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.”
By Kevin Dinh
Climbing the 2.55-mile to the top of Poage Mt. culminated six years of tough training in the cross-country program for Patrick Daly ‘20, the team leader.
“The last mountain run was bitter-sweet,” Daly said, “because it is my favorite workout and really checks our fitness before states and knowing it was my last time running it.
“It was great to see how well our team did and put in a really great hard effort . . . . I was very excited to break the record set by Harry Pearson by 10 seconds.”
Coach Ed Dickenson said the mountain run goes from pavement to gravel up 27% grades in various places. “Patrick killed it,” he said.
The team bonds over the rigorous run, taking team photos at the top, including a mini version of the unoffical team mascot - the sloth.
Initiated by Kerrigan Chaney ‘24, who recently placed fourth in the state championships for middle school girls, the sloth adds levity to the grind.
“We didn’t choose the sloth,” said Michael Habib ‘20, “the sloth chose us.”
Daly recounts it with glee.
“We chose sloth as our mascot because during track and field Kerrigan carried her sloth to practice one day and we loved it. Sam [Karlen] and I thought sloth was so funny, and then she brought it to the cross country team and now it is the team animal.”
The boys are approaching their final race of the season by making goals.
Habib hopes to place as all-state and help the team get top-three.
“This year at states,” Daly said, “I hope to achieve a top-10 place after receiving 4th at conference.”
By WHH staff
Most Raiders’ fans know the big names who score most of the points on an offense averaging almost 40 points per game.
We know Zae Baines ‘20 is one of the most widely recognized football talents in the history of the school.
While Head Coach Stephen Alexander emphasizes the way in which stellar players like Baines play well as a group. “It helps that those talented players play well together,” he said.
“Zae is probably the best athlete that I’ve coached in my career,” Alexander said. “He’s very gifted in terms of his size, speed, quickness and athleticism. He’s typically the best player on the field almost every game.”
Maybe people don’t know how many touchdowns he has scored this season (12), but we know he will be playing at rising FBS power Temple University next year.
“It’s inspiring to be playing with Zae because he’s going to a DI school,” said cornerback Juwan Jackson ‘21. “I get to be on the field with a DI talent.”
We know Baines might have even more touchdowns if defenses didn’t spend so much time trying to double and triple-team him.
The team has a balanced passing and rushing attack because the healthy Isaac Harris ‘20 is distracting defenses with his powerful running. Maybe people can’t keep track of how many touchdowns (21) he has scored, but we know he is a big deal since the Roanoke Times has put his picture in the paper on three different occasions and featured him in a major story.
“He’s healthy, and he’s strong,” Alexander said about Harris, “and he’s quicker than he’s ever been. He’s added a very valuable dimension to our offense.”
We are starting to notice that quarterback Gabe Zappia ‘21 set a single-game record for passing yards (436) against the second-ranked team in VISAA Division II. He has passed for 25 TDs this year and rushed for two by himself.
“Gabe has done a good job of maturing from last year,” Alexander said. “And he’s more accurate. He has a very good group of seniors who he can throw to. Again, football is very dependent on the players working well together. Gabe is playing well, and so are his receivers.”
Most of us do not focus on what happens after the big names score all those touchdowns. That’s when Vedant Muse ‘22 converts the point-after-attempt. Because of all the scoring, Muse has attempted 60 PATs and converted 49. He kicked his first field goal of the season in a loss to Trinity Episcopal.
In other words, Muse is one of the top four scorers on the team with 52 points.
“Vedant has been a very pleasant surprise for us at place kicker,” Alexander said. “He joined the team late in the summer and has provided with a level of consistency at kicker that we have not had in awhile. We’re excited to see him develop in the next two years.”
Muse learned to kick by playing soccer, and he also shares kick-off duties with Baines. Recently, he started learning some of the other positions to be ready to substitute for other players in case of injury. For now, he gets to specialize.
“I always wanted to be a kicker,” Muse said, “and I have been kicking for a long time. So I asked coach and he let me try.”