Tom is a freelance journalist and has contributed to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Baltimore Sun among others. He is the author of three books.
Locally, he's a regular contributor to the Asheville Citizen-Times and Blue Ridge Outdoors
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (November 15, 2018) – College Basketball – On Wednesday night, the Montreat Cavaliers’ women’s basketball team made an early case for being one of the area’s most improved teams when they defeated Point University (Ga.), 88-81, in Montreat. In two games last season, Point (2-3) defeated the Cavs (2-3) by a combined 49 points in sweeping both.
See this upcoming week’s Black Mountain Newsfor more pictures from the game and a preview of Montreat’s 2018-2019 season under second-year head coach, Tim Lewis.
A quick wrap-up of all area basketball teams and their records to date includes:
College Soccer – Western North Carolina’s college soccer season ended when the Brevard Tornados dropped a 4-0 road decision to McDaniel in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament last Saturday.
The Tornados ended their season with an 11-8 record and the region’s two leading scorers in Ashley Hughes (41 points) and Megan Shina (32). Hughes also led the region with 19 goals.
College Tennis –UNCA captured the fall ITA National Championship when doubles partnersHenry Patten and Oli Nortondefeated Texas Tech on November 11 for the crown.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (November 13, 2018) – With the last World Series roar a quickly fading echo, baseball’s long winter offseason stretches ahead. In late June and early July, when baseball was still in full swing, I visited a series of historical sports sites as part of a cross-country trip. Those stops included an overnight in Kansas City to visit several museums, including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM).
Until Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers integrated Major League Baseball in 1947, the sport was rigidly segregated at its highest level, dating to the mid-late 19th-century when Jim Crow lawsincreasingly took hold across the country.
In February 1920 in Kansas City, African-American owner and manager Rube Foster led a coalition of fellow owners to form the Negro National League (NNL). The NNL is often considered the leading member of a handful of subsequent leagues that are collectively referred to as ‘the Negro Leagues’ for the more formal structure, and subsequent success, that defined them.
The NLBM was founded in 1990 by a group of former players, including one-time Kansas City Monarchs’ player/manager, Buck O’Neil.
The museum and its exhibits encompass too many facets of the game to cover at any length, but highlights include the story of Effa Manley, the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the owner of the highly-successful Newark Eagles.
Others are the stories of teams such as the Baltimore Elite Giants, a franchise that produced HOF’ers Roy Campanella and Leon Day as well as back-to-back National League Rookies of the Year, Joe Black (1952) and Junior Gilliam (1953).
In Western North Carolina, the Negro Southern League had an entry, the Asheville Blues (1945-1951), that played some of its games at McCormick Fieldand had in-game performance incentives for players such as a “$5 and a free taxi ride from the 970 Taxi for the first pitcher striking out two men in a row. $5 from the Ritz Restaurant for the first pitcher striking out seven men.”
Numerous players of major league-caliber never got the call to the majors in the decades of segregation, or in the years that followed. The Boston Red Sox, this year’s World Series champion, integrated in 1959, 12 years after Robinson’s debut. The NLBM helps tell their story.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (November 11, 2018) – As previously reported, the Montreat Cavaliers’ men’s cross country team qualified for the NAIA Nationals for the first time in its history on November 3. The team defeated regional power and perennial rival Milligan College (Tenn.) in the process.
Individually, Montreat sophomore Lydia Wilson earned her second consecutive invitation to the event by finishing third overall in the women’s race. Freshman Skyler Tait, a Western North Carolina native from Franklin, missed qualifying for nationals by .2 seconds. See the Black Mountain News on Wednesday for the full story.
Wilson is one of this area’s top women runners, along with UNCA freshman Clara Wincheski. The Bulldogs competed in the NCAA Southeast Regional on November 9 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. At the event, Zach Boone was the top finisher for UNCA on the men’s side, while Wincheski finished 47th overall in the field of 245 runners. The freshman finished just ahead of WCU’s standout, Kaitlyn Lingard.
To the south, Furman cemented its spot as the area’s top running program when its women’s cross country team finished second overall in the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional.The finish earns them a trip to the NCAA Nationals on November 17 in Madison, Wisconsin.
