Month: November 2023

Alumni Update: Talley wins SAC Championship with Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer

Emerson Talley: The Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team won the South Atlantic Conference Championship over Catawba at the Mecklenburg County Sports Complex in Matthews on Sunday. The Bears and the Indians played to a 2-2 tie after 110 minutes of action. The Bears claimed the championship after winning 4-2 on penalty kicks. Talley started in the championship game and played 36 minutes. In the semifinals on November 10, the Bears shut out Carson-Newman 2-0. Talley played 67 minutes and fired one shot. Lenoir-Rhyne completed an undefeated run through the South Atlantic Conference, finishing 11-0. They are 15-0-4 overall. The Bears received a #1 seed for the NCAA Division II Tournament and will face Carson-Newman in the opening round on Friday at the Moretz Sports Athletic Complex in Hickory. If the Bears win, they will host the second round game against either Columbus State or Flagler on Sunday afternoon.

Ivy Garner: Garner scored a goal for Liberty in the opening round of the NCAA Division I soccer tournament on Friday. Garner notched the equalizing goal for the Flames in the 72nd minute. Georgia’s Kiera Staude scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute as Georgia won 2-1, denying Liberty its first NCAA Tournament win. Liberty, the champions of Conference USA, ends the season 16-3-1. As a sophomore, Garner was named first-team All-Conference USA. This season, she started in all 20 of the Flames games. She scored six goals and racked up four assists. She was second on the team with 39 shots and had 19 shots on goal, which was tied for second on the squad. It was Liberty’s eighth Division I NCAA Tournament appearance.

Trenton Gill: The Chicago Bears defeated the Carolina Panthers 16-13 at Solider Field last Thursday night. Gill had six punts for an average of 46.7 yards. One of Gill’s punts was returned for a touchdown by Carolina’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette, which was the only time the Panthers saw the end zone all night. Gill had three punts downed inside the 20-yard line. His longest boot was 62 yards. Chicago is 3-7 and will face Detroit at Ford Field on Sunday.

Payton Wilson: As his career at N.C. State winds down, Wilson continues to rack up the honors. On Wednesday, he was named a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player in college football. The Wolfpack won its third straight on Saturday, beating Wake Forest 26-6 at Allegacy Stadium in Winston-Salem. Wilson finished with seven tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hit. Wilson continues to lead the team in tackles and had two tackles for loss against the Demon Deacons. On Saturday, Wilson will play the last true road game of his career when the Wolfpack take on Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, VA.

Braxton Mergenthal: The Division III Hampden-Sydney football team’s season came to an end last weekend when #9 Randolph-Macon defeated the Tigers 49-10 at Day Field in Ashland, VA. Mergenthal finished with four tackles for Hampden-Sydney in a rivalry that is considered the Oldest Small School Rivalry in the South. Hampden-Sydney finished the season 6-4 overall, 4-3 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Mergenthal played in ten games this season and collected 22 tackles and one fumble recovery.

Joey McMullin: The Division III Methodist men’s basketball team started its season earlier this month. The Monarchs dropped its home opener to Guilford 74-59 at the Riddle Center in Fayetteville on November 8. In his first game at Methodist, McMullin finished with seven points in 22 minutes. He shot 3-of-7 from the field. He also collected two rebounds. Johnson & Wales defeated Methodist 83-73 in Fayetteville on Saturday. McMullin started and scored six points off 3-of-11 shooting from the field. He also had four rebounds and an assist. On Wednesday, Virginia Wesleyan defeated Methodist 61-48 at TowneBank Arena in Virginia Beach, VA. Once again, McMullin started and played 17 minutes. He scored three points off 1-of-5 shooting from the field. McMullin also had a rebound. The Monarchs will travel to Asheville on Saturday to face Warren Wilson College.



Return to Glory–Phillipps, Johnson power Orange Middle past Culbreth 24-6 to win OPAC Football Championship

For the first time in years, it felt like a big football game at Auman Stadium.

