Photos: A Visit to an Olympian

UC Davis Kim Conley Runner Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (August 14, 2018) – Earlier this summer, on the far end of a cross-country road trip, I visited the Sacramento and Davis areas of Northern California. There I spent time with Olympian Kim Conley, and her husband/coach Drew Wartenburg.

The first stop in joining the tandem was at Sacramento’s 23-mile American River Parkway (below). The Parkway is comprised of multiple segments, including the paved Jedidiah Smith Memorial Trail, which winds from Folsom to Old Sacramento, and is a leg regularly frequented by Conley in her training. It cuts a green, often-shaded swath through the capital city, and on the morning we visited hosted runners and cyclists taking advantage of a rare traffic-free respite in a major urban center.

American River Parkway Kim Conley Olympic Runner ConleyAmerican River Parkway Kim Conley Olympic Runner Conley Green

Later we traveled to  UC-Davis (below) some twenty miles west of Sacramento. The University is the alma mater of Conley, and also where Wartenburg got his head coaching start in the college ranks, after a stint as an assistant at Oregon State, and before moving on to the professional ranks.

Conley became one the program’s first standouts at the DI level in both cross country and track & field, while offering only the smallest of glimpses into the success that awaited her on the professional level including two USATF national championships and spots on consecutive USA Olympic teams (2012, 2016).

Wartenburg played a key role in continuing the Aggies’ transition from a highly-successful NCAA Division II program to its current place in the Division I Big West Conference.

Conley makes an appearance on the East Coast this weekend, when she travels to compete in the 46th running of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod on Sunday. (photos T. Flynn)

UC Davis Campus Beautiful Shot 2.jpgUC Davis Aggies UC Davis Campus Kim Conley Aggies UC DavisUC Davis Aggies UC Davis Conley UC Davis Football UC Davis TrackDSC_0718

Check back here, and at @tomflynn51 (twitter) and @tom_flynn_writing (Instagram) next month for an exciting announcement on the two-time Olympian.

Kim Conley UC Davis Olympics Rio 2016 London 2012 Olympian
Conley as a UC-Davis undergraduate  (photo – K.Conley/UC-Davis)

UNCA’s Nichols Garners Big South Honor

Kayli Nichols UNC Asheville Bulldogs Running Asheville Big South Woman of the Year

UNCA’s Kayli Nichols (photo – UNCA Athletics)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 6, 2018) – UNC Asheville graduate Kayli Nichols has been selected as the Big South Conference’s Woman of the Year. She shares the honor with Winthrop lacrosse player, Katherine Judge.

There were nine candidates for the award within the Big South, based on service & leadership, academic achievement, athletics excellence, and a personal statement from each candidate.

Nichols double-majored in German and Political Science, and minored in Spanish. She graduated with a 3.974 GPA and is the UNCA record holder in the outdoor 100-meter hurdles, indoor 60-meter hurdles, and indoor 500 meters. She was a member of a 4X400-meter relay team that holds school records for the event both indoors and outdoors. Nichols is also second-ranked in Bulldogs’ history in the 400-meter hurdles.  

Nichols is now one of 581 nominees among all three divisions for the NCAA’s Woman of the Year, to be selected in late October in Indianapolis.

Carolina’s Tobacco Road Climbs West

Lees McRae Lacrosse
Lees-McRae faces off against Montreat on February 21. (photo – T.Flynn)

BANNER ELK, N.C. (August 1, 2018)  – The hub of North Carolina’s men’s lacrosse power is centered squarely on Tobacco Road between Chapel Hill, home to the UNC Tar Heels, and Durham, home to the Duke Blue Devils.

The Tar Heels established lacrosse at the club level in 1937, and Duke followed suit a year later. The two are now members of the NCAA’s Division I, and UNC has five national championships on its resumé (the latest earned in 2016) while the Blue Devils boast three, including the 2014 national title. 

In the mountainous western portion of the state, the game is a much more recent arrival and is featured only at several smaller colleges and universities centered loosely around Asheville. They include Lees-McRae (NCAA DII), Montreat (NAIA), Mars Hill (NCAA DII), and Brevard (NCAA DIII)

The Bobcats are the lacrosse elder statesmen of the state’s western region, having begun play in 1997. Mars Hill followed in 2004, while Brevard added men’s lacrosse in 2007, and Montreat in 2015. The two largest universities in the region, Western Carolina and UNC Asheville, do not yet include the sport on the men’s or women’s side. 

