Wheeling Central Alums Proud of Season

Murray settles into role as Knights A.D.

YEAR IN REVIEW

What a year for Wheeling Central! This week we will be running a five-part series looking back at one of the most successful years by a school in the history of the Ohio Valley. Wheeling Central won four WVSSAC championships, as well as numerous other titles. Today is Part 1, an overview of the season featuring reflections from athletics director Donnie Murray and notable alums Nick Bedway and Suzie Dailer.

WHEELING — Wheeling Central Catholic High School has a long history of success. But the 2017-2018 school year was one like no other.

The school claimed four WVSSAC state championships, six Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Championships, the Bob Otten championship in hockey, state qualifiers in swimming, tennis and golf, as well as numerous all-state accolades.

It is a year that will be hard to be matched by a school anytime soon.

When Bishop Donahue closed last season, many good teachers and coaches were left searching for jobs, students needed to find a new school.

One person that landed on his feet quickly was Donnie Murray.

The former Bishops athletics director took over that same role at his alma mater, replacing Mike Young.

“It was very different, but it was still the same,” Murray said. “I tried to teach the same traits, showing good character, humility, all of that was still there. It still echoed in the hallway.

“I was able to get settled in pretty quickly, but where my concern was with a lot of the kids. The best feeling I had was seeing guys that came over from Bishop Donahue like Vinny Mangino, Logan Wells and Anthony Robbins thrive.

“Those guys did so well in the classroom and in the community. Once I saw they were comfortable, I felt comfortable.”

Murray stayed in touch with other Bishop Donahue kids that went to Linsly or John Marshall, but his new job kept him busy with his new crop of athletes at Wheeling Central.

And what a first year he saw.

Murray made it a point to attend every state tournament and support each sport.

“It has to go to back to the culture created at Central even before I was there,” Murray said. “There was a lot of expectations of being successful and the coaches stick with it.

“They are strong advocates of hard work in the classroom and service, and I feel that helps make a well-rounded student-athlete. A lot of these kids are very fortunate and blessed and I think that humbles them a little.”

While the four state titles in one school year are more than many would have asked for, Murray almost felt that the number was a little low. He felt the teams were capable of possibly eight or nine. A few bounces here or there and that might have come true.

Despite being in a work position, he found himself as much of a fan as those in the student section.

“Sometimes it was hard to conduct yourself in an administrative manner,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of times I was jumping and hooting and hollering with the rest of them. Getting a hug and an embrace from the former Bishop players after winning the state title in football, that was awesome. Moments like that are what make it all worth it.”

One family that got a bird’s eye view of the magical year that played out was the Dailer family.

Suzie Dailer is one the best athletes to put on the maroon and white.

Her prep and college career is legendary.

She returned a number of years ago to help as an assistant coach to Penn Kurtz on the girls’ basketball team. In March at the Charleston Civic Center, the Maroon Knights pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year, dethroning a St. Joe team that had won eight of the last nine titles, a run that included two victories against Wheeling Central.

“This was the third state championship and each one meant something different,” Dailer said. “The first was amazing to be a part of because it was the first one. This second one was great because it was a different group of girls.

“This one, we hadn’t won one in 10 years and no one gave us a chance. As a player, I never got to win one. We made it to the finals and lost in overtime. I would have loved to have won a state championship as a player, but this is the next best thing.”

You won’t find many families as close to the action as the Dailers.

Along with Suzie helping with the girls’ team, her mother, Peggy, is the tennis coach (and will be inducted into the Wheeling Central Hall of Fame this fall), and her father, Tom, is the public address announcer for Maroon Knights home games.

“It is a family affair,” Dailer said. “I look at Wheeling Central as an extended family. The student-athletes, coaches, everyone that is involved.

“When you meet someone from Wheeling Central, there is a connection there. You walked the same halls, sat in the same classrooms and maybe had some of the same teachers.

“I am extremely proud of what they were able to accomplish this season. That tradition that started years ago still continues and to see all the hard work everyone put in, it makes me very proud to be a Maroon Knight.”

Nick Bedway was been a part of Wheeling Central his whole life. Whether it be his time in class or his chosen profession, Bedway has seen it all.

Bedway is a former executive sports editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, and has fond memories. He can still still be found attending numerous athletic events throughout the area with his close-knit friends.

“As a Central graduate, I am most pleased about the overall success of the athletic program and the efforts of coaches in preparing these young men and women for their most important goal which is the game of life,” Bedway said. “I am not really a fan but someone who is proud of every success in the programs of my alma mater, whether they win state championships or not.”

Bedway said his favorite memory of Wheeling Central athletics came from the 1979 Class AA football team that won the school’s first state title.

As for this year, he, like many, point to the girls’ basketball squad.

“My favorite moment of this past season, however, would be the state championship won by Coach Penn Kurtz’s girls’ basketball team,” Bedway said. “Central defeated a highly favored Huntington St. Joseph’s team which has dominated girls’ basketball for several years in our state.

“The success (of all the athletics) obviously is due in a large part to the tireless efforts of a supportive administration and coaches in every sport, especially the assistants most of whom have worked for what would be considered pennies by the hour.

“Some accept no gratuity at all. Of course, the majority of the credit goes to the tremendous athletes that have represented the school. Without their talents and their willingness to put in the time and effort it takes to participate in a competitive sport, there would be no championship banners hanging in the gymnasium.”

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