Month: November 2022

Born to Run; Orange’s Schmid wins 3A State Men’s Cross Country Championship

There is no finish line.

At least not with Gabriel Schmid.

Just 19 months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020-2021 North Carolina High School Cross Country State championships to be held on a frigid January day in Kannapolis. If you scroll down the 97 names who qualified in the 3A Championships that day, Schmid’s is conspicuously missing. He was a freshman then.

Now, he’s a state champion.

On November 5, Schmid won the 3A State Championship at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville. He captured his first state championship with a time of 15:44.28, a full 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Stephen Fernetti of North Lincoln. Eli Julian of South Rowan finished third at 16:13.79.

Schmid became only the second runner ever from Orange to win a state championship in cross country. Bradsher Wilkins won the 4A State Championship in 1997 and 1998.

Just as Schmid flipped the script on his performance, so did the climate that he competed in. Last November, he ran his first state championship meet with temperatures in the mid-50s. He finished 12th. This year, captured the state title in downright balmy conditions with highs in the low 80s, as warm as many observers could ever recall for the final cross country event of the year.

After crossing the finish line, some runners searched fervently for the table that had dozens of cups of water just beyond the concourse. Schmid, however, actually preferred the warmer weather.

“Last year, it was hard to stay warm,” Schmid said. “This was an amazing time. I’d rather have this 100%.”

Schmid followed in the footsteps of a teammate and mentor who nearly captured his own state championship several times. Spencer Hampton, who graduated in June, finished 2nd in the 3,2000 meters in the 2021 3A Outdoor State Track and Field Championship. A week prior, Hampton won the 1,600 meters Mideast Regional championship at Southern Lee High School in Sanford. Last year, Hampton came in 8th in the state cross country championships.

“We were feeling good about the race,” said Orange Men’s Cross Country coach Brian Schneidewind. “It was a nice, relatively calm week of having faith and trust in all the decisions he’s been making throughout the last several years to get to this point. What makes him special is the fact that he’s strong in so many different areas whereas a lot of runners have a lot of obvious strengths, but a lot of weaknesses as well.”

In May, Hampton won another regional championship in the 3,200 meters at Franklinton High School. Schmid finished 2nd. Schmid also finished 3rd in the 1,600 meters, while Hampton came in 2nd.

A week later at the 3A State Championships at North Carolina A&T State University, Schmid came in 2nd in the 3,200 meters.

“Spencer definitely helped me win this championship,” Schmid said. “He pushed me hard my freshman year because he saw potential in me. It’s something he engraved in me early on. It’s definitely something that started it all. From there, my parents, my coaches, my teammates saw that I have something. It motivated me to do that. At the end of the day, the motivation can get you through the days, the years, the months. Waking up every single day and having to do a 8-10 mile run. You can’t just have motivation. You have to have people pushing you.”

After the outdoor state championships, Schmid underwent a rigorous summer training regimen to prepare for cross country. He attended the Brevard Summer Distance training camp where he ran through the craggy terrain in a mountainous region. He also ventured to West Virginia for a Ragnar relay race, described as the “hardest fun you’ll ever love” on its website.

“The Pisgah Forest is definitely the way to train,” Schmid said. “It improved my endurance. One day we ran three miles uphill at an elevation of about 1,500 feet. Brevard started it all for this season. That was the hardest training I’ve ever gone through. I may do it again next year.”

Schmid finished the 2022 cross country season with six wins. In addition to the Central Carolina Conference championship at Lake Cammack Course in Burlington, Schmid won the Mideast Regional championship at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. That’s also where he opened the season with a victory in the Early Bird Challenge on August 20, outdistancing the field by 40 seconds against the nearest competitor, Cedar Ridge’s Roman Morrell.

In the state championships, Schmid beat out 170 other runners.

Since then, he hasn’t stopped competing. He has already qualified for the state championships in indoor track and field. On November 19, Schmid finished 14th in the New Balance Dash for Doobie 3200 in Pfafftown. His time of 9:20.33 was well under the state qualification standards of 10:00.000.

Last week, Schmid returned to WakeMed Soccer Park and finished fifth in the NXR Southeast Regional Championships. His time of 15:13.30 was good enough to qualify for the Nike Cross Country Nationals in Portland, OR on December 3rd.






Cloer’s free throws with :7.2 remaining lifts Orange past Franklinton 67-66

FRANKLINTON–The fact that Coleman Cloer had been sick and hadn’t practiced since Thanksgiving didn’t matter in the end against Franklinton on Tuesday night.

