HPU’s Crawford captures Big South cross country title

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 11:11 PM

 Senior Patrick Crawford from Kernersville won the Big South Cross Country Championship, leading the High Point University men’s team to a runnerup finish on Saturday at Vista Links Golf Course. Redshirt-sophomore Jeff LaCoste (Amherst, N.H.) placed second, giving HPU a 1-2 finish.

It’s the second year in a row that High Point had the Big South individual champion. HPU sophomore Paddy Grandinali placed 12th to earn All-Conference honors along with Crawford and LaCoste. The Panthers placed second with 48 points, just off nine-time defending champ Liberty’s 40.
“Patrick and Jeff both had great performances out here today,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “We wanted them to break up Liberty’s top two guys and they more than did that. Everyone came out and executed through 7K, we just couldn’t quite finish. It’s hurts to be so close to the win but this team came out and gave it all today. There wasn’t much more we could have done.”
Crawford and LaCoste went out early with Liberty’s Caleb Edmonds and Josh MacDonald before Crawford pulled away.
“I got a little lead early on a downhill and I wanted to keep pushing the downhills,” said Crawford. “I didn’t really have a race plan. I just got a lead early – it might have been too early – and kept running a little bit faster than everyone else.”
Crawford stretched his lead throughout the race and LaCoste was able to separate from the Liberty contenders as well. Crawford finished in 25:32.28 to LaCoste’s 25:52.84. Liberty’s Jeremie Bourget ended up third in 26:02.35 followed by the Flames’ MacDonald in 26:13.63.
For the Panthers, Grandinali placed 12th in 26:55.42 and junior Reece Ayers placed 14th in 27:06.53. Junior Chris Colo was HPU’s fifth finisher in 27:17.36. Sophomore Benji Szalai placed 22nd in 27:22.47 and sophomore Kevin Maguire placed 27th in 27:38.62.
It was the seventh season in a row that High Point was runnerup at the Big South Championship. Last season, High Point’s Jacob Smith won the Big South individual title. Smith will compete for the Panthers in indoor and outdoor track & field this season.
Behind Liberty and High Point, Campbell placed third with 87 points followed by host VMI (99) and Coastal Carolina (104). UNC Asheville placed sixth with 189 points followed by Longwood (195), Radford (196), Winthrop (237) and Gardner-Webb (329). Charleston Southern finished 11th with 351 points and Presbyterian placed 12th (368).
HPU’s season continues with the NCAA Southeast Region Championship hosted by Virginia on Nov. 15. The Panthers will look for a top-10 finish in that meet after placing 17th last season.

PANTHER WOMEN PLACE FOURTH IN BIG SOUTH
BUENA VISTA, Va. — The High Point University women’s cross country team placed fourth at the Big South Championship on Saturday at Vista Links Golf Course. Senior Kayleigh Perry finished eighth, earning All-Conference honors for the third year in a row.
Coastal Carolina won the team title with 56 points while three teams – Liberty, UNC Asheville and High Point – were separated by just seven points. Liberty scored 76, UNC Asheville 78 and High Point 83. Campbell placed fifth with 111 points followed by Winthrop (153), Radford (178) and host VMI (208). Charleston Southern placed ninth with 259 points followed by Gardner-Webb (302), Longwood (311) and Presbyterian (349).
“It was a really tight race so it was obviously disappointing to end up fourth,” said HPU head women’s cross country coach Jenna Wrieden. “We had some good individual performances. Kayleigh Perry showed once again how reliable she is. Natalia Ocasio had a great race, she has been really improving all season. Cozette Collin didn’t have her best day but she has shown a lot this season. We just have to keep working hard and improving as a team.”
Coastal Carolina’s Letitia Saayman and Kyla Van Grann went 1-2 in the race to lead the Chanticleers to the team title.
Perry was the Panthers’ top finisher in eighth with a time of 18:51.70. Collin placed 13th in 19:08.00 and Ocasio placed 15th in 19:09.71. Senior Audrey Malloy placed 23rd with a time of 19:29.67 and sophomore Erika Peoples placed 24th in 19:32.48. Junior Krista Willard placed 27th in 19:43.90 and sophomore Katie Farina placed 35th in 19:51.03.
Farina was named to the Big South All-Academic team following the meet.