This fall, all four of those programs will have first or second-year head coaches, including Brad Dunn, who enters his second year at Lees-McRae. Dunn previously coached Coastal Carolina’s entry in the MCLA’s Southeast Lacrosse Conference and was a member of the Bobcats’ team from 2002-2006. On staff with Dunn is assistant coach and 2016 Lees-McRae graduate and former Bobcat, Dustin Barrow

Lees-McRae Lacrosse

The team went 2-7 in Dunn’s first year at its helm, with wins over Montreat and Emmanuel (Ga.). The win over the Cavaliers was a dramatic comeback victory over what’s proving a well-matched regional rival. “We’re looking forward to another game in 2019 against Montreat, and getting Mars Hill back on the schedule,” said Dunn. “Both of those programs provide a unique challenge for us.”

The Bobcats defeated Brevard, 14-13, the last time the two teams played in 2017. In 2016, they dropped an 8-6 decision to Mars Hill. Parity among the four teams should help accelerate the rivalries beyond their relative youth.

Lees-McRae sits at 3,720 feet in the town of Banner Elk, the highest altitude of any college or university campus east of the Mississippi. Dunn sees the lofty heights as a factor in his team’s fortunes.

“I believe that if nothing else, the mental edge is ours against teams who travel up to play us, but it also impacts our roster in the first weeks of training,” said Dunn. “The squad does take a few practices to acclimate to the thinner air while conditioning. That said, we love our mountains and all that comes with them.”

Photos: In Greenville, Morris Vaults to World Lead

Sandi Morris Greenville US Olympics

GREENVILLE, SC (July 30, 2018) – On Friday night, Greenville closed down the heart of its downtown for the second annual Liberty Street Jump-Off. The event featured 2016 Olympic silver medalist, Sandi Morris. Morris is a Greenville native and thrilled the crowd with the world’s best jump this year, as she cleared 4.95 meters (16.24 feet).

The event was staged atop the city’s Liberty Street Bridge, and a short distance from its centerpiece Reedy River Falls.


Also headlining the event were the #1 and #3 men’s pole-vaulters in the world, Sam Kendricks and Shawn Barber. Kendricks dueled Barber throughout the evening and eventually topped the lineup when he cleared 5.80 meters, or just over 19 feet.  (photos – T. Flynn)

Drummonds Pole VaultMarois ClearsThumbs Up Pole Vault Greenville Liberty Bridge Jump-OffDSC_0453Houston ApproachHouston Pole VaultHouston CrowdCyphersKendricks Pole Vault 2018Sandi Morris US Olympics Pole VaultMorris ClearsSandi Morris Exalts

Team USA Reclaims Lacrosse Title

NCAA LACROSSE: MAR 10 Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic - Princeton v North Carolina
Tom Schreiber, shown here in 2012, buried the game-winner for Team USA. (photo – Rich Barnes/Icon Sportswire)

NETANYA, Israel (July 23, 2018) – The US defeated Canada on Saturday, 9-8, to reclaim the FIL World Championship in Netanya, Israel. The two countries have taken all 13 of the gold medals since the championships were first staged in 1967. Most recently, Team Canada earned the world crown in Denver in 2014.

Former Princeton and current MLL star Tom Schreiber grabbed a feed from X from fellow Ivy-Leaguer Rob Pannell (Cornell) and scored the game-winner as time expired in regulation. Schreiber took the pass backhanded with his right hand, rotated back to his right and buried the score with .2 seconds remaining. 

The Canadians took a 6-4 lead into the halftime break, and the two teams were tied at six heading into the fourth quarter. 

Earlier this year, both US Lacrosse and Inside Lacrosse tabbed Schreiber as the “best player in the world.” 

For the second consecutive time, the Iroquois Nationals captured the bronze medal, besting Australia for the final spot on the podium.

Former UNCA Bulldog Leads Cardinals

MLB: SEP 26 Cubs at Cardinals
Former UNCA Bulldog Mike Shildt (left) now leads St. Louis. (photo – Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 19, 2018) – Mike Shildt, a former middle infielder for the UNC Asheville Bulldogs from 1987-1990, was named the St. Louis Cardinals interim manager last week.

