February 2015: ‘Save UNCW Track’ gets OK to raise money, Mondragon a state champ, Coach Queen reaches milestone

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February 2015 brought a handful of memories to mind in college and high school hoops. One local standout was crowned a state champion, and new football coaches were a story, too.

However, the biggest story to come out of February 2015 happened on the UNCW campus when Interim Chancellor William Sederburg released a statement allowing a private effort to raise funds to continue the track and C\cross country programs.

UNCW announced it would continue Track & Field moving forward. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports.
UNCW announced it would continue Track & Field moving forward. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports.

‘Save UNCW Track’ eventually won its battle later in the year and new Chancellor Jose “Zito” Sartarelli said in August 2015 the program would continue.

Ashley High School’s Joe Mondragon was one of a dozen high school wrestlers from the area to compete at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) individual state championships at Greensboro Coliseum.

Mondragon was crowned state champion in the 4A 132-pound weight class with a 4-3 decision over Chance Davis (Apex) as the senior closed his high school career with a 45-2 record. He trailed in the final minute of the match before a late take down secured the win.

Brie Mobley. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics
Brie Mobley. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics

Mondragon’s victory gave Ashley its first individual wrestling championship in school history.

On the hardwood, it’s hard not to remember the historic night inside Trask Coliseum when Brie Mobley dropped a record-setting 46 points for the UNCW women’s basketball team in a 71-68 win over Delaware.

She was honored on ESPN’s SportsCenter as one of the Top 3 Performers of the night.

Hoggard basketball coach Brett Queen also became the program’s winningest coach in school history in February. He surpassed the 27-year-old record held by James Hebbe, who retired in 1988.

Now in his 14th season, Queen surpassed the milestone seven years quicker than Hebbe. He credits a dedicated staff, quality athletes and great learning experiences as student manager under UNCW coaches Jerry Wainwright and Brad Brownell with his accomplishments.

Jim Hebbe, right, pays tribute to his successor, Brett Queen. Photo by Rodney Williams.
Jim Hebbe, right, pays tribute to his successor, Brett Queen. Photo by Rodney Williams.

Finally, rounding out some of the top stories from February 2015, Earl Smith was introduced as the new football coach at New Hanover High School. He was one of five new coaches to take over programs in the area this fall.

It was a year to remember for the Wildcats, who advanced to their first 4A Regional Final since 2009 and hosted its first final four game since 1991.

Smith rejoined New Hanover after spending the 2001-2002 seasons in Wilmington and returned to the gridiron for the first time since retiring from the game in 2008.