Last Saturday's $40,000 Noel Laing Stakes in Virginia pulled three potential starters from $100,000 Carolina First Colonial Cup Steeplechase, leaving Saturday's Camden fall classic with 10 chasers scheduled to take the starting flag for the final Grade I chase of the National Steeplechase Association season.
Heading into Saturday's class A state boys and girls state cross country championship meets at Clemson's Sandhills Research Center in northeast Columbia, North Central head coach Chad Dixon knew his teams had the decks stacked against them.
Grinning from ear-to-ear while speaking in a quick, but rich Irish brogue, a 20-year-old Tom Foley entertained members of the media after winning the $100,000 Carolina Cup feature aboard the Jennifer Majette-trained Al Skywalker in the 2001 edition of the Camden spring classic.
Imagine, if you will, Jerry Buss selling the Los Angeles Lakers to a fellow NBA franchise owner after the Lakers had won the Western Division and were poised to make a run at year another league crown.
Keeping up with Jonathan Sheppard is a hard enough task for his friends and colleagues. Catching him atop the National Steeplechase Association standings? Well, let's just say you had better have a bunch of wins in your back pocket, a deep barn and a flock of committed owners.
Having traded punches and gotten the better of things for the first three quarters of Friday's AAA state playoff opener against visiting Berkeley, Camden looked like it was ready to deliver a crushing blow to the head.
Some reward this turned out to be for Camden.
How bleak were things for the Lugoff-Elgin football team just two weeks ago when the Demons sported a 2-6 overall and a 1-1 mark in Region 6-4A play following a one-sided loss to Conway?
When he first saw J.B's Thunder enter into the Keeneland Sales Ring as a yearling in 2009, Camden native and Thoroughbred trainer Frank Wooten liked the way the horse walked and seemed to handle himself with a crowd of prospective buyers watching his every move.
Hoping to see the team which ran roughshod over their first two foes in the AAA state volleyball tournament, Camden head coach Paige Wilson saw the squad whose uneven play, at times, during the regular season cost them a chance to come away with more victories.
As Zack Neal's father and football coach, Jimmy Neal was as proud as he could have been about his son's two, possibly, game-saving interceptions which helped preserved Camden's 7-3 win over visiting Marlboro County in Friday's regular season finale at Zemp Stadium.
Forget knocking at the door, Lugoff-Elgin is ready to let itself into the state 4A playoffs … as a possible conference champion.
It's already looking like a good 2011 for the 2010 North Central football program.
All season long, Camden head volleyball coach Paige Wilson talked about searching for that complete game; a victory on which her team could hang its collective hat.
If only things finished the way they started for North Central.
Let's see, now. Two weeks ago, East Clarendon lost to North Central, 28-6. Last Friday, Camden Military Academy was edged by North Central, 20-14.
This is not the team which Camden head coach Jimmy Neal thought he would see when he agreed to play Lancaster last winter.
On a day on which Paige Wilson was forced to miss practice, members of her Camden High volleyball team were being interviewed by a reporter from WLTX TV 19 in Columbia after an online poll conducted by the station rated the Lady Bulldogs as the top team in the Midlands heading into the upcoming season.
There was a time when a volleyball match with Lugoff-Elgin meant the opposing team's bench players would see plenty of action on the court.
One of the busiest people in Boonetown has to be the person charged with updating the volleyball region championship banner at North Central High School. Then again, the flag made of felt never collects a whole lot of dust.
Long snappers are a lot like plumbers. You never realize how much you need one until there is an inch of standing water in your kitchen.
It was business as usual for the football program at Lugoff-Elgin in the early part of the spring and summer.
For almost as long as North Central fans can remember, schools such as Andrew Jackson, Indian Land, Buford and Chesterfield have been the region rivals of the Knights' athletic teams.
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