By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Wildcats XC: Seniors Rich and Sybert sign letters of intent
Sybert and Rich
Noah Sybert (left) and Memphis Rich (right). Photo provided by Mike Brown.

Whenever a high school athlete signs a letter of intent to pursue his chosen sport in college it is always a big day for the athlete, his parents and his coach as it marks the payoff for years of practice and dedication to their sport.  

For Richmond Hill cross country and track coach Levi Sybert it was a doubly big day as he saw two of his star performers sign to run at the Division I level. And, one of those runners happened to be his son.

Memphis Rich and Noah Sybert highlighted a signing class of five Wildcats athletes who will pursue their dreams at the next level. Rich signed with Appalachian State and Sybert with Kennesaw State.

In ceremonies held last Wednesday at the school’s East Cafeteria volleyball’s Gwyneth Harper signed with Georgia College and State University, Madison Haldeman will be taking her soccer talents to Emory and Henry and Victor Villella signed a baseball grant with South Carolina-Salkehatchie.

Rich and Sybert were the 17th and 18th runners to sign at the D1 level since Levi Sybert took over the program in 2010. Earlier this fall Julia Wilson and Jayla Lawrence signed to run at Georgia Southern.

Other Wildcats DI signees over the years include:  Shaquille Walker, Brigham Young University; Nikki Shields, Kennesaw State; Daryl Dunham, South Carolina; Corey Jones, Savannah State (DI at the time); Amanda Elliott, Air Force Academy; Rakim Gonzalez, Akron; Daryn Pettit, Delaware; Hannah Bryant, Indiana State; Jalen Murray, Alabama; Kayla McGuire, U.S. Naval Academy; Kayla Gholar, Tennessee; Reese Wilson, Kennesaw State; Jasai Taylor, Troy, and Garrison Gilbert, Elon.

Rich, Murray and Gholar were individual state champions in cross country and Gholar won the 1600. Walker was a two-time state champ in the 800, Pettit won the 800 and Sam James twice won the 400 meters. James was heavily recruited in track but chose to play football at West Virginia.

Rich won the state cross country meet last year and was looking to repeat this year when he had an unfortunate run of bad luck and finished 33rd.

About halfway through the race someone from behind stepped on his heel and dislodged his shoe. Unable to get it back on because it was tied so tight, he chose to run without it.

“I made the decision there that I either commit to finish the race or waste time trying to put it (shoe) back on,” Rich said. “I said, ‘Just throw it away,’ so I ended up running the remainder of the race with one shoe.”

By finishing Rich enabled the Wildcats to take 10-place which enabled his team to run its remarkable string of finishing in the top 10 to nine straight years. Richmond Hill has won 11 straight boys region championships

As sophomores they were key contributors on the Wildcats’ state championship team with Sybert finishing fourth and Rich fifth in the state meet.

Rich will be joining an Appalachian program that won the Sun Belt Conference championship this year while Sybert will find himself in a Owls program that is moving to Conference-USA next season. Both will be joining programs that will be losing heavily to graduation.

“It wasn’t really tough at all,” Sybert said of being coached by his father. “It was, actually, kind of a blessing. When you woke up in the morning you knew pretty much every aspect of what was going to happen on the day. That was nice.

“I definitely loved freshman year,” Sybert said. “You didn’t have to worry about anything. Just race and have fun with a bunch of friends.

“I enjoyed sophomore year with the state championship team. We were all best friends. It was hard letting them go but it was fun.”


Sign up for our E-Newsletters