ALBANY —- You could call it Lucky No. 7, but Westover’s domination of its region has been going on many more years than that.
The Patriots’ athletic program was awarded the annual Region 1-AAAA All-Sports Award trophy for the 2012-13 school year during the coaches’ fall sports meeting this week, marking the seventh straight year — and the 14th time in the last 15 years — Westover has earned the honor. Westover won it going away with 113 total points between its sports and literary programs, while Cairo was second with 93, Crisp was third with 82, Worth County came in fourth at 76 points and Americus rounded out the Top 5 at 61. Dougherty (46), Albany (37) and Monroe (21) made up the bottom part of the region.
“We get excited about this every year, because every year is a new challenge for us to try and win it against good, quality teams in our region,” said Westover Principal William Chunn, who is in his 14th year at the school, six of those as principal and eight as assistant principal. “It’s a huge accomplishment every year, and it never gets old. I have to salute our coaches for the great job they’ve done.”
One of those coaches is Harley Calhoun, the Patriots’ cross country and track & field coach who triples as the school’s A.D. The trophy is especially close to Calhoun’s heart because that streak of 14 wins in the last 15 years started when he took over in 1998.
“It was, I think … 2005-2006,” said Calhoun, doing the math in his head. “That was the only year we didn’t win it. Cairo got us that year, and we finished second. Other than that, it’s been an amazing run. They won a lot before I got here, as well, because we seem to have consistently great staffs over the years that know all about the tradition. And they want to keep it going. I’m proud to be a part of the latest run we’ve been on, and we owe a lot of the credit to our top-notch staff.”
The All-Sports trophy is points-based and decided after the cumulative score each sport receives is added, in accordance with where it finishes in the region. Westover picked up the bulk of its points by having more region championship teams than anyone else, including earning 1-AAAA titles in boys basketball, girls cross country, girls and boys swimming, boys tennis, girls golf, boys track & field, girls track & field and boys and girls literary club.
Calhoun said the school usually does “well” in fall sports, is “strongest in winter” and then “spring sports usually put us over the top.” But there’s another secret to Westover’s success.
“We offer everything, which gives us an edge,” he said. “Every school has a choice of what it can offer, and we’ve always had a tradition of having a lot of activities for kids to participate in. All of them, really. We cover everything, and we have great turnout.”
Points that Westover normally doesn’t expect to receive came in football (region runner-up) and the state one-act play series, which Westover won.
“In all the years I’ve been here, we’ve never won region in football, or even runner-up,” Chunn said. “So to get some points in that and get our first (runner-up) trophy was especially nice to see. And I know it was a big motivation for our football team to come close to winning. Now, we just have to finish the job this season, and — from what I’m hearing — it could be our year.”
And how does the rest of the region react every year at the fall sports meeting to hearing Westover’s name called again and again?
“Everyone’s congratulatory,” Calhoun said. “I think everyone respects us and knows it’s simply a testament to the hard work that our coaches and athletes put in.”