Fall X-C recap: Schwier builds toward future

Calvin Shomaker | Copy Editor | @cshomaker12

This past August, UNC Wilmington promoted Layne Schwier to track & field and cross-country head coach after serving the previous year as the interim head coach and the previous twelve as an assistant. Former head coach Jim Sprecher stayed at UNCW 19 years and won eight conference titles before he left in the summer of 2015 after a two-year battle to keep the program alive due to funding concerns.

In December 2014, then-interim Chancellor William Sederburg addressed the track & field and cross-country teams publicly stating the cuts were a “99 percent done deal.”

Thanks to major strides from alumni, donors and the athletic department a group of supporters called Save UNCW Track raised a quarter of a million dollars to fund the 2015-2016 season. That July, Chancellor Jose V. Sarterelli was appointed and made it a priority to maintain the school’s athletic strength as well as academic prestige.

“Chancellor (Jose) Sarterelli appreciates the values of track & field and cross country,” said Coach Schwier, who believes the teams will be here to stay after a renovation of UNCW’s track facility.

Schwier admits that recruiting has suffered because of the scare two years ago, but he is determined to rebuild a winning culture. One of those culture builders is Raleigh native Alex Boseman, who said Schwier was the first coach to recruit him.

Boseman became the first UNCW cross-country runner in history to have back-to-back all-conference seasons this fall. Boseman finished 12th at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships on Oct. 29 with a time of 25:33 at the 8K course. Senior runner Sarah Goodnight earned all-conference honors by joining Boseman on the all-academic team. 

In the women’s first event of the fall on Sept. 3, Karli Smiraglia, Sarah Hamon, Jessie Armstrong, Goodnight and Kelsey Kiser all placed in the top 10 at the Campbell Invitational. At the Coastal Carolina Invitational on Sept. 9, UNCW had five top-10 finishers in Smiraglia, Goodnight, Boseman, Bryan Brackney and Calvin Daughtry. A week later at Appalachian State University’s meet, Smiraglia, Hamon, Boseman and Daughtry all placed in the top 20 against competition from ASU, Western Carolina and Miami. Boseman finished third with a time of 20:41 on a 6.4K course.

In October, the Seahwawks departed from Newark, Delaware, with first place honors in both men’s and women’s competitions. Boseman and Smiraglia each placed first overall against runners from the University of Delaware and Lincoln University. Daughtry, a walk-on from Wilmington, finished fifth. Hamon placed third, Goodnight seventh and Armstrong eighth. Smiraglia’s performance earned her CAA Runner of the Week honors.

At the conference meet, Daughtry placed 29th and was the first Seahawk to finish behind Boseman followed by Zachary Allen and Brackney to lead the men. Sarah Hamon led the women’s team with a 49th overall finish followed by Goodnight, Armstrong and Kiser.

Hamon and Boseman led UNCW again at the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 11 to close out the season. Hamon finished 190th out of 227 and Boseman finished 63rd out of 210. Hamon led the women in the last three races after Smiraglia led the first four before getting injured. Boseman’s time of 30:59 on the 10K course in Charlottesville was nearly a school record.

The women’s team will have a new core next season as Hamon, Smiraglia and Goodnight are all expected to graduate. The men’s team will be propelled by the senior campaigns of Boseman, Daughtry and Allen. 

Boseman, Daughtry, Allen, Brackney and Josh Cooper will run distance events for the track & field team this spring. All 11 of the cross-country women runners will compete for the track team.

The women begin their season in Chapel Hill on Jan. 14. The men will join the women and begin competition on March 4 at UNCW. 

As for the beginning of the Layne Schwier era, his runners feel lucky to have him.

“His dedication to the team is absolutely unheard of,” said Goodnight. “I couldn’t give him enough praise for how much he cares about the success of each of his athletes.”

Boseman echoed Goodnight’s sentiment.

“He’s taught me a lot about the science behind the training,” said Boseman. “Coach Schwier really values building relationships with his runners and helping us balance all aspects of our life.”

If Schwier can bring home half as many championships as his predecessor Sprecher, this new era will be considered by many to be an unlikely homegrown success.