The Charlotte 49ers men’s and women’s XC teams are gearing up for the NCAA Southeast Regionals Friday, Nov. 9.
The 49ers recently received news that eight runners were named to All-Conference USA Teams. Redshirt senior Tom Nobles and junior Paul Arredondo made First Team All-Conference USA. Juniors Zach Marchinko and Bridget Abbatiello made Second Team All-Conference USA. Junior Alex Cornwell, redshirt junior Matt Bomkamp, junior Katie Tomasi and freshman Chandler Horton made Third Team All-Conference USA.
“It’s definitely a good day for the program and for those eight individuals. They put in a lot of hard work, not just this season, but over time. I think they take a lot of pride and represent our program at a high level. There’s a lot of proud alums and just proud team members overall. They were out there representing that day, so it was definitely fun to see them be honored for their hard work and accomplishment and hopefully continue to build off it in the future.” said Coach Joseph Lynn.
Two individuals who’ve managed to go the distance time and time again are Nobles and Abbatiello. These two runners had different paths to Charlotte, but they’ve both excelled since they’ve been here.
Nobles has been at Charlotte the longest of the two and he’s still performing exceptionally well in his senior year. He’s the 2018 Conference USA Air Force Reserve Cross Country Men’s 8K Champion, he is C-USA’s Most Outstanding Senior and he was named to First Team All-Conference USA.
“Yeah, he’s a guy that came in as a very average recruit for us out of high school. I wasn’t the coach that recruited him, but he’s shown hard work and consistency over time pays off. I think he’s the type of person that when I’m talking to recruits, whether they’re a top end runner in the state or a developmental kid that’s trying to figure out if we’re the right fit for them or not [sic]. Tom’s one I can use as an example of showing his progression over time and just day-to-day for our athletes. He does everything right, doesn’t take any shortcuts, he’s always the last one, he’s always doing the most, running the furthest [and] doing the little things the best.” said Coach Lynn.
Coach Lynn notices Nobles’ consistency, which is what Nobles himself considers to be instrumental in his successful career at Charlotte.
“Definitely consistency. That’s one thing I even try and tell to the younger kids too so they understand like it’s not all about having one great workout or every once in a while doing everything that’s asked. It’s more a matter of constantly doing as much as possible. That includes stretching, diet, hydration, sleep…all that sort of stuff. I’d like to think I’m just a pretty consistent runner, especially going into conference. Mentally I just kind of prepared myself like I’m consistent in practice, I can be consistent in races too.” said Nobles.
Nobles’ consistency is why him breaking the school 10,000 meter record isn’t shocking. Breaking records isn’t on his mind when he’s running; it isn’t a priority, but he doesn’t not acknowledge them.
“Definitely not a priority, the way that I look at records too, although I think [it’s] definitely cool to get a record. At the same time, you never know how the race is going to be run; it could be horrible conditions. I mean, it really just comes down to performing well when it matters, which is conference regionals [and] the bigger meets. Usually I feel like the records are actually broken at least in something like a 10k. That would be broken earlier in the season, not actually at a big regional meet [because of] the way the regions usually run races. Definitely an added bonus to get a school record.” said Nobles.
Whether he’s breaking records, or practicing, Nobles prepares the same way before he even takes a step onto the track. He’s drinking as much water as he’s sweating out, and even his pre-run meals are consistent.
“I was actually talking with some other guys the other day about this. Apparently I hydrate a lot more than other people. Morning runs in general, I’d say I probably have like close to 30 ounces of water before I run. I’ll wake up right around an hour before practice starts and then just start drinking water. I’m not necessarily thirsty right away, but after drinking some, it kind of forces me to drink even more after that. That’s about it, I mean I definitely try and keep stuff consistent. Often I have oatmeal; that’s my go to. Oatmeal and some peanut butter.” said Nobles.
Nobels’ infatuation with water may be hereditary because his sister Claire Nobles was a collegiate swimmer at Duquesne.
“We actually both played a good amount of sports when we were younger. I did summer swim team for like 10 years of my life and she also ran track for quite a few years as well. I think it just turned out I really enjoyed running and she really enjoyed swimming. I mean I definitely would never have wanted to be a swimmer. I can swim okay, but I like being able to breathe whenever I want [and] not having to time my breathing. It worked out for the best, and she’s actually a decent runner too, if she trains.” said Nobles.
Nobles may not be a swimmer, but he’s definitely a runner. This will be Nobles’ last season running for Charlotte, but he’ll be the standard for runners after him.
One runner that’ll presumably take Nobles spot as “role model” of the team is junior Bridget Abbatiello.
Abbatiello made Second Team All-Conference USA, which perplexed her, following the 2018 Conference USA Air Force Reserve Cross Country Championship.
“It was actually a big surprise to me. I just kind of went out and felt the race as it went on. It went out pretty slow and I just could feel myself moving up and up as the race progressed. I ended up passing more people in the second half, which is what you’re supposed to do, and I just felt really good and I rolled with it,” said Abbatiello.
