Appalachian State University men’s soccer midfielder Raheem Somersall (Basseterre, St. Kitts/Southern School of Energy and Sustainability) will join his national team and participate in the U20 CONCACAF Championship for the World Cup.
Somersall arrived in Costa Rica two weeks before the main event, preparing by playing two friendly matches against professional club Saprissa and another under-20 team that qualified. The sophomore then opened up competitive play against Haiti on Feb. 18 where the team fell 5-1 but will have a second match against Panama on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The final group stage match will be against the United States on Friday, Feb. 24.
“I am honored to be a part of my national team at the youth level and to be able to participate in a World Cup Qualifiers,” Somersall said. “This is important for me because I have been selected as one of 22 members to represent my country and I feel like every footballer dreams of playing professionally or being able to represent their country.”
This is the second time that St. Kitts and Nevis have qualified to the U20 CONCACAF Championship for the World Cup. The team is locally based with 19 amateur players that play in the SKNFA Premier League in St. Kitts & Nevis and one player that plays overseas: Somersall. A talented team, many of their players have been chosen to practice in Brazil and represent the Caribbean Football Union team that played in Texas last year.
“I am very excited for Raheem to get another opportunity to represent his country in a World Cup qualifying event,” Appalachian head men’s soccer coach Jason O’Keefe said. “We are proud of him and know he will continue to represent his family, App State and his country of St. Kitts & Nevis in a great way. It is a tremendous achievement for Raheem and our program. He is an inspiration to everyone in our locker room and future Mountaineers that you can achieve all your dreams from the environment here at App State.”
If St. Kitts & Nevis qualify, Raheem will be with the U20 team until the first week of March.
“This is a challenge for me as I will be playing against top players from North, Central & South America, and I’ll also be tested on my ability to focus on school while being away from school,” Somersall continued. “I just want to thank God for bringing me this far and blessing me with this opportunity, Coach O’Keefe for making sure that I’m laser focused at all times, my advisor Cliff Poole, my professors for allowing me to be away for this period of time, my strength coach and my teammates who push me to get better every day and in every way possible.”
Newcomer Zeiko Harris (Sandys Parish, Bermuda/South Kent) is also playing in the U20 Championship in Costa Rica representing his home country of Bermuda. They tied Trinidad 1-1 on Sunday and will face El Salvador on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and Costa Rica on Saturday, Feb. 25.
To follow Somersall and Harris and the St. Kitts & Nevis and Bermuda U20 national teams, head to www.concacaf.com.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association finalized the 2017 Basketball playoff brackets this afternoon. Play will begin at the higher regional seeded team on Tuesday. Rounds one through four will all be held at the home of the higher seed. The Regional Finals (Round 5) will be played in Fayetteville for the East and Greensboro and Winston-Salem for the West.
Of Hickory Metro teams:
W1 (1) Smoky Mountain (24-2) vs. MW16 (32) Bandys (8-15)
W5 (12) Maiden (19-7) vs. MW12 (25) West Davidson (13-13)
W3 (4) East Burke (23-3) vs. MW14 (29) Mount Pleasant (10-14)
MW3 (7) North Surry (21-5) vs. W14 (26) West Caldwell (12-11)
MW7 (11) East Davidson (19-6) vs. W10 (19) Newton-Conover (16-10)
W1 (3) Freedom (25-1) v. MW16 (32) Cox Mill (9-15)
MW8 (16) Southwestern Randolph (16-9) vs. W9 (20) St. Stephens (14-11)
W7 (14) Hickory (19-6) vs. MW10 (18) Piedmont (17-10), Tuesday on 1290 AM, 102.3 FM, whky.com starting at 6:30pm.
MW4 (6) Rocky River (19-7) vs. W13 (24) Alexander Central (16-10)
MW3 (5) Page (19-7) vs. W14 (25) South Caldwell (16-9)
MW4 (7) T. Wingate Andrews (17-8) vs. W13 (23) Maiden (15-10)
MW6 (13) Monroe (13-9) vs. W11 (19) West Caldwell (17-7)
MW3 (5) North Surry (22-4) vs. W14 (25) Draughn (14-11)
W1 (1) Freedom (24-2) vs. MW16 (30) Concord (10-15)
W7 (14) Hibriten (16-9) vs. MW10 (21) Marvin Ridge (16-11)
MW5 (11) Hickory Ridge (19-7) vs. W12 (24) Patton (12-13)
MW3 (6) North Forsyth (18-9) vs. W14 (29) Foard (10-15)
W6 (10) Hickory (21-6) vs. MW11 (22) Sun Valley (15-11), Tuesday on 1290 AM, 102.3 FM, whky.com after the girls game
W7 (11) Alexander Central (19-8) vs. MW10 (20) Ben L. Smith (16-9)
W6 (9) South Caldwell (14-11) vs. MW11 (21) High Point Central (15-9)
In the final game of the Hughes Bros. Challenge, Appalachian State University faced-off against the host-team UNC Wilmington in a wild, dramatic, back-and-forth affair on Sunday afternoon at Brooks Field.
The Mountaineers (1-3) fell 6-5 on a walkoff single through the middle after leading the 24th-ranked Seahawks (3-0) 5-3 going into the ninth.
Momentum seemed to change a little bit toward UNCW’s way when the leadoff hitter to the bottom of the ninth, Robbie Thorburn, reached first on a struck out swinging, past ball. After that, the Seahawks worked the small ball game and brought around the two runs they needed to win.
Appalachian once again received incredible pitching from its bullpen. Making his first career start after 30 relief appearances, was junior Luke Watts (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central). The right-handed thrower went a career-long 5.0 innings, allowed just five hits, two runs and struck out a career-high seven batters – more than doubling his previous career high of three.
Watts finished the day throwing an impressive 60 strikes on 97 pitches for the afternoon.
Providing relief on the day was senior Sean Mason (Austin, Texas/McNeil), junior Tristan Helms (Aberdeen, N.C./Pinecrest), sophomore Will Herman (Dunwoody, Ga./St. Pius X Catholic) and senior Matt Schaeffer (Port St. Lucie, Fla./John Carrol Catholic (Tallahassee CC). UNC Wilmington went to the bullpen quite a bit on the day, using six pitchers in the four-hour game.
