The following are highlights from teams across Watauga County for the week of Feb. 1 to Feb. 6.
• BOONE — The Mountaineers Athletic Fund raised more than $14 million for App State Athletics in 2022, including a record $5.79 million via the Yosef Club.
The Mountaineers Athletic Fund comprises the areas of major gifts (Leadership Society) and annual giving (Yosef Club). The Yosef Club’s 2022 revenue increased by more than $1 million, or 21%, over the previous year.
“Our ability to provide a world-class experience for App State student-athletes is directly reliant on investment from our faithful Mountaineer supporters,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said. “We could not be more thankful for App Nation’s continued support of student-athlete scholarships and helping raise App State Athletics to new heights. The future is bright on the mountain!”
Yosef Club memberships more than doubled from 2021 to 2022, with a record total of 9,348 Yosef Club donors last year. That included 5,383 Student Yosef Club members, another record-shattering mark. Even when only accounting for non-student memberships, the Yosef Club grew by 16% year over year.
One of the most fruitful vehicles for the increase in giving was the Mountaineer Scholarship Incentive (MSI), an incentive program that rewards donors for increasing their annual gift to the Yosef Club from the previous year by awarding them double points for their increased contribution. The program awards double points for every $100 increased from the previous year (six points per $100 vs. the normal three points per $100). The MSI program raised over $2 million for the Yosef Club in 2022, directly supporting student-athlete scholarship needs.
“This speaks volumes of our proud App State fan base and alumni network. So many Mountaineers are passionate about this institution and our mission,” said Deputy AD for External Relations Patrick Ransdell. “I would like to thank our tremendous staff who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of our student-athletes and are vital to generating the needed support to ensure App State Athletics continues to thrive.”
App State fans broke the school and Sun Belt Conference football attendance records for the second straight year after averaging 33,566 fans per game at Kidd Brewer Stadium in the fall. That was after App State sold out of football season tickets for the first time in history. All-time high attendance numbers also occurred at the Holmes Convocation Center for men’s basketball, as well as at baseball, softball, wrestling and volleyball.
New Sun Belt members James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss have immediately impacted the level of competition across the league.
“The new Sun Belt Conference has energized the App State fan base to reach for new heights,” Gillin said. “In addition to our fundraising success, we sold out six of seven football games in 2022 and expect to sell out all six home games in 2023.”
Season ticket renewals are underway for an exciting 2023 slate that features visits to The Rock from Gardner-Webb and five 2022 bowl teams – East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Georgia Southern and Southern Miss.
• SPARTANBURG, S.C. – App State’s Will Formato has been named the Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week for all competition from Jan. 25-31. The selection is made by the league office.
Formato, who is ranked No. 26 at 165 pounds, won his lone match of the week at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 30. The redshirt junior from Acworth, Georgia, defeated 24th-ranked RJ Mosley, 2-1, to grab the victory. The match was the seventh time that the two SoCon foes faced off in their careers.
After a scoreless first period, Mosley took a 1-0 advantage in the second period after an escape with 50 seconds left. Formato would tie the score at 1-all seven seconds into the third following an escape of his own. Formato would secure the victory after maintaining more than a minute advantage of riding time, giving him a bonus point.
The 20th-ranked Mountaineers (8-2, 4-0 SoCon) defeated Gardner-Webb (4-8, 2-2), 32-6, to remain undefeated in conference duals.
• NEW ORLEANS, La. — Kayt Houston has been named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team, the conference announced Thursday.The junior outfielder comes into the season after being named All-Sun Belt First Team in 2022. Houston posted a league-high 67 hits and 46 runs. After the 2022 regular season, she also led the Sun Belt with 13 home runs.
Houston was also the first-ever player in the history of App State’s softball program to receive NFCA All-Region honors last season, being named to the Central Region Third Team.
The Rock Hill, S.C. native, who was also an NFCA scholar-athlete in 2022, enters her third year in the Black & Gold with a team that looks to post its fifth consecutive winning record.
