Plenty of special sports moments to savor in 2023

It was another special season for Southwestern Randolph’s volleyball team and coach Darby Kennedy. (Scott Pelkey/Randolph Record)

Here’s a look at some of the top sports-related story topics in Randolph County in 2023:

** The gym at Trinity High School was named in honor of longtime boys’ basketball coach Tim Kelly.

** Uwharrie Charter Academy’s wrestling team won the Class 1-A dual team state championship by defeating Avery County in Greensboro.

** Eastern Randolph’s Brecken Snotherly set a school record for points in a girls’ basketball game by posting 51 against Trinity. Snotherly had a stellar senior season before going on to play for East Tennessee State.

** Aldo Hernandez and Lorenzo Alston of Uwharrie Charter Academy won individual state wrestling championships in Class 1-A, while Southwestern’s Jose Flores nabbed a heavyweight title in Class 2-A.

** The greatest season in Eastern Randolph boys’ basketball history closed on a downer with a loss to Wilson Prep in the Class 1-A state final at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. The Wildcats finished with a 29-3 record under first-year coach Johnny Thomas.

** Bear Bradley, a former Wheatmore football coach most recently at Southern Guilford, returned to a Randolph County school to be the coach at Trinity.

** There was a coaching change for Randleman’s highly successful girls’ basketball team with Brandon Varner (103-20 in five seasons) stepping down and Steve Rightmyer hired to take over. The Tigers had back-to-back undefeated PAC regular seasons and followed by league tournament titles.

** Wheatmore’s girls’ soccer team was back in the Class 2-A state final, but this time the Warriors didn’t win it all. Manteo claimed the title.

** Uwharrie Charter Academy captured the Class 1-A state championship in baseball under first-year coach Rob Shore. The Eagles swept North Moore in the best-of-3 finals.

To reach the last week of the season, UCA had to win a West Region final series vs. PAC rival Eastern Randolph.

** There was only one American Legion baseball team representing Randolph County for 2023 as Eastern Randolph Post 81 took the season off amid a player shortage.

** Renovation delays at McCrary Park meant the Asheboro ZooKeepers, a summer collegiate team in the Coastal Plain League, played home games early in the season at UNC Greensboro.

** Caraway Speedway drew some large crowds. A June racing card that included former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson in a Late Models competition drew plenty of buzz.

** Randolph County Post 45 was again the host team for the American Legion baseball Southeast Regional at McCrary Park. Post 45 was among the final three teams remaining, falling to Florence (S.C.) Post 1 in 11 innings of a must-win game. Randolph County finished with a 25-8 record, including a 2-2 mark in the regional.

** Asheboro had a new coach, with Calvin Brown leaving Providence Grove to join the Blue Comets. His former school defeated his current team in a non-conference matchup.

** Southwestern Randolph held an induction for the inaugural class of the school’s Sports Hall of Fame with 14 individuals in this group.

** Southwestern Randolph won the PAC volleyball title and advanced to the Class 2-A West Region semifinals.

** Eastern Randolph won its third consecutive conference championship in football. This time, it took a one-point victory at Randleman in the final game of the regular season to pull it off. But the postseason also was a repeat for the Wildcats, who lost to eventual state champion Mt. Airy for the second year in a row.

Randleman’s season shaped up as special with the Tigers winning their first nine games. They played much of the season with coach Shane Timmons out of state tending to his daughter’s medical situation, a development that drew a lot of attention with opposing teams sending their well wishes to the Tigers.

** Eastern Randolph lineman Jani Norwood put together a distinguished high school football career and signed to play at the University of North Carolina.

** Thad Moffitt, grandson of Richard Petty, signed to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for 2024. He attended high school at Wheatmore.

** Holiday high school basketball returned to Asheboro after a three-year absence. Southwestern Randolph’s girls and Asheboro’s boys were champions after three days of tournament competition at Asheboro High School.

By Bob Sutton