It’s time for the county’s three public high schools to come together this spring | Sports

There can be a bit of vitriol in the county rivalries.

East Carteret expresses hostility towards West Carteret, West Carteret likewise towards East Carteret, and has done so for nearly 60 years.

Throw Beaufort and Morehead City High Schools into the mix, and it goes back even further.

And now West Carteret and Croatan can generate a lot of hostility for each other as natural rivals.

It looks like the antagonism between these schools will have increased a notch this year with the two in the same conference for the first time since Croatan started in 1998.

But a funny thing happened in the way of increased discord.

In sports like cross country, swimming and track and field, where teams meet almost once a week instead of just twice a season as in other sports, it seems that familiarity breeds togetherness at place of contempt.

Cross country coaches Shelton Mayo and Larry Lewis of West and Andy Bulfer and Rico Quispe of Croatan have spoken respectfully of their rivals in conference, regional and national meetings.

This is despite Croatan ending the West Girls’ 18-year winning streak and then taking first place to second from the Patriots in Region 3A.

That continued into the winter with coaches continuing to praise the other team in indoor athletics, even with the Cougars winning the state championship on the girls’ side and West finishing second.

It was the same in swimming with Croatan sweeping West in the conference, the Patriots then taking second place behind the Cougars third at regionals, then Croatan taking fourth place and West fifth on the boys side at the of the state meeting.

West coach Taylor Wilson and Croatian coach Mikaela Worsinger almost always mentioned the other team and their hopes for the other team’s success throughout the season.

And now that the winter sports season is rapidly turning into the spring campaign, our county has been rocked by an untold tragedy.

Eight people, including four students from East Carteret, died Sunday in a plane crash east of Drum Inlet after returning from a hunting trip.

No one gathers like the people of Down East, but the county as a whole can give them a hard time at times.

It will be necessary in the days and months to come as we face something we have never faced before.

Support has already started.

On Monday, the West Carteret Student Government Association announced Wednesday as ECHS Day and encouraged students to “wear your Mariner Blue and Yellow in support of our friends across the bridge.” They announced that Thursday would be Camo Day “in support of the boys”.

The West SGA will also have a card reader, making cards for ECHS students and staff.

Croatan announced “We are praying for our families and our community in East Carteret” on his Facebook page.

Knowing the county, he’s sure more are on the way.

It’s easy to suspect there will be patches on team uniforms, signs along fences and stands, moments of silence before games, fundraisers, and more. this spring.

We will have to tone down the rivalry and intensify the celebrations in the coming months.

We will need a lot less hate and a lot more love.

Everyone can become hostile towards each other again when the Mullet Bucket kicks back.

(Send comments or questions to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

About Rachel Gooch

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