The Mountaineers will kick off the 2023 season with a weekend series at Queens, visiting the Royals on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. before their doubleheader the following day.
• BLACKSBURG, Va. / WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — App State women’s track and field closed out the first day of competition at the Doc Hale VT Meet at Virginia Tech and Camel City Invite at the JDL Fast Track on Friday. The Mountaineers collected a total of nine top-10 finishes on the first day of competition.
Action at the Camel City Invite resumes at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, while the Doc Hale VT Meet resumes at 11 a.m.
Doc Hale VT Meet | Blacksburg, Va.
Senior Mariah Atwater finished fifth overall in the women’s 400 meters with a personal best time of 55.98. Atwater remains third in the App State all-time list for the women’s 400 meters, improving from her previous PR of 56.02. In the women’s long jump, junior Siby Yao and senior Taylor Smith took sixth and eighth, respectively. Yao recorded a personal best leap of 5.90m (19’ 4.25”) and Smith recorded a leap of 5.76m (18’ 10.75”). Freshman Addison Ollendick-Smith placed eighth in the women’s 800 meters, stopping the clock at 2:14.45 for a personal best of her own. Ollendick-Smith remains 10th in the App State all-time list for the women’s 800 meters, improving from her previous PR of 2:15.13.
Camel City Invite | Winston-Salem, N.C.
In the women’s pole vault, senior Celia Agee landed fourth with a clearance of 3.50m (11’ 5.75”) and freshman Ava Studney took fifth, also with a clearance of 3.50m (11’ 5.75”). Freshman Daye Talley took sixth in the women’s 200 meters with a personal best time of 25.95, while sophomore Regan Hodge placed eighth in the women’s 600 meters, stopping the clock at 1:43.66 for a personal best. Hodge’s time places her fifth in the program’s all-time list for the event. Sophomore Graysen Arnold placed eighth with a toss of 16.45m (53’ 11.75”) in the women’s weight throw.
• BLACKSBURG, Va. / WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — App State women’s track and field rounded out the weekend’s competition at the Doc Hale VT Meet at Virginia Tech and Camel City Invite at the JDL Fast Track on Saturday, totaling 12 top-10 finishes over the course of the weekend.
Doc Hale VT Meet | Blacksburg, Va.
Saturday’s action saw senior Jada Branch record a leap of 12.61m (41’ 4.5”) in the women’s long jump, landing second overall. Branch’s jump was a mere 0.08 meters from her indoor personal best mark of 12.69m (41’ 7.75”). She currently stands sixth in the program all-time list in the event. Fellow senior Djamila Petersen finished ninth in the women’s triple jump with a leap of 11.62m (38’ 1.5”).
Junior Jasmine Donohue clocked a personal best in the women’s mile with a time of 5:04.96, finishing seventh in her heat and 17th overall.
Camel City Invite | Winston-Salem, N.C.
Junior Bianca Copeman finished eighth in the women’s 1,000 meters on Saturday, clocking a personal best time of 3:11.08, which puts her at eighth in the App State all-time list. Junior Megan Plummer recorded a toss to 11.72m in the women’s shot put, placing 15th overall. Sophomore Alexis Svoboda came within one second of her personal best, setting pace for the Mountaineers in the mile and recording a time of 5:12.52 to finish fifth in her heat and 24th overall.
• BOONE — Putting forth a complete effort in a battle of conference co-leaders, No. 20 App State Wrestling took eight of 10 matches in a 25-6 home victory against rival Chattanooga in Varsity Gym.
Three SoCon teams entered Sunday with 4-0 league records, and now there are two 5-0 teams: App State and Campbell. They meet on Sunday, Feb. 19, in Varsity Gym — a week after Chattanooga hosts the Camels.
