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.
Chloe Hunt '21, Margaret Tower '21, and Genny Chandel '21 honored for their commitment to Girls' Varsity Tennis at North Cross School in Roanoke, Virginia.
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.”
By WHH Staff
Since they were 5 years old, three boys have been playing soccer together and now they’re playing for the Raiders.
Juniors Cole Thompson, Andrew Sexton and Andrew Eigenfeld had been separated from each other since grade 9, when they were all at Staunton River together. Thompson arrived at North Cross last year. Andrew Sexton switched to Salem High last year. Eigenfeld remained at Staunton River by himself last year and was the only boy who continued to play team-soccer.
Thompson said that he did not want to play last year, because he didn’t have any friends. So he recruited his old teammates.
“Andrew E. has played the most of the group early,” coach James Brown said in an email interview. “He attended the team camp with us back in July, so he was able to get a jump start on learning the system. With Andrew’s great size and speed we have been able to use him in a number of different positions. He has done well and as he continues to learn. He will only get better and better.”
Eigenfeld, a former striker, who said he now gets placed at right-midfield in the new system, has scored three times and assisted on five goals for a total of 11 points in 19 games.
“Andrew S. and Cole also give us more experience and depth,” Coach Brown said. “This is important as we manage our way through a difficult regular season. Having fresh bodies to continually throw at teams is always a plus. With only one senior, our junior class has to really step up and lead. They have been able to help in this leadership thus far. When the three of them are on the field together, it is evident that they have played with one another for a while.”
Both Sexton and Thompson have scored one goal each.
The boys also face transitions academically.
Now, Sexton takes two AP classes —AP Physics and AP English after taking AP U.S. History last year at Salem. He expressed disdain for Salem’s grading system, which only assigns an A to 94% or above.
“Salem was a lot harder because of their grading scale,” Sexton said. “So like 94.5% is an A . . . 79 is a D and here it’s one point from a B”.
Eigenfeld is also taking AP English.
Despite their promising abilities, none hopes to play soccer in college.
“I used to,” Sexton said during the interview, “but not much anymore.”
Meanwhile, the team is doing well. So far, the defending state champions have a record of 13-4-1 after tying Carlisle in a storm-shortened game.
The veteran members of the team say they work to build team chemistry with the new players.
“We need to move the ball quicker,” said Spencer Brown ‘21, who will return to play center-midfield after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. He said the team needs to stop dribbling into trouble and pass the ball more often.
Brown, who scored the winning goal in the state championship, has 12 points to his credit this year.
Rees Wenk ‘22, who shares right-midfield responsibilities with Eigenfeld, noted the fact that the tie with Carlisle felt unjust, but it happens with rivalries.
“Especially Carlisle,” Wenk said. “[The rivalry] feels kinda salty.”
The team will not have to play any rivalry matches for a while. During Homecoming week, they only played Southwest Virginia Home School, who they defeated 4-1 on a hat trick by Geist Pollock. Then, they played a succession of tough Division I teams - a schedule designed to prepare the squad for the rigors of post-season play. The team knows it will not be easy to repeat.
“Feels like there is a target on our back,” Brown said “Every team tries harder when they play us.”
By WHH Staff
The boys cross-country team enters the final meet of the season with one of the deeper pools of talent in recent years.
Henry Robinson ‘22 transfered from Patrick Henry and began summer workouts with the team after a rugged regimen of hiking and backpacking with a National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming.
That rigor made Robinson tough enough for Middle School Hill and the Raiders’ demanding schedule. Robinson’s best 5K this year was 18:59 at the CHARCS invitational. Like most runners, Robinson’s time on the Raiders’ home course is about a minute slower.
“Henry came to the team with a level of experience and dedication that added immediately to the depth of our boys’ team,” said head coach Ed Dickenson. “From the first day, he trained with the front group and supported his teammates and our team philosophy with total enthusiasm. He is one of those athletes who commits himself to the team effort and knows how to push himself to the next level. He knows how to dig in during tough practices and keep going even when he is at his limit, and that is a special quality. We needed another runner to add depth to our top 5, and Henry (and Kyle Thomson) showed total commitment . . . . to carry on the best traditions of our cross country team.”
By WHH Staff
Caroline Lystash ‘20 won the BRC singles title over teammate Kylie Schaefer ‘23 (8-3) last Saturday at VES, which will allow NCS to host the event next year.
Previously, Emma Cartledge ‘17 and Charlotte Cartledge have won the singles title.
Chloe Hunt ‘21 won the consolation match to secure third place, making the tournament a clean sweep for the Raiders.
The girls’ tennis team has beenranked No. 7 in VISAA Div. II, impressive for a team comprised of five underclassmen.
No. 1 singles player Lystash has been on the team for five years, and is undefeated in singles.
“We have a really good team this year,” Lystash said. “I think we are going to win it [the conference championship.]”
Indeed, the Raiders won. Last year, the team lost to Virginia Episcopal School, but the Raiders are ranked ahead of VES, and the young players are gaining competitive toughness heading toward playoffs.
“Reagan Karlen is a very consistent player, and is an integral part of the team,” Lystash said, “as well as juniors Chloe Hunt and Genny Chandel.”