It was a busy day for Orange swimmer Stephanie Nolte, but it was a victorious one.
Jones won four events, including two relay races on Thursday afternoon at the Triangle SportsPlex against crosstown rival Cedar Ridge. Nolte teamed with Anna Geib, Carson McLendon and Amanda Jones to win the 200 yard medley relay and the 200 yard freestyle relay. On her own, Nolte won the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 1:03.03. She also captured the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 27,07, five seconds ahead of teammate Shannon Pinnell.
A banner day for Orange swimmer Amanda Jones ended with three victories. Competing in four races, Jones captured the 100 yard butterfly with a time of 1:07.37. She joined Carson McLendon, Anna Geiger and Stephanie Nolte in winning the 200 yard medley relay and the 200 yard freestyle relay.
The 6’8 Christian Fischer made his final swim meet at the Triangle SportsPlex memorable on Thursday afternoon. He won two events: the 50 and 100 yard freestyle. In the 100, he edged Orange’s Gabe Walker with a time of 52.38. In the 50, he narrowly defeated Collin Montague by four-tenths-of-a-second.
In her final meet at the Triangle SportsPlex in Hillsborough, Cedar Ridge senior swimmer Hannah Kloetzer captured victories in two events. She won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:33.33, 44 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. She also captured the 200 yard freestyle at 2:05, ahead of Orange’s Lauren Behringer.
Top 10 Fall Sports Moments: #3 Cedar Ridge’s Ian Elliott Wins 2nd Straight Big 8 Conference Cross County Championship
You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don’t burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you’ve got to last
Ironically, despite winning back-to-back Big 8 Cross Country Individual Championships, Ian Elliott doesn’t think he’s a marathon runner.
“I’m bigger than most runners,” said Elliott. “I figure I’m more of a track runner. Cross country is pushing it.”
The mental hurdles that may keep Elliott from running further didn’t factor into his final cross country season at Cedar Ridge, even when it should have. The Big 8 Confernece Championship meet at Chapel Hill High School was run in 89-degree temperatures on October 19.
Despite the unseasonably warm weather, Elliott finished with a time of 16:42.08, eight seconds better than Chapel Hill’s Ryan Combs to win his 2nd consecutive Big 8 Championship. In fact, Elliott was the only non-Chapel Hill runner in the top 10.
“It was a lot grittier this year,” said Elliott. “Mainly because of the weather. But I also feel I’m good in heat. I put in fairly hard miles in heat during the summer. Although I knew it feel awful. But that’s running.”
The heat is something Elliott relished during his stint at Cedar Ridge. He went on to finish 7th at the MidEast Regionals at Northwood High a week later. He finished 26th in the state meet, when the traditional fall weather had finally settled in.
“I think some people are just better in the heat and some aren’t,” said Elliott. “I’m not as good in the cold, even though I practice a lot in the cold and the rain. I never perform well in the rain.”
“You just have to be gritty. It doesn’t have to be a pretty race as long as I do well.”
Elliott has already started his indoor track season, recently finishing 15th in the 1500 meters in the NC Runners Holiday Invitatational at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.
After Elliott finishes the upcoming spring outdoor track season, he plans to hang up his sneakers, leaving as the most accomplished cross country runner in Cedar Ridge history.
“I’m not looking to run competitively in college,” said Elliott. “I’d love to stay in shape and run for a club. Maybe run a Fun Run 5K. Maybe take one hard every now and then. But after this track season, I think I’ll be done with competitive running.”
Rescheduling basketball games because of winter weather around North Carolina is almost as much of a tradition as the games themselves.
For starters, Orange and Cedar Ridge boys and girls had their respective games on Tuesday postponed. Cedar Ridge was supposed to host Webb. Instead, they will face Webb next Thursday in a tripleheader.
The Orange Boys were supposed to host Northwood on Tuesday, while the Orange girls were supposed to be on the road. Those games will be made up next Saturday (Orange boys at home, girls at Northwood). Both games will start at 3:30.
For those with long memories, Orange and Cedar Ridge had games postponed on December 16th. Orange was supposed to host a tripleheader against Northern Vance. Cedar Ridge was matched up against Southern Durham (boys at home, girls at Southern).
All of those games will be made up on February 1st. The Orange tripleheader vs. Northern Vance will start at 4:30 with the JV Boys game. The Cedar Ridge boys host Southern at 7, while the Girls team go to Spartans Gymnasium.
