Grant Traylor: Wayne seniors find plenty of reasons for celebration
VIENNA, W.Va. -- After Wayne concluded its state championship celebration on Thursday afternoon, three senior players had one more piece of hardware to pick up.
That would be their diplomas.
Wayne's commencement ceremony went on Wednesday night while Jessica Watts, Tasha Maynard and Becca Langdon were busy helping the Pioneers into Thursday's championship game.
For the smiling trio, it was well worth the wait to receive it on the field and merge the celebrations of graduation and a state championship.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way," Langdon said. "It's awesome."
Perhaps the most telling sign of what has made Wayne's team so special over the last two years was seen on the field after the game.
There were just as many real tears flowing as tears of joy.
It wasn't that the team wasn't happy about winning; instead, it was that the players -- especially the seniors -- were sad that it had come to an end.
Yes, they were walking away as champions, but they were still walking away, which was a difficult thing.
That was no more evident than when the Pioneers came together in the pitching circle for their final team breakdown and Maynard's voice cracked and tears started to well up in her eyes.
"I'm the hoo-er (leader of the cheer) and it really broke my heart because it's the last time that I'll get to do that for the team," Maynard said. "We're sisters and it's going to be hard because we always back each other up all the time. Now, we 're going into the real world and it's going to be different, but I'm sure we'll always be here for each other.
"We'll always have something to look back on -- especially back-to-back (championships). We'll always have something to talk about. "
Maynard's tears were not the only ones flowing.
Wayne assistant coach Steve Watts also had tears underneath his shades as he watched Jessica Watts -- his daughter -- receive her diploma and state championship trophy.
"We talked about long-term goals and she said two years ago that one of the things she wanted to accomplish was to graduate in Vienna with a state championship in one hand and a diploma in the other," Steve Watts said. "She accomplished both of them tonight."
Jessica Watts, who signed to play at Marshall University, said her last season in a Wayne uniform is one she won't forget -- not only because of the state championship, but earning the right to be back in Vienna.
"Getting here was harder this year because we had a target on our backs and everyone was out for us," Watts said. "We were confident and knew we could do it. We just had to go out and play.
For those three girls, it was a day of accomplishment.
The group leaves as Wayne's all-time leader in wins for a four-year class with a record of 102-27 while earning two state titles.
TRIPLE THREAT: Not only did Buffalo win the Class A title for the third-consecutive year on Thursday, but the Bison did so in unique fashion.
Buffalo won each of its state tournament games by a score of 1-0 -- the first time that's ever happened in West Virginia state tournament history.
SKY BLUE: Despite ominous weather looming throughout the week, there was only one delay during the tournament, and that was the lightning delay that essentially ended Wayne's 14-1 win over James Monroe on Wednesday.
Hard rains came in briefly Thursday in between the morning elimination games and the championship contests, but field crews did a great job of getting each playing surface ready for action without a hitch.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).