The Black and Gold knew they needed to be able to put pressure on the pitcher in order to contend with nationally ranked UNCW’s offense, and they did just that, having five players get a hit on the day.
Senior Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) went 1-2 on the day, scoring an RBI and crossing the plate twice. He also drew two walks. Junior Drake Zupcic (Waxhaw, N.C./Cuthbertson) continues the hot start to the season by going 2-2 on the day, with one run and one walk.
Perhaps the best eyes at the plate for the Mountaineers came from App State freshman third-baseman and leadoff hitter, Calev Grubbs (Lexington, S.C./White Knoll). In five total plate appearances, Grubbs drew three walks and went 1-2, crossing the plate once as well. Through the first weekend, the freshman leads the team in batting (.308), slugging (.385), on-base (.500), runs (three) and hits (four).
Senior Matt Vernon (Advance, N.C./Davie County (Florence-Darlington Tech) once again came up in the clutch for App as he got his lone hit in the eighth with the lead only one. Vernon drilled a double down the right-field line to drive home Grubbs, extending the lead.
The Mountaineers will have the midweek off before traveling to Boiling Springs, N.C. where they will play Gardner-Webb in a three-game series. Game 1 begins on Friday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. The game will be streamed live on the Big South Network.
Appalachian State University softball played Valparaiso on Sunday morning and crushed the UMBC Retrievers 9-2 in an afternoon rematch on the final day of the Aggie Invitational in Greensboro, N.C. Due to the fact that Appalachian and Valparaiso only completed four innings at dead time, the ballgame was voided.
App State improved to an overall .500 record (4-4) after claiming a victory against UMBC. In the rematch, seven Mountaineers crashed out hits and five dished out RBI with Haley Stewart (Belmont, N.C./South Point) registering two on a double.
In the circle, Vanessa Ciocatto (La Habra, Calif./ La Habra (Delaware State)) started the game off by shutting out UMBC in 2.2 innings, and Kenzie Longanecker (Sanford, Fla./Winter Springs) (3-2) came in relief for 4.1 innings and had two hits and two earned runs, and fired out seven strikeouts. Longanecker totaled 17 strikeouts this weekend in three games.
Game One: App State 6, Valpo 6 (4) (Voided due to four innings played)
App State got into a hole early in the first after Valparaiso (4-0) hit a 3 RBI homerun over center field, but the Black and Gold quickly climbed out of the ditch tying up the score at three apiece. In the second, Valpo regained a one-run lead, but the Mountaineers answered back with a pair of runs to take the 5-4 advantage heading into the third.
After the Mountaineers had held the Crusaders scoreless in the top of the third, App tagged on another run, but Valpo bounced back and evened up the score at six apiece after a 2 RBI homerun to end the fourth.
In a back-and-forth tied game, both teams were prepared to make the next offensive play to take the lead, but the game ended in dead time to stop the bout at 6-6.
Game Two: App State 9, UMBC 2
Appalachian jumped on the boards first when Cara Parker (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) hustled home on a wild pitch in the top of the third. After neutralizing UMBC’s (3-5) offense in the second half of the inning, Alisha Josey (Garner, N.C./Garner) opened up the fourth with a single to middle infield, and Jenny Dodd (Mocksville, N.C./West Forsyth) followed with a double that tapped danced down the left line. Then in a blink of an eye, App earned three more runs after back-to-back wild pitches and a sacrifice fly by Parker.
In the fifth inning, App went on a scoring spree racking up five runs on three hits and one error. The Black and Gold Bunting Squad opened up the inning with an error off a bunt, a bunt single and a sac. bunt that allowed A. Josey to lift up a RBI sacrifice fly to widen Apps’ gap to five runs. Directly after that, Natalie Orcutt (Peachtree City, Ga./Starr’s Mill) jetted home on a wild pitch, and Stewart bombed a double to right center to bat in pinch runners Gabby Buruato (Valdese, N.C./Jimmy C. Draughn) and Caitlin Shepherd (North Wilkesboro, N.C./West Wilkes) for the 8-0 lead.
The Mountaineers were not done cranking out bombs when Heather Josey (Statesville, N.C./North Iredell) pinched in at the eighth slot and bounced the ball off the middle of the left field fence for a double to bring home Stewart and conclude Appalachian’s multi-run inning at 9-0.
Up by nine, Appalachian sensed a five-inning victory was near, but the Retrievers kept themselves in the ballgame. With bases loaded, UMBC scored two straight runs off a single and a wild pitch, but their scoring threat was halted when Parker ended the inning diving on the ground in middle infield for the out.
After the fifth, both teams held each other scoreless in the sixth and seventh and App captured the 9-2 victory.
The Black and Gold will travel back down to Greensboro for the third-straight time to play North Carolina A&T for the second half of the two-game series on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.
Appalachian State University wrestling dropped its first home match of the season in the NWCA Division I Championship Series matchup with Indiana on Sunday afternoon, 21-12.
In a rematch of last year’s National Duals match, the 19th-ranked Mountaineers (12-3, 7-0 SoCon) battled toe-to-toe once again with the Hoosiers (10-8, 2-6 Big Ten), but the score would up being almost exactly reversed to 2015.
Highlighting the match for the Black and Gold, the team won five weight classes on the day. No. 24 freshman Colby Smith (Wentzville, Mo./Holt) downed Indiana’s Garrett Pepple in a 5-0 decision at 133 pounds to tie the team score at 3 apiece. No. 18 sophomore Matt Zovistoski (Paramus, N.J./St. Joseph Regional) took down Chris Perez in a 5-1 decision at 149 pounds to once again tie the score at 6-6.
Sophomore 197-pounder Randall Diabe (Greensboro, N.C./James B. Dudley) shut out IU’s Jake Hinz in a 4-0 decision before No. 9 senior heavyweight Denzel Dejournette (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds) overthrew Fletcher Miller in a 4-1 decision, but it wouldn’t be enough as two bonus point victories by the Hoosiers put the match out of reach.