HPU WOMEN TOP GARDNER-WEBB IN VOLLEYBALL
BOILING SPRINGS — The High Point University volleyball team beat Gardner-Webb 3-1 (25-12. 16-25, 25-16, 25-22) on Saturday. Junior Kristin Heldt had 18 kills to lead three Panthers with double-digit kills.
“This was a very well-played volleyball match,” said HPU head coach Jason Oliver. “Both teams fought to the end and I am proud of my team for responding after a tought match last night. Kristin gave us exactly what we needed, a fantastic offensive match.”
Heldt hit .261 with 18 kills, seven digs and three aces. Junior Chelsea Davis tallied 14 kills, nine digs and one block. Junior Katie Vincent hit .364 with 10 kills and three blocks. Sophomore Annemarie Chin had a match-high 21 digs.
Erin Anderson, Brianna Starr and Emily Holte had seven kills each for Gardner-Webb. Anna Pashkova tallied 18 digs.
The Panthers improve to 12-13 overall and 6-4 in Big South play. GWU stands at 15-13 overall and 6-4 against league opponents.
The Panthers hit .310 in the first set, rolling to a 25-12 win. Heldt served an ace off Katie Loftin to put the Panthers ahead 10-5 and force an early GWU timeout. The Runnin’ Bulldogs rattled off three-straight points after the gap to close the lead to 10-8. Megan Kennedy went cross court for a kill to side out for the Panthers and start a 5-0 run.
HPU built a 17-9 lead in the opening set and GWU tried to stop the momentum with its second timeout. The Panthers finished the frame with an 8-3 run to win 25-12. Gardner-Webb hit -.100 in the set.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs evened the match with a 25-16 win in set two. Four-straight High Point errors gave Gardner-Webb a 8-3 lead early in the frame. It was the only lead they needed as they went on to win by nine, holding HPU to .030 hitting in the set. Heldt put down seven kills for the Panthers but the rest of the team only had four.
The Panthers regrouped in set three, getting a 25-16 win and going up in the match 2-1. HPU hit .306 in the frame with 15 kills. Simpson dished out 11 assists in the set, spreading the ball around as Heldt and Davis each had five kills and Vincent had four.
High Point held on for a close, 25-22 win in the fourth and final set. The frame was tied 19-19 and HPU went ahead on a kill by Vincent. Vincent and Davis combined for a block to give HPU a 21-19 lead. Holte had back-to-back kills to once again tie the set, 21-21. High Point called timeout and finished the frame on a 4-1 run to win the set 25-22.
Senior Maddie Simpson finished the match with 45 assists, eight digs and two blocks.  Redshirt-freshman Savannah Angel added nine kills and two blocks.
High Point travels to Liberty on Friday for a 7 p.m. match at the Vines Center. The Panthers topped Liberty 3-0 at High Point earlier this season.

