Lake Norman & Mooresville

Wildcats’ cross country teams get off to good start in season opener

Davidson’s men’s and women’s cross country teams got off to a good start in their 2014 season-opening meet, taking both individual and team titles at the 2014 Eye Opener Invitational Sept. 5 in Spartanburg, S.C.

The Wildcats’ men put four runners in the top six and finished the meet with a 42-point advantage over King (25-67), while Davidson’s women swept the top three spots and had five runners in the top eight to beat Savannah College of Art and Design by 43 points (21-64).

“They had a nice opener,” said Jen Straub, director of both the Wildcats’ cross country and track and field programs. “We were really happy with the way the weekend went, considering it was quite hot and humid. We were still able to run a pretty good, quality meet.”

Junior Daniel Samet won his first individual title at a collegiate meet, taking the Eye Opener’s college men’s division. He completed the 8-kilometer course at Spartanburg’s Roger Milliken Center in 26 minutes, 20.92 seconds.

Samet, who earned Southern Conference all-freshman team honors two years ago, topped a 133-runner field, finishing just over 4 seconds before Griffin Eubanks of USC-Upstate.

“He had a really consistent training program,” Straub said of Samet. “He had many weeks of consistent training during the spring and into the summer. That attributed to his fitness.

“There’s just a new energy and enthusiasm, and Daniel’s … just going to continue to emerge and become the athlete that he showed the promise of being his freshman year.”

Davidson’s Walker Mogen, a sophomore, finished third in 26:27.03, just ahead of junior teammate Ryan Phillips at 26:27.70. Senior Sal Del Giudice was sixth overall at 26:37.32.

Other Wildcats finishers in the collegiate men’s division were junior Aaron Forburger (11th, 27:34.07), junior Wesley Laytham (14th, 27:44.38), junior Patrick Rollo (16th, 27:53.49), freshman Ramsay Ritchie (18th, 28:02.39) and sophomore Alex Herron (24th, 28:23.27).

A trio of freshmen led Davidson’s women to their second straight Eye Opener team title. Sarah Sears won her first collegiate title, completing the 5-kilometer race in 18:59.66 and beating teammate Allison Cheeseman by nearly 6 1/2 seconds. Cheeseman was second at 19:07.03 and teammate Helen Webster was third at 19:09.65.

“The freshman class is very strong, it was a very good recruiting class,” Straub said. “We did hold out a couple of our top runners who are juniors and seniors, but that was by design. We wanted to see what the freshmen could do, and what type of leadership we could get out of that class. Ultimately, this group of freshmen are going to be very successful, especially in their junior and senior years.”

Junior Olivia Menden, a SoCon all-freshman team pick two years ago, finished seventh in 19:21.31, while senior Grace Watt was eighth in 19:23.14 to round out the Wildcats’ scorers.

Other Davidson runners in the collegiate women’s meet were: freshman Sierra Ponthier (11th, 19:28.72), junior Brigid Behrens (15th, 19:37.54), sophomore Hayden Bates (16th, 19:37.58), sophomore Ashlyn Gruber (18th, 19:44.18), senior Ali Cobb (19th, 19:53.32), junior Grace Carr (21st, 19:57.66), sophomore Rachel McKay (23rd, 20:04.98), freshman Eliza Lawless (25th, 20:06.56), freshman Anna Buser (27th, 20:17.78), freshman Laurel Sheffield (29th, 20:24.92), sophomore Caroline Turner (32nd, 20:35.19), and freshman Hannah Moerk (36th, 20:41.92).

Neitzel named to All-CPL second team

Davidson senior pitcher Nick Neitzel was named to the summer collegiate baseball Coastal Plains League’s postseason all-league second team.

Neitzel went 4-3 in 12 appearances (including 10 starts) for the Forest City Owls, finishing among the league’s top five pitchers in three categories: first in batters struck out looking with 34, fourth in total strikeouts with 61, and fifth in earned run average at 2.23.

Neitzel, a righthander, was among 10 starting pitchers named to the All-CPL first and second teams. Five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers were named to each team.