The Mountaineers fell in a momentum-shifting start to the match at 125 pounds when Elijah Oliver got a late takedown in overtime for the sudden victory over No. 20 senior Vito Pasone (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./E.L. Meyers). Another neck-and-neck match came at 141 pounds when sophomore Irvin Enriquez (Aberdeen, N.C./Pinecrest) fell 5-4 to IU’s Cole Weaver.
The match changed entirely, however, when the Hoosiers rattled off three-straight wins at 165, 174 and 184 pounds. Bryce Martin took down No. 29 junior Forrest Przybysz (Jefferson, Ga./Jefferson) before Elliott Raiford (Branch, Ga./West Hall) dropped an 18-2 technical fall to Devin Skatzka. Sixth-ranked Nate Jackson sealed the win with a 15-3 major decision over junior David Peters-Logue (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) to give the Indiana 21 team points.
Appalachian wrestling now has two weeks off before heading to Charleston, S.C. to participate in the Southern Conference Tournament. The tournament takes place March 4 at The Citadel’s McAlister Field House. Ticket information is to-be-determined but will be announced when available on appstatesports.com.
Appalachian State University men’s tennis (3-5) fell to Coastal Carolina in its first conference match of the year 6-1 at Coastal Carolina Tennis Facility.
Jack Maddocks (Newcastle, Australia / Lambton) was the lone Mountaineer to score a point for the Black and Gold on Sunday afternoon. He defeated Luiz Faria in the No. 2 singles match, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, to improve to 4-3 in singles action.
In No. 1 doubles, Scott Webster (Perth, Australia / Scotch College) and Milo Bargeron (Chislehurst, England / Bullerswood) beat Francesco Migliano and Sebastian Schneider, 6-0.
The Chanticleers came away with the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches, as Trey Morris (Gerton, N.C. / Abraham Baldwin Agricultural) and Alex Pavkovich (Queensland, Australia / Mansfield State) fell 7-5 to Vuk Velikovic and Jose Ortega. Maddocks and Alex Brea (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day) were defeated 7-5 by Francesco Gamero Cori and Faria.
Webster was outlasted by Velickovic, 6-1, 6-3, in the No. 1 singles match, and Morris fell to Schneider, 6-2, 6-2.
Bargeron was lined up in the No. 4 slot but dropped the match 6-3, 6-4 to Migliano.
In No. 5 singles, Pavkovich was defeated by Ortega, and in No. 6 singles, Brea took Gamero Cori to the tiebreaker but eventually fell 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
The Apps look to stop the skid on Saturday, Feb. 25 against Wofford on the road at 12 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C.
The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team (11-1) rallied from a four-run deficit to beat West Virginia Tech (3-7), 9-8, Sunday afternoon at Bears Field to claim the weekend series from the Golden Bears.
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore outfielder Justin Dean (Mauldin, S.C.) scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch with one out as the Bears were able to pull out the victory after falling behind by a 6-2 score in the middle of the fifth frame.
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore pinch hitter Josh Kent (Winston-Salem, N.C.) tied the contest at eight in the eighth inning with a two-run double while junior outfielder Marcus Shoemaker (Colfax, N.C.) added three hits and two runs batted in to lead the Bears offensively.
Senior Thomas St. Clair (Winston-Salem, N.C.) improved to 4-0 after striking out the final batter in the top of the ninth inning while sophomore first baseman Alex Reynolds (Charlotte, N.C.) hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season for the Bears.
West Virginia Tech’s Wyatt Belinda (Alexandria, Pa.) hit a solo home run and drove in two while Garrison Vandeventer (Ocala, Fla.) (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
Lenoir-Rhyne hits the road to take on UNC Pembroke on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., in Pembroke, N.C.
Sophomore Bobby Hampton (Pikeville, N.C./C.B. Aycock) threw a gem in a career night, helping Appalachian State University baseball down VMI in the second matchup this weekend, 3-1, on Saturday night and get head coach Kermit Smith his first win at the helm of the program.
The Mountaineers’ (1-2) southpaw tied a career-high by pitching seven shutout innings and set a new career record by striking out nine batters on the night. Hampton is the first Appalachian pitcher since Sam Agnew-Wieland on April 6, 2013 (vs. Georgia Southern) to throw at least 7.0 innings, strike out nine batters and not allow a run.
Hampton also limited the Keydets (1-2) to two hits during his time on the hill.
The game proved to be another pitching battle through three-and-a-half scoreless innings before junior Tyler Stroup (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) started off the bottom of the fourth by launching a solo jack on the just the second pitch of the at-bat to put App up 1-0. The homer was Stroup’s ninth of his career.
The Black and Gold would increase their lead in the sixth when junior Chandler Seagle (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) singled to shallow center field and senior Brian Bauk (Salisbury, N.C./Salisbury) walked on four-straight pitches. After sophomore Jason Curtis (Waxhaw, N.C./Marvin Ridge) moved everybody one base on a groundout, Bauk broke home off a wild pitch by Brandon Barbery.
Wild pitches would afford Appalachian its final run of the evening in the seventh when freshman Calev Grubbs (Lexington, S.C./White Knoll) broke home as Kyle Staats’ ball hit the dirt and bounced to the backstop, giving him time to cross the plate.
After seven complete innings for Hampton, senior Matt Brill (Coal Valley, Ill./Moline) came in to close out the game – his first action on the mound since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015. Brill allowed just one run and one hit in 2.0 innings pitched, throwing 90-plus mph consistently throughout and getting three punchouts.
The Mountaineers have just one game remaining in the Hughes Bros. Challenge in Wilmington, N.C. They take on host-team UNC Wilmington on Sunday at 2 p.m. to finish out the first tournament of the 2017 season.
Despite a six-point halftime lead, Appalachian State University men’s basketball fell to a hot-shooting second half South Alabama team by a final score of 87-74 on Saturday night inside the Mitchell Center.
The Mountaineers (8-17, 3-11 Sun Belt) were led by Craig Hinton (Winston-Salem, N.C./East Forsyth/VMI) who turned in a career-high 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Five Mountaineers finished in double-figures and were led by Hinton and Ronshad Shabazz’s (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep (W.V.)) 13 points. Griffin Kinney (Delaware, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy) notched 12, while Isaac Johnson (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day) scored 11 and Bennett Holley (Roanoke, Va./North Cross) tallied 10.
