North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trailby Scott JurekScott Jurek is one of the world’s most accomplished ultrarunners (fueled entirely by a vegan diet), and in 2015, he attempted to set the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. Just a week into his run, he sustained a quadriceps muscle tear that nearly shattered his record-setting dreams. But never bet against the champ. Jurek finds a way to push through injury in one of the most demanding and transcendent efforts of his life.Pipeline tree-felling begins in Nelson CountyAtlantic Coast Pipeline construction began in Nelson County last month near Wintergreen Resort, where crews began clearcutting along the 600-mile route. The pipeline also received permission to begin cutting trees along the pipeline route through national forest lands in West Virginia and Virginia.Moonlight MadnessDon’t feel like waking up for another early-morning road race? Toe the starting line of the Moonlight Madness 10K and run trails by the light of the moon. Race begins at 9 p.m. on May 26 at Camp Arrowhead in Ona, W.Va.Nooga’s 11-year-old Climbing ChampA Chattanoogan cemented his claim as one of the nation’s best young climbers in February by winning his class in USA Climbing’s 2018 Bouldering Youth National Championship. Hugo Hoyer, then 10, was one of six members of the High Point Chattanooga team to qualify for the national tournament. He’d finished third in the same competition in 2017 and third at USA Climbing’s Sport & Speed Youth National Championships in 2016 in Kennesaw, Georgia.Hoyer’s parents, both climbers, have encouraged him to climb since his playground days. A couple of years ago, they scouted climbing cities around the country before eventually relocating from Hoyer’s childhood home in Queens, New York, to Chattanooga.New A.T. Hall of FameA new class of Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame inductees will be honored this month at a ceremony in Pennsylvania. The eighth class of A.T. hall of famers includes the late photographer George Masa, a Japanese immigrant who lived in Asheville, N.C., in the early twentieth century. Masa’s influential images of the mountains and ardent conservation efforts are credited with helping with the foundation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Another regional inductee—Bob Peoples—is the owner of the Kincora Hostel, just off the trail in Hampton, Tenn. In addition to his hiker hospitality, Peoples is also known for his tireless trail maintenance efforts. Along with Masa and Peoples, two more inductees, William Kemsley and Liz Levers will be inducted during the annual Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet at the Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs on May 4.Runners Find Puppies on Barkley Marathons CourseBack in March, two runners training on the course of the infamous Barkley Marathons, a grueling 100-mile slog in the backcountry of Tennessee’s remote Frozen Head State Park, found an abandoned litter of black lab puppies. According to Runner’s World, Ashley Blake and Joshua Scott were running on a trail when they heard noise in the nearby woods and surprisingly discovered five puppies huddled together trying to stay warm in near-freezing temperatures. After contacting a ranger station, the runners carried the puppies to safety, and the litter was eventually brought to Oak Ridge Animal Shelter. With the pups on his mind, Scott went to the shelter soon after the rescue and decided to adopt one of them. He named him Barkley.Fastest Race in AshevilleFor the past decade, some of the best runners in Asheville have gathered each week for a fast, flat training run along the French Broad River that finishes at the Wedge, an iconic brewery in the River Arts District. This legendary training run has grown into a 10K race on May 5—and it’s not just for fast folks. It’s a kid- and family-friendly event, and all youth runners under 17 get a 40% discount. The race benefits Girls on the Run WNC. Learn more at:ashevillerunningcollective.comRock Stars in VirginiaThe first-ever RockStar VA challenged mountain bikers to tackle 270 miles of dirt or gravel from Harrisonburg (ROCKtown) to Roanoke (STAR City). The multi-day bikepacking event began April 7 and included snow, rain, and sub-freezing temperatures on the first day. Of the 35 registered riders, only 9 finished (one rider was still on the course as of press date). Barry Croker won the trail route in 3 days, 19 hours, and 27 minutes. Croker has been racing mountain bikes since the early 90s and was the first to ride the Massunutten Ring solo. The 40-year-old rider is an active duty Air Force engineer with six children. David Landis took the gravel title in 1 day, 17 hours, and 45 minutes, and Jonathan Hicks and Dustin Welch completed the gravel ride on singlespeeds.
Senior Maria Sanchez had seen Aeriel Ellis before. As a matter of fact, they’ve sparred against each other numerous times over the last ten years.This time, however, Sanchez would walk away with not one, but two victories against her rival. Her play would help lead the Women of Troy to a 6-1 victory over No. 20 Texas.“There are always subplots to these things,” said USC coach Richard Gallien. “They both know each other, [they’re] both from Northern California, and these things go back a long way. I’m not saying they have a grudge against each other, but it is a hairier sort of deal.” Paired up with freshman Kaitlin Christian, Sanchez staved off a late rally from Ellis and her partner Krista Damico to steal the doubles match early on in the Sunday afternoon showdown with the Longhorns. The Ellis/D’Amico tandem roared back after falling into a 5-0 hole in the match’s only set, only to be beaten 8-6 when Sanchez and Christian finally reclaimed the momentum late in the game. In her singles game, the USC captain overpowered the diminutive Ellis with her strong serve and mighty forehand, winning the only two sets of the match. Despite her impressive display, victory didn’t come at an easy cost for the nation’s No. 3-ranked player, as Ellis continued to battle back throughout the match, taking Sanchez to the brink in the second set before bowing out in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat. Sophomore Danielle Lao stepped up Sunday afternoon, matching Sanchez’s two wins on the day, and dispatching what could be Texas’ most talented player in Krista Damico. Unlike the Longhorn’s volatile junior, Lao played under control and with great pace all afternoon, keeping Damico off balance with low balls to counter her powerful strikes and pressuring her into a plethora of unforced errors.After teaming with senior Lyndsay Kinstler in a dominant 8-2 win over Texas’ No. 3 doubles squad of Juliana Gajic and Caroline Larsson, Lao was able to beat back a Damico rally to take the first set, then needed a furious rally to secure the second set, winning the last four games of the match to close out a 6-3, 6-4 win.“She is a really tough player,” Lao said. “I was down 4-3 and needed to step up and execute, especially on her serve, I really focused and concentrated the last three games and got the win.”Another tough day for junior Allison Ramos once again tested her resiliency and toughness as she had to play a physically imposing opponent for the second game in a row. Similar to her defeat against Loreto Alonso of USF, Ramos had difficulty returning the monstrous serve of senior Maggie Mello and that proved to be the difference in a hotly-contested match that ended in an intense, pressure-filled tiebreaker. Facing adversity for one of the few times this year, senior Cristala Andrews battled back against the Longhorns’ Cierra Gaytan-Leach to steal a victory, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.In another three-set duel, Christian secured her second win of the day beating Gajic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the fourth singles game, while sophomore Valeria Pulido recovered from her doubles defeat earlier to dominate Texas freshman Elizabeth Begley 6-0, 6-1.On the day, the Women of Troy would win seven of nine matches.With an extremely talented UCLA team ahead, this tune-up against Texas helps build momentum and give the team a winning air heading into the meat of their schedule. “We are all feeling very confident and feel we’re in a very good place right now,” Lao said. “It’s all about balance especially in tennis and right now we are really hungry and working hard to compete. We just want it so bad and it’s showing in the results.”