On the men’s side, seniorAaron Templetonlocked up a spot at the nationals when he captured third in the men’s race and will travel to Madison as well this weekend. The men’s side finished fourth overalland is awaiting word on whether it will receive an at-large bid to the nationals.
College Football – Following a 3-0 start to their 2018 campaign, the Western Carolina Catamounts have now dropped seven straight after falling to Wofford, 38-23, on Saturday.They’ll try to bounce back this Saturday against a UNC Tar Heels team that is struggling and is 1-8 heading into the contest. The game will be available via ESPN+.
ASHEVILLE, N.C (November 10, 2018) – In area prep football on Friday, Asheville School defeated SouthLake Christian Academy (7-5) at home by a final score of 33-28. The game was an NCISAA Division IIIsemifinal and propels the Blues (7-4) to the divisional championship game on November 16 on the road against Fayetteville’s Village Christian Academy. Village Christian (10-1) advanced to the championship with a 49-14 victory over Harrell’s Christian Academy (5-5) in the division’s other semifinal on Friday.
Leading Asheville School to the win was senior signal-caller, Chris Hemphill. Hemphill rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns. Fellow senior Titus Morrison had the Blues’ other score and rushed for 94 yards on the ground. Running back/outside backer Uchenna Ikwuakor ran for an even 100 yards. Offensively, the Blues compiled 439 yards of offense, all on the ground.
In the other Friday night playoff game, Christ School fell to Charlotte Christian, 43-14, in the NCISAA Division I championship game in Charlotte. Charlotte Christian is the defending DI champion and concludes their season with a perfect 11-0 mark. Their last loss was on August 18, 2017 and they’ve won 21 straight games.
The Greenies closed out their 2018 season with a 10-2 mark – check back for final stats and notes from their fall campaign.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (November 7, 2018) –For the 23rd time, Saluda, North Carolina played host to the Green Race on Saturday. The race is one of the top kayaking events in North America and is held annually on the first weekend of November. I attended this year’s event and covered it in a brief article for Blue Ridge Outdoors.(photo – Marc Hunt/Green Race)
College Soccer – Only two college soccer teams remain active in the postseason in the region. At the NCAA DIII level, the Brevard Tornados (11-7) women’s team gained a bid to the 16-team Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) playoffs. The ECAC was founded in 1938 and has 220 member schools and is effectively a mega-conference spanning all three NCAA divisions. Typically ECAC teams have an additional conference affiliation, as with the Tornados’ primary membership in the USA-South.
On Saturday, the Tornados travel to Westminster, Maryland and draw the #1 seed in their four-team sub-bracket, McDaniel College (10-5-1). The two teams will square off on November 10 at 11:00 a.m.
In the NCAA Division I ranks, the Furman Paladins men’s team travels to Johnson City, Tennessee on Friday to face ETSU (9-6-1) in the Southern Conference semis. During the regular season, Furman dropped a 2-0 decision to the Bucs.
College Basketball – The UNCA Bulldogs open their 2018-1019 season with a game against Laurinburg, North Carolina’s St. Andrews Knights (NAIA). They host the Knights on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Kimmel Arena. On the following Tuesday, the Bulldogs head east to Tobacco Road to face NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh.
Christ School came back to defeat Trinity Christian on Friday, 33-32, in the NCISAA Division I state semifinals. The game was the first loss of the year for the Crusaders, and advanced the Greenies (10-1) to the NCISAA state championship game this Friday at Charlotte Christian (10-0). The Knights are the defending state champions and defeated the Greenies in the state semifinals last year en route to their title.
Christ School is led on offense by junior quarterback Navy Shuler, who has thrown for 3,798 yard and 43 touchdowns this season. Against Trinity Christian, Shuler threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Kaedin Robinson hauled in eight passes for 173 yards in the game.
Asheville School hosts Southlake Christian Academy on Friday in the NCISAA Division III semi-finals. Check Sunday’s Fieldhouse Weekender for scores following the games.
The 42nd New York City Marathon was held earlier today, with Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia capturing the men’s title in a time of 2:05.59. Mary Keitany of Kenya won the women’s race with a time of 2:22.48.
Shura Kitata (pictured) (2:06.01) of Ethiopia finished just behind Desisa, while defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor (2:06.26) of Kenya placed third to round out the men’s medal stand.