He took quick advantage of the opportunity, winning his first game as the Cardinals’ skipper on July 15 before the team headed into the All-Star break. The manager will go for his second win tonight as the Cardinals head to Wrigley Field to face the rival Cubs at 6:05 p.m. Central.

Shildt coached for the Bulldogs in 1992-1993 and has been in the Cardinals’ organization since 2004. He is the first manager at the major league level without professional baseball playing experience since Dave Trembley led the Baltimore Orioles from 2007-2010.

ACSC Season Ends in Playoffs

ACSC Atlanta Silverbacks Asheville Blues
ACSC, shown here against Emerald Force, exited the NPSL playoffs on Thursday.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 16, 2018) – The Atlanta Silverbacks ended Asheville City’s 2018 campaign when they defeated the Blues in the second round of the NPSL playoffs on July 12, in Roswell, Georgia.

The Silverbacks dealt ACSC a 2-0 defeat and advanced to the Southeast Conference final. There they defeated Chattanooga FC, 6-5, on penalty kicks following a scoreless regulation to capture the conference crown.

The Blues concluded their 2018 season, their second in the NPSL, with a 5-6-3 mark. (photo – Tom Flynn)

US Faces Canada After Early Wins

US Lacrosse World Championships 2018 (1)
Trevor Baptiste of Team USA (photo – David Silverman/US Lacrosse)

NETANYA, Israel (July 14, 2018) – In an encore of the 2014 finale, the US will face Canada at 12:00 p.m. eastern time on Sunday. 

Team USA (2-0) got by the Iroquois Nationals on Thursday by a 17-9 margin. The Nationals took the early 3-0 lead on the US before the Americans answered with three of their own. University of Denver graduate Trevor Baptiste was 17-19 from the face-off X. Former Hopkins’ Blue Jay Ryan Brown led the US with four goals with Rob Pannell adding three goals and four assists. 

Team USA then defeated Australia, 19-1, early on Saturday. Tom Schreiber tallied three goals and set up two others. 

Canada (2-0) opened with a 12-6 win over England on Friday and followed that up with a decisive 22-3 win over Scotland on Saturday. The U.S. will face both of those opponents to close out the pool play portion of the tournament. 

Sunday’s game will air on ESPN2 in the U.S.

US Lacrosse Opens Today at Worlds

Team USA Schedule 2018
Team USA attackman Rob Pannell  (photo – James Cirrone/Pretty Instant)

NETANYA, Israel (July 12, 2018) – The US opens its 2018 schedule at the FIL Lacrosse World Championships today at 1:30 Eastern against the Iroquois Nationals. The game will be carried live on ESPN2

The US and Iroquois both compete in the blue division, the largest and most competitive of the 14 divisions that segment the 48-team field.  The Nationals include former University of Albany stars Lyle, Ty, and Miles Thompson on their roster as well as current Great Dane, Tehoka Nanticoke.

The US roster includes well-known stars Paul Rabil (M), Rob Pannell (A), Ned Crotty (A), and Matt Danowski (A). It will also feature what could be the most effective lineup of face-off specialists ever assembled on one team in Greg Gurenlian, Brendan Fowler, and recent Denver graduate, Trevor Baptiste.

The schedule for Team USA is below all times are local, and Netanya is seven hours ahead of Eastern time in the U.S. (graphic courtesy of US Lacrosse)

US Lacrosse Schedule

Team Canada is the defending world champion, earning the title when it defeated the US in the finale in 2014, 8-5. With the win, the Canadians gained some measure of revenge after dropping the tournament’s opening match to the Americans, 10-7, in Denver.

Team USA’s Jordan Wolf  (photo – James Cirrone/Pretty Instant)

Blues Advance in Playoffs

Asheville City Soccer ACSC Blues Asheville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 11, 2018) – The Asheville City men’s team captured a first-round National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) playoff victory on Tuesday when they defeated Interstate Nashville F.C., 3-1, in Nashville. The two teams are members of the league’s Southeast Conference Division. The loss ended Nashville’s season at 6-6-2.

The Blues’ Jamie Smith, Elma N’For, and Nathan Watt each registered a score, and the team led 2-0 going into the halftime break.

The Blues next face the Atlanta Silverbacks (7-4-3) on Thursday at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia. Kickoff for the Southeast Conference semifinal match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.  (photo  – Tom Flynn)