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Bamberg-Ehrhardt wrestling champs

Members of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School’s wrestling team celebrate with the trophy after winning the Class A state title Saturday, Feb. 11, at Dreher High School in Columbia.

The more things change, the more they hope to remain the same at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School.

By the end of the 2011-12 school year, the Bamberg County school said goodbye to two championship head coaches. It started with the departure of Cody Slaughter, fresh off leading the Red Raiders to a second straight Class A wrestling title, followed by the retirement of legendary baseball coach David Horton after 46 seasons.

Football coach Corey Crosby also decided to step away from his duties with men’s basketball. With assistant coach Russell Branch taking over for Crosby, Jake Stewart on board to replace Slaughter in wrestling and athletics director Tracy Fleming succeeding Horton in baseball, B-E looks to continue a run of success which has made it The T&D Region’s most successful high school athletics program.

Using the S.C. Athletics Administrator’s Association’s Director’s Cup points system used to grade S.C. High School League’s 20 boys’ and girls’ sports programs, B-E amassed the highest points total for the eighth consecutive year.

The Red Raiders’ 390 points not only far distanced the 10 other local schools, but equaled the combined totals for second-place Calhoun County (140), third-place Branchville (130) and fourth-place Orangeburg-Wilkinson (120). Among the athletic highlights from the 2011-12 school year:

n A second straight Class A wrestling title

n Wrestlers Mark Moody and Lan Hiers win individual titles

n Class A Lower State runners-up in football and baseball

n Region 5-A titles in football and softball

n Elsa Thomas earns S.C. Coaches Association of Women’s Sports All-State softball honors

n Will Medlin, Sumner Cooler and Garrett Zeigler earn S.C. Baseball Coaches Association’s honors.

Medlin is also competing in the S.C. Baseball Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star weekend at Coastal Carolina in Conway.

Having highly recruited football players like sophomore linebacker K.C. Crosby, who’s already received over 30 scholarship offers from schools like defending national champion Alabama and was already selected to the 2014 U.S. Army and Under Armour All-American games, has also boosted the athletics programs’ profile.

“I think that’s great,” Fleming said. “It just gives our school more notoriety.”

Entering his fourth year as athletics director, Fleming attributed the success to the two main parties involved — coaches and players.

“The coaches work hard and the players believe in what they’re doing and they work hard,” he said. “That’s the main reason. I know going up to (Class 2-A), it’s going to be a lot harder simply because the competition’s going to be tougher. Hopefully, we can continue the same success in 2-A as we had in 1-A.”

Having active support from the community, particularly from the B-E Booster Club, and school administrators has also played a major role in the program’s success, according to Fleming.

The one area Fleming hopes to see improvement is the level of participation from the school’s female athletes. Only B-E’s softball and track and field programs registered Director’s Cup points from the girls’ sports’ categories.

“It’s nothing to do with our coaching, but I’d love to see our girls’ programs get more girls actively involved in playing sports,” Fleming said. “It’s just hard right now to get the numbers out for the girls’ teams. That’s one of my main objectives I’d like to see.”

The 2012-13 school year kicks off with the start of preseason football practices July 27.

T&D Region Director’s Cup standings

1. Bamberg-Ehrhardt — 390

2. Calhoun County — 140

3. Branchville — 130

4. Orangeburg-Wilkinson — 120

5 (tie). Denmark-Olar, Edisto & Woodland — 110

8. Blackville-Hilda — 100

9. Lake Marion — 50

10. Bethune-Bowman — 40

11. North — 10

Contact the writer: tgrant@timesanddemocrat.com or by calling (803) 533-5547. Follow him on Twitter@TandDSports.

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