Behind Keitany in the women’s race were Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya (2:26.02) and defending championShalane Flanagan (2:26.22) of the US.Flanagan now has first (2017), second (2010), and third (2018) in the race on her resume.
“You just put your head down, keep working and fight for that podium spot,” Flanagan told the New York Times after the race. “So when I finally did get into that third place, I got another level of excitement and just felt really proud of myself in that moment that I kept fighting, even though there’s some rough patches in there.”
College Football – In area college football, Furman (4-4) highlighted the weekend schedule with a 16-10 win over UT-Chattanooga.The Paladins are now 4-2 and in fourth place in the SoCon, behind Samford (5-4, 4-2), Wofford (6-3, 5-2) and ETSU (8-2, 6-1).
On Saturday, Western Carolina (3-6, 1-6) dropped a 38-24 decision to the Citadel (3-5, 3-4 SoCon) in Cullowhee. Asheville product Mitchell Chancey had 19 tackles for the Catamounts, and leads the SoCon with 90 tackles this season. He also ranks sixth in the nation in total tackles at the FCS level.
Cross Country – Across the region, conference championships began marking the end of the fall campaign late last month and continued into this weekend.
The UNCA Bulldogs wound down their 2018 season at the Big South championships in a heavy downpour in Kernersville, North Carolina in late October. In the men’s race, Zach Boone was the top finisher for the Bulldogs in the 8k final.
Three-time Runner of the Week Clara Wincheski paced the women’s side, finishing fifth overall and capturing All-Conference honors in the process. The Bulldogs finished fourth as a team in both the men’s and women’s races for the second straight year.
On the women’s side, Lydia Wilsonadvanced individually to the NAIA Nationals with an overall third-place finish in the race, while the women’s team captured fourth place in the 14-team AAC.
As previously reported,Furman’s men’s and women’s teams swept the Southern Conference championships and will compete in the NCAA Southeast Regional in Rock Hill, South Carolina on November 9.
Christ School came back to defeat Trinity Christian, 33-32, on Friday to advance to the NCISAA championship game on November 9 at Charlotte Christian. Check this week’s Fieldhouse Report for more on the game.
Next: On Tuesday, look for college soccer, basketball, and more in this week’s Fieldhouse Report
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (October 31, 2018) – I’m excited to announce that on April 1, 2019, my next book “Underdog – Kim Conley & the Making of an Unexpected Olympian” will be released.
From a stunning finish at the 2012 US Olympic Trials that propelled her into the London Games, to an odds-defying return trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kim’s story is an authentic, inspiring compass for runners and non-runners alike. It’s one in which odds are defied, deeds exceed words, and a relentless work ethic is ultimately rewarded.
Nationally, Kim’s accomplishments span the continent from a record-setting win at New York City’s storied Millrose Games in 2014, to USATF Championships in Sacramento (10,000m) and Houston (half-marathon). Hers is an American success story forged in California and taken across the country and beyond.
I’m honored to be able to bring it to print and in the upcoming weeks look for exciting details about the foreword, presale, and where and when you can purchase the book! – Tom Flynn
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (October 30, 2018) – On Saturday, Asheville School faced Christ School in Arden in the area’s prep version of “The Game.”It was the 92nd time the two teams have faced each other, making it the oldest high school rivalry in the Carolinas. This year, Christ School (9-1) captured a convincing 48-0 home win.
Senior Keyvaunn Cobbpaced the Christ School attack with 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Greenies’ standout quarterback Navy Shuler was 17-27 through the air with two touchdown strikes. The Blues were limited offensively and were led defensively by outside linebacker, Uchenna Ikwuakor. The senior backer led the team with nine total tackles and has 85 stops, including three sacks, on the season.
The two schools play in different divisions of the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) but meet annually in continuing the storied rivalry. The Greenies are members of the NCISAA’s Division I, while the Blues compete in the primarily smaller school Division III ranks.
The first game between the rivals was held in 1911, and they have faced each other every year since 1933.The Blues lead the all-time series, 50-38-4. The teams battle annually for the Arbogast-Fayssoux trophy, named for former football coaches at Asheville School (B.H. Arbogast) and Christ School (Richard Fayssoux), respectively.
