The game plan worked again and earned Winthrop's Trevor Beesley and Brad Orr spots on the All-Big South Conference men's cross country team, putting them in excellent position to earn berths in the NCAA Championship.
Beesley and Orr continued their season-long strategy of running close together until go time down the stretch. Then the roommates kick it into another gear and get the best finish possible.
That's what happened in the Big South championships this past weekend. Beesley finished seventh in a time of 25:48, while Orr was eighth in 26:21. It was the third meet this season the seniors were on each other's heels crossing finish line.
Finishing in the top 10 earned both a spot on the All-Big South team. Beesley and sophomore Lisa Sickman were named to the all-academic teams.
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Winthrop's Casey Lyons was the highest finishing freshman in the field, earning BSC Freshman of the Year with a time of 26:07. He was the first Winthrop runner to get the honor since Sara Teetes in 1993.
"Trevor and Brad might have run too cautious," Paxton said. "I feel like they were still thinking about last year when I sent them out of fast and they didn't have anything at the end.
"They could have run in the top five if they had run their races. I still think Trevor is the second-best runner in the Big South Conference behind the Liberty kid."
"The Liberty kid" is All-American Josh McDougal, who won his fourth straight conference championship as the Flames swept the men's and women's titles. Winthrop's men finished third behind Liberty and High Point.
"I said before the meet that if the men ran great, we had a chance at second, and if we ran good, we'd have a chance at third," Paxton said.
Beesley and Orr are preparing for the NCAA Regionals Nov. 10 at Louisville, Ky. The top four finishers who are not on the top four teams will advance to the NCAA Championship Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Winthrop's women finished next to last in the eight-team field.
"I'm not upset with the women because we're very young and they had a lot on their minds," Paxton said.
Freshman Lisa Prestifillipo, who is among the Lady Eagles' top seven, was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy last week. She'll miss about five to six weeks.
• STARTING OVER: Volleyball coach Sally Polhamus says her team has put last week's loss at Liberty that snapped the winning streak against conference opponents behind them.
According to Polhamus, it's time to start another one Friday when the Eagles host Coastal Carolina. The Eagles will also host Charleston Southern Saturday.
"Having the streak end was tough, but losing any match is tough," Polhamus said. "It's such a rare feat and something Winthrop should be very proud of. It takes mental and physical toughness to do something like that."
Winthrop, which fell to the Flames 3-0, hadn't lost to a league foe since losing a 3-2 match at home to Coastal Carolina on Nov. 14, 2003.
• RESTED: The Winthrop and UNC Asheville men's soccer teams will be well-rested and probably a little rusty when they square off tonight at Eagle Field.
The Eagles haven't played since a 2-0 victory over Radford on Oct. 21. UNCA's last match was a 2-0 loss to Liberty Oct. 18.
Winthrop's Oct. 24 match with Elon was washed out.
The Eagles (8-2-2, 2-1-1 BSC) must win tonight to keep alive their hopes for a No. 1 seed and a first-day bye in the league tournament. Then they have to dispose of Coastal, in the driver's seat with a 4-0 league mark and in town Nov. 7.
The Eagles have to run the table and hope the Chants lose to Radford. Then there's Liberty, which is 3-1 with games at High Point and vs. VMI remaining. The Flames defeated Winthrop Sept. 29.
"We're still holding out hope, but we need help from Radford and High Point," coach Rich Posipanko said. "They're good teams."
The long layoff has given All-Big South first-team defenders John Gilchrist and Henri Kalungi extra time to heal from leg injuries.
The status of defender Matthew Skonicki, who has played just five games because of injury, remains in up the air. Posipanko said he's hoping the talented sophomore from Largo, Fla., should be able to rejoin the team in time for the Big South tournament, which will be played in Rock Hill Nov. 15, 16 and 18.
Despite not playing, the Eagles remained ninth in the NSCAA/adidas South Atlantic Region poll.
• SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT: The women's soccer team has seen several games slip through its fingers due to late breakdowns.
The shoe was on the other foot over the weekend.
Senior Ashley Bader scored with 24 seconds left in the second overtime to give the Lady Eagles a 2-1 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"The team persevered and Ashley Bader got it done," coach Melissa Heinz said. "We will use this to motivate us for the last two conference games."
• GOING FAST: A limited number of tickets remain for the Eagle Club's Basketball Tip Off 2007 Nov. 8 at McBryde Hall.
The cost is $20 per adult and $10 for children 10 and under. A reception starts at 6:30 p.m., with dinner served at 7 p.m.
Those wishing to attend should RSVP Sharen DuBard at (803) 323-2129, ext. 6218, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women's soccer at Radford, 6 p.m.
Men's soccer vs. UNC Asheville, 7 p.m., streaming video
Volleyball vs. Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.
Women's soccer vs. High Point, 1 p.m.
Volleyball vs. Charleston Southern, 3 p.m.
Volleyball vs. Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
Men's soccer vs. Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m., streaming video
• NOTE: To access streaming video go to bigsouthsports.com, click on THE EDGE and follow instructions.