06/13/18 — PREPS: Chargers win 3rd consecutive NCISAA 1A Wells Fargo Cup

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PREPS: Chargers win 3rd consecutive NCISAA 1A Wells Fargo Cup

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 13, 2018 5:51 AM



Wayne Country Day, each of the past two seasons, has emerged as the top interscholastic athletics program among independent schools in the state.

Um...make that three.

The Chargers claimed the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A Wells Fargo Cup in dominating fashion.

The lone school to win three Cups since the program started in 2000, WCDS compiled an eye-popping 445 points -- a culmination of points awarded from the fall, winter and spring sports seasons.

Woodlawn School was a distant second with 282.5 points. "I don't know. How do we stay on the mountaintop?" said Michael Taylor, who just completed his 16th year as the school's director of athletics.

"We've been blessed over the last three years with great coaches and great student-athletes to be where we're at right now."

Led by an experienced and talent-rich lineup, WCDS seized an unprecedented fifth consecutive girls' dual-team state crown. The boys' cross country team captured its first-ever state title.

Girls' cross country, boys' tennis and baseball each finished runner-up in their respective state tournaments. Boys' soccer reached the semifinals. Girls' soccer and boys' and girls' basketball each advanced to the elite eight.

The swim team gobbled up 50 out of 50 possible points in the season-ending 1-A/2-A state meet.

"The senior class this past year had a major contribution over the past three years," Taylor said. "[They're] the reason why we've won the Wells Fargo Cup three years in a row. The bar has been set by the seniors that just left, even the seniors in 17 and 16."

The "glue" may be the underclassmen.

Each season the freshmen, sophomores and juniors have stepped from role-playing positions into the spotlight. The leadership qualities they've learned from the seniors have paid dividends.

Plus, there's a lot of school pride.

Taylor said it's not uncommon for the players to hang out with each other on days off. They become a close-knit group that is supportive of each other no matter the situation in either the classroom or on the playing fields/courts.

"Our kids do a great job of filling the void [left by graduation]," Taylor said. "They grow and mature, and by the time they become a senior, they understand they have to be a leader."

Since Taylor took over as AD in 2002-03, the Chargers have played for 18 state titles, won 23 Coastal Plains Independent Conference championships and produced a total of 81 all-state performers in 11 different sports.

There were 20 all-state recipients this past year.

It's remarkable success for an academically-driven school that allows athletes to practice just 1 ½ hours a day. Members of the Class of 2018 have been accepted at UNC, N.C. State, Wake Forest, University of Virginia, University of California at Davis and Hampden-Sydney -- just to name a few.

"We're going to get our students ready for college," Taylor said. "That's what our administration does and that's what our teachers do. Our students have done a great job in the classroom."

Academic excellence will undoubtedly remain the top priority at WCDS.

But the athletics landscape experienced a significant shift. After four-plus decades as a 1-A school, WCDS joins the 2-A ranks this fall. The new classification stretches from the coast to the mountains.

Aware of the transformation a year ago, Taylor dotted his schedules with a few 2-A and 3-A teams. The strategy was two-fold.

"We scheduled the schools so it wouldn't be a [shock] for next year," Taylor said. "We dipped our toes in the water a little bit just to see what it was [like] and we had some success.

"Moving forward, it's a whole different game for us. I think our coaches are excited. I think our players are excited. I think our parents are excited."

The CPIC will become a split-classification league with WCDS, Wayne Christian and Friendship Christian as 2-A members. Greenfield and John Paul High School will remain 1-A.