Note: This SportsZone report covers athletic events played between December 7-14. Visit the Penn Charter Athletics webpage for the most up-to-date game schedules and scores.
The Quakers improved to 2-1 on the young season by picking up a league-opening 6-3 victory over Baldwin on Dec. 12. The victory was a monumental one for PC, as it was the first Inter-Ac defeat sustained by the Bears in several years. Baldwin has been “the cream of the league’s crop for a long time” according to Penn Charter head coach Damon Leedale-Brown, and his squad took advantage of an uncharacteristically vulnerable Bears team that graduated at least a half dozen dominant senior players.
PC got wins from juniors Alex and Sam Jaffe from the top two spots in the lineup, as well as victories from spots six through nine courtesy of freshman Paige Taub and sophomores Hope Goldman, Audrey Abernethy and Ana Buckley, respectively.
“There was an opportunity for us to go there and make it happen. I’m really pleased with how we competed, even in the close matches that we lost,” Leedale-Brown said.
The Quakers are grateful to have the Jaffe sisters atop the lineup, two exceptional players who rarely make a mistake, let alone drop a match. That being said, Sam and Alex are just two rungs of a nine-player ladder, so the wins PC got from Taub, Goldman, Abernethy and Buckley were equally vital in delivering the Quakers a huge victory in their final match of 2023.
“We are lucky to have Alex and Sam at one and two, but our point of view is that every match counts as a point,” Leedale-Brown said. “Everybody matters, whether it’s one or nine. Nobody thinks ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter if I lose because so and so is going to win.’ The balance of our team is good, and every player has to step on the court to compete with the understanding that they can be a difference-maker any given day.”
The Quakers will next be in action on Jan. 4 when they host SCH Academy at 4 p.m.
Following a 1-2 start to the non-league portion of their schedule — 8-1 and 9-0 losses to Shipley and GFS, respectively, and a 6-1 win over SquashSmarts — the Quakers kicked off their Inter-Ac season against Malvern Prep on Dec. 14 with a convincing 7-1 victory.
Senior Marco Vucetic had a solid 3-1 win in his match-up against a very strong Friars opponent at the top of the PC lineup, while fellow senior Griffin Yeatman secured a 3-0 win from the number two spot. Also securing 3-0 triumphs from the fifth through eighth spots were promising juniors Andrew Tanner, Dean Kaiser, Nolan Duffy and Grayson Rupp.
The Quakers are still adjusting to life without last year’s top player Ramsay Killinger, who is now playing squash at the United States Naval Academy. While the team struggled a bit at the outset of the season, Leedale-Brown has been encouraged by the continued development of the senior trio Vucetic, Yeatman and Grant Roshkoff atop the newly-configured PC lineup.
“It always creates a challenge when you lose someone like Ramsay, who played at the top of the order and provided good leadership,” Leedale-Brown said. “Those three seniors have been doing OK — it’s definitely a process, and the hope is as the season goes on they grow in their ability to compete at a high level against area teams with really good squash players.”
Leedale-Brown also expressed optimism about some of the team’s younger players who don’t have as much experience at the varsity level. Eighth grader James Killinger, Ramsay’s younger brother, leads that group from the number four spot and has already acquitted himself well despite still being in middle school.
“He’s fit into the program really well,” Leedale-Brown said. “He connects with the kids and is socially comfortable — not an easy thing for a young player on an older team. James plays with maturity and I’ve been impressed with how comfortable he looks. He doesn’t seem to be fazed, as the application and effort have been great. We have enjoyed having him so far, and being in this environment will accelerate his development.”
Leedale-Brown also shouted out the progress of Duffy, who got a late start due to his contributions on the football team but has played well from the seventh and eighth slots, with his head coach especially pleased with the rising junior’s athleticism and natural movement on the court.
The Quakers will next be in action on Jan. 4 when they host SCH Academy at 4 p.m.
The Quakers continued their strong start to the new season at the Franny Lutz Holiday Duals at Upper Merion High School on Dec. 9, winning Pool A with a perfect 3-0 record. Due to some injuries, the lineup head coach Peter Shaifer brought into the tournament was slightly different than he had anticipated, yet PC still powered through with wins over Ridley (42-27), Central Bucks West (36-30) and Upper Merion (51-24).
