1. COVID-19 shuts down high school sports for 10 months
As of Dec. 31, it will have been 283 days since March 13, when Gov. Ralph Northam shut down state schools for two weeks due to COVID-19. High school athletics never returned as the entire spring campaign was lost, and the fall season pushed back.
Fauquier High softball coaches, for example, felt a loaded squad had a genuine chance at a state title and Liberty track star Sam Rodman was the preseason favorite in the 800 meters. Highland had its usual state contenders in girls lacrosse, girls soccer, baseball and boys lacrosse.
An abbreviated winter season started with practices Dec. 7, but further pandemic concerns postponed Fauquier County's start until Jan. 6. A return to virtual learning has left the winter season in doubt.
2. Sam Fisher captures fourth state wrestling title
Fauquier senior Sam Fisher became the first Fauquier County wrestler to win four individual state titles with a first-period pin in the Class 4 182-pound final. The Virginia Tech signee finished 44-6 and 171-24 for his career. Fisher topped the three titles by former Falcon Garrett Tingen, who won titles in 2016, 2015 and 2014.
3. Fauquier High claims third state wrestling crown
In February, Fauquier captured its third Class 4 state wrestling championship in seven years by outscoring runnerup Great Bridge, 170.5-164. Liberty earned third with 139 points. Fauquier had three champions in Sam Fisher (182 pounds), Geno Camarca (138) and D.J. Richards (126). Liberty's Mason Barrett (120) captured his second championship and fellow Eagle Colin Dupill won at 132.
4. Warrenton ice dancers Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov debut at senior level
Warrenton figure skaters Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov competed in the 2020 Skate America, a Grand Prix of Figure Skating event in Las Vegas in late October. The couple has been successful on the junior circuit since 2018 and are now competing at the senior level. Cesanek (pronounced Cesnick) is a 19-year-old sophomore at American University. Yehorov (Ya-gor-ov) is a 21-year-old Ukrainian working to get his U.S. citizenship.
5. Fauquier girls hoops has winning season
The Fauquier Falcon girls basketball team registered a winning record for the first time in more than a decade to finish 14-10. The team was a factor in the Northwestern District race at 9-5, placing third despite having only one senior in Tia Minor, a first-team all-league choice.
6. Wyatt Teller approaches All-Pro status
Former Liberty High football star Wyatt Teller of the Cleveland Browns (10-5) has emerged as arguably the best right guard in the NFL. The third-year pro has a grade of 93.8, making him the NFL’s highest rated offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus, which analyzes every position. More good news: Teller got engaged this month.
7. Liberty’s Sam Rodman wins state title in 1,000 meters
Liberty's Sam Rodman won the Class 4 indoor state 1,000-meter run gold medal as a junior and had the nation's fastest time of 2:28.49 earlier in the season. State silver medals went to Kettle Run's MaryKate Behan in the shot put (37 feet, 10 inches) and Fauquier's Stephanie Robson in the high jump (5-2) and triple jump (37-7). The Falcon girls took second indoors as a team.
8. Coaching legends resign
Doug Fisher resigned as FHS head wrestling coach after the Falcons won their third state title in February. Fisher also was at the helm for 2015 and 2016 state crowns. His Falcons were second at states three times and captured eight district and eight regional championships in his 10 years as head coach. Also stepping down was Kettle Run fixture Ellen Allen, who spent 32 years teaching and coaching at all three county public high schools. She spent six years at Fauquier, 14 at Liberty and 12 at Kettle Run. Allen departs with the most girls basketball coaching victories in county history at 266. Saying goodbye is Jan Ashby, a 44-year county teacher who spent 26 years atop the Falcons’ boys tennis program and is the county's winningest tennis coach.
9. Highland boys basketball make state semis
The Highland School boys basketball team made history with a 81-68 win over long-time power Miller School in the VISAA Division II quarterfinals, thus advancing to the state semis for the first time in school history. The Hawks fell to Norfolk Collegiate in the semis to finish 23-3. The team was led by Delaney Athletic Conference MVP Angelo Brizzi, and all-DAC picks Zion Hanberry, Yusef Salih and Caleb Furr. Brian Hooker was DAC Coach of the Year.
10. Central Sports Complex opens
Fauquier County Parks and Recreation's Central Sports Complex in Warrenton had its grand opening in September. The long-awaited complex on Meetze Road features six rectangular multipurpose fields, including one artificial turf surface and five diamonds for baseball and softball. There also is a horse trail and a multipurpose trail.
11. Kettle Run boys basketball earns region berth
After a 1-6 start, first-year Kettle Run boys basketball coach Christian Yancey’s Cougars got hot and upset No. 3 seed James Wood 49-45 and No. 2 Handley 47-45 to make the Northwestern District final and earn a region berth. Led by senior Drew Tapscott, Kettle Run fell in the district final to Millbrook, then lost to Loudoun County in the Class 4 Region C semifinal.
12. Division 1 signees galore
Highland School’s Angelo Brizzi became the most highly recruited boys basketball player in county history and signed with Villanova. Other NCAA Division 1 signees include Highland’s Yusef Salih (basketball, Idaho), Liberty’s Sam Rodman (track, Princeton), Fauquier’s Marc Bonnaire (soccer, West Virginia University), Fauquier’s Meghan Harrington (softball, Princeton), MaryKate Behan (track, West Virginia University), Kettle Run’s Matt McLaughlin (wrestling, Davidson), Liberty’s Jordan Woodson (football, Liberty), Kettle Run’s Andrew Adair (football, Liberty), Highland’s Gabrielle Brisbin (lacrosse, Mercer), Highland’s Olivia Simmons (soccer, Purdue), Highland’s Tyler Kaltreider (baseball, VMI), Highland’s Ed Wagner (baseball, George Washington) and Highland’s Abby Soltys (lacrosse, Mercer).
13. Cameras installed to stream games
Spectators will not be allowed this winter at indoor athletic events, so the county school system contracted to have automated cameras installed in the gymnasiums and football fields at Fauquier, Liberty and Kettle Run. The cameras will be connected to the National Federation of State High School Association's subscription streaming service.
14. New practice surface at FHS
The dilapidated original tennis courts at Fauquier High School were transformed into a gleaming, much-needed 30,000-square foot artificial turf practice field. The facility was finished in November.
15. Corum, Simmons, Kestner start at D-1 schools
Warrenton native Blake Corum had a persuasive debut as a true freshman running back at the University of Michigan, scoring two touchdowns against Michigan State and starting against Minnesota. The county’s all-time basketball scorer, Makaela Kestner, is a starting forward at Liberty University and former Highland basketball Cam Simmons is Howard University’s starting center. Former Falcon Blaze O'Saben was starting center fielder at UMBC until the pandemic hit. Former Liberty football players Julian Sams and Kris Leach are teammates at Kent State.