Sumter sports: strong spirit or sore losers?

Posted by Michael Smith on May 1, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.

It has the makings of a bitter rivalry. Some may think one already exists.
For whatever reason, Sumter’s name keeps coming up as Carolina Forest’s new archrival.
The latest in the Sumter vs. Carolina Forest food fight happened April 27 in the Region VI-AAAA track meet.
Carolina Forest’s boys and girls teams appeared to have concluded a sweep at the region meet, but an incident in the final race has led Sumter to protest.
Apparently, the anchor of the CFHS 1,600-meter relay crossed the finish line with an arm hoisted in triumph. Sumter cried foul, calling that taunting.
Now the matter is up for review.
I’m not sure if Sumter feels threatened by Carolina Forest or if it’s just sour grapes, but the incident is the latest in a long line athletic clashes between the Panthers and the Gamecocks.
In recent years, there’s been skirmishes in track, cross country and wrestling.
Sumter protested the results of the 2010 region track meet after film showed CFHS hurdler Mallory Hancock finishing third instead of fourth, which gave the Lady Panthers just enough points to upset the Gamecocks.
“When you have a meet so close in scoring, the appeal is just to make sure the calculations are accurate,” Sumter athletic director David Wright said at the time. “We want to make sure everything is like it should be with no mistakes in math and the figuring of the score is as it should be.”
The Gamecocks also protested a uniform violation committed by the Carolina Forest girls cross country team in the 2010 region meet.
A mere technicality that had no bearing on the Lady Panthers’ performance, three runners were disqualified, robbing CFHS of a region title.
And Sumter also refused to reschedule the 2010 region wrestling meet, which was canceled due to inclement weather. Though Sumter was considered the region favorite,  denying CFHS the chance to compete enabled the Gamecocks to walk away with a region title and Lower State wrestling berth without ever having to step on the mats.
The girls cross country team had a region title stripped due to a technicality concerning a uniform violation. It was Sumter who reported the violation.
Sumter also protested the results of the previous two
It seems to me that Sumter is used to being the Goliath of Class AAAA. The Gamecocks have pretty much dominated in football and are a force in many other prep sports.
Then came along Carolina Forest High School, which is part of a community that grew 506 percent since the 2010 census. CFHS has a population of more than 2,000 students and will likely continue to grow.
As CFHS continues to grow, so does its sports program.
In spring sports, just about every Carolina Forest team has a winning record.
The tennis team is seeded No. 2 in the playoffs. The softball team is on the verge of winning the district title. The boys soccer team is ranked in the Top 5 in Class AAA. The golf team is a great chance at winning the region.
Other sports – including cross country, basketball, volleyball and wrestling – have been successful as well.
The CFHS-Sumter rivalry may have culminated in October 2010, when for the first time in school history Carolina Forest defeated Sumter in football.
I suspect this accomplishment has further stoked the fire burning between the Panthers and Gamecocks.
I’m all for a healthy rivaly – CFHS already has friendly rivalries with Myrtle Beach and Conway – but no school should resort to whistleblowing or technicalities to win.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Sumter sports: strong spirit or sore losers?

  1. joe

    does anything in your blog come close to being related to newsworthy? how can you call yourself a reporter?

  2. Hi Joe. The 50-plus state press awards in the Chronicle’s collection would seem to speak volumes about the work we all do.

  3. We are all a team here at the Chronicle, though as a two-time journalist of the year and 2010 photojournalist of the year, I would say my record speaks for itself. Feel free to further express your opinions in a letter to the editor. We do require letter writers to provide their full name, address and telephone number for verification. Thank you for your feedback!

  4. joe

    hahahahahahahaha yeah yeah throw around the titles to boost the old self-confidence there michael! attaboy

  5. joe

    and as for a letter to the editor, i’m not sure that my contradictory opinions would ever be published in your close-minded, small town newspaper

  6. Joe, we print virtually every letter to the editor that’s submitted to us. Only the letters we’ve not been able to confirm aren’t printed. We only edit for libel/defamation, spelling and grammar. Please keep in mind would require your full name and telephone number for verification purposes. We do not print anonymous letters to the newspaper. No responsible journalist would. Thank you for taking the time to read our publication.

  7. Ashley Gable

    Michael,
    you told Joe that you print virtually every letter to the editor that is submitted to you, but I was very disappointed to open this week’s edition of the paper and not see the letter printed that i sent you about 2 weeks ago. I was wondering why it was not printed?

  8. Hi Ashley. The reason the letter was not printed is that it didn’t include a telephone number for verification purposes, which per our letters to the editor’s policy is the responsibility of the letter writer. For legal reasons, we do not publish unverified letters. If you still wish to have your letter published, I would suggest contacting me directly. That said, I’d be happy to address points raised in your letter.

    First, the solicitor’s office specifically told us that records from expunged cases are completely and totally removed from their system and not released to the public. Even if the solicitor had knowledge, he said state law specifically prohibits him from discussing specifics from expunged cases. There is no legal way for us to get those records, not even through FOIA. That being the case, the solicitor said the likely explanation for their the absence of records expungement. If you read the article in its entirety, you would’ve noticed we sought the opinion of a second attorney, who concurred. Both attorneys were quoted accurately.

    Secondly, the defendant in this case was never tried, let alone convicted. And even if the defendant initiated the expungement process, based on what the solicitor said, any record of that would also be kept secret, according to what the solicitor told us. We did report the news and report it accurately as it was stated to us. Since they would’ve been the prosecuting agency, seeking comment from them was appropriate.

    Though this wouldn’t necessarily prohibit publication of your letter, the letter sounded more like a personal attack than fair criticism. We went to incredible lengths to obtain records that would have shed light on this case, especially considering what was and remains at stake. It’s unfortunate our legal system prevented us from obtaining more information than what was reported. I hope I have answered your questions. Please feel free to contact me directly to discuss this further.

    Michael Smith, Editor
    Carolina Forest Chronicle
    (843) 488-7259

  9. Ashley Gable

    Thank you for your response. You might be right about the personal attack part. I apologize for that. I feel as though this young man was not treated fairly under the law, and after reading your article, i was even more enraged, and perhaps i let my opinions out on the wrong person (that person being you). and for that, i apologize, because i realize you were simply doing your job. after having time to cool down and think clearly about the letter i sent to you, i don’t blame you for not publishing it. thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

  10. Ashley Gable

    You obviously had that reply ready and waiting since you were so quick to fire back. however, you never actually answered my questions. i know that the defendant was never tried, let alone convicted, because the police relaized they screwed up and tried to cover it up before anyone could find out. and the remarks that Solicitor Hembree made that you printed in your article were not true, but yet you still will not acknowledge that part of my letter.

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