The recent release of the Wells Fargo Cup standings proved once again the unequal playing field in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 1A division.

Nontraditional athletic programs took the top two spots on the list, as well as three of the top four, four of the top six, and seven of the top 10.

Community School of Davidson won the State Cup, followed by Pine Lake Preparatory (Mooresville). Franklin Academy (Wake Forest) was fourth, Raleigh Charter fifth, Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville) eighth, Research Triangle (Durham) ninth and Lincoln Charter (Denver) 10th.

East Surry (third), Murphy (fifth) and Polk County (seventh) were the lone traditional schools to make the cut.

Nontraditionals are defined as charter and magnet public schools and non-boarding parochial private schools located in metropolitan areas that don’t necessarily adhere to strict district lines like traditional schools in rural, small towns.

These athletic programs’ ability to pull from large population centers allows them to, not just win in some sports, but to dominate, effectively eliminating any chance that a traditional program can even compete at the state championship level.

The Wells Fargo Cup, in conjunction with the NCHSAA, recognizes high schools that achieve the best overall interscholastic athletic performance within each of the state’s four competitive classifications.

Wells Fargo Cup points are determined by a system based on performance in state championship events. All schools that finish in the top eight positions (plus ties) earn points.

Points are awarded for all sports as follows: 50 for first, 45 for second, 40 for third, 35 for fourth, 30 for fifth, 25 for sixth, 20 for seventh and 15 for eighth.

The previous year wasn’t much better for traditional athletic programs.

Nontraditionals took up the top two spots, four of the top five, five of the top seven and six of the top nine.

Lincoln Charter was on top, followed by Franklin Academy. Raleigh Charter took third, Community School of Davidson was fifth, Pine Lake Prep tied for sixth and Bishop McGuinness was ninth.

Among the traditional schools in the mix, Mount Airy was third, Murphy tied for sixth and Polk County was eighth.

When Mount Airy won the Wells Fargo Cup in 2016-2017, it became the first traditional athletic program to win the 1A division in nearly a decade.

Hendersonville had been the last traditional school to win it in 2007-2008.

Lincoln Charter took the runner-up spot in 2016-2017, followed by Murphy, which gave traditional schools two of the top three. Traditional schools hadn’t filled two of the top three spots since the 2008-2009 year.

The following eight spots in 2016-2017 looked much the same as they had over most of the past decade with nontraditional schools filling seven of them. Whiteville (eighth) was the lone

traditional school in that mix.

Franklin Academy was fourth, Raleigh Charter fifth, Gray Stone Day (Misenheimer) and Bishop McGuinness tied for sixth, Voyager Academy (Durham) and Community School of Davidson tied for ninth and Pine Lake Preparatory 11th.

In 2015-2016, Mount Airy became the first traditional athletic program to break the top two of the 1A standings in seven years. Of course, it was a distant second. Community School of Davidson won with 542.5 points, while Mount Airy finished 100 points behind.

Topsail had previously been the last traditional school to finish in the top two in the state, taking second in 2008-2009.

Nontraditionals began their dominance in 2006-2007 when Bishop McGuinness finished first.

Hendersonville won it in 2007-2008 but it was nine years before a traditional program won again.

Nontraditionals took the top two spots for six straight years (2009-2010 to 2014-2015), including the top three spots in both 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 and the top four spots in 2014-2015.

In 2009-2010, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2017-2018, nontraditionals captured four of the top five spots. They took three of the top five in 2010-2011, four of the top seven in 2011-2012, five of the top seven in 2014-2015 and 2016-2017, six of the top nine in 2015-2016 and four of the top six this year.

Nontraditionals have won 10 of the past 11 Wells Fargo Cups.

If not for Mount Airy, it would be 11 in a row.

(Send comments or questions to or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

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