I. Johnson led the Mountaineers with eight rebounds and three steals. Kinney finished with seven boards.
App State opened the game hitting its first six shots and led by as many as 10 points in the first half following a Hinton three to put the Black and Gold up 22-12 at the 10:50 mark.
At the 6:16 mark, the Jaguars (13-13, 6-7 Sun Belt) closed to within just three points at 25-22, but Appalachian outscored South Alabama 11-8 to finish the half and take a 36-30 lead into the locker room.
South Alabama opened the second half on a 9-0 run before a 3-pointer from I. Johnson knotted the score up at 39-39 with 15:14 left in the second period. After tying the game, App State surrendered back-to-back threes which forced the Mountaineers into their first timeout of the half.
That six-point cushion would close to as little as one point following a Holley triple to cut the Jaguar lead to 51-50. Over the next 4:24 of the half, the Jaguars would grow its lead to a game-high 10 points, 65-55, with 6:23 left.
The Mountaineers would scrap their way back into the game and trailed by just five with 3:32 left after a free throw from Jake Babic (Oakville, Ontario/The Kiski School).
Unfortunately, when the Mountaineers needed a stop, the App State defense nearly forced a shot clock violation but the Jaguars’ Ken Williams hit a fadeaway dagger three at the end of the shot clock to put the Jags back up by eight.
The Apps would be forced to foul down the stretch to try and stop the clock and get back into it, but the Jaguars hit 19-of-24 free throws in the second half to help seal the victory.
Ken Williams led the Jaguars with 20 points, while three others finished in double-figures.
Notes: App State is now 1-4 all-time against South Alabama … Craig Hinton notched a career-high 13 points … he tied his career high with four field goals and set a new career high with three 3-pointers … Isaac Johnson led the team in rebounding for the 10th time this season … he leads the team in steals and finished with a team-high three … it was Johnson’s sixth double-digit scoring game … Griffin Kinney tallied his 14th double-digit scoring game and 21st of his career … Ronshad Shabazz netted his 23rd double-digit scoring game and 41st of his career … Bennett Holley posted his first double-digit scoring game since Montreal (Dec. 11) … Fifth time this season that Emarius Logan tallied at least 5 assists … with 217 3-pointers this season, App State has totaled its ninth-most threes in a single season.
Appalachian State University men's tennis (3-4) fell to Campbell (7-1) on Saturday afternoon, 5-2, in Conway, S.C. at the Coastal Carolina Tennis Facility.
Trey Morris (Gerton, N.C. / Abraham Baldwin Agricultural) was the standout Mountaineer today, as he beat Dustin Werner, 2-6, 6-2, 14-12, in a come-from-behind battle. With the help of Alex Pavkovich (Queensland, Australia / Mansfield State), downed Nicolas Rakitin and Lukas Schaefer in No. 2 doubles, 6-1.
Jack Maddocks (Newcastle, Australia / Lambton) and Scott Webster (Perth, Australia / Scotch College) fell to Lorenz Schwab and Werner in a tiebreaker, 7-5 in No. 1 doubles.
As the doubles matches were tied up 1-1, the tandem of Alex Brea (Charlotte, N.C.) and Milo Bargeron (Chislehurst, England / Bullerswood) was defeated by Gerald Sola and Jonathan O’Neal, 6-3.
In the No. 1 singles match, Webster beat Schaefer 6-0, 6-4, notching his fourth singles win of the year.
Maddocks was defeated by Rakitin in No. 2 doubles, 6-2, 6-1, and Bargeron fell to Sola in a back and forth No. 4 match in the third set, 7-6, 4-6, 10-7.
Pavkovich played his fifth match at the No. 5 spot of the year but was defeated by Schwab, 6-1, 6-2.
In the No. 6 spot, Campbell Stone (Raleigh, N.C. / Needham B. Broughton) made his third individual appearance of the Spring slate, but fell to Fernando Clemente, 6-1, 6-2.
The Mountaineers look for a split on the weekend, as they face host Coastal Carolina on Sunday in their first Sun Belt match of the season. First serve is set for 11 a.m.
The NCHSAA Wrestling Championships concluded on Saturday:
2A 126 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Nathan Oakley (Providence Grove, 48-5) won by decision over Noah Gilbert (East Burke, 49-2) (Dec 8-4)
2A 132 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Quincy Monday (Carrboro, 31-1) won by major decision over Schuyler Spurrier (Maiden, 37-4) (MD 14-4)
2A 170 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Chase Emory (Chase, 56-6) won by decision over Andy Henze (Newton-Conover, 48-11) (Dec 7-2)
2A 220 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Shykale Steptoe (West Caldwell, 41-6) won by decision over Kaleb Dunn (Surry Central, 33-1) (Dec 2-1)
3A 106 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Clay Beach (Freedom, 27-9) won by decision over Nick Butler (Swansboro, 39-4) (Dec 6-2)
3A 126 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Tyler Gregor (Hickory Ridge, 36-1) won by fall over Nick Kaufmann (Fred T. Foard, 44-7) (Fall 1:00)
3A 138 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Blaine Mainz (Jacksonville, 37-0) won by decision over Spencer Leonhardt (Freedom, 54-3) (Dec 7-3)
3A 160 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Hayden Wyke (Hibriten, 31-0) won by decision over Parker Holcomb (Union Pines, 23-4) (Dec 9-2)
4A 152 – Championship Finals
1st Place Match - Keon Muckelvene (West Forsyth, 58-0) won by fall over Ethan Lewis (Alexander Central, 46-3) (Fall 2:43)
The Lenoir-Rhyne Men's Lacrosse Team (1-1), ranked No. 14 in NCAA Division II, won its first game of the 2017 campaign with a 14-12 victory over 20th-ranked Rollins (2-1) Saturday evening at Optimist Field at Daffin Park.
