Greenfield’s Cup runneth over

Knights win third NCISAA 1-A Wells Fargo Cup in school history

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If Greenfield School is on the verge of transitioning out of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A ranks, then the Knights will take at least one more piece of hardware along for the ride.

For just the third time in school history and the first since the 2009-10 season, the Knights are the preeminent athletic program at the 1-A level after capturing the Wells Fargo Cup following the conclusion of the 2018-19 year. Greenfield, which also won the 1-A Wells Fargo Cup in 2003-04, accumulated 405 points across the three sports seasons, outpacing The Burlington School by 43 points.

Woodlawn (277.5), Kerr-Vance Academy (242.5) and Fayetteville Trinity Christian (197.5) rounded out the top five in 1-A, which presented with 25 schools.

Greenfield led after the fall season and, paced by its 1-A championship in boys basketball, took a commanding lead after the winter returns came in. Burlington closed the gap by 50 points during the spring, but even that was not enough to deny Greenfield its third cup.

“I’m very proud,” Greenfield athletic director Rob Salter said. “We had a really good year. Our volleyball team made it to the Elite 8, the farthest in 15 years. Every one of our varsity teams made the state playoffs.”

The resurrection of Greenfield’s volleyball program from a struggling outfit to one capable of advancing in the postseason isn’t something to be overlooked. In the NCISAA Wells Fargo Cup competition, each team that finishes in the top eight of a sport gets points, with the state champion picking up 50 points and the rest of the top eight getting five fewer points on a sliding scale.

In the fall, Greenfield jumped out to a strong start and the lead at the one-third pole on the strength of its first cross-country championship in school history. There, the Knights edged Woodlawn School 21-22 for the team title under the direction of coach Bruce Wall.

The boys soccer team reached the championship round of the 1-A postseason in the first season under the direction of head coach Eric Nguyen. Also contributing to the cause was girls tennis winning a match in the 1-A postseason and reaching the semifinals as the No. 4 seed. Conversely, Burlington didn’t get out of the quarterfinal round.

In volleyball, Greenfield received a bye out of the first round and legged out a five-set victory over Henderson Crossroads Christian in the second round to reach the quarterfinals. It was the first postseason appearance for a Greenfield volleyball team in 13 years.

The Knights did most of their damage in the winter. Behind a school-record 33 wins, Greenfield won its fifth boys basketball state championship. However, while that garnered most of the headlines, the Lady Knights, again coached by Wall, pushed the pace to a 16-8 record and an appearance in the 1-A quarterfinals — allowing Greenfield to get Wells Fargo points for their appearance despite Burlington winning the championship.

“It shows all of our programs are strong,” Salter said. “Look at cross-country and what they did in a very short amount of time.”

With a commanding 292.5-200 lead over Burlington entering the spring, Greenfield held off a late surge by its consistent postseason presence. The Knights, seeded No. 2 in the 1-A baseball playoffs, reached the semifinals behind a strong front-line starter in Nathan Woodard. Meanwhile, in girls soccer, Greenfield used the No. 4 seed to reach the 1-A semifinals and help offset the impact of a Burlington championship.

While fewer schools populated the 1-A ranks in 2018-19, the Knights rise to Cup prominence was noteworthy nonetheless.

Greenfield posted a 15th-place showing last year out of 35 programs, following a 17th-place performance in 16-17 and a 14th-place result in 15-16.

The Knights will be in 1-A for at least one more season before realignment takes effect in 2020-21. At that time, Greenfield is a likely candidate to bump up to the 2-A ranks to rejoin archrival Wayne Country Day — which finished No. 3 overall in the 2-A Cup standings.

But Salter, Greenfield’s AD since 2005 and a member of the faculty for the past 19 years, is eager to remain on top.

“We won’t do much differently,” he said. “We want to give (the students) great experiences.”

Community Christian finished 15th in the 1-A Cup rankings with 117.5 points.