On Thursday night, the Orange Middle School Chargers returned to glory after eight years without an Orange Person Athletic Conference championship.

Owen Phillipps caught a touchdown pass and finished with 113 yards from scrimmage, while 7th grader Amir Johnson rushed for a touchdown and recovered a fumble as Orange Middle pulled away from Culbreth 24-6 to win the OPAC Championship.

Quarterback Mason Stubbs created two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing, as the Chargers celebrated its first OPAC title since 2015.

It was a gratifying win for Orange head coach Jamie Bailey, who served as an assistant coach at Orange High for 17 years under head coaches Pat Moser and Van Smith, including a stint as defensive coordinator. Bailey completed his first year as Orange Middle’s head coach with a long-awaited championship.

“It’s a beautiful thing to bring this championship back to Orange County,” Bailey said. “Orange County football needed this.”

Playing 8-minute quarters, Orange Middle used a ground control offense to limit the Cougars to only five plays from scrimmage in the entire second half.

Leading 16-6 at halftime, the Chargers controlled the ball the entire third quarter, converting three 3rd downs and a fourth down. Stubbs threw to Wyatt Moore for a 12-yard gain on a 3rd-and-nine to advance the ball into Culbreth territory. After Jakai Torian gained six yards on a 3rd-and-8, Phillipps took the ball out of a wildcat formation, which Bailey installed last week, and ran around right end for 13 yards on 4th-and-2.

Going into the fourth quarter, on a 3rd-and-12, Phillips gained nine yards. Culbreth jumped offside on 4th-and-3 to move the chains again. Stubbs grinder ahead on a quarterback sneak and just inched over the goal line for a touchdown to conclude a 13-play, 60-yard drive that took 9:46 off the clock. Markus Thomas scored the two-point conversion on a jet sweep.

Johnson recovered two fumbles, including one on the opening play from scrimmage at the Cougars 48-yard line. On 4th-and-14, Brandon Robbins took the ball on a halfback option and chucked it ahead to Phillipps, who dashed into the heart of the end zone. Markus Thomas scored the 2-point conversion to put the Chargers ahead.

After Culbreth scored a touchdown following a Charger fumble, Orange scored a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. Stubbs threw to Thomas on a 13-yard pass. Johnson added the 2-point conversion, then ended the half by sacking Culbreth’s quarterback.

The championship wasn’t merely a squad beating other teams from Roxboro, Chapel Hill and Carrboro for a trophy. It marks the climb out of a dark hole for football within northern Orange County that started during the pandemic and, in some respects, continues.

For the first time possibly ever, there was no junior varsity football team at Orange High School this year. Not long ago, Thursday night lights shined brightest at Orange. The junior varsity teams in the mid-2010s went years without losing a game.

In August 2021, after the entire middle school athletic calendar for the 2020-2021 academic year was canceled due to the pandemic, Bailey was riding to an Orange practice one day when he saw roughly 20 players at an Orange Middle workout.

He felt a chill go across his heart.

“It used to be there would be around 100 players at a Stanford practice,” Bailey said.

That’s what led him to start coaching at the middle school level.

“I wanted to get back to that because that’s what going to feed into high school football in Hillsborough,” Bailey said. That’s what we need back in this county.”

This year, the Orange Chargers suited up 45 players for a championship team.

Volleyball Alumni Update: Altieri honored as Salisbury wins Coast-to-Coast Conference title

Julie Altieri: For the first time since 2012, the Salisbury Seagulls won the Coast-to-Coast Conference Tournament championship. On Saturday, Salisbury defeated Mary Washington 3-2 on scores of 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-11, 15-13. Altieri, a freshman, was named to the All-Tournament team. Altieri had 49 assists, 15 digs, seven kills and one ace in the championship match. With the win, the Seagulls have reached the NCAA Division III Tournament for the 11th time in program history and the second time in as many years. In the semifinals on Friday, Salisbury defeated Christopher Newport 3-1 at the Maggs Physical Activities Center (25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21). Altieri, who became the starting setter about one-third of the way into the season, finished with 36 assists, 13 digs, two aces and one kill. Salisbury is 20-7 going into the NCAA Tournament.

