Mother Of All Road Trips

WHEELING – Part of the pageantry of prep sports, at least for me, is being able to go to different venues and soak up the various atmospheres as students, parents and the every day fan cheer on their schools. But what if, as an athlete, you never got to experience the roar of the home crowd, or the shaking of the bleachers?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your Bishop Donahue wrestling team.

Going to the beach is one thing, but nobody should have to endure this type of road trip. Since Joel Sansone restarted the Bishops wrestling program three years ago, his kids have been road warriors, so to speak.

You see, Bishop Donahue only owns half a wrestling mat. Kind of hard to put on an event under such circumstances.

During that first season, Sansone was the proud coach of just three wrestlers. So that half a mat – other than not being able to have home meets – didn’t pose much of a problem.

”Since then we’ve grown to eight wrestlers, and I hope to have 10 or more next season,” Sansone said.

Being at such a disadvantage has been tough, but the Bishops have gotten along OK, thank you. You might of heard of a guy by the name of Bobby Richmond, who just happens to be a three-time state-tournament qualifier, and a one-time place winner. He finished fifth in Charleston last season, and second at the OVAC Tournament.

And Mike Vanni? Well, he also qualified for the state tournament in 2009.

Those are Bishop Donahue’s ”two incoming seniors.”

”We hope to give those seniors at least one home match before they end their high school wrestling careers,” Sansone said. ”We also feel that we can give money back to the school by hosting home matches and tournaments by money earned from the gate and concessions.

”Also, I believe by hosting home matches in front of the students (it) may get more athletes interested in coming out for the team, because a lot of high-school students have never seen an actual high school wrestling match.”

I don’t know about you, but if my child was in this situation I would hope there was something I could do to help. Lucky for you, there is.

There will be a Steak Fry on Saturday, June 19 at Bishop Donahue, with all proceeds going to the wrestling program, and in particular toward a new mat. The cost is just $15 a ticket, and that includes a steak dinner, beverages and desert. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, a Cornhole tournament, and a Chinese auction.

The goal is to raise roughly $10,000.

To be honest, this is my first dealing with Joel Sansone. But I can already tell he’s someone I would have liked to play for, if for no other reason than the fact he goes all out for his kids. Case in point, not only is he working tirelessly to get the word out about this event, but he took the time to draft a pair of letters to send out to local businesses in hopes they will donate ”a gift card, certificates, etc.” to be used in the Chinese auction.

Those who wish to donate or purchase tickets to the steak fry can contact Bishop Donahue High School at (304) 233-3850.

Suddenly, I feel like eating a nice steak with some good-hearted people.

Oh, Man

It’s pretty simple, really. In state championship games, one team wins and the other loses. But not often does the same team win, and the same lose in different sports.

But such is the case with Weirton Madonna, which captured a West Virginia Class A state baseball crown Saturday by knocking off Man – the same school it defeated in December for a state football championship.

What a class this has been for the Blue Dons, who surely hate to see this senior group go. It was only a couple of years ago when it seemed like Wheeling Central was winning any, and every title it wanted.

Not any more. No, these days Madonna is the head honcho.

That’s fine for me either way. I’m impartial, but not when it comes to our schools, and our kids in the Northern Panhandle getting rewarded for putting in the time and effort it takes to be the best, which is of course, a fine lesson for down the road in life.

It’s been a banner year for Madonna athletics, and thus a banner year for the OVAC.

Congratulations to you all, for you’ve done us all proud.

Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at