A school year filled with second-best finishes didn’t lead to Chapin High coming up short.
The Eagles placed second in Class 3A in three sports, won 14 region titles in their 20 sports and are The State’s top Midlands high school sports program for the 2007-08 school year.
Under a system that rewards postseason accomplishments in the 20 S.C. High School League-sanctioned sports, Chapin outdistanced fellow Class 3A schools Blythewood, Brookland-Cayce and A.C. Flora.
Each of those schools captured at least one state championship, but Chapin’s overall excellence — plus second-place finishes in boys soccer, boys cross country and cheerleading — won out.
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Chapin placed in the top eight in the state in 12 sports. Nine teams, including track, golf, wrestling and tennis, finished in the top five.
“It’s not just about one program here, one program there,” Chapin athletics director Larry Grady said. “It’s a well-rounded, complete program.”
After missing the playoffs in 2006, Chapin captured its first postseason football win since 2004 in the fall. In soccer, the Eagles made the Class 3A final, losing to Riverside 2-1 on penalty kicks.
“‘We have a very athletic senior class this year,” said Haze Weinspach, who played football and soccer. “A lot of great athletes. I knew we were going to do well in a lot of different things.”
Topping that list of athletes is Luke Lovelace, who captured four individual state championships in cross country and track.
Lovelace, The State’s Midlands male athlete of the year for 2006-07, defended his cross country state title by finishing 50 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Matthew Scanlon of J.L. Mann. Chapin placed second to J.L. Mann.
In track, Lovelace won titles in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. The Eagles finished third.
Top-20 finishes by Ashlyn Ruczko (ninth), Claudia Nunez (13th) and Lannon McCoy (20th) helped the girls cross country team place fourth at the state meet.
School spirit is alive at the school and around town.
“The teachers come to your games, and they know how you play and they congratulate you the next day,’’ senior girls basketball player Grace Kemp said. “There is so much support from everybody.’’
Freshman Kyle Koch led Chapin’s tennis team to the state semifinals and placed second in the individual tournament.
“With all the winning going on in Chapin, everybody was talking about all the sports all the time,” Koch said. “The teachers got real into it. Everybody just had a great time winning, even though we had tough losses in the playoffs.”
All the success made for a busy night a few weeks ago when Chapin held a spring fling celebration. During a break in the football team’s spring intrasquad scrimmage, Grady wanted to honor every athlete who had received an athletic award during the school year, either on the region or state level.
The approximately 1,000 people in attendance needed to get comfortable.
“We had more than 100 athletes,” Grady said.
Chapin’s coaching staff proved to be outstanding as well, with 11 coaches being named region coach of the year in their respective sports.
Grady is also proud of the continued strong work by athletes in the classroom. He said 75 students were named scholar-athletes by the SCHSL.
“We feel like we have a perfect combination as a school that emphasizes academics and has great athletics,” Grady said.
Reach Wiseman at (803) 771-8472