“It was a true display of resilience,” Shaifer said. “The victories are a testament to the depth of the team and the training all of our wrestlers put in every day. You never know when your time will come, and several stepped up in a big way.”
Five Quakers went 3-0 on the day: seniors C.J. English (three pins at 285 pounds) and Jack Bowen (two pins and a 7-0 decision at 189 and 172, respectively), junior Greyson Catlow-Sidler (three pins at 160), sophomore Tristan Padgett (a pin and 5-4 and 4-2 decisions at 215) and freshman Ryder Horan (a pin and two forfeits at 107).
“Tristan is an up and coming member of the team bringing some lightweight style to the upper weights,” Shaifer said. “And C.J. continues to improve with impressive snatch singles and great work on top.”
Shaifer classified Catlow-Sidler’s wins as “methodical” while praising Horan for stepping up when needed, as his pin secured the win against CB West. Other highlights included freshman Cole Furtek setting the tone with a pin against a returning wrestler from CB West at 121 pounds, and eighth grader Matteo Prichett displaying veteran prowess with a dominant pin at 114 against Ridley.
Senior Michael Filloon rallied from a 9-1 deficit to pin his Ridley opponent and also secured another pin against CB West to go 2-0 on the day at 172. The strength of the junior class was also evident; in addition to Catlow-Sidler, Munir German (two pins at 133), Hugh Maley (a tight 9-4 loss against Ridley to “the toughest kid in the building,” according to Shaifer) and Griffin LaMent (a key pin at 145 against Upper Merion) all had solid performances.
“Overall, a great day for Penn Charter wrestling,” Shaifer said.
Elsewhere last weekend, sophomore Izzy Steinbock was one of 250 girls who wrestled in a tournament at North Penn High School. She went 3-2 on the day and secured a seventh-place finish.
The 4-0 Quakers will next be in action at the Ralph Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham High School on Dec. 28-29 (11:30 and 9 a.m. start times, respectively).
Through six games, Penn Charter hasn’t had much luck in playing with its intended starting lineup. Junior guard Kai Shinholster injured his ankle on Nov. 29 in the team’s season-opener and missed the next four games before returning on Dec. 12 against Friends’ Central. However, senior Kevin Cotton was out sick against the Phoenix, and junior big man Matt Gilhool exited with an injury late in the second quarter of the Friends’ Central game — an eventual 64-54 PC loss — after dominating down low to the tune of 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We’ve had our fair share of adversity,” head coach Brandon Williams said. “We get Kai back and then lose Matt. It’s something we have to push through. Anytime we can get all of the guys out there to build chemistry, it helps..”
The Quakers (3-3) were buoyed by the return of Shinholster, the team’s most experienced player and a two-time Inter-Ac champion. After a slow first quarter against Friends’ Central, he rallied to lead PC with 17 points while adding seven rebounds.
Any extended loss of Gilhool, who Williams said was being evaluated for a concussion, would be unfortunate. The Westtown School transfer has really come into his own the last couple of games, especially in the post with a bevy of rim-rattling dunks. At 6-foot-11, Gilhool has an impressive outside game, though Williams has been imploring him to take advantage of his size advantage by being more aggressive in the post. That was certainly the case against Friends’ Central, as well as in the preceding game against Simon Gratz, a runaway 70-36 PC win on day two of the Speedy Morris Invitational at Penn Charter on Dec 9.
Against Gratz, Gilhool had a double-double at halftime and tallied 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the game. He got plenty of support, mainly from junior guard Jake West (11 points, 10 assists), but this dominant showcase belonged to the PC center.
“I knew they didn’t have a big man who could handle me,” Gilhool said. “We were running the floor from the start of the game to try and create openings, and it just worked out getting me the ball down low for easy buckets. It felt like a great reward for our team, which has been working really hard. It’s only the start. We’ve got to keep building and progressing.”
A day earlier, the Quakers handled visiting Audenried Charter 75-49 and did so with tournament namesake Speedy Morris in attendance. The legendary Philadelphia high school and college coach won over 1,000 games in his career, including 41 during a stint coaching the PC boys in the 1980s, and still lives in nearby Roxborough. West led Penn Charter with 20 points, while Gilhool had 12 points, five rebounds and five steals. Cotton and junior T.J. Bryson added nine points each, while eighth grader Carter Smith scored eight.