Three players scored three goals for the Bears – sophomore attacker Joe Buduo (Shrewsbury, Mass.), senior attacker Will Remsen (Baldwin, N.Y.) and freshman midfielder Eric Dickinson (Charlotte, N.C.) – and Lenoir-Rhyne broke a nine-all tie with five straight goals beginning late in the third period and were able to hold on for the win.
Rollins was led by Jack Vonarb (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) with three goals in the losing effort.
Senior attacker Mike Hanlon (Haymarket, Va.) scored the game-winner with 1:47 left in the third period and finished with two scores on the night for the Bears.
Lenoir-Rhyne's goalkeepers totaled 20 saves on the night while junior Damon Cummins (Lancaster, Pa.) (1-0) earned the win after stopping 19 shots. Rollins' Jake Hogan (Westwood, Mass.) made 10 saves but suffered the loss. The Tars also lost despite holding a 60-35 edge in shots taken.
Lenoir-Rhyne returns home to host Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday, February 25, at Noon.
Shooting woes plagued Appalachian State University women's basketball (10-15, 5-10 SBC) in a 54-41 setback to South Alabama (9-16, 4-10 SBC) on Saturday evening in the Mitchell Center.
App shot just 20.9 percent from the floor and hit just one 3-pointer against the Jaguars. South Alabama shot 35.7 percent from the field and outscored App 12-3 from 3-point range.
The Mountaineers held a 32-27 lead going into the fourth quarter, but South Alabama shot 69.2 percent in the final period en route to outscoring the Black and Gold by 18.
Madi Story (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) notched her fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and tied a game-high with 12 boards. The junior wing has registered five double-doubles in the past nine games. Ashley Bassett-Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/UT Martin) also grabbed 12 off the glass, tying her career best and chipped in with seven points.
Joi Jones (Duluth, Ga./Duluth) and Bria Carter (Spotsylvania, Va./Spotsylvania) both scored nine while Jones brought down six rebounds and dished out four assists.
App State had the start it wanted with a 16-10 lead in the opening period, shooting 50 percent in the opening period while limiting the hosts to a 23.5 percent clip. App sprinted to a 9-2 lead in the first 3:42 of the game with four different Mountaineers scoring, resulting in the six-point edge.
App continued to stay in front in the second quarter, as it went into the break with a 21-20 advantage going into the half. The Mountaineers went up by as much as five with 6:12 left in the period thanks to a pair of free throws from Carter, but USA sliced the deficit to one at the end of the half after a Candice Williams trifecta.
In the third quarter, App took a 27-20 lead in the first 4:20 with a 6-0 spurt. Jones found Bassett-Smith for a layup followed by back-to-back buckets from Story and Q. Murray (Baltimore, Md./George Mason).
However, the Jaguars wouldn't go away keeping the lead to five points at the end of the period, 32-27. USA started the quarter on an 11-2 run to take a 38-34 lead and didn't look back.
App had its opportunities with 64 shot attempts and 22 offensive rebounds, which only led to eight second-chance points. App also struggled from the free throw line going 12-for-24.
With the final three games at home, the Apps will look to ride into the Sun Belt Tournament on a high note and aim to be playing their best ball at the end of the season.
Colby Davis scored a game-high 17 points to lead three Jaguars in double-figures. Davis shot 7-for-12 from the floor while Chyna Ellis and Genesis Perrymond scored 12 and 10, respectively.
The Mountaineers will host Louisiana on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Holmes Center on ESPN3.
- With a team-high four helpers, Jones is now 10th all-time in assists with 275 and counting, passing Whitney Tossie (2004-07).
The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team (10-1) split a doubleheader with West Virginia Tech (3-6) Saturday afternoon at Bears Field. The Golden Bears won the first game by a 9-5 score while the Bears took the second contest, 17-4, to salvage the split.
Game One – West Virginia Tech 9, Lenoir-Rhyne 5
The Golden Bears' Jacob Reimold (Greenville, Pa.) hit a two-run home run and finished with three runs batted in as West Virginia Tech handed Lenoir-Rhyne its first loss of the season.
Lenoir-Rhyne lost despite run-scoring triples from sophomore outfielder Justin Dean (Mauldin, S.C.) and junior outfielder Marcus Shoemaker (Colfax, N.C.).
On the mound, the Golden Bears' Jerod Jobst (Dunbar, W.Va.) (1-0) was credited with the win in relief while junior outfielder Austin Hancock (Defiance, Ohio) (0-1) was tagged with the loss for the Bears.
Game Two – Lenoir-Rhyne 17, West Virginia Tech 4 (seven innings)
Lenoir-Rhyne junior third baseman Fred Wadsworth (Columbia, S.C.) hit a pair of three-run home runs and finished with six runs batted in as the Bears were able to salvage the split with West Virginia Tech.
Trailing by a 3-2 score, the Bears put the contest away with an eight-run second inning including the game-winning two-run home run from sophomore catcher Zack Shoemaker (Colfax, N.C.).
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore Hunter Martin (Stanfield, N.C.) improved to 3-0 on the year after pitching into the fifth inning and striking out seven batters while West Virginia Tech's Jayson Sykora (Spencer, Ohio) fell to 0-2 on the season.
Appalachian State University softball split the day falling 1-0 to UMBC in the morning and silencing Howard 11-0 in the afternoon at the Aggie Invitational in Greensboro on Saturday.
“Our pitchers threw really well again today,” said head coach Janice Savage. “We are starting to get some really consistent outings out of them, which is exciting. I think offensively we still have to get a little more consistent with our bats. We have a really hot game and have 12 to 18 hits, and then in the next game, we are kind of flat. So we just have to figure ourselves out offensively and stop rollercoaster riding and stay straight through.”
Appalachian improved to 3-4 on Saturday after going 1-1 in Greensboro. For the day, 11 Mountaineers made connections with the ball, and four ladies recorded multiple hits including Alisha Josey (Garner, N.C./ Garner) (2-for-6), Jenny Dodd (Mocksville, N.C. /West Forsyth) (2-for-6), Keri White (Hampstead, N.C./Topsail) (3-for-4) and Katie Mathewson (Hickory, N.C./Hickory) (2-for-4). Also , seven ladies pounded out RBI, and Cara Parker (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) blasted out her second homer of the season.