Lottie Scully: The Binghamton Bearcats ended its regular season with a 3-0 loss to the University of New Hampshire on Sunday (25-22, 25-20, 25-19) at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, NH. Scully finished with 29 assists, nine digs and two kills. On November 8, the Bearcats defeated Manhattan College 3-1 at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale, NY. Scully came away with 43 assists, nine digs, two kills, and two aces. Binghamton concludes the regular season 14-12, 6-4 in the America East Conference. Binghamton will face New Hampshire for the America East Championshp on Friday in Baltimore.

Cameron Lanier: Elon ended its season with a 3-1 loss to Delaware at the Schar Center on Sunday. Lanier finished with six kills and five digs. The Blue Hens prevailed on scores of 19-25, 25-18, 25-21 and 27-25. On Saturday, Delaware swept the Phoenix 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-22). Lanier played in two sets and had one kill and one dig. Elon swept a two-match series from Hampton on October 28 and 29, it’s only wins in the Coastal Athletic Association this season. On October 28, the Phoenix won 3-0 at the Schar Center. Lanier had seven kills and six digs. On October 29, the Phoenix defeated the Pirates 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-14). Lanier was tied with the team lead with ten kills, along with two digs and one block. Elon finished 5-22 overall, 2-16 in the CAA. Lanier finished her freshman season second on the team with 221 kills. The only player with more was Sydney Love, a junior who had 230. She also had six blocks.

Cameron Lloyd: The Bucknell Bison ended its regular season with a loss to American University 3-0 inside Bender Arena in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. Lloyd had four kills, 12 digs and three aces. On November 5, the Bison defeated in-state rival Lehigh 3-1 at Davis Gymnasium in Lewisburg, PA. Lloyd provided a strong second option for the Bison. She finished with ten kills, along with ten digs and three aces. On November 4, Bucknell swept Lafayette 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-16). Lloyd had seven kills, eight digs and two aces. Lehigh will start play in the Patriot League Tournament against Navy on Tuesday at Davis Gymnasium.

Grace Young: UNC Asheville ended its season with a 3-1 win over USC Upstate at the Justice Center in Asheville on Saturday. Young played in all four sets and finished with seven digs and four assists. On November 4, Gardner-Webb defeated the Bulldogs at the Justice Center. Young played in one set and had three digs, one assist and one ace. UNC Asheville finished with an 8-20 overall record, 2-12 in the Big South. For her freshman year, Young played in 46 sets and had 52 digs and 12 aces.

Allie Wilkerson: The season ended for Division III Averett University in the semifinals of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference on Thursday. Randolph-Macon defeated the Cougars 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-16, 25-16) at Crenshaw Gymnasium in Ashland, VA. Wilkerson had one kill and two blocks for Averett. In the quarterfinals, Averett defeated Bridgewater 3-1 at Niniger Hall in Bridgewater, VA (17-25, 27-25, 25-15, 25-22). Wilkerson had five kills, one dig and one ace. Averett ends the season 14-17, 7-5 in the ODAC. This season, Wilkerson was third on the team with 153 kills. She had 16 aces and 44 digs.

Melissa Benkowitz: The season of Division III Franklin & Marshall ended in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference Tournament. Gettysburg edged the Diplomats 3-2 (25-18, 17-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-10). Benkowitz had two digs in her only set of action. In the quarterfinals, Franklin & Marshall defeated Muhlenburg 3-1 (25-23, 25-7, 22-25, 25-20). Benkowitz, in her freshman season, played in 12 of the Diplomats 26 matches. She had 61 kills in 33 sets.

Katie Belle Goes to Athens; Sikes signs swimming scholarship with Georgia

Before she could even form coherent thoughts, Katie Belle Sikes seemed to know she was born to be a swimmer before everyone else did.