Neither did the fact that he was a freshman. Or that a Franklinton player bumped him as he stood at the free throw line before he shot the free throws with Orange’s game against the Rams on the line with 7.2 second remaining with the Panthers trailing 66-65.

All of that was irrelevant because Cloer knew he was going to make those shots long before everyone else did.

He had just told his teammates that.

“Cole, take your time with these free throws. We need ’em,” one of Cloer’s teammates said as they huddled during a timeout.

“I’m making the free throws. Just listen to watch coach wants after them,” Cloer responded.

True to his word, Cloer calmly sank both free throws for the final points of a long night inside Red Rams Gymnasium to put the Panthers ahead 67-66.

It was the third lead change of the final minute. Then the Panthers and everyone else in the loud gymnasium watched as Mikel Alston, who had burned Orange all night, missed a stickleback 15-footer as the buzzer sounded after Camden Taylor’s outside shot fell short, preserving a 67-66 Panthers win.

Cloer finished with 22 points. Sophomore Xandrell Pinnix had 18 as the Panthers (2-1) claimed its first road victory of the season.

Alston paced Franklinton (1-1) with 27 points.

The Rams led the Panthers 63-60 with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter. Pinnix evened the game with a 3-pointer when Cloer found him out on the wing for a 3-pointer. Pinnix scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

With 1:03 remaining, Alston split a pair of free throws after he was fouled by Pinnix. On Orange’s next possession, Cloer missed on a drive to the basket and the ball went out of bounds of Malachi Poole. Franklinton’s Da’Kari Jones sprinted back on offense and fired a jump pass that was intercepted by Kai Wade. Cloer’s drop step in the lane fell short, but he rebounded his own miss for a tip-in that vaulted the Panthers ahead 65-64 with :22.6 remaining.

On the subsequent inbound, Alston bolted up the floor like a wide receiver and took a pass from Camden Taylor and scored on a transition lay-in to give the Rams the lead. Cloer brought the ball up the floor and was knocked to the floor by Travon Sharps, who picked up his fourth foul.

“I called timeout before the free throws because I knew he was tired,” Orange Coach Derryl Britt said. “He told everyone he was going to make those free throws. I thought ‘That’s my guy.'”

In a game that had twists and turns at warp speed, Orange led 51-44 with 6:28 to go in the fourth quarter. The Rams had two four-point trips in the final five minutes to take the lead. After Parrish Rushing split a pair from the foul line, Alston drained the first of his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

With 3:52 remaining, Pinnix put Orange ahead 56-52 following a three-pointer. Sharps got a free throw following a foul on Orange’s Ryan Honeycutt. After Sharps missed the second, Jones swished a 3-pointer to tie the game.

In the first half, Orange built a 12-point lead. Cloer had 12 points in the first half while Honeycutt had six.

It’s the start of a stretch of four games over five days. The Panthers will face the North Carolina School of Science and Math on Thursday, travel to Riverside on Friday, then face Wake Forest on Saturday.


Asia Burton scored 19 points for Franklinton in the women’s game to lead the Red Rams past Orange 56-44. Mikayla Taborn, a 6-foot-2 junior, finished with 13 points as the Red Rams earned its first win of the season.

Orange was led by Jada Reed, who finished with 17 points. Erin Jordan-Cornell had 12 points for the Lady Panthers (1-2). Orange will try to rebound when they face the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Hillsborough on Thursday afternoon at 5 PM.

Alumni Update: Davidson-Smith takes gold for United States at Pan American Championship

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Mia Davidson-Smith: After her college career at Mississippi State ended last May, it seemed inevitable that Mia Davidson-Smith would play for the United States softball team in some capacity. Sure enough, Davidson-Smith was added to the United States squad for the World Baseball Softball Confederation Pan American Championship in Guatemala, where she was a member of a gold medal team. The Americans thoroughly dominated the event, winning eight of the nine games via the run rule. In the gold medal game, the U.S. defeated Canada 12-1 in four innings. Davidson-Smith hit .412 for the tournament with four extra base hits, including three home runs. She started all nine games either as a catcher, first baseman or a designated player. Davidson-Smith homered in a 13-1 win over Venezuela on November 13. She also scored three runs, drove in two runs, drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. The Americans won that game 19-3. The U.S. belted Costa Rica 20-0 on November 15, a game where Davidson-Smith homered and drove in four runs. In the gold medal game against Canada, Davidson-Smith singled, drove in a run off a sacrifice fly and walked. The U.S. is one of 18 teams now qualified for group play for the 2024 Women’s Softball World Cup in Italy. Group play will start next year in Italy, Ireland and Spain. Of those 18 teams, eight will qualify for the 2024 World Cup in Italy.