Both teams have the postseason in their 2018 plans. On Friday, the third-seeded Greenies travel to Trinity Christian (9-0) in Fayetteville for the opening round of the Division I playoffs. The game is also the divisional semifinals, with the winner advancing to the championship on November 9.
The Blues have a bye week, and then will host the winner of SouthLake Christian Academy (6-4) and Hickory Grove Christian (2-7) on November 9 at Arbogast Fieldin the divisional semifinals. The Blues defeated SouthLake Christian, 34-12, on September 13 and Hickory Grove Christian, 55-0, on September 28.
For the complete brackets for both schools, click here.Check back next week for updates on their playoff progress.
Cullowhee, N.C. (October 30, 2018) – The Furman Paladins swept the men’s and women’s Southern Conference cross country championships held Saturday at Western Carolina University. It was the sixth consecutive year that the Paladins have swept the championships.
Both teams won in commanding fashion with the men capturing seven of the top nine spots, and women capturing six of the top ten.
On the men’s side, Aaron Templeton was the individual winnerand earned conference Runner of the Year honors for his efforts. Behind him in the top ten were Mason Coppi (4), Ryan Adams (5), Cameron Ponder (6), Daniel Bernal (7), Trent Mandato (8), and Jake Ogden (9). Ponder was named the SoCon’s Freshman of the Year for his performance.
The women were paced by Savannah Carnahan who took second overall. Emma Grace Hurley (3) and Gabrielle Jennings (4) finished just behind Carnahan. Rounding out the Paladins’ scorers were Riley Burr (7) and Kristlin Gear (9). Right behind Gear was freshman Emma Kuntz, who closed out the race’s top ten finishers.
Both squads will compete at the NCAA Southeast Regional on November 9 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Click herefor the complete listing of individual honors garnered by the Paladins in addition to their team titles.
Both Western Carolina teams finished sixth overall in the 10-team fields, with the Catamounts’ Kaitlyn Lingard finishing eighth in the women’s race and earning All-Southern second team honors.
Click here for the complete individual and team results.
Fans of upsets and underdogs circle the annual Navy – Notre Dame game each fall on the calendar as required college football viewing. The contest is typically played at Notre Dame or at a large neutral site when the Mids host. This year the game was held in San Diego, the primary homeport for the Pacific Fleet.
The largely partisan crowd of 63,626 wasn’t enough as the Midshipmen (2-6) fell to the #3 Fighting Irish, 44-22.Notre Dame (8-0) quelled any upset potential early and took a 27-0 lead into halftime. Quarterback Ian Book was 27/33 for 330 yards and two touchdowns for the Irish and Dexter Williams added 142 yards on the ground. Malcolm Perry (pictured) had 133 yards rushing for the Mids.
College Football – In a long-standing rivalry with a new name, Western Carolina dropped a 38-35 triple-overtime contest to Eastern Tennessee State University. The teams have faced each other 48 times, and this year was the first the game was dubbed the “Blue Ridge Border Battle.”
Quarterback Tyrie Adams continued to produce All-American numbersfor the Catamounts, including 179 yards on the ground and 229 yards passing. He also rushed for a score and threw for four others. In 2018, the redshirt junior from St. Petersburg, Florida has 678 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, and 1,714 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air. He has thrown only four interceptions in 209 attempts.
With the win, the Bucs move to 7-2, while the Catamounts dropped to 3-5 on the season.
Furman (3-4) rallied from behind on Saturday to defeat the Citadel, 28-17, in Charleston, South Carolina.JeMar Lincoln (pictured) made his first start for the Paladins in relief of injured starter Harris Roberts. The Bulldogs dropped to 2-5 on the season with the loss. The game was the 60th meeting of the two squads, making it the oldest football rivalry in the Southern Conference.
Freshman QB Dalton Cole hit senior wide receiver Bubba Craven (pictured) on a 21-yard TD pass with just 19 ticks on the clock as Brevard pulled off a 38-35 comeback victory over LaGrange (2-6) on Saturday in Brevard. Craven had seven receptions good for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the Tornados (2-5). Brevard travels to conference rival Averett this upcoming weekend to face the Cougars (5-2) in Danville, Virginia.