When she was three years old, Sikes somehow eluded her parents attention and jumped off the diving board at her grandparents swimming pool. With no hesitation, she plopped herself into the deep end while she tried to reach a nearby ladder, where her brother was stationed.

The fact she had not learned how to swim yet didn’t stop her, though it did leave her parents horrified.

Yet before they could jump in the water, Katie Belle popped up from underneath and reached the wall much to everyone’s relief.

It was a harbinger of things to come.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of workouts at the Orange County Sportsplex, dozens of trips with travel teams and high school competitions all led to a ceremony at Orange High School’s Gymnasium. It’s where Sikes formally signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, where she verbally committed last fall.

Georgia, a seven-time NCAA National Champion in women’s swimming, is home to Gabrielsen Natatorium, where Sikes first competed in middle school.

Katie Belle was accompanied in the signing ceremony by her parents Kristin and Thomas Sikes, along with her coaches Rob and Kristie Geib.

“I have so many emotions right now,” Sikes said. “I’m extremely excited. I have so many emotions for so many people. Swimming in Garbielsen Natatorium was very intimidating when I was in eighth grade, but also super exciting to be swimming in a poll where so many national titles had been won.”

Sikes quickly established herself during a freshman year that was anything but typical. In the pandemic year of 2021, she found herself practicing in reduced lanes due to COVID restrictions. She didn’t have one in-person class as a freshman. Sikes won the first of her six regional championships in the 50 yard freestyle at the Greensboro Aquatic Center and finished second in the 3A State Championships behind Olivia Rhodes of Charlotte Catholic.

As a freshman, she was named the Big 8 Conference Female Swimmer of the Year.

In 2022, she became the first female swimmer in Orange High history to win a state championship when she finished 1st with a time of 23.24 seconds.

The 2023 State Championships at the Cary Aquatic Center may have been the greatest singular athletic performance in the history of Orange High School. Sikes won two individual state championships. She set a new state record, regardless of classification, in the 50 yard freestyle at 22.17 seconds. It was the tenth-fastest time ever recorded by a high school athlete nationally, earning her automatic All-American status. She also set the 3A State Record in the 100 yard freestyle at 49.45 seconds, her first state title in the event.

Sikes swam the anchor leg for the 200 yard freestyle team with Riley White, Piper White and Ainsley Rasinske, which became the first relay team to win a state championship in Hillsborough history.

As a junior, she was named the Most Outstanding Female Swimmer of the 3A State Championships.

Of course, Sikes still has a senior year starting later this month. It wouldn’t be a campaign without new goals to aim for to complete a career that’s already firmly entrenched into the Orange High Hall of Fame.

“Last year, our freestyle medley relay was just shy of a state championship,” Sikes said. “I would really like to close out the season bringing both of our relay teams to state championships. I also would like to set another record in the 50 yard freestyle and another record in the 100-yard freestyle.”

Last summer, Sikes was named the HighSchoolOT. com Female Swimmer of the Year. She is a three-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American. She has a 4.0 grade point average.

The Magnificent 7, Week 10: Farewell to a joyous Fall

When you pull into Reynolds Coliseum on the first Saturday in November, you know one of the teams you’re covering has done something right.

Two years ago, the Cedar Ridge volleyball team was that squad. Last Saturday, it was Orange volleyball’s turn.

And what a day it was. Not just in Raleigh, but also in Kernersville. Gabriel Schmid ended the most accomplished cross country career in Orange High history with a first-place finish at the 3A State Championships at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex. The only regret I have on the day was that Orange volleyball’s state championship match against Kings Mountain started at noon. Originally, the match was slated to start at 7, which would have allowed a lot of Orange officials to make a full day out of it.

Orange cross country competed for the state title on Saturday morning. They had the best finish of any Orange team ever in a state championship, finishing second behind Croatan.

