The fall athletic season is underway and the Blues are off to a great start. With large lineups in cross country, tennis, and football and talent cropping up across the board, the 2017 season promises to be one to watch!
The recent opening of the Abernethy Tennis Pavilion has provided a place for spectators to cheer on the Blues, and the team promises to provide plenty of reasons to cheer this season.
With a strong 9-0 win against Spartanburg Day during their season opener, the team is poised for a great season.
"With what is possibly the largest tennis team in school history, I look forward to seeing what our girls can collectively accomplish," said Head Coach Derry Roberson. "Seeing our seniors already step up as leaders has been exciting to witness. We are also privileged to have a new coach on board—Coach Laurie Tinnell brings a wealth of knowledge, talent, insight and a joyful energy wherever she goes."
Tinnell has extensive playing and coaching experience. Not only has she coached both club and college level tennis, she was the no. 1 singles player at Rhodes College during her time as a student and has competed in the European Women's Circuit.
"Although relatively young, our tennis players have quite a bit of experience," Roberson said. "Stepping in at no. 3 singles, Kirina Shah is a very strong and exciting addition to the team. At the top of the lineup, Sarah Abernethy and Rachel Kuehn bring with them a calm confidence for the third consecutive year."
Over to Arbogast field, Blues football also holds promise for the year. Their season opened with a 46-14 win against Christ the King Catholic High School. Three new assistant coaches bring a wealth of experience to the coaching staff, and nine starters have returned from last season. Like the tennis team, the football team has a larger roster this year.
Head Coach Gus Schill is quoted in a recent article from the Asheville Citizen-Times: "We expect to be a wide-open, spread offense this year and a high-intensity defense with multiple looks," he said. "What we're most optimistic about this year is the maturity we see in our younger kids."
Asheville School's first major test will come on Friday, September 1 against Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The game will be at Oakbrook starting at 7:30 p.m.
Blues soccer is fielding a young team, having graduated eight seniors last year. Head Coach Jeff Mettee says that he is looking forward to helping the team grow. "I'm most excited to see who will step up to fill the shoes of those veteran players," he said. "It is always fun to see what new student will help shape the future of the program."
Senior Carrick Oh has stepped up to take a leadership role on the team, and Mettee says he is excited for early contributions from new players. "Declan Mettee is a year-round club player who should contribute a great deal even as a freshman. He already scored two goals in the opener. We're also excited to welcome Sam Shealy to the team as our new goalkeeper," said Jeff Mettee.
Varsity Volleyball also has a young team—following a successful year with four graduating starters—but Head Coach Tim Plaehn says this year has the potential to be great nonetheless. "I am excited to see how this team will choose to define itself," Plaehn said. "Even in the first two matches, I've seen girls stepping up to announce their presence. Other teams might think we're in a rebuilding year, but these girls get to have a say in that."
The team opened with a 1-3 loss against the Asheville Trailblazers, but they hit their stride the following week and earned a 3-2 win against Blue Ridge High School.
"Heather Capps returns in her role as a setter, so we're looking to her for leadership, and it makes sense the girls elected her the captain," Plaehn said. "Eleanor McRae has moved from a middle hitter to the outside, so I'm particularly interested in how that experiment will pay dividends. Jessica Kelley will be wearing the long-sleeved, mis-colored libero jersey this season. Her quickness should provide excellent defense for our team, and I have a ton of confidence in her."
Head Field Hockey coach Kelly Beam is confident this is going to be a stellar season for the Blues. Asheville School is lined up to play a slate of competitive teams, and Beam says that the Blues have a real chance to make a run for the state tournament.
"Our talent is widespread on the field, with a lot of influence coming from senior Anna Gouveia and junior Hannah Chay," Beam said. "We are also looking to get a lot of new contributions from the sophomore class."
Field Hockey opened their season at home against Ardrey Kell High School and earned a 2-0 win. Their next match will come on September 1 against Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"This year our focus is on heart and hustle," Beam said. "Those will be key for us getting the best results out of our season."
Cross Country will have their first race on Saturday, September 2 at the Hyder McMahill Invitational. Head Coach John Smith is excited for the team to have a chance to showcase their strength this season. "This team has the potential to be one of the strongest teams we've had in years," he said.
Last year, Robert Harlan, Alec Sands and Paolo Navarro earned all-conference honors in cross country, and this year they are joined by a full roster of strong new faces and returners.
New junior Major Eason joins the Blues from Texas and promises to be a top runner for the team. Eason is a multi-sport athlete, and Assistant Coach Anna Ranson says she expects him to be a key scorer. Also joining Blues cross country is freshman Connor Smith, who earned all-conference honors running for Carolina Day last year.
Ranson says the girls team is also shaping up well and that runners have been pushing each other and inspiring a healthy competition that will pay off in races. She says fans should pay attention to Audrey Shores, Rylynn Pierson, Vivian Gregory, and Claire Hill, who will all be running at the front.Be sure to follow Asheville School Athletics on Twitter @avlschoolsports for updates throughout the season.