HPU MEN BOOT GARDNER-WEBB, 2-1
BOILING SPRINGS — The High Point University men’s soccer team beat Gardner-Webb 2-1 on Saturday. Senior Adam Sewell scored the game-winning goal for the Panthers.
“This was a massive result for us,” said HPU head coach Dustin Fonder. “The team challenged themselves to finish the season with four wins. This is number two in that stretch and puts us in good position for the final two games. It showed the character of our team that they responded with a goal so quickly after going down. We have spent a lot of time on set pieces in practice and we saw the result of that on the second goal when they executed it perfectly.”
HPU improves to 6-7-3 on the season and 4-2-2 in Big South play. Gardner-Webb drops to 9-7-1 overall and 6-4 against league opponents.
Gardner-Webb got on the board first, scoring in the 10th minute. Patrick Gurser played a through ball that Denzel Clarke corralled at the top of the box. Clarke scored on a shot to the right post. The goal was Clarke’s 16th of the season, the most in the nation.
Redshirt-junior Sonny Mukungu evened the game for High Point in the 14th minute. Pat Shelton had header go off the cross bar and Mukungu headed in the rebound to knot up the game.
Gurser had an opportunity to put Gardner-Webb ahead in the 40th minute, but his shot from the top of the box went just wide. HPU also had a chance with 30 seconds remaining in the first period but the shot from junior Mamadee Neypon went wide.
The Panthers drew a corner in the 56th minute. Freshman Renato Punyed played the ball short to sophomore Austin Yearwood. Yearwood sent the ball to the far post where Sewell tapped it in to give High Point the 2-1 lead.
Nyepon had another scoring chance with three minutes remaining. He was one-on-one with the keeper and Matthew Swan was able to get a hand on Nyepon’s shot and push it wide.
Redshirt-sophomore Kody Palmer made six saves in the win. Swan made five saves for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
High Point finished with a 17-10 advantage in shots. Nyepon had a team-high five shots with two on goal and Shelton added three shots.
The Panthers return home on Wednesday to host Presbyterian College at 7 p.m. The Blue Hose are 3-13-0 overall and 1-7-0 in the Big South this season. The game is HPU’s final home match of the regular season.

HPU WOMEN ADVANCE IN BIG SOUTH SOCCER
FARMVILLE, Va. — The High Point University women’s soccer team scored three-straight goals to come from behind and pick up a 3-1 win over Longwood in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Big South Women’s Soccer Championship on Saturday night. Freshman Jenny Marshall scored two goals in the second half to lead the Panthers.
“This was a very gutsy performance by the team tonight,” head coach Marty Beall said. “Longwood is definitely one of the top teams in our conference. They had the better of the play in the first half and took an early lead. I was proud of how the girls kept fighting and never gave in. We came out in the second half and our performance was just great. I am so happy for them to advance to the semifinals.”
Longwood got on the board in the sixth minute of the game with a goal on a penalty kick by Kelsey Pardue. The Lancers earned the spot kick when an HPU defender was called for a foul while jumping to head away a cross. Pardue stepped to the spot and hit a low shot to the right to put LU ahead, 1-0.
High Point trailed 1-0 until the closing seconds of the first half when the Panthers earned a penalty kick of their own due to a handball in the box by a Longwood defender. Senior Taylor Parker took the penalty and hit it off the crossbar. The ball fell to junior Sarah Sermonet, who crashed on the rebound and scored her third goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1 heading into halftime.
The Panthers controlled play to open the second half and took a 2-1 lead in the 64th minute on Marshall’s first goal of the night. High Point drew a free kick on the right flank and senior Brooke Lisson delivered a lofted cross to the far post. Marshall cut in front of her marker and headed the ball just inside the post to put HPU in front.
Longwood pushed forward looking for an equalizer, but it was High Point that found another goal as Marshall picked up her second score of the half to put HPU ahead, 3-1, in the 88th minute. Longwood dispossessed senior Kelli Joline just outside the LU box and Marshall beat the Lancer defense to the ball. The freshman caught the LU keeper off her line as she launched a lofted shot from 35-yards out that dropped just under the cross bar.
The two-goal game was the first of Marshall’s collegiate career. The freshman now has scored four goals on the season, all in HPU’s last four games.
Longwood ended the game with a 14-11 edge in shots though HPU had a 6-5 advantage in shots on goal. Parker took a team-high five shots in the game, putting two on frame and hitting the goal frame with two others.
Senior Jesse May made four saves in the win for the Panthers. Longwood keeper Shelby Hall stopped three shots for the Lancers.
High Point improves to 9-9-1 overall on the season with the win over Longwood. The Lancers end the season with a 9-9-2 record.
With the win, the Panthers advance to play the winner of Sunday’s game between Liberty and Presbyterian College in the semifinals of the 2013 Big South Women’s Soccer Championship presented by Musco Lighting on Friday at 7 p.m. The semifinals and championship game will be played in Conway, S.C.