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The Big Show

William Monroe baseball gets back to the state final four with a new group of talent. PAGE 07

VOL 7. ISSUE 17 :: JUNE 10, 2016


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ROUNDING IT ALL OUT Monroe baseball heads to final four


TAKING THE TRACK Albemarle girls 4x800 and CHS’ Carrington


GAME TIME Western boys lacrosse headed to state final


FINDING YOURSELF A message for the class of 2016

The Big Show VOL 7 . ISSUE 17 :: JUNE 10, 2016

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RED, WHITE, BLUE & GREENE Sam Brunelle makes big waves

vol 7. issue 17 :: june 10, 2016

William Monroe baseball gets back to the state final four with a new group of talent. page 07

S TA F F Bart Isley, Creative Director Bob Isley, Infrastructure Director Ryan Yemen, Creative Editor O N T H E COV E R William Monroe’s R.J. Payne M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T Local sports are the lifeblood of every community in America, and we’re here to reach beyond the basics and give compelling accounts about Central Virginia athletes to our readers. CO N TAC T U S [ e ] [ p ] 434-249-2032

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Extra kick

Western Albemarle’s Gannon Willcuts wins a VHSL Group 3A state title in the 1600 meter race. The Warriors senior won the 3200 last year and picked up the second outdoor championship of his career in thrilling fashion. With 50 meters left, Willcutts was trailining Brentsville's Jacob Willis. However, Willcutts found one last push and was able to get out in front and stay there for the home stretch. ✖ (Photo by Bart Isley)

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First Quarter Red, white, blue & Greene Monroe’s Brunelle heads to Spain after big homecoming By Ryan Yemen


Monroe’s Sam Brunelle made it through tryouts for the U17 national team. (Team USA)

{ ACROSS THE FLOOR } Sam Brunelle’s stat line in ‘15-’16


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2.5 2.9 ASS IS TS




here are 12 spots, just a dozen openings on the roster for the United States under-17 basketball squad. When the community in Greene County found out one of their own made the team, it mobilized to put together an impressive home coming.

“This is an amazing place to live and has people that conisentily will go beyond the call to support one of their own,” said William Monroe girls basketball coach Jess Stafford. “We could not be more proud of Samantha Brunelle and I could not be more proud of Greene for their support they’ve shown to her. She’s putting this County on the map and I could not think of a better person to represent it. She works so hard and is just so humble.” It’s roughly a 25-minute drive from the Charlottesville Airport to William Monroe. When Brunelle got to Greene County she was greeted by a police and fire department escort. The minute she hit Route 33 west of off Route 29 north, there were fans with signs. All along the way, in the median, alongside the road, at intersections along, signs, people, and more signs and people. And at the high school itself? A healthy welcoming squad including Brunelle’s high school teammates. In all, as far as surprise parties go, it was an emotional one for Brunelle who just finished up her freshman year. “This was so overwhelming and touching,” Brunell said.. “To know that this community has so much love and support, I’ll never forget it. It’s amazing.” During the winter, Stafford had her AllGroup 3A first teamer and Scrimmage Play newcomer of the year play all five positions. Brunelle came into the season with a lot of hype and exceeded expectations. With the help of DaJour Strother and Makayla Morris to name a few, so did this team as it put together it’s winningest campaign since the 2008-2009 season. Brunnelle’s numbers as a freshman

were silly, starting with the fact that if she replicates or even comes close to being the same player, she’ll have a 1,000 career points sometime in January or February of next year. She had 650 points and 450 rebounds in 26 games. In addition to that 25 points and 17.2 rebounds per game average, she also had 2.5 assists and 2.9 blocks. With that versatile skill set and a work ethic second to none, Brunelle stepped out of her comfort zone a bit and was asked to become more of a shooting guard than her familiar home as a power forward or center. “They put me on the wing a lot,” Brunelle said. “In high school, I’ve played all the positions. In AAU I play mostly as a four, so getting put on the wing was a bit of a change, but one that I’m growing into and hopefully good things come from it.” On June 2, Brunelle was up against the final round of cuts. She made it with many in the community watching the live stream online. “It was really exciting and to be the only freshman to make the team, that was really nice,” Brunelle said. “It was hard, really challenging. It pushed me harder than anything else before.” After earning her spot on Team USA, Monroe went into planning mode, setting up a police and fire escort for Brunelle and her family from the airport to the school. With training camp underway, Brunelle and her newest teammates get their first challenge of the tournament with the Czech Republic on June 24 in Spain. ✖

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Minor League update Goochland standouts look to make their mark

We’ve gone digital But you can have it in print too!

