After leading Orange to the Big 8 Conference championship for the 16th consecutive year, Panthers wrestling head coach Spenser Poteat has been named the Big 8 Coach of the Year.
The vote, taken by Poteat’s peers, comes after Orange went undefeated in the Big 8 and reached the 2nd round of the 3A state dual team playoffs. This season, Orange had 12 new faces in the starting lineup but still finished 28-2 overall, 7-0 in the Big 8.
Poteat, who just finished his second year as head coach, is a 1994 Orange graduate. He wrestled with, and then was an assistant to, longtime coach Bobby Shriner. Poteat replaced Shriner after his retirement in 2017.
That was just the top of the list for Orange honors in the Big 8 Winter Sports honors announced on Sunday. Additionally, Orange senior Levi Anderson was named co-Big 8 Wrestler of the Year. Last month, Anderson won the 3A Mideast Regional Championship at Southeast Guilford High School, pinning Northern Durham’s Rueben Dunbar in 1:19. Anderson advanced to the 3A state championship match at 145 pounds in the Greensboro Coliseum, losing in the final to Morgantown Freedom’s Spencer Leonhardt 3-0. He shared the conference wrestler of the year award with Northern Durham’s Donald Cates and finished the season 51-4 with 28 pins. Anderson also won his 100th career match in December.
In women’s basketball, Orange senior forward Icez Barnett was named the co-Big 8 Player of the Year. Barnett led the Lady Panthers to a 19-7 record and a 2nd place finish in the Big 8 Conference. She averaged 14.7 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game. She had six double-doubles this season. In her three years at Orange, the Lady Panthers won 55 games, hosted four state playoff games and won the 2017 Big 8 Regular Season Championship and the 2017 Big 8 Tournament.
Orange also earned honors in swimming and diving. Freshman Stanislav Zitko was named the Big 8 Male Diver of the Year. In January, Zitko won the Big 8 and Mid-State Conference Diving Championships at Duke University. He finished with 371.95 points over eleven dives. Zitko finished 2nd in the 3A Central Diving Regional Championships in Greensboro in February. Later that month, he came in 5th in the State Championship meet.
Orange Men’s Swimming Coach Mark Alford was named the Big 8 Male Coach of the Year. Alford guided Orange to a 2nd place finish in the Big 8 Championships with 442 points. Only East Chapel Hill, with 583, had more. Alford also had two competitors make All-Big 8.
The complete list of Big 8 Conference honorees includes:
Joey Mcmullin: Orange’s third-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. A junior, Mcmullin has been a starter for three seasons. He finished in double figures in six of Orange’s last seven games. He had a season-high 27 points against Southern Durham in the Big 8 Conference Tournament.
K.J. Barnes: The Red Wolves’ secondleading scorer with 6.5 points per game. Barnes, a junior, had a season-high 17 points against Carrboro on Dec. 5. Cedar Ridge was also honored with the Big 8 Men’s Basketball Sportsmanship Award.
Honorable mention: Chris Tinnen
Lauren Cates: Scored her 1,000th point on Feb. 6 when the Lady Panthers defeated Northern Durham 56-16. Scored 20 points in a 64-42 win over Chapel Hill. Hit clutch shots down the stretch in a 52-46 victory over Northwood on February 5, when she scored 17 points. Also scored 17 points against Southern Durham on February 12 to clinch a state playoff spot. She averaged 14.4 points per game this season.
Honorable mention: Mary Moss Wirt, Grace Dively
Madison Wardlow: Became the first player in school history to reach 1,000 points when she put up 28 points against Southern Durham on February 15. Wardlow had a career-high 35 points against Northern Durham on February 5. This season, Wardlow averaged 15.6 points per game. On January 8, she scored 23 points as the Red Wolves defeated crosstown rival Orange 44-38. It was the first time Cedar Ridge had defeated Orange inside Red Wolves Gymnasium in 2014.
Honorable mention: Tori Dalehite, Natalia Garay
Kessel Summers: A sophomore, Summers qualified for the 3A state championships after finishing 3rd in the Mideast Regionals at 113 pounds. Ended the year 39-14 with 17 pins.
Matthew Smith-Breeden: Finished 30-17 at 120 pounds with 14 pins. Pulled a stunning pin against Cape Fear in the 3A state dual championships 2nd round despite trailing 15-5 in the third period.
Gavin Wiggins: Despite fighting injuries and illness for his senior season, Wiggins qualified for the state championships at 126 pounds. Wiggins won the Riverside Invitational Championship in Durham on January 19. Finished 25-10 with ten pins.
Tayton Alvis: In his first year starting, Alvis finished 27-17. Participated in regionals at 138 pounds. Finished 4th in the Riverside Invitational. Came in third at the Quentin Crosby Tournament at Dudley High School in Greensboro.
Caleb Brimmer: Competing at 152 and 160 pounds, Brimmer finished 37-16 with 22 pins. Won the 152 pound championship at the Quentin Crosby Tournament on January 6. nAvery Jenkins: Won the 100th match of his career in January. Placed 4th in the state at 170 pounds. Jenkins also finished 4th in the Mideast Regionals. He went 43-12 with 24 pins in his senior season.
Chandler Harward: Qualified for the state championships in his first season as a starter. Was a vital part of Orange winning the JKO Invitational once he agreed to move up two weight classes on December 1. Finished 30-14 with 15 pins.
Donald Hicks: Another first-year stater, Hicks went 40-13 at 195 pounds. Finished 5th in the Mideast Regionals. Came in 3rd in the Riverside Invitational.
Jacob McBroom: Ended his career with a 19-9 record. Battled injuries to finish 2nd in the Riverside Invitational. Earned five wins during the West Stanly Duals on Dec. 29 in Oakboro.
Juan Navarro: In his first season starting at heavyweight, Navarro went 38-11 and qualified for the Mideast Regionals, where he advanced to the semifinals. Finished 38-11 with 18 pins.
Darius McLeod: Finished 2nd in the Mideast Regionals at 132 pounds. Won his semifinal match over Lydell Canady of Westover despite suffering a busted bottom lip that required ten stitches. Qualified for the 3A state championships. Also finished 2nd in the Red Wolves Invitational in November. Finished his career with 97 career wins.
Wyatt Robinson: A sophomore, Robinson went 22-11 this season. Earned pinball wins over East Chapel Hill and Northern Durham during the conference season.
Gabe Walker: Won the Big 8 Conference Championship in the 50 yard freestyle. Qualified for the state championships.
Devin Bunner: Finished 2nd in the 100 yard breaststroke, leading to an appearance in the Central Regionals.