Second Team All-Conference USA is an astonishing accomplishment, but Abbatiello’s résumé is diverse. She’s also made history twice. She’s a member of the first team to win a Conference USA Championship in program history and the first Charlotte women’s team to claim a conference title since the program’s three-peat from 1992-94. She doesn’t dwell on the past though; she is proud of what her team did this season.
“Towards the beginning of this season, we always knew after last year that we were going to have a target on our back. We kind of came out of nowhere last year, no one really suspected that we were going to be the champions. This year we lost two of our top five runners, so we knew that was going to be a big blow. We just had to stay strong and brave, and I think we did that as a team. I think we definitely progressed and got stronger given our circumstances, and we really fought through that. I think fifth is a great fight, our conference is very competitive through it all so I think we did pretty good considering everything that happened.” said Abbatiello.
As mentioned before, Abbatiello made history twice. She helped lead Stafford High School to its first cross-country conference championship since 1997. The coach of that history-making team was Coach Peter Augrom who had a significant influence on her development as a runner.
“He definitely developed me into the runner I am today. He really pushed all of his confidence and belief in me as a runner and helped me develop to really where I am. That’s where I got all my confidence. As soon as I committed here to Charlotte, there was a tremendous decrease in my times where I was just on top of everything. I was a regional champion in track, so I knew it all had to start senior year with cross country. That was an amazing start in my opinion for my senior year; it was great.” said Abbatiello.
Coach Augrom was a major influence on her in high school, and Coach Lynn seemingly has transitioned nicely into Augrom’s role for Abbatiello.
“From the start of the season he’s really believed in me; he really pushed me. Coming off last spring, I was a conference champion in the steeplechase, and so he just kept reminding me, ‘You are a conference champion you can do anything in this conference.’ That really helped me and he’s really encouraging in our workouts and it shows too on and off the track. It’s been pretty good; he’s been a great coach so far this season.” said Abbatiello.
Abbatiello’s brother Anthony is currently running for Stafford and Coach Augrom.
“He does his best. Basically, for him, it might just be a confidence thing because he’s always loved video games; he’s that kind of kid. It’s nice to watch him go out there and do what my older brother and I have done and he doesn’t really have that kind of pressure that we did, either. He just goes out and has fun and that’s all we tell him to do really. He’s actually developed really well so far as a freshman so it’s exciting to see what he’ll do in the future.” said Abbatiello.
While he will be a sophomore at Stafford next year, she will be a senior at Charlotte. Her senior year weighs heavily in her mind.
“It’s scary to think about how fast time really does fly. I’m going to start cherishing everything much more. I can’t rush the sport [and] I can’t rush school, I just gotta let everything fall in place. I’m excited to see what I can do senior year as an athlete and as a student. My goal is to graduate with over a 3.0 GPA, which can be a little bit hard at times, but I just gotta put my mind forward and keep driving.” said Abbatiello.
Both Nobles and Abbatiello are key parts of their respective teams. Coach Lynn attributes the teams overall success to all the players, coaches and Charlotte’s administration. He understands that there are several parts that form a whole.
“There’s a lot of different things. First, it all starts with our athletes. I mean, they bought into a system and bought into a thought process of wanting to be not just good for Charlotte, or good for the state of North Carolina, or good in our conference, or good in our region, but nationally good. We’re trying to build a national brand here with our program and so it starts with them first and foremost putting in the hard work day in and day out,” said Coach Lynn. “Obviously our director of track and field, Coach Olsen…we’ve had full support of him which is huge. Our administration, from Mike Hill to Kim Whitestone to Chancellor Dubois, is very supportive of our program and of the athletic department as a whole. There’s a good number of people; my staff starting with my assistant coach Hannah Rieden, and then our training staff and what not. There’s just a lot of parts that go into it.”
Coach Lynn and the 49er XC teams’ next stop is regionals in Rock Hill, S.C, but Lynn isn’t fazed by the task ahead of him and his teams.
“Just business as usual. We don’t really change anything up as far as our training specific to the course or the meet that we’re going to necessarily. I mean, we have a season plan in place, we know what works for our guys and for our gals and just kind of sticking to the plan that we’ve had all year. Trying to not get too distracted. We’ve had some ups and we’ve had some downs throughout year, but we gotta stay focused. Obviously, next week’s the meet that we train for all year, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that we change anything at this point in the year. We’re backing down volumes a little bit, intensity stays high, and hopefully just trying to sharpen up. We’re definitely tired; expect us to have some tired legs and feeling the season a little bit, but if we didn’t at this point, then we probably didn’t work hard enough. Hopefully next week with the cooler weather and being close to home, we’ll be ready to roll.” said Coach Lynn.
The sky isn’t the limit for Charlotte’s XC teams and it’ll be entertaining to see what they can do at regionals next Friday, Nov. 9.