By Ryan Yemen As a high schooler, Ben Verlander’s name preceded him for obvious reasons. It still does to this day, as one of the best stories during spring training in major league baseball was the younger brother facing his older brother. It happened when Ben homered off his AllStar pitcher brother, Justin, both of them Goochland graduates. Ben Verlander went from pitching for the Bulldogs to joining the Monarchs at ODU, just like Justin. For Goochland, he had a 1.26 ERA and hit for a .440 average. And when he went to ODU, he went as a relief pitcher and started with 14 straight innings without allowing an earned run. However, his future was at the plate, not on the hill. As a junior, Verlander had .437, had 11 home runs and 44 RBI. He was the team MVP in 2013 and a third-team All-American. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 14th round and is now in his third season as a pro, currently playing with the Lakeland Flying Tigers at the A

level. As a minor leaguer in 314 games, He’s hit 12 homeruns, has 129 RBI, 47 doubles. However, Verlander is not the only former Goochland player trying to make his way through the minors to the big show. John Hicks, a 2008 graduate and former player at UVa was taken in the 4th round of the 2011 MLB draft by Seattle. Hicks is now in the Minnesota Twins system at the AAA level with the Rochester Red Wings. At AAA he’s hit 2.56 with 13 home runs, 68 RBI in 134 games. Last year, when he was still with the Mariners, he played in 17 games when Seattle went to its expanded roster in September and called him up from the Tacoma Rainiers. It’s a long tough climb from the minors to the majors, but a pair of Goochland graduates are going at it looking for their chances to earn a spot in what is every kid who plays baseball has— playing this country’s national pastime for a living. ✖

HOW TO GET A PHYSICAL COPY OF SCRIMMAGE PLAY Step 1 :: Click here and head to the MagCloud version of the magazine. It’s going to look like this below:

BELOW » Goochland and ODU graduate Ben Verlander is currently in the Detroit Tigers’ minor league system. (Old Dominion Sports Information)

Step 2 :: Click the Buy Print button next to the magazine and follow instructions to order Step 3 :: Wait patiently by your mailbox Step 4 :: When it arrives, take it out and read or stash away to your heart’s delight! :: 06

Rounding it all out

Story by Ryan Yemen Photos by Brian Mellott and Bart Isley

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THIS IS MIKE MAYNARD’S SIXTH YEAR AS WILLIAM MONROE’S baseball coach, and for six straight years, the Dragons have been players at the big table. The talent is there year after year. In 2011 it began with an exceptionally strong junior class coming one win away from a Group AA bid. The following year after being reclassified, Monroe won a Group A state championship. After a mass graduation, a young core took over and paved the way to a state tournament showing. The last two years, the Dragons have played up at the Group 3A level, and came up just one win away from making the state tournament, just like in 2011. At this classification, making the tournament is a huge challenge for a school of this size, but nobody on the team or in the community cares about that. That’s because in one sport, regardless of what’s there in terms of personnel, Monroe expects to win in baseball. And perhaps few people understand how important that mentality is than Maynard, who turned the boys basketball team around from a last place team, then in the Jefferson District, into a Group 2A final four squad in 2013 and Region 3A west contender ever since then. “We know with what we’ve got pitching wise, we’ve got a chance to win every game,” Maynard said. “But in Greene County, everyone thinks we’re going to win every game. These kids, they think we’re going to win every game. That’s huge. It took so long for that to happen in basketball, but we got there. But in baseball, no matter what, these kids believe that they should be able to win. It’s the culture that the Jordan Gentrys and Ryan Morrises set for us.” ::


These guys have come through and been great. Defensively we’ve been solid and we knew that coming into the year. So the pitching, the defense, it’s there and when we hit, we’re a complete team.” - Mike Maynard