It was a memorable fall on so many levels. The Cedar Ridge men’s soccer team nearly became the first soccer team in Hillsborough history to win a conference championship. They were one win away. For the first time ever, the Orange men’s soccer team reached the state playoffs in back-to-back years.

Cedar Ridge volleyball captured the Central Carolina Conference Tournament championship. For a squad that lost eight seniors, including the top two attackers in school history in Cameron Lloyd and Cameron Lanier, along with Julie Altieri, Melissa Benkowitz and Anaya Carter, they still banded together to win a conference title. Cedar Ridge was the only team to beat Orange in Panther Gymnasium this year, something that J.H. Rose, Carrboro or Falls Lake couldn’t do.  Cedar Ridge’s senior class, which includes Greylinn Serge, Rachel Alverson, Addie Reid and Natasha Buchler-Fosado, will have a lot to look back on and smile about in the future.

Let’s go back to October 15-21 for this week’s Magnificent 7, the top seven performances from the week in no particular order.

  1. Claire Hargett, Soph. Cedar Ridge: A mammoth performance against Orange in the CCC Tournament championship match. Hargett had a season-high 24 kills as the Red Wolves pulled the upset against Orange. The Red Wolves were the only team in the CCC to beat Orange this year. Cedar Ridge claimed a share of a conference title for the fourth straight year.
  2. Naomi Dyreng, Jr. Cedar Ridge: Dyreng won the CCC women’s cross country individual championship on October 18. Dyreng crossed the finish line at 21:50.18. Her teammate, Abigail Klaitman, came in second at 22:00.56. Cedar Ridge finished second as a team, only behind Walter Williams.
  3. Myles Jermyn, Jr. Orange: While Schmid won the conference championship for Orange men’s cross country, his teammate made sure the Panthers captured the team championship for the third year in a row. Jermyn came in second at 17:37.41. Jermyn’s father is the cross country coach at Elon University. The Orange athletic program has already won two conference championships and two regional championships this year.
  4. Erik Galunas, Soph, Cedar Ridge: The Cedar Ridge goalkeeper had a tremendous clean sheet during a scoreless tie against Western Alamance on October 16. Galunas made eight saves. Afterward, head coach Chauncey Brummell thought Galunas played well enough to get signed by a professional academy. He wasn’t joking.
  5. Annabeth Lundberg, Sr. Cedar Ridge: Lundberg won two matches for the Cedar Ridge women’s tennis team in its victory over Orange in the opening round of the 3A State Dual Team Playoffs. Lundberg won at #6 singles, then teamed with Raven Mowles-Airing to win at #3 doubles as the Red Wolves edged the Lady Panthers 5-4 to advance to the second round.
  6. Katie Silcott, Soph. Orange: Had 14 digs and 38 assists against Western Alamance in the CCC Tournament semifinals. Silcott surpassed 1,000 assists for the 2023 season during the 3A State Playoffs, which could very well be a single-season school record. She surpassed 1,000 assists for her career in the final week of the regular season. Is another 1,000 assist season possible for 2024? Orange returns outside hitter Aubrey Jordan and Ava Wilkerson next year. And, likely, in 2025, as well.
  7. Shannon Sollars, Jr. Orange: A strong finish to the season for Sollars. She won both of her matches in Orange’s final dual match of the season against Cedar Ridge. Sollars defeated Ella Caltabiano at #2 singles 6-3, 6-0. She teamed with her sister, Erinn, one final time in a dual match to defeat Cameron Mayhew and Adeline Cummings 9-8 (7-5 tiebreaker).

Alumni Update: Davidson-Smith wins gold medal at Pan American Games

Mia Davidson-Smith: The United States women’s national softball team won the gold medal at the Pan-American Games in Santiago, Chile on Saturday. The Americans defeated Puerto Rico 7-0 in the gold medal game. The U.S. didn’t surrender more than three runs in any of its six games and outscored its opposition 60-8. Davidson-Smith hit a home run in an 18-0 win over Chile run in the Americans opening 18-0 win over Chile. She had a pinch-hit homer in the second inning. Davidson-Smith played in the Americans 8-3 win over Canada last Friday. She scored a run in the U.S. 7-0 victory over Mexico after she drew a walk pinch-hitting for Erin Coffell, who played at Kentucky. Davidson started against Venezuela and went 0-for-1 with a walk. The trip to Chile was the latest international journey for Davidson-Smith. Last spring, she played in Dublin, Ireland for the United States in the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup, where the Americans also took gold.

