For the second straight year, the Country Day girls’ lacrosse and boys’ tennis teams wrapped up an outstanding year of Buccaneer Athletics by bringing home North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state championships.
The girls’ lacrosse team held off conference rival Charlotte Latin’s second half surge on Saturday, winning 11-10 for the team’s second straight state championship game win over the Hawks and its sixth straight state title overall. The boys’ tennis team also won in dramatic fashion on Saturday, coming back from a 2-1 deficit following the three doubles matches and ultimately defeating Durham Academy, 5-3. The Bucs track and field teams rounded out a successful day, with the boys finishing fourth in the team standings at the NCISAA 3A championship meet and the girls earning a tie for second place, thanks in part to a state title in the 4x200 relay.
After a Country Day overtime win the first time they met in 2018, Charlotte Latin defeated Country Day for the first time ever on April 19, winning 15-13. The state championship game on Saturday was the rubber match between the two rivals.
Country Day shut out the Hawks in the first half, enjoying an 8-0 lead at the break. After falling behind 11-2 with just over 20 minutes to play, the Hawks steadily chipped away at the deficit, mounting a slow and steady 8-0 run and narrowing the gap to 11-10 with 4:19 to play. The Bucs held strong over the final minutes to hold on for the win. Sadie Charles Calame ’19 led the attack with four goals for the Bucs, with Ellen Ambler Moseley ’18, Thea Reddin ’18, and Taylor Riley ’19 adding two apiece.
The title was the Bucs’ eighth overall. Country Day has appeared in every state championship game since 2009, the first year the NCISAA officially sanctioned the sport.
”This achievement is what happens when you focus only on the team, want to win for no one but the team, and look at each other and know that—no matter their role—every single team member on that field is an integral piece of the whole puzzle,” said head coach, Kristy Boyles. “I knew that they would get the job done because wanting to succeed for the teammate standing next to you is an incredibly strong mindset. I could do not be more proud of our senior leadership and this crew of incredible student-athletes. We are honored to coach them.”
The boys’ tennis team also sought to avenge a rare NCISAA regular-season loss. On April 13, Durham Academy visited Country Day and eked out a 5-4 win over the defending state champion Bucs. That narrow loss to the Cavaliers proved to be the only loss for the top-seeded Bucs heading into the Class 3A state playoffs.
On Saturday, weather forced the match indoors to the Lake Norman Tennis Center in Mooresville. The Cavs got off to a hot start, taking the top two doubles lines to take a 2-1 lead heading into singles. Despite dropping line two, the Bucs surged ahead in singles, with Luke McClelland ’18, Bennett Turner ’20, and Kaelan van Cleeff ’21 winning at lines one, three, and four, respectively. Johnny Bingham ’20 handled the pressure well at line five, clinching the state title for the Bucs with a 6-1, 4-6, (10-6) victory.
It was the 18th state title for Country Day boys’ tennis, the 17th under current head coach, Coach Calvin Davis.
“This team has worked hard this season learning how to fight for each other and how to never give up,” Davis said. “At each position, we have had tough-fought matches and those have taught us perseverance. Today, that lesson paid off, and we stepped up and answered the challenge.”
#1 Doubles – Brandt/DeSilva (DA) def. McClelland/Turner (CCDS) – 8-6
#2 Doubles – Shaheen/Ulku-Steiner (DA) def. van Cleeff/Prakash (CCDS) – 8-3
#3 Doubles – Bingham/Khurjekar (CCDS) def. McCallie/Kum (DA) – 8-5
#1 Singles – Luke McClelland (CCDS) def. James Shaheen (DA) – 6-3, 6-4
#2 Singles – Priyan DeSilva (DA) def. Tarun Prakash (CCDS) – 6-1, 7-6 (6)
#3 Singles – Bennett Turner (CCDS) def. Alex Brandt (DA) – 6-0, 6-0
#4 Singles – Kaelan van Cleeff (CCDS) def. Kenan Ulku-Steiner (DA) – 6-4, 6-1
#5 Singles – Johnny Bingham (CCDS) def. Jack McCallie (DA) – 6-1, 4-6, (10-6)
#6 Singles – Vaed Khurjekar (CCDS) led Jackson Zobrist (DA ) – 5-3
Track & Field
A year after the Bucs finished third in girls’ and sixth in boys’ track and field, the teams moved up the leaderboard in 2018, with the girls finishing in a tie for second place and the boys in third.
The highlight of the meet for the Bucs was the girls’ 4x200 relay of Kaia Putman ’21, Caroline Kosmicki ’18, Sarah Martin ’20, and Clarkson Graham ’20, who won the race over Forsyth Country Day by over a second, turning in a 1:47.05.
Several Country Day athletes finished with runner-up performances, including Zoe Weatherington ’19 (discus, shot put), Jack Stajos ’20 (discus, shot put), the girls’ 4x800 relay team, and the boys' 4X200 relay team. The girls had 14 scoring performances in 12 different events, while the boys had 11 scoring performances over 9 different events.
The girls had their highest team finish since also finishing second in 2007, while the boys had their best state meet since 2012, when they won the class 3A state title. This was the first year since 2009 that both the Country Day boys and girls finished in the top five in the state.
Every Country Day team participated in the NCISAA postseason, either as a team or as individuals.
- Baseball advanced to the state semifinals for the second time in three years before falling to top seed and eventual state champion Wesleyan Christian.
- Boys’ Golf sent Timmy Gannon ’21 and Blake Cunningham ’19 to the state championship meet. Gannon shot 168 at Pinehurst No. 8, while Cunningham shot 178 over the two-day event.
- Boys’ Lacrosse reached the state semifinals for the sixth straight year before falling to top seed and eventual state champion Christ School.
- Girls’ Soccer earned its second straight state playoff appearance and its first state quarterfinal appearance since 2014.
- Softball made its first state playoff appearance since 2011 and earned its first state playoff win since 2006. The team fell to top seed and eventual state champion Hickory Grove Christian.
Country Day earned 297.5 Wells Fargo Cup points, pushing the Bucs to 560 on the year in the all-sports competition. This is the highest single-season total for Country Day since spring 2011 and the highest year-long total since the 2011-2012 school year.
“It was a fantastic weekend for us, and it capped off a fantastic spring. Between the repeat championships for our girls’ lacrosse and boys’ tennis teams and impressive performances at the state level across the board, it was the best all-around finish to a season we’ve seen here in quite a while. Hats off to our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff for all the hard work they put in to make this possible.”
—ABE WEHMILLER, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS