sharpest minds in the sport hone their skills either behind the wheel and /or applying that knowledge as a crew chief or pit
crew member.

Several former track champions have made that a reality with 2004 champion Matt McCall now serving as crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray. Shane Huffman (1999) calls the shots for Timothy Peters in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Mark Setzer serving as an integral part with Richard Gdovic’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team and two-time champion (1987 & 1988) Robert Huffman serving as a truck chief in the NCWTS for former NSCS champion and team owner Brad Keselowski. Brothers Andy and Marty Houston won track titles in 1994 & 1997, respectively and both currently work for Richard Childress Racing with Andy currently serving as spotter for NSCS driver Austin Dillon.

“Hickory has a proud tradition of producing talent throughout the world of NASCAR and fans can expect to see that on track at Hickory Motor Speedway this season,” said Piercy. “Josh Berry has already made starts for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Shane Lee competed at Daytona International Speedway in February and I don’t see this pipeline of talent from Hickory stopping anytime soon.”

DiBenedetto, who competed in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Bojangles Late Model division at Hickory when he was a student at Fred T. Foard High in Newton, has progressed to a full-time ride in NASCAR premiere division and has proven once again if you can compete and win at Hickory Motor Speedway you are likely talented enough to climb the NASCAR ladder and make it to one of NASCAR’s national series.

“We work hard to produce a family oriented atmosphere for our fans when they choose to come watch a race at this legendary track and we’re going to continue in our efforts to make sure their experience at Hickory Motor Speedway lives up to their expectations when they come to a race,” Piercy said. Ticket prices for the Spring Classic Season Opener are only $11 for adults; teen and seniors are just $9 with kids 12 and under free. The track is also offering for a limited time a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series 20 race ticket pack for just $185.

For more information call 828-464-3655 or visit www.hickorymotorspeedway.com.

Junior Vanessa Ciocatto (La Habra, Calif./Delaware State/La Habra) pitched her second complete game of the season to lead Appalachian State University softball past Marshall for the first time in program history (0-5 prior) Friday afternoon, downing the Thundering Herd, 4-3.

“This was a great way to start off our weekend,” said head coach Janice Savage. “Vanessa threw a great game and we scraped together the runs we needed to come from behind.”

The Mountaineers improved to 3-13 overall while Marshall dropped their sixth-straight contest, falling to 6-7 on the season. Ciocatto (2-6) went the distance and gave up three runs, only one earned, on one hit with four walks and three strikeouts. The junior hurler’s no-hitter was broken up with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Ciocatto’s ERA is now down to 4.37, the lowest it’s been since after the first game of the season.

Savage continued, “That’s the best seven innings I’ve seen Vanessa throw in her college career and it was a great step for her. All the pitchers were pushed hard in workouts earlier this week and it’s good to see that hard work pay off for her today against a strong Marshall team. Now we just have to continue this momentum tomorrow.”

Marshall opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the second, but both crossed the plate thanks to three App State errors and with two outs already recorded. The Thundering Herd’s Lucas reached on a fielding error by Megan Walker (Raleigh, N.C./Middle Creek) before Meyer reached on an error by Natalie Orcutt (Senoia, Ga./Starr’s Mill) to score Lucas. Later, there were runners on second and third for the batter, Marshall, who reached on an error by Tiffany Taynor (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) and pinch-runner Colliflower scored, but Escareno was thrown out at home by Cara Parker (Lake Park, Ga./Lowndes) to end the threat.\

The Black and Gold scored all four of their runs in the top of the fifth to go up 4-2. Walker and Orcutt opened things up with back-to-back singles. Taynor then singled as well and during the play, both Walker and Orcutt came in to score on a pair of errors by the first baseman. Those two errors moved Taynor to third before Heather Josey (Statesville, N.C./North Iredell) walked and Jenny Dodd (Mocksville, N.C./West Forsyth) brought them both in with a double.

Marshall got one back in the home half with a solo home run to left center off the bat of Escareno and that was the first hit Ciocatto had given up all game. In the bottom of the seventh, the Thundering Herd put runners on first and second with two outs, but Ciocatto struck out the pinch hitter, Woodrum, for the all-important 21st out.

Appalachian State continues play in the Camel Stampede with a doubleheader on Saturday against Loyola-Chicago (10 a.m.) and homestanding Campbell (12:30 p.m.).

Catawba Valley Community College traveled to Pinehurst to take on Patrick Henry Community College in the semifinals of the Region X conference tournament. The Red Hawks beat the Patriots 76-72.

The leading scorers for the Red Hawks were JaQueaz Jackson and Matt Powell with 18 points apiece.

The Red Hawks move to 23-8 on the season.

The win sends the Red Hawks to the championship game to take on the Louisburg College Hurricanes.

Appalachian State University women’s tennis improved to 3-2 at home, winning 4-0 over USC Upstate at Yonahlossee Racquet Club on Friday.

“We looked really good today, both in doubles and in singles play,” head coach Colin Crothers said. “With our last match before a lengthy time away, I was really impressed with the attitude everyone brought to the match. Everyone played really well and hopefully we can take this momentum into the next week.”

The Mountaineers (3-5) snapped a two-match losing streak by finding a rhythm early and continuing to pressure throughout, keeping the Spartans’ (0-10) winless on the season.

In doubles play, doubles duo Megan Mullen (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) and Taylor Bygrave (Monto, Australian/Miami Gold Coast) set the paces, never trailing in at the No. 2 and taking the match 6-3. At the No. 3, Melissa Machado (Miami, Fla./Felix Varela) and McKayla Zupan (Wilmington, N.C./Hoggard) fell behind 1-2 early, but stormed back on a red-hot 5-1 run, winning 6-3.