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Those last two names were key seniors for Maynard in 2012 along with Logan Forloines, a pair of sophomores in Jack Morris and Austin Batten and another pair of freshmen in Keegan Woolford and Jeff Early who set the bar at its highest. After losing so much in 2012, Batten, Jack Morris, Woolford and Early picked up the pieces quickly and made another run to state quarterfinals the next season. In the two seasons since, Monroe’s gradually been building to this. Yes the lineup is different without Woolford and Early who graduated last year, but their offense has been counter-balanced by the development of what turns out to be one of the deepest pitching staffs of any Central Virginia team this year — and its ace going into March, Jacob Tomlin, has been out because of injury for the bulk of the year. With Cody Spencer, R.J. Payne, and Spencer Eldridge, the Dragons have a little of what they had in 2012. Back then it was Gentry who mowed through innings and Jack Morris as the number two arm. Mixed in with them was Lamar Nelson, a bonafide junk baller who Maynard used to mix things up with his hard throwing tandem. Well, as it turns out, in Spencer and Payne the Dragons have an earily similar 1-2 punch upfront. With Eldridge now healthy, they have that third arm. He has the kind of off-speed and breaking balls that are reminiscent of Nelson, but the junior can also reach back and pump in some heat too, making him more than just a change of pace part of the staff. Throw in Brian Bolhman who’s helped to manage the inning load and you’ve got more than enough arms to carry you through the season, and that’s exactly what’s happened for a team that went 19-4 and earned a spot in the Group 3A final four. “Watching this group and hearing all about the previous group (in 2012) — the emotional ride, the adventure — it’s pretty crazy we’re right there where they were,” Spencer said. “We’re working awfully hard this week in practice. We want it. We want to feel what they went through.” That’s an eager senior who takes after his coach in terms of competitive spirit. Spencer’s effort on the mound has helped in large part to put this team right here. The numbers speak for themselves. He sports a 0.92 earned run average, has 67 strikeouts over 48 and two-third’s innings to just 26 hits and 20 walks. That amounts to just under one base runner period per inning. Then Payne follows with his 1.57 ERA, 56 strikeouts over 34.3 innings and 22 hits and 20 walks. That’s a little more than one base runner per inning. And Eldridge isn’t far behind with a 1.85 ERA, 22 strikeouts over 24.3 innings and 19 hits along with 14 walks. Simply put, it’s been all about the pitching and defense for Monroe. “Pitching wise, Cody’s been incredible and R.J.’s been incredible and Spencer has really given us some quality innings as he continues to get healthier,” Maynard said. “Losing Jacob in the middle of the year was tough but these guys have come through and been great. Defensively we’ve been solid and we knew that coming into the year. So the pitching, the defense, it’s there and when we hit, we’re a complete team.” And there it is. That combination of pitching and defense wins championships, but in the end, you’ve got to be able to beat that same combination when the playoffs arrive. A 17-0 drubbing of Colonial Heights in the Region 3A West semifinal to earn a state tournament bid is probably going to stand as Monroe’s finest moment offensively this year. “I really think that game brought us all closer together at the right time,” said Dragons senior Dylan Shifflett. “It took an awful lot beating a team like that, and a lot of people talked about how good they were. Hopefully we can move forward and do the same thing again.”







A L B E M A R L E ’ S B R I T TA N Y C R A M E R Brittany Cramer came to Albemarle as a previously home schooled student, but she came in as a sophomore with a plan. She started with a heavy load of honors classes to gear up for all the advanced placement courses she planned to take as a junior and senior. It was a plan she executed exceptionally well as she nears graduation with 4.45 grade point average. “I love Albemarle so much and it’s not just the scholastic side,” Cramer said. “It’s all the people, the sports — field hockey, basketball, lacrosse.” Each year, Cramer has lettered in at least two of those sports. She started out playing basketball and lacrosse as a sophomore. The following year, she traded out hoops for field hockey and has kept things that way since. “I always put my studies first, but being able to play sports made me so much more dedicated to playing on a team and that kind of just flowed into studying,” Cramer said. “You only have one shot at high school so my approach was to do my best at everything.” A crafty defender, this spring Cramer played a pivotal role in Albemarle’s Group 5A final four run. The senior earned an All-North-West Conference second team nod. The Patriots won both the North-West Conference as well as the Region 5A North championship. This fall Cramer won’t venture too far way from home. She will attend the University of Virginia.

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Replacing Woolford and Early in the lineup was tough, but as the season plugged along, the Dragons improved by leaps and bounds. This isn’t the power lineup from 2012, but it’s got a lot of different moving pieces and Maynard coaches it as such. Monroe’s offense is about being opportunistic, not overly aggressive. Hunter Foster leads the team with his .400 batting average. As a freshman, he was part of the 2013 team as a player manager. Three years ago his job was trying to pick up signs in the dugout. Now he’s in the heart of the order and has more walks than strikeouts, the hallmark sign of a batter with a quality eye. Anthony Pritchett is the team’s leadoff hitter and plays like it. He’s hitting .321 and is second with runs scored at 23, the leader with 18 walks and also the squad’s top base runner with 25 steals. Dylan Shifflet, the team’s No. 3-hitter brings a blend of power and speed. He’s hitting .329 with a team best seven doubles, a triple and tied for second with a pair of homeruns. He’s third in runs scored and is a strong base runner with 11 steals. And then just as he’s helped to offset the loss of Jacob Tomlin in the pitching staff, Payne’s bat has become the answer in the power department. He’s made a vast improvement from his sophomore year to hit .348 with a team best five home runs, 24 RBI and 29 runs. From afar, it’s an overnight change, but it’s been one that’s come about through nothing but hard work in the cage, lifting weights and taking to coaching. “Last year I was batting about .205,” Payne said. “First game this year I hit one out (of the park) and that shocked me. I didn’t know if this was going to happen. I worked a lot in the cage. I have a sawedoff batt that I do a lot of one-handers with. I do tons of drills every day to to become a better hitter. Everything just came together. I don’t think it was any one thing. It was all the work together and everything got better all at once and started to click.”

