Raider Review Sports
Teams on pause, but athletes keep training
By Vedant Muse '22
Zane Ratliff is a junior who plays lacrosse at North Cross School. He is in the class of 2022. Zane has played lacrosse since he was 11 years old back in 4th grade. He said, “Many friends on my hockey team convinced me to play.” Zane also said, “The reason why I love lacrosse so much is because it is a mixture of soccer hockey, and basketball, football.” Zane wears number 4 on the team because his favorite player growing up is Lyle Thompson.
Zane plays two key positions in lacrosse attack and midfield. Zane said, “My favorite position is attack because I love scoring and dishing out assists to my teammate. It has the physicality of football, passing like basketball, scoring like hockey, and field play like soccer.” For the past 7 years Zane has played travel lacrosse for Valley Select and VA RoughRiders. Most of the travel games are up in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania on the weekends. There are many scouts who are at the lacrosse tournaments trying to recruit players.
Covid has made things a little bit more challenging for Zane for the upcoming spring season because it is hard to find weight rooms that are open. Many fields are closed and if they are open only a certain amount of people can be on there at once. This year we are going to play a lot of teams down in North Carolina because Virginia team rules are much more stricter than North Caroline and we may have to wear masks. Zane said, “I’m happy that we are having a season, but sad because there will be less bonding time with my teammates because of covid. This year the lacrosse team will not be able to travel together on busses, and there will be less time to see each other in the hotels.
By John (Reid) Davis '22
The Raiders faced off against New Covenant earlier this week and left them in the dust. Northcross was coming off a loss going into this week's game and needed a big win to keep on track for a winning season. They were able to pull it off and improve their record to 1-1.
During the entirety of the game, Northcross was in the lead. The Final score was 41-26. Players were thrilled about the win, especially Jackson Holland, who scored a buzzer beater three pointer at the end of the third quarter. “It felt great, it really did,” said Holland. The team all celebrated with him after he sank the shot. “Holland is a first year basketball player so for him to be making plays like that is huge,” said Zach Morgan, one of Holland's teammates.
Other standout players were Zach Morgan who scored 11 points and Henry Robinson who locked down on defense and only allowed two points to be scored on him.
“To beat good teams, you need to play good defense,” said Robinson. He added, “It was a solid team win and i'm looking forward to getting back to work.”
The Raiders face Lynchburg Homeschool next week led by head coach Tyke Campbell, who also assists with coaching varsity. He splits his time between the two ensuring both teams have a successful season. Lynchburg is 2-1 and are coming off an away game victory. These two teams will be competing at Northcross School. The game will be streamed live on North Cross Athletics youtube channel. Only time will tell the result of the game and the result of the Raiders basketball season.
By Chloe Hunt '21 After breaking seven North Cross swimming records and being named Blue Ridge Conference Swimmer of the Year, Asia Minnes ‘21 prepares to take her skills to the next level at the University of Tennessee.
“I chose Tennessee because of the team environment and the training aspect. They are very unconventional and take a different approach to their training. As someone who has been swimming for 13 years, I was looking for a place that would make swimming fun again while at the same time pushes me,” Minnes said. “I think swimming in college has always been a part of my plan but over the past few years it's become my main goal to swim in the NCAAs.”
In addition to being an avid swimmer, Minnes has left an indelible impact on campus life as a compassionate person.
“I am so glad Asia came to North Cross,” Olivia Murchison ‘21 said. “In addition to being a really accomplished swimmer, she is just nice to be around, very funny, and thoughtful.”
What students might not know about Asia is how swimming weaved into her cosmopolitan upbringing. Based in Canada, Minnes had not lived more than a year in one spot until she and her family came to Roanoke.
“I’ve traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico, almost all of Canada, and 42 of the states. Traveling around has given me the opportunity to meet so many people and be a part of many different cultures,” Minnes said. “It has taught me to be adaptable, open minded, and adventurous and has shown me that there are so many opportunities out there you just have to be willing to seize them.”
Even after seeing the world, her favorite place to live is Roanoke.
“My favorite place to visit is Caloundra in Australia but I’d have to say my favorite place to live is Roanoke,” Minnes said. “This is the first place I have stayed long enough to really connect with people, make friends, have a routine, and make it somewhere I can call home.”
