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Columbia County athletes standing out early

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 12:09am

Last year a large number of Columbia County athletes earned athletic scholarships. Many are already making their mark during their first semester in college.

At South Carolina, Greenbrier’s heralded soccer stars Bay Daniel and Carly Ray have seen their seasons go in different directions. Daniel, who missed most of her junior year at Greenbrier with a knee injury, will miss the entire 2012 season with a knee injury, according to Miquel Jacobs, the assistant media relations director.

Ray is making her mark on the Lady Gamecocks backline.

She played just five minutes in the team’s season opener, but her playing time has increased, averaging 22 minutes through the team’s first five contests.

“It’s going really well,” said Ray. “I love the environment here and the competitiveness and the playing, obviously. So far things are going really well.”

One of the things helping Ray transition, both athletically and academically, is the support she gets from the team and others around her.

“It’s hard, but they help us a lot academically with having study hall or tutors,” Ray said. “Just knowing that all the other freshmen are adapting just as we are is helpful and we help each other out as much as we can.”

Georgia Southern freshman Reed Norton scored his first collegiate soccer goal in the Eagles’ season opener, a 2-1 loss to University of Alabama-Birmingham. In his second game, Norton recorded an assist to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead. After Winthrop tied the score, Norton scored his second goal of the year, the game-winner with 14 minutes remaining.

A center-mid for Greenbrier High, Norton impressed the coaches in camp and has been a starting forward since day one.

“We’re trying to bring in players that are going to lift the level of our team immediately,” Eagles head coach Kevin Kennedy said. “Sometimes we have a situation where that happens. We’ve been fortunate this year that Reed has made a seamless transition to the college game.”

One of the things that helped Norton was summer school. In addition to working out daily with his new teammates it gave him a leg up in other areas.

“It definitely helped a lot,” Norton said. “I know where the buildings are, how the classes are structured. I’m not completely lost going to class.”

At the University of Georgia, former Lakeside cross country/track standout Sid Vaughn placed seventh at the Bulldog Cross Country Invitational Sept. 1, running unattached. His teammates finished one through five, with Vaughn just 15 seconds behind the fifth-place finisher.

Georgia assistant cross country and track and field coach Patrick Cunniff said freshmen initially run unattached so the coaching staff can see how runners are adjusting to the increased distances.

The coaches like what they’ve seen so far from Vaughn.

“Our intention for the Vanderbilt meet (Sept. 15) is to put him in uniform,” said Cunniff. “We’re excited to see what happens when he puts the Red and Black on.”

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