Dual-opening wins from Jon Jon Millner (4-0 shutout at 149), Tommy Askey (bonus-point victory at 157) and Will Formato (6-0 shutout at 165) gave the Mountaineers (9-2, 5-0 SoCon) an early lead before the Mocs (7-9, 4-1) had ranked wrestlers win decisions at 174 and 184 pounds to trail just 10-6 at intermission.
App State won all five matches after the break, including a 5-2 decision over 13th-ranked Brayden Palmer from Ethan Oakley, who stepped into the starting role at 133 following Sean Carter’s season-ending injury in mid-January. Oakley broke a 1-1 tie on a takedown with 18 seconds left and responded to a late escape by registering one more takedown in the closing seconds to improve to 4-0 in SoCon duals.
The run of five straight wins began with a 3-0 decision at 197 from true freshman Carson Floyd, who had beaten senior Jake Boyd in overtime at the Southern Scuffle, and a 6-0 shutout in the heavyweight division from Jacob Sartorio, whose second career dual win occurred against 2021 NCAA qualifier Logan Andrew. Caleb Smith won an 8-5 decision at 125 against Logan Ashton, who transferred to UTC after qualifying for the 2022 NCAAs at Stanford, and Heath Gonyer followed Oakley’s win with a 4-0 shutout of 2021 All-SoCon performer Franco Valdes.
The Mountaineers beat the Mocs for the eighth consecutive season. Of the previous eight meetings, seven had been decided by seven team points or less, with a combined margin of 28 points in those seven matches.
App State totaled five individual shutouts against a strong UTC squad that, with three Power Five transfers in its lineup, has come together since dealing with several injuries early in the season.
Chattanooga’s two wins came from 11th-ranked Ohio State transfer Rocky Jordan, who erased a 5-0 deficit in an 11-5 decision against Will Miller, and 28th-ranked Matthew Waddell, who won a 5-2 decision against Luke Uliano.
It was the annual Old Timers Match to welcome back App State Wrestling alums, as well as Heroes Day in Varsity Gym.
Chattanooga elected a coin flip to decide which school picked the starting weight for wrestling, and the Mocs chose 149 pounds after it won the flip.
Noah Castillo was the SoCon Freshman of the Year last year as the third-place finisher in a weight class with two top-10 wrestlers, including Millner, who rode out the second period with no scores on either side. A reversal in the first 10 seconds of the third period propelled him to a 4-0 win.
Askey turned a 6-2 lead entering the third period against Lincoln Heck into a 13-3 major decision, and Formato led 4-0 by the end of the first period against 2021 SoCon Freshman of the Year Weston Wichman thanks to a takedown and two near-fall points.
Floyd took control of his match against Boyd by claiming a 2-0 lead on a reversal early in the second period and finishing the period on top. Sartorio had a takedown in each of the first two periods against Andrew, and Smith held just a 5-4 lead (with a riding time point secured) before he gained separation thanks to a takedown with 47 seconds remaining.
The final shutout occurred as Gonyer used a timely takedown with three seconds left in the first period to seize control.
#20 App State 25, Chattanooga 6
149: #9 Jon Jon Millner (APP) def. Noah Castillo (UTC), 4-0 dec.
157: #28 Tommy Askey (APP) def. Lincoln Heck (UTC), 13-3 maj. dec.
165: #26 Will Formato (APP) def. Weston Wichman (UTC), 6-0 dec.
174: #11 Rocky Jordan (UTC) def. #27 Will Miller (APP), 11-5 dec.
184: #26 Matthew Waddell (UTC) def. Luke Uliano (APP), 5-2 dec.
197: Carson Floyd (APP) def. Jake Boyd (UTC), 3-0 dec.
Hwt: Jacob Sartorio (APP) def. Logan Andrew (UTC), 6-0 dec.
125: #11 Caleb Smith (APP) def. Logan Ashton (UTC), 8-5 dec.
133: Ethan Oakley (APP) def. #13 Brayden Palmer (UTC), 5-2 dec.
141: Heath Gonyer (APP) def. Franco Valdes (UTC), 4-0 dec.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.