YEAR IN REVIEW

Changes galore

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 1/5/18

There were plenty of local sports teams that won or played for championships in 2016, but it was also a busy year for news that happened off the field as well.

As is the case every year, there were many coaching changes. Steve Campbell stepped …

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YEAR IN REVIEW

Changes galore

Sumter P-15’s head coach Steve Campbell (25) decided to resign after three seasons in
charge of the American Legion program. That move and the hiring of Curtis Johnson to
replace him was one of the top off-the-field stories on the local sports scene in 2017.
Sumter P-15’s head coach Steve Campbell (25) decided to resign after three seasons in charge of the American Legion program. That move and the hiring of Curtis Johnson to replace him was one of the top off-the-field stories on the local sports scene in 2017.
SUMTER ITEM FILE PHOTO
Posted

There were plenty of local sports teams that won or played for championships in 2016, but it was also a busy year for news that happened off the field as well.

As is the case every year, there were many coaching changes. Steve Campbell stepped down as the head coach of the Sumter P-15's and was replaced by the man he replaced, Curtis Johnson. Also, longtime Laurence Manning Academy softball head coach Maria Rowland gave up her post as did Thomas Sumter Academy football head coach Troy Kessinger, who had the longest tenure of any of the 12 local coaches.

Sumter hosted the Dixie Softball World Series for the second time, the University of South Carolina Sumter added two more sports and Palmetto Tennis Center added a second professional tournament to its schedule. Also, Sumter, Crestwood and Lakewood high schools found out they would be moving to new regions.

All in all, it was a very busy year.

P-15's CAMPBELL RESIGNS; JOHNSON RETURNS

Steve Campbell resigned his post as the head coach of the Sumter P-15's American Legion baseball team after three seasons. Curtis Johnson, who was replaced by Campbell, will return as the head coach in 2018.

Campbell was 67-23 in his three seasons as head coach. Johnson, who was hired to replace longtime head coach Wallie Jones, had an 82-27 record in three seasons as well.

Johnson also was selected as the new athletic director at Sumter High School after Terrence Scriven resigned to take a similar position at Wilson High in Florence.

LMA'S ROWLAND STEPS DOWN

After 22 seasons and eight SCISA 3A state titles - including the past two - Laurence Manning softball head coach Maria Rowland resigned as head coach in order to be able to follow her children playing sports.

LMA went a combined 519-170-1 under Rowland and captured championships in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2016 and 2017.

Glenda Hodge is replacing Rowland.

SUMTER HOSTS WORLD SERIES AGAIN

For the second time, Sumter played host to four different classes of the Dixie Softball Girls World Series at both Patriot Park SportsPlex and Bobby Richardson Complex at Palmetto Park.

Sumter hosted five classes in 2009 at the same two complexes. The World Series opened Patriot Park.

TSA'S KESSINGER RESIGNS

Thomas Sumter football head coach Troy Kessinger resigned following the completion of the 2016 season after 12 seasons as head coach.

Kessinger had a 75-67 record at TSA, winning a SCISA 2A state title and six straight region titles.

The six straight region titles started in 2007. The Generals were 56-21 during that stretch, winning 10 times game in three of the seasons and 12 in 2010. That's the year they won the state title. They played for the state title three times in four years, also reaching the game in '08 and '11.

WILSON TAKES OVER CRESTWOOD BOYS

After 11 successful seasons at the girls basketball head coach at Crestwood High School, Tony Wilson decided it was time to try something new. So he decided to coach the late varsity games for CHS.

Wilson became Crestwood's boys head coach after Dwayne Edwards decided to step down after 21 years as the school's only boys coach.

Wilson posted a 208-75 record with the Lady Knights. Crestwood won 20 or more games in seven of his last eight seasons and won or shared the region title the last seven years. The Lady Knights played for the state title in the 2013-14 season.

Wilson's longtime assistant coach, Larry Crosby, was hired as the new girls coach.

USC SUMTER ADDS TWO SPORTS

It's took almost five years, but the University of South Carolina Sumter again is offering six intercollegiate sports after adding men's soccer and women's golf

The Fire Ants offered baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer as well as men's and women's basketball programs for the 2011-12 season before having to drop all but two the following year.

USCS added men's and women's tennis two years ago before adding the two new programs.

LAKEWOOD FOOTBALL HIRES CORNELIUS

Lakewood hired Larry Cornelius as its head football after he spent five season at Mitchell County High in Georgia.

Cornelius, who came to LHS with a 30-24 record at Mitchell County, went 2-8 in his first season. The Gators won their first two games, snapping a 13-game losing streak with a season-opening victory over McBee.

SHS, CHS, LHS SWITCH REGIONS

Sumter, Crestwood and Lakewood will all be parts of new regions beginning with the 2018-19 school year following the bi-annual realignment by the South Carolina High School League.

After years of being in a region with Pee Dee schools, Crestwood and Lakewood will become a part of a Midlands-based region. They will be part of Region IV-4A with A.C. Flora, Dreher, Lower Richland and Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

It looked as though Sumter would remain in the Florence/Grand Strand Region V-5A when the realignment was initially released. However, SHS was switched and switched again.

Sumter appealed to the SCHSL for a move to Region IV-5A, made up mostly of Lexington County schools. The region included Chapin, Dutch Fork, Irmo, Lexington, River Bluff and White Knoll and Lugoff-Elgin.

After another week of appeals, Sumter became a member of a 5-team Region VIII. The other schools are Blythewood, Spring Valley, Lugoff-Elgin and Irmo.

SCHAFFER SHS GIRLS HOOPS COACH

Jeff Schaffer began his second stint as the girls basketball head coach at Sumter - this time on an interim basis - as Frances Fields resigned for personal reason prior to the start of practice for the 2017-18 season.

Schaffer was the SHS girls coach for six seasons from 2002-08. Schaffer was 98-56.

Fields, who played for Schaffer, was the SHS coach for just one season, going 3-18.

PTC ADDS SUMTER PINK OPEN

After 10 years of playing host to the Palmetto Pro Open, Palmetto Tennis Center added a second USTA Women's Pro Circuit event with the Sumter Pink Open in October.

Taylor Townsend was the singles champion in the inaugural tournament.