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Vikings Win Two Individual and One Relay Team Championship… Avery High’s Girls Track Team Compiles Runner-Up Overall Finish at State Finals

May 27, 2024 Avery County High School’s girls track team finished in a tie for second place at the 2024 North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 1-A Track and Field State Championships, which concluded at the Marcus T. Johnson Track at Truist Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro on May 20. By Tim Gardner

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Meet-and-Greet Sessions with NASCAR and High Country Legend Waddell Wilson A Success

April 10, 2024 A smashing success was the consensus of how the meet-and-greet sessions sponsored by High Country Press with NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Hall of Famer and Mitchell County native Waddell Wilson that were held in Bakersville and Spruce Pine on Saturday, April 6, transpired. The Mitchell County Historical Society and Mitchell County Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce also assisted with sessions. By Tim Gardner

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App State Welcomes Alaura Sharp as Women’s Ninth Basketball Head Coach

April 8, 2024 Alaura Sharp, who led Presbyterian College to its first NCAA Tournament appearance and win last month, has been named the ninth head coach in App State women’s basketball history, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Friday. “We are thrilled to welcome Alaura to the App State family,” Gillin said. “She is a proven leader who has recruited and developed student-athletes at a high level. Her vision for the program aligns with our core values of academic integrity, competitive excellence, social responsibility and a world-class experience. We are excited about the future of App State Women’s Basketball.”

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Mountaineers Extend Basketball Coach Kerns Contract Through 2029-30 Season

April 5, 2024 On the heels of a record-breaking season, App State head men’s basketball Dustin Kerns has signed a contract extension that runs through the 2029-30 season, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Friday. The extension was approved by Chancellor Sheri Everts and the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees. “Dustin and his staff have turned App State Men’s Basketball into a perennial contender for conference titles and postseason berths, and we are excited to see the program’s continued upward trajectory under his leadership,” Gillin said. “With 27 wins, the first regular-season Sun Belt title, historic home crowds and national television appearances, Dustin’s team showed App State can compete among the best in college basketball, and we look forward to continued success for the program and our student-athletes both on and off the court.”

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Registration is Open for Sugar Mountain Resort’s Eighth Annual Fourth-of-July Summit Crawl

April 5, 2024 On Thursday, July 4, Sugar Mountain Resort’s eighth annual Summit Crawl kicks off at 9 a.m. The one-and-one-half mile climb to Sugar Mountain’s 5,300-foot peak covers 1,200 feet of vertical via the ski slopes of Easy Street, Gunther’s Way, and Northridge. Crossing the mile-high finish line qualifies hikers for a chance to win a 2024-25 Sugar Mountain Resort season pass while complimentary water & fruit donated by Lowes Foods awaits at the summit.

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NASCAR Hall of Famer and Mitchell County Legend Waddell Wilson to appear on April 6 at Southern Ridge Café in Bakersville and Western Sizzlin’ Steak House in Spruce Pine

March 25, 2024 Meet-and-greet visits with NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Hall of Famer and Mitchell County native and legend Waddell Wilson will be held in Bakersville and Spruce Pine on Saturday, April 6. Wilson will be at the Southern Ridge Cafe next to the old Mitchell County Court House in Bakersville from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and then at the Western Sizzlin’ Steak House, off NC South 226 Highway in the Grassy Creek Community in Spruce Pine from 2:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Wilson grew up on a farm on McKinney Cove Road, just off Cane Creek Road, in Bakersville. He is a graduate of old Bowman High School. Wilson also is a former resident of the Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Avery County.  He currently lives in Denver, North Carolina. By Tim Gardner

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Mountaineers Fall to Demon Deacons 87-76 in NIT First-Round Playoff Game Wednesday Night

March 21, 2024 Despite cutting a 13-point first-half lead to just one point in the early stages of the second half, the App State Mountaineers fell in their NIT first-round meeting with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 87-76 on Wednesday, cutting a historic season short. App State (27-7) broke numerous program records in 2023-24, setting the all-time wins record with 27, shattering the Holmes Center regular-season attendance record and winning the outright regular-season conference championship for the first time in 45 years. The Mountaineers suffered just five regular-season losses, marking the fewest in program history. 
 

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High Country Caregivers 3rd Annual Golf Invitational with Coach Jerry Moore Will Be Held May 19th and 20th

March 20, 2024 The third annual Coaches Invitational organized by High Country Caregivers (HCC), is expanding its reach to two distinguished locations—the Blowing Rock Country Club and the Elk River Golf Course. HCC Executive Director Jacob Willis expresses gratitude, noting, “When Coach Jerry Moore joined the Board of High Country Caregivers, he said, ‘We had a saying at Appalachian State when I was coaching football: ‘Always do more than is expected.’ That is what Margaret and I want to do for these children.'” 