In addition to this affinity for travelling, Minnes fostered her passion for swimming before the age of one.
“I've been swimming my entire life. I started lessons at just a few months old and joined my first all year round swim team when I was 4 years old,” Minnes said. “I was always really passionate about swimming and that motivated me to pursue it.”
“My favourite thing about swimming is the team aspect,” Minnes said. “It is a really hard sport but being able to have people around me who share blood, sweat, and tears makes it so much easier because I know I'm not alone and it just makes it a lot easier to push through.”
Minnes also said there is a lot of work put in outside of the pool.
“Swimming is a very mentally and physically challenging sport that requires so much dedication because on top of the 19 plus hours in the water and weight room, I need to eat properly, do extra exercises for my shoulders to prevent and help injuries, and I need to do recovery,” Minnes said. “I personally find it is especially hard in the winter when it is extra cold getting in the water and it is dark going to and leaving practice.”
While Minnes takes her craft seriously, she acknowledges the importance of having fun with swimming. She says that in order to be successful in the sport, you must enjoy it.
“My advice to younger swimmers is to enjoy it. Don't worry about not having the best time every race, don't stress about making finals, just go out, do your best and have fun.”
The north cross basketball team played their first scrimmage of the year and played very well. Mehki, a senior point guard talks about the whole environment with no fans and the start of the new year. “it’s a vastly different environment, no fans make it so much quieter and you are able to hear everything that goes on. You hear every squeak on the floor and all of the coaches when they are yelling the plays into you,” Hines says. The games were live streamed online for anyone that wanted to watch.
The year is just now starting, and they are looking forward to seeing how it will plan out. As of right now they are not certain of how many games will be played and they are just seeing how the whole year goes. “I’m looking forward to this year, I want to play as many games as possible since it is my senior year,” Hines says. They must follow all the COVID-19 protocols, but they still get to play. “I’m just happy that we get to have a season, not many other people around us are able to have a year and I’m grateful that I get to play since it is my senior year,” Hines says. “Corona is making us adapt to all kinds of differences but we have to change and follow all of the rules if we want to play out this season,” Hines says.
“It is a different year for everyone, and we all have some adjusting to do but having a season is awesome and I can’t wait to see how many more games we get to play this year,” Hines says. I agree with this statement and since we do not get to go in person and watch all the games, I encourage everyone to go online and support the team through all the live streams.
SWIMMERS SWING FOR THE FENCES: Daniel Byrnes '21 uses a weighted bar to hit balls on the track field at Patrick Henry High School on Saturday, April 4 to do "dry land" training with his fellow Gators Swim teammates. Byrnes gets to swim almost daily, when he is scheduled for training with fewer than 10 people at the Gator Swim Center. Photo by Robert Robillard
Story and photo by Hannah Nguyen
Most people who follow Raider basketball would know this big name who has played almost 100 games since he was an eight-grader: Nelson Etuk ‘20. “Nelson have done an awesome job this year - one of the most talented kids I have coached,” said Head Coach Taylor Shannon. “His sophomore and junior years he continued to grow as a player, but this year, he stepped up defensively: rebounded the ball really well and scored when needed it, which is a plus.” In his last season as a high school player, Etuk scored 9.6 points and rebounded 4.6 per game. “Nelson is a senior on the team so everyone in the team look up to him as a leader,” Grayson Bloomfield said. “He is the most athletic person on the team, so we all love playing with him.”
By Hannah Nguyen
Led by head coach Dr. Paul Haskins, North Cross’s ice hockey team made its way to Pittsburgh, PA for their first tournament and won the Three Rivers Cup tournament in their first season ever.
The team spent months of training at Lancerlot Sports Complex in Vinton with coach Haskins, who teamed up with assistant coach Dr. Damon Kuehl and Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs U16 travel team head coach Steve Esworthy as the remaining assistant coach.
Besides adding interested students from area high school including Roanoke Catholic, Salem High School, Lord Botetourt, Patrick Henry, Cave Spring, and Northside, our school has four players: Lennon Kuehl ‘23, Jackson Haskins ‘22, Zane Ratliff ‘22, and Maddox Haskins ‘24.
These players have been playing ice hockey since their very young age.