Appalachian’s pitching staff turned in two great performances that included seven hits, one earned run and 19 total strikeouts. Ten of those strikeouts came from Kenzie Longanecker (Sanford, Fla./Winter Springs) (career-high) in the first game.
Game One: UMBC 1, App State 0
The first four innings of the ballgame were dormant with each team smacking out one hit a piece. Then at the top of the fifth, UMBC smashed a triple down left center which set the runner up to score off of Longanecker’s wild pitch.
App was ready to tie up the score and eventually take the advantage in the bottom of the fifth when Parker reached first base due to a hit by pitch and White singled to the shortstop. Up next was Mathewson who pinched for Megan Walker (Raleigh, N.C./Middle Creek) and fired out a single to load all the bases. App was in position to tie up the game, but Natalie Orcutt (Peachtree City, Ga./Starr’s Mill) couldn’t find the right pitch to bat a runner in and popped out at right field.
After Longanecker had tossed out three strikeouts in the top of the sixth and seventh, App was eager to build off of her momentum and challenge UMBC’s lead. After two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, Taylor Rivenburgh (Rocky Point, N.C./Heide Trask) pinched in to hit, but couldn’t find the right swing and the Retrievers took the ballgame 1-0
Longanecker (2-2) had an outstanding 3.1 innings firing out a career-high ten strikeouts with one earned run and one walk. In the starting position was Vanessa Ciocatto ( La Habra, Calif./La Habra (Delaware State)) who pitched for 3.2 innings.
Game Two: App State 11, Howard 0 (5)
Appalachian hit the ground rolling, scoring one run in the first and tagging on two more in the second to take the early 3-0.
In the top of the third, App added four more to the board with Stewart smashing a double to right center for a RBI, Parker bombing one over the left center fence for 2 RBI and White jetting home on a passed ball.
After App’s defense had neutralized The Bison’s offense for a third-straight time, the Black and Gold racked up three more runs in the top of the fourth. A. Josey started App off with a single to right field, and Dodd accompanied that with a RBI double. H. Josey kept the momentum flowing swatting out a single RBI to stretch Apps’ lead to 5-0, and Ally Walters (Orange City, Fla./University) continued the scoring stream when she sprinted home on a passed ball to give App State the ten run lead.
After Russell had produced a great double play for outs two and three in the bottom of the fourth, the Black and Gold knew a victory was near. Then in the bottom of the fifth, Rivenburgh would answer the final call when she sent out a missile to right center for a RBI single to solidify the shutout 11-0.
Ciocatto (1-2) grabbed her second start of the day dishing out six strikeouts in 3.0 innings. In relief was Katie Williford (Kannapolis, N.C./Northwest Cabarrus) and Annaleise Kennedy (Kents Store, Va./Fluvanna) who both pitched an inning a piece and collectively hurled out six strikeouts.
The Black and Gold will finish up action at the Aggie Invitational tomorrow, Feb. 19, when they play Valparaiso at 11 a.m. and UMBC at 1 p.m.
Appalachian State University women’s tennis (3-6) fell to Wake Forest (9-2) on Saturday, 6-1, at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem.
Sophomore Taylor Bygrave (Monto, Australia / Miami Gold Coast) recorded her third straight singles win as she notched a 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4) victory over the Demon Deacons' Alexis Franco in the No. 6 singles match.
Wake Forest took all three doubles matches, as Heidi Swope (Weddington, N.C. / Weddington) and McKayla Zupan (Wilmington, N.C. / Hoggard) fell to Emma Davis and Chandler Carter, 6-1, at the No. 1 spot. At the No. 2, Megan Mullen (Mooresville, N.C. / Lake Norman) and Gabrielle Wreder (Maimi, Fla. / Miami Killian) were defeated by Samantha Asch and Joanna Zalewski, 6-1.
Melissa Machado (Miami, Fla. / Felix Varela) and Rebecca Morse (Lehigh Acres, Fla. / Cypress Lake) were also downed 6-1 by Courtney Meredith and Alexis Franco.
Swope played in the No. 1 slot for the first time this season but felt to Davis, 6-1, 6-2. At the No. 2, Morse was defeated by Zalewski, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 3 singles featured Machado, who fell to Asch, 6-0, 6-1, and Wreder fell to Luisa Fernandez in the No. 4 slot, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
Mullen was defeated in the No. 5 singles match by Meredith, 6-3, 6-3.
The Apps look to rebound against North Carolina on Tuesday in Chapel Hill. The first serve is set for 1:30 p.m.
The Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Basketball Team (10-15, 9-11) suffered an 88-78 loss to Anderson (13-13, 11-9) Saturday afternoon in a South Atlantic Conference game at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.
Anderson’s Randall Shaw (Greenville, S.C.), the league’s top scorer, finished with a game-high 26 points while Maurice Howard (Saluda, S.C.) added 17 points and hit 10-of-12 free throw attempts in the victory.
Lenoir-Rhyne, which suffered its sixth loss in its last seven games, was led by senior guard Jalen Variste (Baton Rouge, La.) with 22 points in defeat.
Anderson pulled away in the second half by shooting 65 percent (15-of-23) from the field in picking up its third straight victory.
Lenoir-Rhyne senior forward JacQues Chambers (Maysville, N.C.) added 17 points and six boards but the Bears hit just nine-of-29 three-point attempts on the day.
Lenoir-Rhyne hosts Queens, ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division II, for Senior Night on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.
The Anderson Women’s Basketball Team (19-5, 16-4) kept its slim hopes alive for a third straight league championship after escaping Lenoir-Rhyne (15-11, 11-9), 77-76, Saturday afternoon in a South Atlantic Conference game at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.
Anderson’s Heather Jankowy (Walhalla, S.C.) and Madison Baggett (Huntsville, Ala.) each scored 22 points while Jankowy hit six of the Trojans’ 12 three-pointers in the victory and the season sweep over the Bears.
Lenoir-Rhyne was led by senior forward Brooke Robinson, a Fred T. Foard grad, with a career-high 21 points while senior center Chelsey Romero (Hampton, Va.) added a double-double – 17 points and 11 rebounds – in the setback.
