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Openly gay college runner excited to be team captain

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LGBT sports roundup of college athletes.

Cavender Salvadori
Tim O'Dowd

EARLYSVILLE, Virginia — In July, Chris Solinsky, who held the American record at 10,000 meters until a couple of years ago, called William & Mary runner Cavender Salvadori. Solinsky had been named the William & Mary head cross country coach, and he wanted Salvadori to be a team captain.

“Coming into college, that’s one of my goals was to be captain,” said Salvadori, a redshirt junior who came out publicly as gay in February. “I wanted to be on the poster, and I wanted to be captain. I’ve done those two. … Those are sort of outside acknowledgement that you’ve been working hard.”

The new role cast his fourth year with the W&M Tribe in a new light. Salvadori needed to focus more on entire team success than his own improvement.

He displayed his approach during the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 23.

The 6-foot-1, 155-pound Salvadori started the race running with the team’s 14th runner. Throughout the 8-kilometer race, Salvadori worked his way forward, trying to help teammates move with him.

In the final couple kilometers of the race, he caught teammate Ryan McGorty. Salvadori stayed with McGorty to the end of the race to push him, but running with McGorty never felt like an obligation.

“That’s just a friend who’s [struggling],” Salvadori said. “McGorty is a close friend, so I wanted to help him out.”

McGorty outkicked Salvadori in the final 200 meters to finish 40th. Salvadori finished 41st overall and fifth on the team, his best finish among his teammates this season, and he also set an 8K personal record of 25 minutes, 24.9 seconds.

“The best race I’ve ever seen Cav run,” said Solinsky, who spent two years as a W&M assistant coach before becoming head coach. “He did a really good job of … battling his way to the finish. Things are really starting to come together for him, and I’m proud of him for being able to put it together.”

After the Virginia meet, Salvadori, who shares captain duties with Dawson Connell and Faris Sakallah, was asked by Solinsky to call the team together for his post-race speech. As a captain, Salvadori likes that his role on the team is not dependent on race results, but so far, it seems to help his running.

“I’m viewed as a leader. I’m viewed as someone who is strong on the team, an integral part of the team,” Salvadori said. “It takes a little pressure off the actual running. I’m already an integral part of the team.”

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.

Division I

Kendall Covington (junior, Penn women’s volleyball) provided 12 kills and two blocks in the Quakers’ four-set win against Harvard on Saturday. Penn went 3-1 the last two weeks.

Mason Darrow (senior, Princeton football) continued to start at center the last two weeks, as the Tigers (2-1 overall) beat Columbia and lost to Lehigh. Darrow was flagged for a false start against Lehigh.

Hannah Griffiths Boston (junior, Portland women’s soccer) started all 12 games this season for the Pilots (6-3-3 overall), scoring seven goals with one assist. Griffiths Boston came out publicly Sept. 25 in a story by Portland’s student newspaper.

Bree Horrocks (junior, Purdue women’s basketball) did not participate as the team opened practice Sunday due to recently dislocating a kneecap. The injury is not expected to sideline her for long.

Liam Huffman (senior, George Washington men’s swimming) opened the season in a two-day meet Friday and Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina, by competing in four events, and his best individual finish was eighth in the 500-yard freestyle (4:57.69).

Nick Jessee (senior, St. Louis men’s swimming) helped win the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:26.32) at the season-opening dual against Washington University on Friday, and individually, he swam two races, highlighted by fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:46.39). In Sunday’s four-team meet at Butler, Jessee helped the 400 freestyle relay take second (3:08.7) and swam two individual races led by seventh in the 100 freestyle (48.71 seconds).

Sonia Johnson (junior, DePaul women’s soccer) went 4-0 the last two weeks with the Blue Demons (6-4-2 overall, 3-0 Big East), who have won five straight games. Individual stats were not available.

Jake Leffew (sophomore, Yale men’s golf) fired a 10-over-par 220 strokes Saturday and Sunday during the 54-hole Macdonald Cup, which was his first tournament of the fall. He tied for 44th of 88 golfers.

EJ Proctor (junior, Duke women’s soccer) recorded shutouts in all three games for the No. 10-ranked Blue Devils (8-2-2 overall, 3-0-1 ACC) the last two weeks.

Kenzie Tillitt (senior, Colorado women’s soccer) played about nine minutes as a reserve in Sunday’s 1-0 win against Arizona State. Did not play in the other two Buffaloes (9-3 overall, 3-0 Pac-12) games the past two weeks.

James Finley (head coach, Seattle women’s volleyball) guided his team to a 2-2 record the last two weeks, making the Redhawks 9-8 overall and 2-2 in the WAC.

Jessica Smith (assistant coach, Kansas State women’s soccer) saw the Wildcats (4-6-3 overall) go 2-1-1 the last two weeks.

Division II

Noah Ratliff (freshman, Mercyhurst men’s water polo) went 3-1 with the Lakers (6-6 overall) the last two weeks. Stats were not available for Ratliff.

Division III

Chloe Anderson (junior, UC Santa Cruz women’s volleyball) saw the Banana Slugs go 3-3 the last two weeks. She did not play in those six matches.

Alec Donovan (redshirt freshman, Centenary men’s cross country) finished 99th in 36:45 on Saturday during the 8-kilometer Mount St. Mary’s Knight Invitational. A week earlier, he took 132nd in 34:44.45 in the 8K at the Stockton University Osprey Meet.

Jason Hadley (sophomore, Mount Union men’s cross country) finished 151st in 29:31.5 and Josh Thorne (sophomore, Mount Union men’s cross country) came in 107th in 28:45.5 during the 8-kilometer race Friday at the All-Ohio Championships. Their Mount Union team captured the team title.

Sam Johnson (freshman, Whittier men’s soccer) saw action as a reserve in three of four games the last two weeks and attempted a shot on goal in the Poets’ 2-0 win against Caltech on Sept. 28.

Michael Martin (sophomore, Wilson men’s soccer) returned to playing goalie in four of his team’s five games the last two weeks. He saw the most action in a 4-1 loss Sept. 21 to Mount Aloysius, when he played 78 of 90 minutes and made six saves.

Taylor Reifert (sophomore, Lawrence men’s soccer) scored a goal against Knox College (via header) and Lake Forest College (via penalty kick), and he recorded an assist against Illinois College. The Vikings (3-7 overall) went 1-3 the last two weeks.

T.J. Greggs (head coach, Agnes Scott women’s tennis) saw his singles players Olivia Rivas and Anastasia Bennett each win four matches during the season-opening Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III South Regional on Sept. 23 and 24.

Upcoming televised competitions involving LGBT college athletes and coaches. (All times are Eastern.)

Friday, Oct. 7

Jessica Smith, Kansas State women's soccer at Texas; Austin, Texas, 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)

Friday, Oct. 14

Kenzie Tillitt, Colorado women’s soccer vs. Washington; Boulder, Colo., 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.