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That shocked me. I didn’t know if this was going to happen. I worked a lot in the cage. - R.J. Payne

Payne’s success represents a familiar story line for Monroe. Woolford became a team leader as sophomore despite the bulk of his team in 2013 being older. Payne’s become a vocal leader amongst a group of seniors, and while that took some time to take flight, his success on the hill and in the batter’s box has seen the class of 2016 embrace him as one of them in a sense. “I keep bragging about him but it’s because he works so hard and cliche or not — he’s the first one here and last one to leave,” Maynard said. “He reminds me of (Monticello and University of Virginia alumnus) Corey Hunt and Keegan Woolford. R.J. has made himself a good baseball player.. We wouldn’t be here without him turning things around like this. At the start of the year, and I’ll be the first to say it, the seniors didn’t take to his leadership as well as they should have. We had butting heads there at first. But when they saw him leading by example too, working hard on the mound and then balls flying out of the park (when he’s hitting), they go ‘Hey, this is what hard work does.’ It’s why we called seven JV players up to be with us during the playoffs, so that they could see this.”

That’s an important part of the cycle. Woolford and Early were JV players in 2011. Shifflett and his fellow seniors went through it in 2013. It’s baseball baptism. When these players are in eighth grade and are freshmen, they look up to the seniors. Then, in a blink of an eye come May, they share the dugout with them. “It’s rough, a good feeling and a bad feeling,” Shifflett said. “You’re happy to be there because you’re young, but then you’re also nervous.” That’s preparation at its finest, the Monroe coaching staff making sure that in the next season or maybe even the one two years out, everyone is on the same page even if the obvious focus is on helping the starters and bench players get ready for the next task at hand. Baseball is organized in Greene County well ahead of the JV and varsity programs. More than half of this team played together growing up. With strong youth programs throughout the County, it’s allowed Maynard, who is the ultimate competitor, to think outside the walls of just one season. “I don’t ever want to be in a place where we’re ever rebuilding,” Maynard said. “These kids come in knowing baseball. We’ll have years, and we have, where we might not be as talented as the team before, but if we go out and work as hard as the group before it’s ‘let’s see what happens.’ We have great coaches, a great facility and great support. Greene loves baseball. It’s a fortunate place to be.” So that’s what Monroe baseball is, and has become these last six years. Since losing in the Jefferson District quarterfinals in 2010, the Dragons have always been in the state tourney or playing with a state bid on the line. Just like in 2012, the loss of the 2016 class is going to be dearly felt. But that was the case coming into this year. Woolford and Early are Monroe royalty. They attend the games, they wear their state title rings at times too. This team managed to forge ahead, and if the next team has the same make up, Cody Spencer and company will get to watch Payne and the 2017 version of this squad try and continue this legacy. But not yet, that’s getting too far ahead of things. As it stands right now, William Monroe is focused on its trip to Lynchburg. The first pitcher they might see is Turner Ashby’s Brenan Hanifee. He’s 6-foot-3 and throws in the 90’s. He’s going to be the best pitcher Monroe has faced all year. But while that would intimidate some teams, Maynard’s put in a week of practice with a game plan, which if you’ve played for him or been around him long enough, is going to be a legitimate plan. He scouts all his opponents. He’s talked with high school players that have faced Hanifee. And now he’s putting that plan in his player’s hands, veteran hands, eager hands yearning for that crowning moment. This group has seen so much over the last three years, and they play with attitude, confidence and vigor to the point where this is what they want. A team like this, a program like this, it wants to be under this spotlight. It’s what you play the game for. Pressure? Not for Monroe. Try chomping at the bit instead. “The previous playoff games we’ve just been jacked up, so we’ll probably stay that way,” Spencer said. “It’s seemed to get the job done. When you’re jacked you’re giving it all you’ve got.” And their coach sees the same thing and likes the way his team handles these situations. “I don’t think that pressure gets to this group, they’ve been even-keeled and free wheeling,” Maynard said. “It’s just baseball. So whenever this team has its back to the wall it’s come out swinging. We’ve played well to get here and hopefully we’ve got the experience, enough older guys to continue to get the job done.” For one of the smallest schools to be in the Group 3A tournament is a big deal in Central Virginia, unless you’re playing for Monroe where this is supposed to be and expected to be home. And only two wins separate this team from establishing the next bar for the next group. ✖ ::