The Trojans’ Alexy Mollenhauer (Lindale, Texas) hit the game-winning free throws with two seconds left as Anderson remained in sole possession of third place in the conference standings.
Lenoir-Rhyne sophomore forward Madi Suddreth (Taylorsville, N.C.) added 16 points and the Bears shot 50 percent (29-of-58) from the field despite the loss. The Bears also suffered their third straight setback.
Lenoir-Rhyne next hosts Queens for Senior Night on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
Appalachian State University baseball battled through five tough scoreless innings as each pitcher worked the zone, but ultimately fell 3-1 to George Mason on Saturday morning at Brooks Field.
The Mountaineers (0-2) began the day with sophomore Colin Schmid (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) on the mound. The portsider went 5.2 innings and allowed just five hits through five innings and seven hits overall. He finished just three strikeouts shy of his career-high nine.
Providing relief in the sixth inning was junior Reed Howell (Goldsboro, N.C./Rosewood). Despite inheriting two runners, Howell didn’t allow a run in the sixth and would finish the game with 2.1 innings pitched, just two hits allowed and two punchouts with one run allowed in the eighth.
Appalachian broke the scoreless streak first in the top of the sixth when junior Conner Leonard (Winston-Salem, N.C./Reagan) ripped one down the left-field line for a stand-up double. Junior catcher Chandler Seagle (New Bern, N.C./New Bern) then shot one right over the infield to center field to bring Leonard all the way around for the Black and Gold’s lone run.
The Patriots (1-1) ended up scoring their three runs in the sixth and eighth. In the sixth, Tyler Nelin doubled to left center bringing around Logan Driscoll and Michael Smith before Brady Acker singled to deep left field and scored Alejandro Aponte home.
Halfway through the Hughes Bros. Challenge in Wilmington, N.C., the Mountaineers continue this afternoon at 6 p.m. when they play VMI for the second time of the weekend at Brooks Field.
Appalachian State University head men’s soccer coach Jason O’Keefe officially announced the addition of nine student-athletes for the 2017 season on Tuesday.
The class features three forwards, three defenders, two midfielders and a goalkeeper. Of the nine newcomers, seven of them hail from North Carolina with one from Florida and one from Bermuda.
“We are extremely excited to announce this group of young men which will join us in the fall here in Boone, N.C.,” O’Keefe said. “All of these guys are great student-athletes with a proven track record of winning in the classroom and on the soccer field. They will help add to our depth, bring versatility to our lineup and ultimately will have great opportunity to contribute right away. We will also be adding to this list in the upcoming months which will only strengthen the class and our program for the next four years.”
2017 APPALACHIAN STATE MEN’S SOCCER SIGNEES
Name - Pos. - Ht. - Hometown/High School (Previous College)
Jack Butterfield - GK - 6-3 - Chapel Hill, N.C./CE Jordan
Roman Galaska - F - 6-3 - Greenville, N.C./J.H. Rose
Brady Gunter - D - 6-1 - Kernersville, N.C./East Forsyth
Zeiko Harris - D - 6-4 - Sandys Paris, Bermuda/South Kent
Juan Hernandez - F - 6-0 - Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange
Reed Hunnicutt - F - 5-8 - Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg
Justin Pruitt - MF - 5-10 - Matthews, N.C./Weddington
Yoni Spencer - D - 5-11 - Charlotte, N.C./Providence
Parker Washburn - MF - 5-8 - Cary, N.C./Guerin Catholic
JACK BUTTERFIELD (6-3, Goalkeeper, Chapel Hill, N.C./CE Jordan)
Rated a three-star recruit by TopDrawerSoccer ... named a top 50 recruit in the Southeast by TopDrawerSoccer ... played for the Capital Area RailHawks Academy under John Bradford and U.S. Soccer Development Academy ... was chosen as starting goalkeeper for RailHawks four-straight years ... team ranked in top 15 nationally each year ... qualified and played in USSDA playoffs each year ... trained in Brazil and played against Brazilian club teams ... tied for lowest goals-against average in Southeast Division of USSDA in 2015 ... full name is William Jackson Butterfield ... son of Kevin Butterfield ... born Jan. 25, 1999 ... has three siblings: Carrie, Kate and Will ... major is undecided ... father, Kevin, lettered in baseball at Kalamazoo College.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Jack has been developed in one of the best environments in the nation under the GK teaching of Nathan Thackeray at the Capital Area Railhawks Academy. He has great size, shot stopping ability and is a competitor that is used to winning. We look forward to watching Jack’s development over the next four years.”
ROMAN GALASKA (6-3, Forward, Greenville, N.C./J.H. Rose)
Named all-conference and all-Region his sophomore, junior and senior years ... earned the “Will to Win” award his junior year ... awarded Conference Player of the Year his junior year and named MVP his senior year ... exploded in his junior year, scoring 34 goals and assisting on 11 more after having just six goals and five assists his sophomore year ... scored 20 goals and had six assists his senior year ... full name is Roman Wolfe Galaska ... son of Tommi and Jeff Galaska ... born March 1, 1999 ... has two siblings: Ryker (14) and Rhettec (11) ... intends to major in nursing and minor in biology ... plans to become a CRNA after graduation ... enjoys playing a variety of sports and hanging with friends in his spare time ... father, Jeff, played football at Duke for four years ... uncle, Richard Wheeler, played football at NC State for four years.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Roman is a tremendous athlete that made a great impression at our summer camp. He is big, strong and can score goals in a variety of ways. We are excited to get him here and start working with him as he is hungry and very coachable. These characteristics will set him up to have success here at App State over the next four years.”
BRADY GUNTER (6-1, Defender, Kernersville, N.C./East Forsyth)
Lettered one year at East Forsyth High School ... played for North Carolina Fusion USSFA under Andrew Butler from 2014-17 ... appeared in 77 games, starting 65 of them ... member of the 2016 Fusion team that qualified for Academy playoffs ... full name is Brady Lane Gunter ... son of Page and Jeff Gunter ... born Dec. 15, 1998 ... has two older siblings: Drew and Ethan ... major is undecided ... enjoys wakeboarding and snowboarding in his free time.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Brady has great physical tools, has become a leader and hard-nosed defender over the last couple years playing in the USSDA for Andy Butler. I have known his family for 12 years and have seen his maturation as both a person and player. We know he has the potential to make an impact here immediately and over his four years.”
