For the first time in the history of the award, Bishop England High School did not win the Carlyle Cup for the just completed academic year. The award, which used to be known as the Director’s Cup, goes to the top sports program in each classification in South Carolina.
That’s because the coronavirus pandemic wiped out activities in the classroom and arena. The South Carolina High School League didn’t crown champs in 10 sports during its Weekend of Champions in May.
“It was unfortunate what happened around the state, around the country and around the world,” BE athletic director Paul Runey said of the coronavirus pandemic. “We didn’t win it. But we didn’t lose it, either. I guess this will be the year of the asterisk.”
But how’s this for a consolation prize? MaxPreps.com, a website for high school sports from sea to shining sea, recently named its top 50 athletic programs in each state for accomplishments the last three years, and the Battling Bishops were named the top program in the Palmetto state.
“It’s not the first time we won something like that,” Runey said. “We’ve been fortunate since we moved to Daniel Island (in time for the 1999-2000 academic year.)”
MaxPreps used a formula to tally points for each school with a state championship earning the most points, followed by state runners-up and region championships.
The Bishops won 23 state titles in the last three years.
Moving to Daniel Island gave the Battling Bishops the proper training facilities. When the school was located downtown, it wouldn’t be unusual to find the Bishops practicing track and field on black-topped parking lots or for its baseball teams to use fields that were designed for 11- and 12-year-olds.
Runey said another reason why the Bishops have the top athletic program in the state is because of its top-notch, experienced coaching staff.
“If I had to sit down and figure it out, I would say 90 percent of my coaches have been with us for at least 20 years. That’s loyalty,” Runey said.
And of course, there are the athletes. Runey said the school’s enrollment for the 2019-20 year was 660 students and about 520 played at least one sport.
“We don’t have a Geoffrey Gilbert, Drew Meyer or Reese Havens every year,” Runey said, mentioning three players who were high school all-Americans in baseball. “We have the kids who know they have to work hard not only in their sport, but also the weight room. They are dedicated and talented.”
Runey, who graduated from Bishop England in 1973, said when he was in school, athletic programs were judged on the accomplishments of the football and basketball teams.
“We’re fortunate that we excel in spring sports, and in sports that used to be called the ‘country club’ sports. We’re honored to receive this award. It’s isn’t the first time we were honored for something like this.”
The Bishops fared quite well in 2019, earning the No. 4 ranking nationally in the MaxPreps Cup.
In 2009, Bishop England was named the top program in the state by Sports Illustrated.