mentality story and photos by bart isley

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rack can be an isolating pursuit. Sure there’s team scoring, but it’s a collection of individual events, of athletes running immediately next to a competitor but alone in their effort, alone in their struggle. Relays can erase that isolation, at least temporarily. Suddenly there’s someone else to hand off the baton to, someone to share the load. That’s when chemistry really matters. You don’t have to get along with everyone else on a relay team, but it can definitely make a big difference. “The chemistry is actually really important because you spend a lot of time with these girls practicing with them and working on hand-offs,” said Albemarle High’s Ryann Helmers. “Even when you go to meets and you warm-up, cool down and compete with them you have to trust them to do their part and let them trust you to do yours. If you don’t like someone, it’s not as fun.” ::


Lucky for Helmers, she’s part of the Patriots’ 4x800 team that gets along extremely well. Helmers combines with a trio of juniors -Kathryn Mayo, Lauren Hughlett and Hailey Dillenbeck to form what’s quickly become one of the state’s finest relay quartets. That team chemistry and a dash of serious talent powered the Patriots to an indoor state championship and then this spring a new school record and a third-place finish at the highly competitive Group 5A meet. “They seemed to gel together so easily,” said Albemarle track and field head coach Tony Franklin, the Conference 16 coach of the year. “There’s so much friendship-wise going on there that I think that helps.” That friendship starts with the fact that Mayo and Hughlett have known each other since kindergarten and been close friends since late in elementary school. But during this year, the friends became quite a bit closer, forged by trips to New York and Phildelphia for some of the sport’s biggest, most prestigious meets including Penn Relays.     “We really got to know each other during indoor -- we’ve been friends all through high school, but the 4x8, that’s made us much better friends,” Dillenbeck said. The team’s lineup has come together naturally over the last couple of years, starting with Mayo’s emergence as a state-level force in the individual 800. Mayo won the 800 for the third straight time, blowing away the field with a time of 2:11.77, winning by more than three seconds.

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“we’ve been friends all through high school but the 4x8, that’s made us much better friends” - dillenbeck In 2014 as a freshman, Mayo exploded in outdoor, winning the Conference 16, Region 5A North and then the Group 5A championship in the 800 with a scorching time of 2:15.65 for a ninth grader. Mayo actually joined the team that season with the intention of just staying in shape for field hockey, but that changed quickly as she found a race that clearly perfectly suits her. “I wasn’t expecting to come out every day, I was only going to come out twice a week,” Mayo said. “I’m not a distance runner and I was a sprinter in middle school so I wanted shorter races. I kind of found the 800 as an in-between and that’s what I loved.” She followed that freshman outdoor campaign with a fourth in the 1000 during indoor as a sophomore. She repeated as the outdoor 800-meter champion as a sophomore too, and that’s when the current 4x800 lineup came together on a big stage for the first time,

See a photograph you like? Defensive stand Warriors goalie has more than one trick | By Ryan Yemen

At Scrimmage Play we pride ourselves on offering the best possible graphics Two years ago the Western Albemarle boys to Shin, who doubles as a Junior National Judo soccer team get was fueled its underclassmen medalist, we can our byhands on, in both our but has developed into one of the with sophomores and freshman bearing the area’s most versatile goalkeepers. magazine as well as at our website at brunt of the work load. The netminder has shown he’s capable of Now two years later, forwards Aaron Myers making big saves, particularly in the team’s and Alex Nolet, as well as senior defender two ties. In the first game of the season, Tom Rogers are all in their senior seasons and looking to earn a Region II bid, something that Orange County snatched away from them in the Jefferson District semifinals last season. After the first month of play, the Warriors seem to have the defensive side of the equation figured out and junior goalkeeper Kai Shin is a big part of that. Before Western went on its spring break, none of its four opponents were able to score more than once, a testament to the team’s play in the middle of the field, but also a nod

Shin endured wave after wave of Albemarle attack, but stood tall and showed no rust in the 1-1- tie. But while Shin’s on the field because he can make stops, his strong leg has also been of great use as he’s able to easily clear the zone but also spark fast breaks all by himself. The Warriors averaged a little over two goals per contest before the break, but if that average starts to increase, don’t be surprised if it’s because of Shin’s ability to contribute to the transition game. ✖

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Whether it’s a 4x6 glossy print or a 13x11 mounted photo, we’ve got a full range of possibilities for you to choose from.