ZEIKO HARRIS (6-4, Defender, Sandys Parish, Bermuda/South Kent)
Played for South Kent in Connecticut under Owen Finberg ... 2015-16 TopDrawerSoccer National Champion ... 2013, 2015, 2016 New England Champion ... 2014, 2015, 2016 Western New England Regular Season Champion ... named 2016 all-American ... finished with nine goals and 12 assists ... named 2015 New England junior all-star ... earned Western New England all-star team selection ... named all-state ... helped Bermuda qualify for final U20 World Cup Qualifying Stage – Costa Rica on Feb. 17 ... also played for CFC United under Graciano Brito ... were State Cup Champions ... recorded two goals and four assists ... full name is Tahzeiko Soloman Harris ... born May 7, 1999 ... son of Lisa Brown ... has four siblings: Ziah, Mia, Troy and Tabua ... intends to major in accounting and minor in international business ... aspires to play soccer professionally before retiring and becoming an accountant.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Zeiko is an experienced Bermudian international player. He is a 6-foot-4, athletic center back with a good skillset who will immediately help us work toward or goals of being better defensively and compete for a Sun Belt Championship.”
JUAN HERNANDEZ (6-0, Forward, Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange)
Played for the Orlando City U18 Pro Academy under David Longwell ... crowned the 2015-16 League Champions of the Southeast Division ... appeared in 24 games in 2015-16, scoring 10 goals ... saw action in 13 games in 2016-17, getting two goals and assisting on two more ... full name is Juan Jose Hernandez ... son of Luz Elena Jimenez ... born July 23, 1998 ... has three older siblings: Juan David, Juan Pablo and Jessica ... intends to major in economics and minor in sustainable technology ... plans to play in the MLS after graduation.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Juan is a soccer junkie and has a great passion for the game. He has a great combination of athleticism and technical ability. He is versatile and can play many attacking positions. He has had to fight and earn everything in one of the top youth academy’s in the U.S. We are looking forward to having him here and have no doubt that he will have a great impact on our program over the next four years.”
JUSTIN PRUITT (5-10, Midfielder, Matthews, N.C./Weddington)
Crowned the JV Soccer Conference Champions in 2014 at Weddington ... played for Charlotte Soccer Academy US Soccer Development Academy under Rob Dalton ... were 2013 NCYSA State Champions and Regional Semi-Finalists ... in 2013, selected as USYS National League participant ... full name is Justin Reed Pruitt ... son of Anne and Andrew Pruitt ... born Aug. 3, 1999 ... intended major is risk management and insurance.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Justin is one of the hardest working players out there and as coachable as they come. He is a selfless player that will do anything for the success of the team. He is competitive and does not shy away from any challenge that comes his way and has the versatility and skill set to literally play any of the 10 field positions. These attributes will equate to success here at App State and will help elevate our program.”
PARKER WASHBURN (5-8, Midfielder, Cary, N.C./Guerin Catholic)
Rated as a three-start recruit by TopDrawerSoccer ... Named captain during his one year of soccer at Green Hope HS in Cary, N.C. as a junior ... earned first-team all-conference and all-Region honors ... played for the Indiana Fire Academy in Indianapolis, Ind. ... started in 10 of 12 appearances in fall 2016 season, scoring two goals ... full name is Parker Brian Washburn ... son of Susan and Brian Washburn ... born Oct. 6, 1998 ... has one sibling: Grace ... intends to major in business and minor in marketing ... enjoys kitesurfing and snowboarding in his free time.
O’Keefe’s Take: “I have had the privileged to coach Parker in the past. He has a great passion for the game, wonderful soccer IQ and has the technical ability to be an impact in many ways. He comes from a winning environment with Indiana Fire and is coached by Phil Presser. He will bring a winning mentality to our program, which we will benefit from greatly every day over his four years.”
REED HUNNICUTT (5-8, Forward, Charlotte, N.C./South Mecklenburg)
A two-year letterwinner in soccer at South Mecklenburg, named an all-American his senior year ... earned all-conference all-Region and all-State his junior and senior year ... received the Golden Boot Award his senior year ... named NC West Region Player of the Year ... Greater Charlotte Soccer Gala’s Male Player of the Year ... named all-Charlotte Observer Boys Soccer Player of the Year ... scored 31 goals in his career and assisted on 35 more ... helped lead his team to a 48-3-3 record in his final two years ... also played for Charlotte Soccer Academy (U.S. Development Academy) in 2013-14 and currently plays for Charlotte United ... full name is Harlan Reed Hunnicutt ... son of Cyndi and Travis Hunnicutt ... born Feb. 15, 1999 ... has one sibling: Lainey ... major is undecided ... enjoys wakeboarding and snowboarding in his spare time.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Reed has great technical skill set and is naturally left footed. He will add balance to our team and bring versatility by playing anywhere on the field for us outside of the goalkeeper position. He has the ability to run at players, create numbers up situations for us and beat players 1v1. He can also score goals and set his teammates up. Reed will be a player with great potential for us over the next four years.”
YONI SPENCER (5-11, Defender, Charlotte, N.C./Providence)
Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy under Rob Dalton ... was named the USSDA Designated Player ... selected to represent the U.S. at the Maccabi games in Israel on the U18 national men’s soccer team ... full name is Yonatan Klein Spencer ... son of Richard Spencer ... born Sept. 23, 1999 ... has three siblings: Daniel, Maya and Natalie ... intends to major in political science and minor in business ... plans to attend law school after graduation.
O’Keefe’s Take: “Yoni is athletically gifted, tough and can play with either foot. I have seen him grow tremendously over the past six months as his team transitioned to a three-back system and he has made the transition smooth and has shut down some of the best attacking players in the country this past fall. He has the potential to have an immediate impact on our defense and will only get better each day. We are excited to see his continued growth over the next four years.”