Trenton Gill: The Chicago Bears lost to the New Orleans Saints 24-17 at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome on Sunday. Gill had two punts for an average of 47.5 yards. His longest punt was 49 yards. The Bears are 2-7 and will face the Carolina Panthers at Solider Field on Thursday night.

Payton Wilson: Wilson was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week for N.C. State after the Wolfpack defeated Clemson 24-17 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Wilson returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Wolfpack ahead 17-7. Wilson finished with eight tackles with one-and-a-half tackles for loss. N.C. State defeated Miami 20-6 last weekend in Raleigh. Wilson led the team with 16 tackles, had two pass breakups and two quarterback hits. He also had a tackle for loss. Through eight games, Wilson leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, pass breakups, quarterback hits, and fumble recoveries. He also is tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.

Darius Satterfield: The Elizabeth City State football team ended its season with a 38-20 win over Bluefield State University last weekend. Satterfield averaged 33.5 yards per punt over four attempts. One was downed inside the 20-yard line. His longest punt was 45 yards. On October 21, the Vikings upset Virginia State 17-16 on the road at Rogers Stadium. Satterfield averaged 38.2 yards on four punts. One was downed inside the 20-yard line. He had one touchback. The Vikings finished the year 3-7. This season, Satterfield averaged 36.4 yards per punt on 43 punts. He had three punts of over 50 yards.

Braxton Mergenthal: The Hampden-Sydney football team claimed a thrilling 26-25 win in overtime over Shenandoah in its home finale on Saturday. It was the final home game for Hampden-Sydney head coach Marty Favret, who is retiring after 24 years. Mergenthal finished with one tackle. Hampden-Sydney has a chance to make the Division III playoffs. They go into its regular season finale at Randolph-Macon this weekend with a 6-3 record.

Ivy Garner: The Liberty women’s soccer team won the Conference USA Tournament championship last week. The Flames defeated New Mexico State 2-1 at Robert Mack Caruthers Field in Ruston, LA. Garner started and played 56 minutes, firing one shot on goal. Last Friday, the Flames defeated Louisiana Tech 4-0 in the semifinals. Garner started and played 64 minutes for the Flames. She had three shots. Liberty will face #3 Georgia in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Emerson Talley: The Division II Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team remains undefeated as they go into the semifinals of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament. The Bears finished the SAC regular season champions after beating #4 Catawba 2-1 in Salisbury on November 1. Talley started and played 90 minutes. She fired one shot. On Sunday, Lenoir-Rhyne defeated Mars Hill 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the SAC Tournament. Talley started and played the first half. The Bears won its home finale over Lincoln Memorial 2-0 at Moretz Sports Complex in Hickory. Talley started and played 81 minutes. Lenoir-Rhyne will face Carson-Newman in the semifinals on Friday morning in Matthews.

The Long Run–Orange’s Schmid wins second 3A Cross Country State Championship, Orange men finish 2nd overall

The old saying at the Masters every April is “the tournament doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.”

At the 3A State Cross Country state championship on Saturday, the event didn’t start on the first mile.

As far as Gabriel Schmid was concerned, it started on the second. The other 166 runners didn’t find out until it was too late.

The first mile, Schmid played it easy running with the group, hanging back just a bit. When the second mile started, several months worth of training kicked in.