Joey McMullin: The Sandhills Community College men’s basketball season has officially started. The Flyers opened the year with seven consecutive wins and are averaging a whopping 125 points per game. McMullin, who scored over 1,000 points in his Orange career, opened the season by scoring 19 points in the Flyers 90-79 win over Lenoir Community College on November 2. On November 4, McMullin scored 12 points and grabbed two rebounds in a 130-67 win over Shooting 4 Greatness in Pinehurst. The following day, the Flyers defeated Anne Arundel Community College 110-80. McMullin had a team-high 19 points along with five assists and four rebounds. On November 9, McMullin scored 14 points as Sandhills defeated Guilford Technical Community College 116-88. The Flyers won its fifth consecutive game when they defeated Wake Technical Community College 107-89 in Raleigh. McMullin had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. Last Tuesday, the Flyers destroyed Hosana Bible College 122-36. McMullin scored 15 points in eleven minutes. At that point, the Flyers were ranked #1 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III rankings. The following night, Sandhills outscored Pitt Community College 122-113 in Pinehurst. McMullin led the Flyers with 22 points. He also grabbed five rebounds. On Tuesday night, Sandhills suffered its first loss of the season. Spartanburg Methodist defeated Sandhills 105-79 in Spartanburg, SC. McMullin scored 14 points in 18 minutes. Through eight games, McMullin leads the team with 16.8 points per game. He’s also averaging 3.5 rebounds per game.

Aaliyah Harris: After graduating in June, Harris made her college debut for the Division III Randolph-Macon women’s basketball team in a 57-54 win over Notre Dame of Maryland in Baltimore on November 16. Harris came off the bench to play two minutes and had one steal. Randolph-Macon is 2-3 and will face Virginia Wesleyan on November 30.

Braden Homsey: The Division III Ferrum wrestling team competed in the Star City Classic in Salem, Virginia on Sunday. Homsey, competing at 197 pounds, went 2-1 on the day. Homsey scored a technical fall over Mac Hirsh of Huntingdon 19-3. The Panthers went on to win the dual match 35-9. In the final dual match of the day, Homsey pinned Zachary Watson of Thomas More in 1:21. Thomas More defeated Ferrum in the dual match 32-21. Ferrum opened the tri-match against Division II Mount Olive. Jonathan Clark of Mount Olive pinned Homsey in 1:47. On the season, Ferrum is 4-2.

Orange Panthers of the Week: Erin and Shannon Sollars

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week are Erin and Shannon Sollars. Erin and Shannon were a major part of the most successful tennis season in Orange High history, men’s or women’s. In 2022, Orange won a share of the Central Carolina Conference championship. It was the first conference championship in the sport of tennis in school history. Erin and Shannon Sollars were Orange’s top doubles team. Together, they won 19 matches, including reaching the finals of the 3A Mideast Regional doubles tournament. Erin and Shannon also teamed to defeat Abigail Brown & Jaden Wilson of Walter Williams 9-7 on September 27, which clinched a 5-4 win over Orange over the Bulldogs. That victory was the only conference loss for Williams this year. Erin and Shannon reached the 3A State Doubles tournament. In the opening round at the Burlington Tennis Center, they defeated Ellie Holtzman and Berkeley Geyer of Hickory 6-0, 6-2 to reach the state quarterfinals. This season, Erin Sollars had 27 overall victories, including 12 singles wins as the top singles player for Orange. Shannon Sollars finished with 29 victories, including 13 singles wins. Though Shannon and Erin were members of the varsity team in 2021, this was the first year they teamed together in doubles. It led to the best Orange tennis team in school history. 

Cedar Ridge’s Colton Taylor & Luke Orstad discuss basketball win over DSA

New Cedar Ridge men’s basketball coach Mike Jones earned his first win as the coach of the Red Wolves on Monday night. Senior guard Colton Taylor scored 16 points as the Red Wolves defeated the Durham School of the Arts 58-50 at Red Wolves Gymnasium. It was a big game for several Cedar Ridge players who competed in their first varsity home games. Sophomore center Luke Orstad had 14 points. Junior Harrison Perel added nine points, all in the second half, including a key 3-pointer that came after the Bulldogs trimmed the Red Wolves’ lead to three points. Cedar Ridge never trailed and led by as many as 13 points. Jonovan Wingate added six points as the Red Wolves won its first game of the season. Last month, Jones was named as the replacement for former head coach Jaison Brooks. Jones is a longtime assistant at East Chapel Hill under veteran head coach Ray Hartsfield, the only varsity men’s coach in school history. Cedar Ridge will return to action next Tuesday with a home game against East Chapel Hill.