The winter sports season begins this week with area teams and individuals chasing basketball, wrestling, swimming and indoor track and field state championships. It’s the first winter season with the reshuffled conferences, which will create bigger rivalries in some cases and new rivals in others.
Some of the storylines worth following include:
Smithfield-Selma, which won the Big Eight South 3A Conference title in 2003-04, is the most recent conference championship squad from Johnston County. Cleveland and Corinth Holders – in just their fourth seasons – haven’t won a league title yet and South Johnston’s last championship season came in 1996
Cleveland’s girls’ team is expected to contend in the championship race as well. The Rams were Eastern Carolina 3A Conference champions last winter.
Smithfield-Selma, making the move down from the 4A level, got off to a hot start last season but struggled down the stretch, finishing 10-14 with nine losses by six points or less in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference. Quantez Leach, Zay Best, Tony Hobbs, Tito Campbell and Leroy Hill make up a promising, hard-working senior class.
East Wake and Clayton on the girls’ side and Knightdale and Southeast on the boys’ side have been the most consistent challengers of late.