Western Albemarle’s Kai Shin hauls in a shot during his team’s 1-1 tie with Albemarle that kicked off the soccer season for both squads. (Frank Crocker)

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combining for a 2015 Region 5A North title and a fifth place finish at the 5A championships. That performance coincided with Helmers joining the team. Now a sophomore, Helmers is a cross country standout who excels at the longer distances, finishing third in Group 5A’s 3200 meter race at outdoor while also grabbing seventh in the 1600. Her willingness to expand out beyond the 3200 and 1600 helped open the door for the special group that has now come together. “Last year the coaches put me in a couple of 800s and everyone just started coming together because of our individual 800 times,” Helmers said. “We just all kind of got along and it just worked out.” It helps that Helmers herself is a ruthlessly competitive runner. “She’s the type of athlete that’s really competitive, the ‘I’m going to go get you type of thing’,” said Albemarle assistant coach Adrian Lorenzoni. “Sometimes in practice you have to be like ‘let’s take it down a notch’ but that’s why she’s so successful. “ Hughlett and Dillenbeck are also deceptively competitive, with Hughlett boasting a field hockey background that makes her a natural teammate. The 800 is also a comfortable home for Hughlett. “I kind of knew the 800 was where I wanted to be,” Hughlett said. “I think it’s the perfect distance because you can still race fast but you’re not full out sprinting the entire time. It’s also not too long that the pain really sets in all that much.” The Patriots have a certain ease and confidence that they bring to the table. They’re eager to compete, but they also don’t overreact to big stages and situations, they just handle it. “The future is huge with them,” Lorenzoni said. “They got third (at states) and their reaction is just perfect, not getting too high or too low. I think that’s going to lead to big things next year.” When you know you can count on your teammates, you don’t have to overreact. When you trust each other it changes everything. “It is a lot of pressure sometimes, but at the same time you’re there with three other people who we’ve trained together all year with and really worked for it,” Mayo said. “That takes away some of your nervousness.” It also sets the stage for some big-time accomplishments as Albemarle is proving nearly every time they take the track. ✖

“The future is huge with them... their reaction is just perfect, not getting too high or low.” - lorenzoni

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and the Lone wolf For some competitors, denial is the path to tranquility. It’s the path to a great performance. It’s when you say “absolutely nobody can touch me.” For a lot of competitors though, the one’s who can’t fool themselves, usually because they’re just too smart to even try, denial doesn’t work. For them, acceptance is the path to calm. It’s the path to a great performance. Charlottesville senior Tariq Carrington operates with acceptance. With understanding. He doesn’t try and block out fear or doubt when he’s settling into the blocks before a big race where it’s just him and his competitors. He lets it wash over him. “I know you’re not supposed to do this, but I let the fear get to my heart because it makes me excited that I’m running against these good people,” Carrington said. “It makes me want to run faster so I can prove I’m better than these people.” Quite quickly, that fear transforms into something else entirely. It becomes fuel that can power Carrington. Fuel that lets him know that if he isn’t at his best, if he isn’t reaching his full potential, he’s going to be in trouble. “That’s how I cope with it, I use the adrenaline and fear to help me in everything,” Carrington said. “The fear of losing, that’s what drives me.” Carrington has been in some big-time races too where that concern was totally understandable, where the field was particularly stout. Most recently he ran in the 100-meters and the 200-meters at the Group 4A state championships in Harrisonburg. Carrington took fourth place in the 100 and then four days later took fifth in the 200 when the meet was completed after a weather delay forced a rescheduling of the final few events. That 100 didn’t go exactly to plan, but after Carrington had overcame his fear by internalizing it, he was calm enough to handle some early race adversity. “I stayed relaxed, I made sure I was breathing because actually I had a pretty horrendous start,” Carrington said. “I made up for it by not panicking which would’ve made my run worse. I just stayed relaxed and ran my race.” His 11.13 finish was one-tenth off his time in preliminaries, but it was a solid improvement over the 11.34 he ran in the Region 4A West meet leading into the state meet. Carrington was the Conference 23 champion in the 100, third in the high jump and finished fifth in the conference in the 400 and the long jump. There’s a passion that’s evident every time Carrington gets a chance to compete, no matter what race or event he’s involved in.   “I’m excited every day I run,” Carrington said. “Every time I get in those blocks, my heart is just pumping. I try to make my mind go blank and just run my race.” By processing that fear, by internalizing it, Carrington reaches that calm. He’ll head to UVa this fall as a student and is considering running in some meets as an unattached runner, though the bulk of his competitive track career is likely behind him. “It’s a bittersweet moment because I know I might not run ever again,” Carrington said after competing in the 100 at the state meet. “I’m glad I was able to leave the legacy at CHS that I did and put my name somewhere in the books.” He certainly has, and he did it by processing his fear and using it rather than blocking it out. ✖