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Appalachian State Not Chosen for 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, But Earned NIT Berth; Opening Round on Wednesday March 20

March 18, 2024 Despite having the credentials to qualify for the 2024 National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament, Appalachian State was not one of the 68 teams picked by its selection committee Sunday to play in it. And while the Mountaineers would have been a definite long, long shot to win the tournament and bring the national championship to Boone, they would have been generally considered a dark horse to advance far in the tournament. They possess the over-all talent, combined offensive and defensive power, and needed depth that would have given them a chance to make a good showing in the tournament. By Tim Gardner

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App State Falls on Heart-Breaking Buzzer Beater as the Mountaineers Fell 69-67 in the Sun Belt Tournament Semifinals on Sunday

March 11, 2024 After clawing their way back from a first-half deficit, the App State Mountaineers took the lead courtesy of a Justin Abson slam dunk for the first time since the early stages of the first half. The Mountaineers would reclaim the lead after Arkansas State took the lead back at 62-63, but the Red Wolves scored the last four points in the game, including a buzzer-beating shot as the Mountaineers fell 69-67 in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals on Sunday. App State (27-6, 16-2 SBC) came back from down by as much as much as 11 in the second half to take the lead, showing their resilience. Arkansas State’s (18-15, 11-7 SBC) defense stepped up in the final seconds, forcing two App State misses which allowed it to score the game-winning shot.

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Barton, Lees-McRae Claim Atlantic Casualty Conference Carolinas Cheer and Dance Championship Crowns for Second Straight Year

March 11, 2024 Lees-McRae claimed the team title in Cheerleading for the second straight year, while Barton claimed its second consecutive Dance team title at the annual Atlantic Casualty Conference Carolinas Spirit Championships.  Lees-McRae was also chosen as the Advanced Co-Ed Division winner in cheerleading, while North Greenville captured the Intermediate All-Girl championship in cheerleading.

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Lees-McRae Basketball Advances to Conference Carolinas Quarterfinals with 79-75 Win over North Greenville; Faces No. 3 Chowan on March 8

March 5, 2024 Lees-McRae men’s basketball moves to the Atlantic Casualty Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Championship Quarterfinals after defeating No. 12 North Greenville, 79-75, on Monday evening. Nico Ashley posted the fourth-most blocks in NCAA Division II this season with nine and Ja’Quavian Florence led the Bobcats in the scoring column with 20 points.

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Mountaineers Claim First Outright League Title Since 1978-79 Plus Many More Season Records

March 3, 2024 In a highly anticipated game to close the regular season, App State Men’s Basketball claimed its first outright regular season conference title in 45 years by thrashing the Arkansas State Red Wolves 80-57 in front of 7,047 fans at the Holmes Center on Friday night. It was an incredible scene in Boone as head coach Dustin Kerns and the team cut down nets as outright champions for the first time ever as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.  The win for App State (26-5, 16-2 SBC) set a program record for single-season victories while also securing the best conference record in program history. As of App State’s win over Arkansas State (16-15, 11-7 SBC), only James Madison has more wins in the entire country.

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App State Announces 2024 Football Schedule

March 1, 2024 With six home games for App State Football, including three Kidd Brewer Stadium appearances before October and five Saturday game days at The Rock, the Sun Belt Conference on Friday announced the complete 2024 regular season schedule for the Mountaineers. Friday’s announcement revealed the order and dates for every Sun Belt game to go with previously announced nonconference schedules for each league member. According to ESPN, the Mountaineers return 68 percent of their overall production from a nine-win season that included a Sun Belt East Division title and Cure Bowl victory under the direction of head coach Shawn Clark in 2023.

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Avery County Resident Tommy Burleson’s 1974 National Collegiate Championship Basketball Team Honored by North Carolina State University

February 29, 2024 North Carolina State University’s 1974 National Collegiate Basketball Championship team on which High Country and Avery County native Tommy Burleson starred was honored during a 50th Anniversary reunion ceremony hosted by the school last weekend. The official highlight of that reunion was when the university celebrated that historic team throughout its game versus Atlantic Coast Conference rival Boston College last Saturday, February 24 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, particularly when the 1974 team members still living were introduced to the crowd of 14,642 at halftime. By Tim Gardner

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App State Basketball Throttles ODU to Clinch One Seed in SBC Tournament; Final Home Game is This Friday with Tipoff Slated for 6:30 p.m.

February 29, 2024 In the penultimate contest at the Holmes Convocation Center, the App State Mountaineers led by as much as 28 points while also never trailing to secure a convincing 89-64 win on Wednesday against Old Dominion. The win clinched the one seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and at least a share of the regular season title for the first time since the 1999-00 season. App State’s (25-5, 15-2 SBC) thrashing at the Holmes Center tied the program record for wins in a season at 25 while also tying the program record for conference wins in a season. Securing the one seed at the conference tournament also marks the first time since the 1978-79 season that App State will enter the conference tournament as the one seed. The Mountaineers are one of just six teams in the country with at least 25 wins.