“The plan was to kick in and roll for the second mile,” Schmid said. “Just bang mile after mile and we did that. That’s the pace we had run all season. It was a strategy we developed. When you go into these bigger races, anything can happen. It can be totally running all out as a team and make it a full sprint, then just die around the finish line. Or it can be we run the first mile in five minutes, take the second mile in 4:55, then lay the hammer down in the final mile. You have to be prepared for either one.”

Schmid’s instincts, along with his team, proved correct once again at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville on Saturday.

Schmid won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A Men’s State Cross County Championship for the second year in a row, crossing the finish line at 15:14.75. The runner-up, Tyrese Cone of Croatan, came in 33 seconds behind Schmid at 15:48.42.

In his final cross country race for Orange in an NCHSAA-sanctioned event, Schmid improved on his time from last year’s state championship race. And he won by a wider margin. In 2022, Schmid completed the 3.1-mile course in 15:44.28, beating Stephen Fernetti of North Lincoln in 16 seconds.

Schmid became just the fourth runner in the history of Orange County to win back-to-back individual state championships. Orange’s Bradsher Wilkins won consecutive state crowns at the 4A level in 1997-1998. Cedar Ridge’s A.J. Tucker is the only Red Wolf to ever win a state cross country championship, winning the 2A titles in 2011 and 2012. Taylor Gilland of Chapel Hill captured the 4A championships in 2007 & 2008.

As a team, Orange had its best-ever finish in a state championship meet, finishing runner-up to defending state champion Croatan. The Panthers registered 93 points. Croatan claimed its second straight team crown with 67 points. Orange’s team of Lucas Van Mater, Alden Cathey, Myles Jermyn, Peter Musser, Nolan Hufner, and Cyrus Neal won the Mideast Regional Championship at Franklinton High School, its second regional crown in three years.

Cedar Ridge sophomore Ryan Matthews qualified for the state championships for the second consecutive year. He crossed the finish line at 17:49.52, finishing 93rd overall.

Schmid, who completed a run on Saturday night after winning his second state championship, was confident in his chances to earn another individual crown. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Schmid competed in the American Ninja Warrior while living in Longmont, Colorado in middle school. He ran in the Junior World Championships in Minneapolis and New Mexico while living in Vancouver, Washington before his family moved to Hillsborough four years ago.

Schmid now has three individual state championships overall. He also won the 3,200 meters in the 3A State Outdoor Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T University last May. In addition to two individual cross country regional championships, he also won two Mideast Regional titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters last May at Franklinton. He finished second in the state championships in the 1,600 meters.

“Obviously, I’ve taken running a lot farther than any of those sports,” Schmid said. “The will to be the best at something or set a goal for something that won’t come overnight. That’s what makes me tick. If I can’t have it tomorrow, then I’m going to work for it.”

Yet just two years ago, cross country wasn’t his only fall sport. He was also a men’s soccer player for Orange under head coach Palmer Bowman.

“My mom sat me down and told me I needed to choose between one or the other,” Schmid said. “I was a whole lot better at running than I was at soccer.”

At the Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary, Schmid broke 16-minutes for the first time. That’s when he decided to leave soccer behind.

“Coach Bowman was very supportive,” Schmid said.

Six months later, Schmid finished second in the 3,200 meters in the State Outdoor Championships.

In addition to running, Schmid also volunteers for the Efland Fire Department, where he’s frequently on call. There’s training on Thursday night. Out of the department’s 700 calls in 2022, Schmid ran 203 of them.

The entire Cedar Ridge team qualified for the women’s race. As a squad, the Red Wolves finished 12th out of 18 teams. Naomi Dyreng, the Central Carolina Conference individual champion, was the highest Red Wolf finisher, coming in 17th at 19:43.71. Junior Abigail Klaitman finished 47th (20:44.40), while freshman Kate Finnegan crossed the finish line in 113th place (22:51.32). Cedar Ridge junior Anna Peterson finished 130th (23:46.44), while freshman Safiyya Frej came in 141st (25:00.05). Another Red Wolf freshman, Samantha Quade, finished 146th. Freshman Grace Whitaker came in 148th (25:45.02).