“Every time i get in those blocks, my heart is just pumping. i try and make my mind go blank and just run my race.” - Carrington ::


Game Time Western Albemarle 12, Freedom 5 By Bart Isley

Western’s goalie, Jackson Sours, finished with 22 saves in a state semifinal win over Freedom. (Bart Isley)

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There’s a certain magic to the idea of a hot keeper. Whether it’s in playoff hockey or lacrosse, the keeper who’s seeing the ball better than usual at the right time of year is a pretty coveted asset. But it isn’t something you can plan for, it just has to happen and when it does like it has for Western Albemarle boys lacrosse senior keeper Jackson Sours during the Warriors’ postseason run that’ll now head to the state championship game after a 12-5 victory over Freedom, it changes the entire dynamic for the team. “Offensively it lets us know that even if we don’t get it we have back up on the defensive side and we can take more risks,” said Western senior Oliver Herndon. “Defensively, it helps us know that we can play more aggressively when we have him back there.” Sours stuffed 22 shots by Freedom, giving the Western offense and defense all the backup it needed. “We owe pretty much this whole game to Jackson,” Herndon said. “He bailed us out several times when our defense got beat. We owe everything to him pretty much.” Sours’ performance made Western’s offensive effort led by Carter Elliot’s three goals and two assists hold up and vault the Warriors into the state final where they’ll take on Dominion. Sours came out of the gate stopping everything, with six first quarter saves and while Freedom got a lift out of a lightning delay in the second quarter, the Warriors’ senior keeper got locked back in pretty quickly. “(During the delay) I went into the gym and sat by myself because I didn’t want to break the mindset,” Sours said. “When I got back in here it was easy to fall back in, it’s playing lacrosse, it’s the game I love.” Freedom actually outshot the Warriors by a 45-41 margin, but Western was much more efficient, with Herndon, Luke Reilly

and James Buetow each scoring twice. The Warriors seemed to do a solid job, as they have the entire postseason, of taking advantage when the opposition tries to focus on clamping off Herndon and Elliot. “At halftime we made the adjustment that with Carter and Oliver drawing so much attention that as soon as the slide comes they need to move the ball through X and find the ball on the backside,” said Western coach Alex Whitten. “If that frees up Luke or John Carr (Haden) or Jimmy Buetow, I’ll take a 12-5 win against these guys.” Western jumped out to a 6-0 lead before the delay, and Freedom then reeled off three straight to close the second quarter. But the Warriors again caught fire in the third, scoring four goals to take complete control. It helped that Sours continued to stop the vast majority of what Freedom threw at him. “He found the ball today — not happy about not giving up that many shots — but he was tremendous today,” Whitten said. “Even against Hanover (in the region final) he let in 18, but he stopped 14 which were big saves. He’s playing tremendous and he’s such a great kid you’re just happy to see him have success.” The Warriors’ large senior class also got to celebrate a victory on their home field for the final time, a place that’s become pretty special for a lot of them who also play football in the same spot. Senior Matt Mullin called that group to midfield to celebrate that moment just minutes after the final whistle blew. “We got the big win that was awesome, but I’m definitely going to miss it,” Herndon said. “It was kind of crazy to know that was my last game (at home).” Western will take on Dominion in the championship game. Saturday at 2 p.m. at Liberty University for the second year in a row, the Warriors have a title shot. ✖

TEAM SPOTLIGHT WILLIAM MONROE GIRLS BASKETBALL Congratulations to William Monroe and Sam Brunelle. Not only did the Dragons freshman phenom make Team USA’s U17 team, but her teammates, coaches and all of Greene County came out in droves to welcome her back after tryouts in imprresive fashion. She’s one their own and Greene County did a great job showing how much it meant to them!

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to our 2016 student athletes as they embark on their college careers. Pierce Bower Zach Caton Annie Cory Javin DeLaurier Caroline DiGiacomo Anthony Gonnella Jalen Harrison Maddie Hunter Brian Hynes Kareem Johnson George Marshall Matt McHugh Polly McNeely Bobby Nicholson Samuel Piller Kaitlin Reese Josh Reiss Phillip Robertson Mailynn Steppe Ashley Taylor Fitz Woodrow John Woodson

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e can’t teach our students everything, but we can prepare them for anything. Our dedication to excellence rooted in spiritual formation assures that every day, whether on the field, in the classroom, or in the community, Covenant students are ready for the future ahead.


