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wingspan • december 16, 2010

Cheap Seats Michael Vick finds redemption

Young teams begin season with mixed results

ast year sports fans were shocked to find out that Michael Vick had signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. If there was one thing the Eagles didn’t need, it was a quarterback: they had Donovan McNabb, one of the league’s best, and Kevin Kolb, quarterback of the fuCamen Royse ture. Vick did well in his first year in the league since being convicted for his involvement with the Bad Newz Kennels dog-fighting ring; he played a few snaps a game, primarily in the “wildcat” formation, where he was more of a runner than a passer. In the off-season, the Eagles traded McNabb to christen the era of Kolb. That lasted for about a quarter and a half when Kolb suffered a concussion in the first half of the first game of the season. Vick came in and began to make incredible plays. He showed accuracy that we had not seen out of him before. The Eagles still ended up losing to the Packers, but a 27-20 final score showed the nearcomeback Vick led. Kolb was declared out for the next week, and Vick prepared to make his first start since 2006. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns. His performance forced Eagles coach Andy Reid into a tough decision when Kolb was healthy: who should start, Vick or Kolb? Vick got the nod, and again delivered an amazing performance. The drama in Philadelphia escalated the next week when Vick suffered a rib cartilage injury. Kolb played well during his three-week absence, but when Vick returned from injury he again got the start. Vick has been a perfect example of why people deserve second chances. Michael Vick became the most infamous name in sports. He could have just given up on football, accepted his public perception as a thug and gone on with his life. But he wasn’t deterred. He worked hard to get back his athleticism when he was released from jail and got his second chance in the NFL with the Eagles. The integrity and dedication that Vick has displayed is evidence that everyone should be given the same second chance.

Men’s Basketball

Grab It

Coach Rob Bliss ended last season with the shocking announcement that he would be stepping down as the basketball coach at West after a season in which he felt he let the team down. “As a coach I am supposed to make the team better, and I didn’t feel I did my job so I stepped down,” Bliss said However, two weeks later Bliss decided that he would stay after pressure from community members. “I had a lot of people tell me that they wanted me to stay: the administration, people in the community and most important to me, the kids,” Bliss said. Entering this season, the Falcons didn’t return any starters and had a lot to overcome. “We aren’t very big or experienced. We start two sophomores who are really good, but size is not where we will win games this season. I think we will always be the best shooting team on the court; almost every kid on the team can knock down a three-pointer,” senior Jordan Bell said. Bell and senior Karl Bernadas had the most playing time last season of anyone on the team and are the leaders of the team. “I think as returning seniors we will be looked to to step into a leadership role and be the guys the team looks at when things get tough,” Bell said Senior leadership will also come from North Henderson transfer and the Knights leading scorer last year, Colby Drake. “I was able to come in for my senior year and try and help West. I like it here a lot, and I can’t wait to play North this season because I know they will be giving me a hard time from the stands,” Drake said. The Falcons lost a close game in their season opener to T.C. Roberson. In the game, Bell had 23 points and was joined by his younger brother, sophomore Zach Bell, on the court for the first time in their high school careers. “When I came in and saw my brother was still in, I got a little excited. We have been playing travel basketball together awhile but never in high school. When I got in I was pretty nervous but I calmed down a little when I made a three,” Zach Bell said. The season continues for the Falcons at the annual Christmas Record: tournament on Dec. 28. By Kevin Robinson

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Women’s Basketball Soon after they finish opening their gifts and enjoying their Christmas dinner, the Lady Falcons basketball team will be back on the court practicing for the annual Christmas tournament hosted by West. Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 the Lady Falcons will play Enka and Thomas Jefferson high schools. “It’s always a big time for us because it’s a time for us to showcase our team against people we might not normally play,” senior Lydia McCall said. After the first six games of the season the team is 1-5, winning their only game against Hendersonville, 64-42. “The season last year was pretty good,” senior Meredith Cole said. “We lost a few games that we shouldn’t have.” According to Cole, last year the Lady Falcons’ problem was that they couldn’t start off strong. This would put them in a tough position in the second half so they

Fletcher, NC

In last winter’s home game against Hendersonville, sophomore Lane Grant pulls down a rebound and looks to get the ball to the point guard, Zach Bell, so he can push the ball. West lost the game by two points.

Take Down At last year’s Falcon Frenzy, senior Alex Vaughn moves to pin his opponent.