With the match point secured, and Appalachian State up 1-0 over the Spartans, the Clare Cox (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) and Heidi Swope (Weddington, N.C./Weddington HS) match at the No. 1 went unfinished.

In singles play, the Mountaineers continued to bring the hot rackets. Machado’s first set at the No. 2 was hard-fought, but she was able to take it 6-4, before finishing off Filippa Ericson 6-3 in the second. Gabrielle Wreder (Miami, Fla./Miami Killian) went to a tiebreaker in the first set of the No. 3 singles, after allowing Carol Sigaki back into the match. Once in the tiebreaker, however, Wreder regained momentum and won 7-3, taking the first set 7-6. Carrying over from the tiebreaker, she took the match, 6-2.

The toughest match of the day for Appalachian came at the No. 1 singles as Cox took on Anna Zoske. The first set went all the way to be tied at 5-5 before Cox created a lead, and won the set 7-5. The second set went far as well, going to 6-6 tiebreaker, where Cox fell to Zoske, 6-2. After splitting the first sets, the final and deciding set was all Appalachian. Cox found her stride and took the set 6-2, winning the match and securing the sweep for the Mountaineers.

With the match clinched, Swope’s No. 4 and Brianna Armellino’s (West Palm, Fla./Home School) No. 5 singles matches went unfinished. Swope was in a 6-6 tiebreaker, while Armellino led 6-1.

The Mountaineers now go on an eight-match road trip, not playing at home until March 30. Their first road match of the trip is Saturday as they travel to Winston-Salem to take on No. 27 Wake Forest. First serve is at 4 p.m.

True freshman Bobby Hampton (Pikeville, N.C./C.B. Aycock) allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings to lead Appalachian State University baseball to a 4-0 win over Stony Brook on Friday afternoon in the first game of the Elon Tournament at Latham Park.

Making the third start of his career, Hampton (1-1) surrendered only a bloop double in the first inning and an infield single in the third. The southpaw struck out four, walked two and needed only 93 pitches to cruise through seven innings. The southpaw retired 15 of the last 17 hitters that he faced, only allowing a pair of walks over his final four innings of work.

Tyler Stroup (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) provided all the scoring Appalachian State (2-8) would need when he hit an opposite-field solo home run over the left-field wall in the second inning. The Mountaineers tacked on three more runs on an RBI single by Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) and a two-out, two-run single by Colin Schmid (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) in the fifth.

When Hampton left the game after seven sterling innings, freshman Stephen Schoch (Laurel, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) and Bauk each worked a scoreless frame to seal the Mountaineers’ first shutout victory since they blanked UL Monroe, 7-0, on March 20 of last season.

Schmid went 2-for-4 to pace Appalachian’s seven-hit attack.

Stony Brook (2-6) was shut out for the first time this season and its three hits were a season low.

Appalachian State returns to action on Saturday when it faces Bowling Green in Day 2 of the Elon Tournament. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m. at Latham Park.

Non-conference:
Bunker Hill: 14
Fred T. Foard: 1

Hibriten: 3
Wilkes Central: 1

Shelby: 8
Bandys: 7

Non-conference:
Hibriten: 13
Bunker Hill: 7

Maiden: 12
St. Stephens: 11

Non-conference:
Fred T. Foard: 5
Maiden: 0

Freedom: 3
Crest: 1

South Caldwell: 3
West Caldwell: 0

Behind 22 points from freshman Ronshad Shabazz (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep (W.V.)), Appalachian State University men’s basketball recorded one of its biggest wins in recent history, a 69-63 triumph over first-place Little Rock on Thursday evening at the Holmes Center.

With the victory over Little Rock (27-4, 17-3 Sun Belt, No. 35 RPI), Appalachian State kept its hopes for a berth in next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament alive. The Mountaineers (8-22, 6-13 Sun Belt) will earn a spot in the eight-team Sun Belt Tourney field with a win over Arkansas State (11-19, 7-12 Sun Belt) on Saturday at the Holmes Center and a loss by Texas State on Thursday night at Troy or Saturday at South Alabama.

In a game that featured five ties, seven lead changes and neither team ever holding more than a seven-point advantage, Appalachian State took the lead for good on a free throw by Jake Babic (Oakville, Ontario/The Kiski School) with 4:22 left in the ballgame.

However, it was senior Frank Eaves (Greensboro, N.C./Page) that made perhaps the biggest play of the season for the Mountaineers when he converted an old-fashioned three-point play that gave Appalachian a 64-60 lead with 1:06 to go.

From there, Shabazz capped his 22-point night with layup with 44 seconds left and the Mountaineers made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to finish off the upset victory. Babic finished with a season-high 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, all three pointers.

App State held a 27-21 lead in the first half, but a 7-0 run from the Trojans led to both teams being tied heading into the locker room at 30-30.

In the second half, App State held a three point lead at 46-43 but another 7-0 run from the Trojans gave Little Rock a 50-46 lead with 6:53 left to play. The Black and Gold countered with 10-3 run to take a 56-53 lead. With a 50-49 lead for Little Rock, Bennett Holley (Roanoke, Va./North Cross) hit a baseline jumper over the backboard right before the shot clock expired to give the Mountaineers a 51-50 lead and huge momentum.

With just a one point advantage at 61-60, Eaves hit a tough bankshot to finish an and-one and give the Mountaineers a 64-60 lead. App State would push the lead to five at 67-62 and sealed the win with two free throws from Emarius Logan (Columbia, S.C./White Knoll).

The Mountaineers will finish the regular season on Saturday against Arkansas State with an opportunity to go to New Orleans for the Sun Belt tournament. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.