On top of all that, the Orange boys and girls had a doubleheader slated for Monday at Durham School of the Arts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That has been cancelled.
In its place, Orange will host Jordan in a doubleheader on January 25th, starting with the girls game at 6.
Not many high school players surpass 1,000 points for their careers, but Connor Crabtree has done it. In fact, he has over 1,100 points now. After going over 1,000 points against Southern Durham, he had games of 37, 14 and 27 in earning MVP honors in the Eastern Guilford Holiday Classic. For good measure, he added a career-high 38 points against Chapel Hill on January 4th in an Orange victory.
For the 2nd time this season, Mitch Portman scored 15 points in a game. He did it last Thursday in Orange’s victory over Chapel Hill. He also scored 15 on December 28 in the Panthers’ 72-70 victory over Piedmont Classical in the first round of the Eastern Guilford Holiday Classic in Gibsonville.
The Orange Boys Basketball Team is the only undefeated squad remaining in Big 8 Conference play after last Thursday’s victory over Chapel Hill. Orange won 73-64 behind a season-high 38 points from Connor Crabtree. The Panthers lead the Big 8 with a 3-0 record, while Chapel Hill falls to 3-1. Southern Durham is 2-1, while Northern Vance is 1-1. Webb and Northwood are 1-3. Orange is slated to travel to Webb on Friday night, followed by a Saturday afternoon home game against Cedar Ridge.
All in all, the 2016 fall sports season has to be considered a solid one in Hillsborough.
Cedar Ridge and Orange each had one of its athletic teams win a Big 8 conference championship. There were four teams from each school (Cedar Ridge boys soccer, Orange volleyball, Cedar Ridge boys cross country and Orange girls cross country) that finished runner-up to Chapel Hill in the Big 8. Each of those Chapel Hill teams either won a state championship or played for one.
If there was one thing lacking, it was the amount of upsets. Perhaps because Orange and Cedar Ridge were evenly matched against each other or their league rivals in most sports.
In retrospect, there’s one match that stands out in bright, neon letters as the biggest upset of autumn: Cedar Ridge volleyball beating Chapel Hill on October 6.
The peculiar part of the Red Wolves’ upset is that Cedar Ridge had swept CHHS in 2015, each time in four games.
But Cedar Ridge didn’t merely undergo changes after the 2015 season, where they went 24-4, had a perfect Big 8 record and advanced to the fourth round of the 3A state playoffs.
They had a total extreme makeover.
On paper, it didn’t seem that Cedar Ridge’s losses would be massive after 2015. There were only two seniors: outside hitters Asha Barnes and Courtney Eckmann. Both valuable players who would be tough to replace, but there seemed to be enough players returning to make CRHS a factor in the Big 8 again.
Then Coach Charlie Oakley resigned in the winter to focus on starting a family. Rising senior Lily Henry suffered a torn ACL in the offseason. After playing in all 28 games in 2015, she was limited to 12 in 2016. Three rising seniors opted not to play volleyball to focus on other duties that come with being a senior in high school.
Just like that, the Red Wolves were without four starters and the head coach who took them to their greatest heights.
That’s only part of what made the win over CHHS so surprising.
Going into the match, Cedar Ridge had lost six of its last eight matches (not counting a forfeit victory over Bartlett Yancey on September 21). They had stumbled to a 4-6 start in Big 8 play, while the Tigers were riding an 11-game winning streak.
However, there were signs that Cedar Ridge was capability of pulling the upset in the first meeting with CHHS on September 13. The Red Wolves extending the match to five games, forcing the decisive fifth game with a 25-23 victory in the fourth set. The Tigers took the fifth 15-13 to improve to 9-3.
A month later, Cedar Ridge didn’t need a fifth set. Or a fourth one.
The Red Wolves rolled 25-20, 25-20 and 25-23. Meg Anderson and Alexis Dumain each had nine kills, while Kayla Robinette registered seven. Dumain, Anderson and Henry each had three aces. Linsday Thompson had a team-leading 18 digs, while Henry finished with 19 assists.
Cedar Ridge missed the playoffs and finished 8-14. Chapel Hill would play for the 3A state championship three weeks later against Concord Cox Mill in Reynolds Coliseum.
It wasn’t the year the Red Wolves wanted, but they can always lay claim to the biggest upset of 2016 in Hillsborough.