By Dave Morrison
CLEAR FORK – Westside’s state championship golf team was honored with a banquet Thursday night at the high school.
Over 100 people turned out to honor the school’s first state championship team since the girls basketball team won the 2014 state championship.
Coach Jeremy Warrix, who coaches three sports at the school, said the banquet was the culmination of a two-week high the team was on after winning the title in Wheeling.
“This kind of puts it all together and shows a little completion I guess,” Warrix said. “This is all about (the team). I didn’t do much. I was there to support them, help them and keep them grounded a little bit.
“It’s an awesome feeling to knowing that they’ve worked all their lives for something like this. As a person who’s played sports all their life (Warrix was a multi-sport standout at Baileysville) this is the ultimate dream. Especially in Wyoming County. I don’t care what sport it is, it’s a great accomplishment.”
The team consisted of veteran seniors Caleb Cook and Dawson Browning, sophomore Mackenzie Browning and freshmen Tanner Walls, Jacob Cochran and Amelia Muscari.
It was the leadership and play of the seniors that propelled the Renegades to the title.
“They were the best one-two punch in the state,” Warrix said. “They both finished top five in the state. We knew if both of those kids played good, we had a great chance to win the state championship.”
They did that.
They led a team that had a match record of 80-3, which is a school record.
Cook provided perhaps the most drama, coming from six shots down with five holes to play in his final high school round.
“I was a little concerned but I started hitting fairways and greens,” Cook sad. “I made a birdie on the fifth hole (the Renegades started on the back nine) and that got me going.”
Grafton provided the most challenge at Wheeling.
“I thought we might be in trouble,” Warrix recalled. “We’d never heard of Grafton before. We figured it would be between us and Wyoming East (which finished third after winning the last two championships).”
“It felt good to finally beat them,” Cook said. “No matter who it was we were focused on winning the title.”
“We were able to make history,” Dawson Browning said. “No matter how many teams win it, there can only be one first time. We were the first to do it.”
Assistant coach Tim Spolarich was the highlight of the banquet, with several humorous stories and tidbits. He pointed out that he had taught Warrix in fourth grade and how Warrix has been an “assistant” to him, though he had forgotten it and nearly three decades later the role had reversed.
“I guess starting out like this as a freshman gives us a name,” Cochran said. “It lets people know we are going to be able to do it again the next three years. But I’m glad for Caleb and Dawson that they were able to go out on top as seniors. It definitely something we will never forget.”
The county has been the hotbed of Class AA golf the past five years. Former Westside golfer Colin Bowles won the AA individual championship in 2014 and Wyoming East won the Class AA title in 2016 and 2017.
“For the last five years, we’ve pretty much been the top dog,” Warrix said of the county’s golf programs.
Warrix would love to stay there, and thinks he has the team coming back to attain that goal.
“I think we’ll get back,” Warrix said. “We’ve got a lot of talent, some up-and-coming talent. I think we’ll be able to contend again.”
They will go in as defending champions and Cook and Browning go out on top.
“It (state champion) has a nice ring to it,” Cook said.