Photos used with permission of Lifetouch

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Winter sports tip-off

had to play twice as hard to come back and win. “We realized this problem as a team last year, and we are determined not to repeat it,” Cole said. “This year we are going to be more prepared for the tougher teams, and we are going to go into the games confident and ready to play.” With a young team, half of them freshmen and sophomores, the younger players are going to have to step up in order for the team to win this year, Cole said. “The younger player have certainly stepped up already this year,” Cole said. Last year the team had all new coaches, making it difficult to adjust. This year those coaches returned, and the players are used to their coaching styles. The team had a tougher conference starting last year with two new strong teams, Franklin and Tuscola. Cole said the team is very close this year. This fact will help them perform well as a team. “This season I think we are very encouraging of one another. We support each other and we are there to pick each other Record: up,” Cole said. By Zac Cole

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Indoor Track After a successful season last year, the indoor track team members are prepared for their new season. “I think this season will be awesome. Everyone seems to be prepared to push themselves and give it their all. We have a big team this winter and not that much competition,” senior Caiti Cremer said. With the new season beginning, there have been changes. This year’s team consists of many younger members compared to last year’s. Cremer and Shaundi Sides are the only two seniors on the team. “The team is very young. There are only two seniors and a few juniors,” Cremer said. “The bulk of the team is freshmen and sophomores, which is pretty good; they just don’t have that much experience.” Another change to this season came with the location of the meets. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will not be hosting this season’s state indoor track meet because of renovations. “Since Chapel Hill has the only indoor track in the state, we are going to have to

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have the state meet outside. I think it will go all right though because we practice outside,” Cremer said. Even with all the changes that have come along, the team has a positive outlook on how the season will go. The first two meets of the season have been cancelled due to weather and rescheduled for later dates. “I think we will be ready by the time the first meet comes,” Cremer said. “The biggest part of getting ready for it is getting mentally prepared to race in the cold.” By Meredith Cole

Swimming With the meets for 2010 over, West’s men’s and women’s swim teams will begin preparation for conference and regional meets in January by having two-a-day practices over the holidays. Senior James Loder expects to swim well. “I always enjoy the 50s (1 lap events) because they are the quickest. You throw everything you got in immediately, and it is just who can do their best in that moment,” Loder said. “It is always a neck and neck race with our teams and the others.” The first meets went very well for both teams. In the first meet of the season, all three men’s relay teams qualified for regionals. At the last meet on Dec. 11 at Franklin, West’s men won and the women placed second. “We have always done really well against the other county teams,” senior captain Katie King said. “We had several individual wins and relay wins as well.” Haley Watkins, a new coach, has given Coach Eric Hyder a chance to focus on the swimmers as individuals rather than as a team. Hyder can help the team more by giving personal attention so that his swimmers can learn the techniques more quickly. “It has definitely given me more room to individualize with our swimmers,” Hyder said. “I am able to closer analyze each swimmer’s technique and help him or her on a more personalized basis to improve ­­— not only with speed, but with technique too.” With the loss of several seniors and a smaller team, Hyder is looking to place swimmers more strategically in order to pull of the maximum number of points. “Having a smaller team requires a bit more planning going into each meet. How

to use our available resources and how our individuals match up against another team points wise,” Hyder said. “That is something if everyone goes out and performs great and they were just placed in the wrong event, the team itself may not succeed and may not win. If they are well placed and well thought out, that is how the win column stacks up.” The swimmers next meet will be Jan. 7 at the Hendersonville YMCA. By Aury St. Germain

Wrestling The Falcons wrestling team entered the year after a successful 2009 campaign in which they ended with a 17-4 record and sent wrestlers to the first round of the state playoffs. Head Coach Jeff Smith said the team has the potential to do more. “We were disappointed last season. We had a chance to win the conference, which we expect every year. We lost to Pisgah by three points, which is basically one match,” Smith said. “In that match, we lost five matches by one point. We felt like we had ample opportunity to win the conference, but we came up a little short.” This year the team has only two seniors, but it also has promising underclassman talent, according to Smith. “We don’t have a huge junior class, but we have a strong sophomore class. We are going to be younger, but our expectations will remain the same,” Smith said. “They are young, but they have a lot of talent. Towards the end of the season, you will see a totally different team. I think they are going to grow up as the season goes on.” Kevin Mundy, one of the two seniors on the team, said that the wrestlers can overcome their young and small team with dedication and hard work. “We lost a lot of good seniors,” Mundy said. “We have smaller numbers because we don’t have as many freshmen as we did last year. But everyone is working hard and working together. We’ll just follow Coach Smith’s lead and hopefully we will win a lot of matches.” On Dec. 4, West hosted the Falcon Frenzy tournament. Junior Jesus Vera was the only West wrestler to progress to the champion- Record: ship finals. By Camen Royse

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