Do you, but find you first A graduation message to the Class of 2016


either my alma mater nor any other high school has ever invited me to speak at any of their graduations. That doesn’t come as a huge surprise because I graduated with a woman who eventually appeared on American Idol and another who played for Greece in the Athens Olympics, so frankly, just among alumni from my class, I am not getting that call. But I’ve been to enough graduations that I’ve definitely got an idea of what I’d like to say to a group of high school seniors that have been forced to sit in uncomfortable folding chairs while wearing polyester robes just minutes before or after eating brunch with at least one relative you barely know, but who is super, super proud of you. All the advice and wisdom doled out at graduations sounds like it could be on a poster with a smiling cat. Mine wouldn’t be an exception to that, nearly all the advice that can apply to everyone in a group of 100 people would look good on a cat poster. That’s just a fact. I’d start with the fact If you’re true to yourself you’re bound to find your passion. I think that just the act of staying true to yourself is one of life’s most perplexing struggles. There are so many different people — parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends — who are trying to push you in one direction or another, either to get you to become who you want to be or who they think you ought to be. But if you’re actively seeking, you’re often better off when you listen to yourself, when you follow what drives you. That’s an important part of the equation of course, you have to be seeking things out. I needed a kick in the pants during college from all those different people. My parents, my then-girlfriend and now-wife and even several friends to pull myself out of a slacker phase where I was essentially refusing to figure out what I wanted to do. You can’t do that forever and you’re probably better off not doing it all, though I did get absurdly good at video game football during that time. Once you identify your passion, that’s going to give you a path. A direction to head in, and if you’re lucky, an ultimate goal. Passion isn’t enough, but passion married with hard work often is enough. I know a lot of folks who are happy people despite the fact that they aren’t working in a field they’re particularly passionate about, they’re usually people who work to live rather than living to work. You should figure where you sit on that spectrum too. Generally speaking, journalists live for the work. We’re hard-wired to do the job no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the pay, no matter what the subject. I’ve never really been capable of just working a job because it pays well, or of doing whatever job comes along. I was willing to move halfway across the country to work in towns I’d never heard of because it meant I’d be writing about sports. The pay and how it impacted my life and relationships were secondary concerns, it was about doing the work. With the right amount of work and the right passion, you can find happiness in a career. You can also, as I slowly discovered, be passionate about a number of different things beyond your career like your family. That’s how you find your work/life balance, by

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“I think that just the act of staying true to yourself is one of life’s most perplexing struggles.” duplicating passion for your career in your personal life. That’s how you can find fulfillment, by not being afraid to love as hard as you work.   I don’t have all the answers by any means, which is why nobody has asked me to deliver a commencement address. But passion and work ethic, no matter what arena you’re in, no matter what path you choose to walk down, they matter. Passion and work ethic can take you anywhere. There’s the cat poster caption. Or the fortune cookie. See, I’m not saying I should get the call. But a poster doesn’t seem like too much to ask. ✖

Bart Isley,


back talk »

Congrats 2016 graduates. To book me for a commencement speech:

Success stories begin here.

Success Story: Kion Brown He’s Fork Union through and through. Kion Brown played for both the varsity and post graduate Blue Devils basketball teams as he looked to head to college to continue his playing career. And after playing for then varsity coach Matt Donohue (now the PG coach) and then legendary PG coach Fletcher Arritt, Brown found a home. Now he’s in the process of building a professional basketball career. In 2012, Brown made the decision to head to Radford over Appalachian State, Florida Atlantic, Evansville, Jacksonville and Wofford. Since his arrival, he’s made an impact playing for the Highlanders. He came off the bench as a freshman and went on to start nine contests. He had 14 points against both Wake Forest and High Point to set up a strong sophomore campaign. In his second season at Radford, he had six games in double figures while also recording his first career double-double against Hampton. As a junior, Brown played in 33 games and knocked down 43.9% of his shots. As a senior he started 18 times and averaged 17 minutes per game. At 6-foot7, Brown pulled down 3.4 boards per game, good for fourth on the Highlanders’ roster this year. In May, his career took the next step as he signed with a Chilean professional team, the Leones de Quilpie. In his debut with the squad scored 15 points and pulled down eight boards. An almost identical stat line (15 points and nine rebounds) a couple of days later helped boost his squad to a win. He’s been productive dating back to his senior year at Fork Union back in ’11-’12 and not much has changed since. Kion Brown has consistently put in the work on the court and continues to thrive playing the sport he’s enjoyed so much.

Fork Union Military Academy is the leading Christian military boarding school for boys in grades 6 - 12 and PG. — 1-800-GO-2-FUMA

Volume 7, Issue 17