Football (6-5, 4-2, third in Mountain Seven): The 2021 fall season was somewhat of a turnaround for the Mounties as they earned a state playoff berth for the first time since 2018 and finished with their most wins since that season, too. One memorable moment was a thrilling victory at Franklin to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season in week five.

Postseason honors: Sr. DB/WR/KR Darien Lunsford, Mountain Seven Special Teams Player of the Year. All-Mountain Seven honorees: Sr. QB Jared Penland, Sr. OL Jacob Broom, Sr. DL Jadon Mintz, Jr. ILB Lucas Ritter, Jr. MLB Jourdyn Butler, Jr. WR Jett Benson, Sr. OLB Mason Baker. Honorable mention all-conference honorees: Sr. OL Jason Langley, Sr. OLB Nick Baker, So. C Graham McClelland. The Mountaineer published a more in-depth recap of Tuscola’s football season in November which can be found online at themountaineer.com.

Volleyball (7-14, 4-8, tied for fifth in Mountain Seven): Although Tuscola didn’t win as many matches as they probably would’ve preferred, the volleyball season included several key highlights. After falling behind two sets to none early, the Mounties posted a huge, come-from-behind win over rival Franklin after falling to the Panthers in straight sets earlier in the year. The Mountaineers also earned a state playoff berth, as did every other fall team Tuscola fielded. All-Mountain Seven honorees: Sr. S Addison Wyatt, Sr. MH Delany Buchanan, Sr. RS Hannah Wells

Boys soccer (8-10-1, 5-6-1, fifth in Mountain Seven): In the first year of Head Coach Ray Sugg’s second tenure at the helm of the Mountaineers, the team competed closely with several top opponents, including a Senior Night double-overtime 2-1 victory over Smoky Mountain, who finished third in the conference. Tuscola also kept its soccer win streak alive in the Haywood County Clash, knocking off Pisgah by scores of 6-0 and 3-0. The Mounties also earned a state playoffs bid. All-Mountain Seven honorees: Sr. MF Bryce Worley, Jr. D/F Ben Mehaffey, So. D Diego Hernandez. Worley and Mehaffey were also named All-Region.

Girls tennis (9-4, 8-4, third in Mountain Seven): Tuscola’s girls tennis program shined in 2021, putting together one of the most successful seasons in recent program history. The dynamic duo of Anneke Lam and Cooper Richardson, both seniors, made it all the way to the state championship final before losing their first doubles match of the year. Richardson also went 12-1 overall at the No. 2 singles slot. Freshman Sierra Sellars also stood out in her first year of high school tennis going 12-1 at the three seed. The Mounties also earned a pair of hard-fought team wins over rival Pisgah. Postseason honors: Sr. Cooper Richardson: Mountain Seven Player of the Year, 3A State runner-up (doubles). Sr. Anneke Lam: All-Conference, 3A State runner-up (doubles). Fr. Sierra Sellars: All-Conference, regionals qualifier (singles).

Cross country: Tuscola’s girls cross country team excelled both individually and as a team this year while the boys also found some success. The girls, who are set to return their entire core next season, finished fourth in the state as a team after also finishing fourth at regionals and runner-up at the conference meet. Junior Eva Rinker and freshman Luci Snyder-Lowe anchored the front of the pack, both finishing top 20 in the state individually. As for the boys, senior Andrew DelBene led the way, finishing his Mountaineer career by qualifying for the state meet individually. All-Conference honorees: Andrew DelBene, 69th place at states. Eva Rinker, second in conference, 19th at states, All-Region. Luci Snyder-Lowe, 14th at states, All-Region. Hannah Downs, Selah Hill, Alexis Stevenson.

Girls golf: The Mountaineers’ girls golf program, led by star freshman McKenna Williams, claimed the Mountain Seven Conference title this season. Williams won the conference Player of the Year Award at the conference meet before advancing to a fourth-place finish at regionals and then on to states, where she finished 39th. “Her being a freshman, she’s got a big future ahead of her,” Tuscola Athletic Director Laura Turner said. Junior Darla Forester also earned All-Conference honors and advanced to regionals. Laken Williams, Emma Arrington and Sakari Morgan each contributed to the conference title as members of the team along with head coach Sean Williams, McKenna’s father.

Cheerleading: Although Tuscola’s cheer team didn’t compete in the state championships this year, the Mountaineers were still a prideful and high-spirited mainstay on the sidelines of all the Mounties’ football and basketball games. THS Athletic Director Laura Turner said that even though they didn’t compete in the state competition, they were allowed to practice more regularly and did enjoy performing at a few pep rallies, a privilege that wasn’t allowed last season because of the pandemic. Turner added that the team plans to return to the state competition in the fall.

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