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Mountaineers Pull Away Late in Come-From-Behind Win Beating Marshall 65-58

February 25, 2024 A sluggish first half plagued by poor shooting and tired legs led to a six-point deficit after the first-half horn sounded for the App State Mountaineers. But a strong second-half performance by Myles Tate and the Mountaineers allowed them to pull away late and secure a 65-58 victory in Huntington on Saturday. It’s the Mountaineers’ third win in front of a national TV audience this season. The win on the road over Marshall (12-17, 7-9 SBC) secured App State’s third season of at least 24 wins in program history. The last time a Mountaineer team posted 24 wins in a season was 2009-10. It also secured an 8-4 road record for the season. The Mountaineers wrap up the regular season with two straight home games next week, starting with a rematch against Old Dominion on Wednesday.

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Mountaineers Set to Close Out Road Schedule on National TV Saturday Night at 6 pm; Back Home Wednesday to Start Final Homestand of Season

February 24, 2024 After securing a winning season on the road last Thursday, the App State Mountaineers (23-5, 13-2 SBC) close out their road schedule with their third nationally televised game this season at Marshall (12-16, 7-8 SBC) on Saturday. App State will look to sweep its fifth season series of the year on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Mountaineers’ 82-67 road win at Old Dominion last Thursday marked win No. 7 away from the Holmes Center this season, which is the most road wins in a season since 2021-22. It also secured App State’s fourth winning record on the road this century. With just four losses away from home this season, a win on Saturday would clinch the fewest road losses in a season since the 1997-98 team lost just four road contests. At 23-5 and 13-2 in Sun Belt play, the Mountaineers enter this week’s action in sole possession of first place in the league and have won 22 of their last 25 games. App State is one of just 10 Division I teams with at least 23 wins and one of only 17 teams in the country with five or fewer losses entering the weekend.

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Avery Compiles Runner-Up Finish at 2024 1-A Individual/Over-All State Team Wrestling Championship; Crowns Four Individual Champions 


February 21, 2024 Avery County High added major team and individual accomplishments this season to further solidify its standing as one of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s most consistently dominant wrestling programs on all levels of classification.  And Avery has been its top 1-A dynasty since championships have been held in each of its four classifications for its Individual/Over-All Team State Tournament the past fifteen years (starting in 2010). From 1931 until 1987, one over-all state championship team from all levels of competition was crowned from the Individual/Over-All Team Tournament.  Then, from 1987 until 2010, 4-A, 3-A, and 2-A/1-A championship Individual/Over-All Team State Tournaments were held. By Tim Gardner

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Sugar Mountain Adult Ski League Finishes Their Race Series and Here Are the Winners for 2024

February 14, 2024 Matt Leonard of Ski Country Sports said it has been a fabulous six weeks of Monday night racing this year that was held on the Oma Meadows Racing Course each race, and with perfect weather each night.  On behalf of the family run ski shop, Ski Country Sports, the sponsor of the race series, Leonard said the Sugar Mountain facilities makes it all happen. “From top to bottom and from bottom to top they run a first class operation over there. And that was evident for our race series. We thank the resort and the race crew who took care of the course and the many volunteer timekeepers for taking good care of us.” The annual awards presentation was full of camaraderie as well as cheers for the winners.

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Avery Falls to Uwharrie Charter in 2024 North Carolina High School Dual Team Wrestling State Championship; Will Still Compete for Individual, Over-All State Team Title

February 7, 2024 The North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA) Dual Team Wrestling Playoffs were held January 26 through February 3 at various sites and concluded on Saturday in the Novant Health Field House at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.Uwharrie Charter claimed its second consecutive Dual Team State Championship with a 36-33 win against Avery County.  The schools have met in the last four dual team finals.  Avery won the first two (2020 and 2022) during that span. No tournament was held in 2021 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Lees-McRae Wins Inaugural Developmental Women’s Basketball Championship

February 6, 2024  The inaugural Conference Carolinas Developmental Women’s Basketball Championship was held on Monday, Feb. 5 in Belmont, North Carolina inside the Wheeler Center on the campus of Belmont Abbey. Lees-McRae went 2-0 on the day to claim the title. The Bobcats began the afternoon with a 54-50 victory over the host Crusaders. Barton then defeated Erskine 96-38 and the Crusaders took third with a consolation game win over Erksine, 53-23.

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Sugar Mountain Adult Ski League Monday Night Race Results Are Here for Week Four of SMARL

January 23, 2024 SMARL held its fourth week of racing Monday night and Matt Leonard of Ski Country Sports pointed out this was the fourth Monday in a row with awesome weather and ski conditions. He added that by saying that he hopes that doesn’t jinx the conditions for the final two weeks. Leonard said the course was quite fast this week, keeping the racing challenging and competitive. Leonard wanted to also point out the outstanding efforts of the race and timing crew that keeps the races on time and running smoothly.

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Strelow: First-Place App State Thrives With Assist From Top-Notch Holmes Crowd

January 29, 2024  Immediately after directing App State past host James Madison in a packed, raucous arena on Jan. 13, coach Dustin Kerns challenged the fans of his program to return the favor when the late-January rematch occurred in the High Country. Kerns could sense that App Nation was ready to answer the challenge well before tipoff Saturday. The game sold out, drawing a crowd of more than 8,000 fans, including a group of students who lined up outside the Holmes Center in rainy conditions roughly five hours before an 82-76 victory that was also seen by a national-television audience on ESPN2.

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