Coach Christopher Pollock, our school Assistant Athletic Director, shared: “The team is made up of travel players from the Roanoke Valley. These guys have played for years together and now they play for our High School as a club team.”
The team’s successful tournament started when they defeated the Miami of Ohio Red Hawks team 12-3 in their first tier of tournament play. The next Sunday they defeated Chatterton High School, 9-0. On Monday afternoon, the team, which is composed mostly of U16 players, would be pitted against the Pittsburgh Vipers U18 team, the team that the Raiders had defeated 3-2 earlier that day for the finals. After the first two periods passed scoreless, the North Cross team scored 5 goals in the last period to take the win and the cup.
“It feels great to win a tournament first year as a team!”, Jackson Haskins ‘21 said with excitement.
“Playing ice hockey helps me with my condition and balance,” Haskins said. He has been playing ice hockey since he was 4. “My dad got me into ice hockey at a young age. He taught me how to skate and inspired me to play hockey,” he said.
When being asked what he likes about ice hockey, Lennon Kuehl ‘23, who has also been playing ice hockey for nine years, said, “Hockey has made me a much better athlete. It’s affected all aspects of my life.”
Kuehl, who plays goalie, also expressed that ice hockey is an extremely mental and physical sport. “It’s very active. There is never a time I don’t want to be skating,” Kuehl commented.
Zane Ratliff ‘22, who started playing ice hockey when he was 3, looks forward to next year as a year that they can improve as a team, possibly play more tournaments and build the history of North Cross’s ice hockey.
“Our plan for next season is,” Coach Pollock said, “to continue to play in tournaments and possibly play against other high schools from Virginia and Washington, DC.”
By Tobi Bankole
Varsity swimming has had a triumphant year. With swimmers Daniel Byrnes and Asia Minnes leading the boys and girls teams respectively, the swim team has had a triumphant season. They had a somewhat turbulent start to the season when their longtime coach, Jon Circo, stepped down and was replaced by Kirsten Erwin. However the team did not let this deter them, and flourished even more under Erwin’s instruction.
Zack Sommer ‘20, longtime swimmer, said that he enjoyed the team’s new atmosphere. “I’m not the most into swimming, but I’m definitely going to miss it more when I graduate. I’m sad this is my last year.”
Sommer showed significant improvement in his last year, dropping a few seconds off of his 50 free and 100 free.
Kendra Earls ‘20 said that losing Sirco was a big blow to the team, but they bounced back quickly. “He wasn’t at our first away meet, which was kind of scary. But coach Erwin came in and she did great.”
The difference in their coaching styles was a big change for the swimmers, especially those like Earls, Sam Karlen ‘20, Patrick Daly ‘20 and Daniel Byrnes ‘19.
“Sirco was more hands off, so we learned from experience,” Earls said, “but Ms. Erwin is really good about telling you what you’re doing wrong and helping you get better at it.”
Karlen also shaved off time from his 50 free and 100 free. “In total, I cut five or six seconds from my 100 and four seconds from my 50.”
Byrnes, in particular, had a successful season. Earning first team all state this year, Byrnes continue to dominate in the water. Adjusting to a new coach was challenging, and a shoulder injury prevented him from performing his best at conference, but he persevered. He bounced back at states, going on to place second in both his events.
Byrnes was modest about his triumphs. “I did alright,” he said. “There were places I could have done better, but I was mostly happy with my record.”
Daly had no such reservations and shared praise about his teammate.
“Daniel was a phenomenal swimmer this year and he was able to break a school record that he set again last year in the 200 free at states. It was amazing to watch him swim as always,” he said.
Daly also shared how impressed he was with Byrnes’ work ethic. “He’s early to every practice and one of the last people to leave everyday.”
Other than Byrnes, Asia Minnes made a splash on the 2020 swim season. Hailing from Canada, Minnes is an elite swimmer who already committed to the University of Tennessee. She had a successful season, placing first in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley at states. Ranked number six in the state and 37th in the country, Minnes’ arrival injected a fervor into the team.
“It’s really amazing to watch her in the water,” said Earls. “It’s motivating to have someone so good swimming with you. And she’s a really cool person out of the pool, too. The whole team got even closer this year.”
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