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Athletes display year of triumphs

Nehemiah Stafford played an important role in Ashe County's conference championship
last season.

Originally published: Dec. 27, 2012
Last modified: Dec. 27, 2012

Jesse Campbell

Ashe County High celebrated both team and individual greatness in 2012.

From the wrestling mat, where Josh Wineberg won a 2A State Championship, to the unprecedented success of the men's basketball team, 2012 was an illustrious one for the purple and silver. 

We also had a couple of a young ladies who did their share in dominating nearly every tennis court they sat foot one this fall. 

In our success and accomplishments, Ashe County High also said farewell to a familiar face on the sidelines and hello to a new one. 

The following — in no particular order - is a compilation of some of the more memorable moments in Ashe County sports.

Hampton becomes Huskies' fourth football coach

Ashe County native Brian Hampton returned to his hometown in March to become Ashe County High's newest football coach.

Hampton, who replaced retiring coach Bill Strong, previously coach at North Surry High where he led the Greyhounds to consecutive winning seasons in 2010 and 2011.

Hampton was named the Northwest Conference Coach of the Year in 2010. 

While Hampton was coaching two counties over in North Surry, the Crumpler resident was still driving 51 miles a day to Mt. Airy to coach. 

Hampton had also served as an assistant at Emory and Henry College, where he played and graduated in 1996, and at Chowan College.

Strong led Ashe County to a 41-32 record, including 29-13 in Mountain Valley Conference games, and extended a playoff appearance streak to nine before formally stepping down. 

Payne steps down

After more than 37 years coaching at three different high schools and 13 regular season championships, Ashe County High Coach Marc Payne stepped down from his post in October, citing health reasons for his departure. 

Payne suffered a heart attack the previous spring and was forced to reevaluate his priorities before beginning another season, he said. 

“Until this past May, I had never considered that my personal health would ever play a factor in my chosen profession and avocation, but it has,” said Payne. “As much as I love coaching and want to continue to coach, I also want to be able to do what I want to do after coaching.”

His assistant, Scott Grubb, replaced Payne as head coach.

Payne remained at Ashe High as athletics director. 

During his illustrious tenure as head coach, Payne enjoyed numerous accolades while at the now defunct Beaver Creek High School, Watauga High School, and his last stop, a return trip home to Ashe County High School in 2002. 

Payne led Ashe County's program to a 2009 appearance in the state's regional and sectional tournaments and three regular season Mountain Valley Conference Championships. 

Altogether, Payne accumulated a 574-383 record as head coach. 

Men's soccer wins first MVAC championship

Ashe County High's men's soccer team clinched its first Mountain Valley Conference championship in October following a thrilling tie with Forbush and subsequent victory. 

“It may have been a tie, but it came to be a win for us,” said Ashe Coach Wesley Rousseau. “This was our biggest game in program history and our conference championship ever.”

Ashe would, however, eventually fall in the state playoffs. 

Huskies capture boys' basketball championship

Ashe County's boys' basketball team won the program's third Mountain Valley Conference regular season championship with a convincing 79-36 win over West Wilkes High in February. 

Ashe won the MVC title outright with a 15-1 conference record. 

The Huskies would however fall in the conference tournament championship to archrival Wilkes Central High before being defeated in the second round of the state playoffs to Shelby High. 

Richardson earns All-Star selection

In February, Zeb Richardson of Ashe County High School was selected to play in the Carolina All-Star Basketball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Richardson finished his career at Ashe High last season as a record setting post player. He helped lead the Huskies to a Top 10 state ranking in 2012.

Richardson was one of 10 selections for the North Carolina team coached by Howard West of Regan High.

Following the completion of his high school career, Richardson took his talents as a player to Guilford College. 

Wooten, Maloney cap off record-setting season 

Haley Maloney and Anna Wooten, of the Huskies' Ladies' tennis, finished 22-2 in doubles play this season. 

The duo tore through the Mountain Valley Conference regular season, but did not have enough momentum to carry them through the 2A State Playoffs as the finished their campaign with a 6-2, 6-2 loss in the doubles tournament in Cary. 

“They are both great athletes and have represented Ashe County High School very well during their tennis career here at the high school,” said Dix. “ I commend them both and will miss their dedication, commitment, and leadership.”

Wineberg Wins Heavyweight State Championship, earns starting nod at Western Carolina

Ashe County High School's Josh Wineberg brought home the school's fourth wrestling state championship in February when he defeated East Davidson's Josh White with a 2-0 decision to bring home the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's 2-A 285-pound crown. 

Wineberg capped off a 44-1 season, and avenged his only loss on the year in the win over White, who beat Wineberg in a 2-1 decision the week before in the 2-A Midwest Regional Championship match held at Piedmont High. Wineberg finished his stellar prep career with a 136-18 overall record.

In August, Wineberg earned the starting nod as an offensive lineman for the Western Carolina University football team under new head coach Mark Speir. Wineberg earned 10 starts for the Cats in 2012.

Reporter Adam Orr contributed to this report. 

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.