“Having a mostly whole new team, it hasn’t been an easy start,” Gilhool said. “But we’re having way more fun on the court, and off the court guys are bonding, which is so important. That chemistry helped us get these wins the last two days.”
The Quakers will have two opportunities to bounce back from the Friends’ Central loss this weekend as they compete in the Make-A-Wish Showcase at Germantown Academy on Dec. 15-16. PC will take on Perkiomen School on Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. before returning the next day to face off against Shipley at 3:30.
Through five games, a lack of consistency on offense has slowed the 1-4 Quakers. First halves have ranged from competitive to dominant, with a team featuring three new starters struggling to match that production and intensity after halftime.
In a 66-44 defeat at the hands of Friends’ Central on Dec. 12, PC trailed by just six points at halftime before being outscored 40-23 in the second half. Bumps in the road were expected in figuring out how to replace the immense offensive production previously provided by Bella Toomey and Aleah Snead, both of whom are now playing Division-I basketball.
“We’ve been in a lot of these games for a quarter or a half, and then we have moments where the game gets out of reach,” head coach Joe Maguire said. “We need to start playing more complete games with multiple people in new roles. We’re working toward that every day.”
Even in PC’s lone win of the season — a 44-41 nail-biter over Imhotep Charter on day two of the Speedy Morris Invitational on Dec. 9 — it was a tale of two halves. The Quakers won the first quarter 13-9, then shut the Panthers out in quarter two to take a 25-9 lead into the break. The stifling defense that PC played made the lead seem safe at halftime, but Imhotep mounted a rally when the Quaker shots stopped falling, twice creeping within two points in the final minute.
Freshman Ryan Carter led the Quakers against Imhotep with 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including a critical bucket in the closing seconds that pushed the PC lead to four. Carter added five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while junior Kaylinn Bethea (10 points, six steals) and senior Ashlie Johnson (nine points, 11 rebounds) also made key contributions.
“We were able to keep our composure, lean on each other and play as a team,” Carter said. “We’ve learned from all of our losses, so while we know we can do better moving forward, it was good to pull out a win. We’re putting a lot of trust in each other, and if we can play the whole game the way we have in the first half then we can compete with anyone.”
The Quakers will be in action for a pair of games this weekend, taking on Perkiomen Valley on Dec. 16 in the Keystone Classic at School of the Future (7 p.m.) before returning to action the next morning to play Cardinal O’Hara at Jefferson University at 10:30 a.m.
GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING
It was a winning first meet of the season for Penn Charter, which picked up a 110-75 victory at home over Notre Dame on Dec. 12. The team’s depth was on full display, namely in the relay events as the Quakers placed second and third in the medley relay, first and second in the 200 free relay, and first and third in the 400 free relay.
The highlight of the meet was junior Eliza Black breaking the school record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 57.09. Additional winners included juniors Eva McIver-Jenkins (50 freestyle and 100 butterfly) and Ava Coombs (100 freestyle) and senior Katie Fitzpatrick, who earned a victory in the diving event.
“We demonstrated that our strength is in our depth,” head coach Brian Hecker said. “We only won four of the nine individual events but gained valuable points with other top five finishes, outscoring Notre Dame even when they won an event. The girls are ready to put in more hard work to get ready for a tough January.”
Although the next meet is not until Jan. 9 at Episcopal, the team now enters what Hecker said is some of the most important training of the season. Without class and schoolwork for more than two weeks, the Quakers will focus more on swimming.s. PC is already off to a great start both as a team and individually, thanks to Black’s record-breaking day.
“That is something that Eliza should be very proud of given how hard she has worked over the past few years,” Hecker said.
BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING
Despite a season-opening 125-56 loss to Malvern Prep on Dec. 12, the Quakers still boasted several exceptional efforts that will give the team plenty of confidence heading into January.
Junior Aidan Trautwein had a spectacular diving performance to win the event, while program veteran PJ Duffy had a strong all-around day by winning the 100 freestyle and finishing third in the 50 freestyle. Additionally, junior Joe Repetto finished second in both the 200 IM and 100 butterfly, and sophomore Avi Mondgock placed third in the 100 freestyle to give PC two of the top three finishers in that event.
“The Malvern meet was a great jumping off point,” Hecker said. “We will use the posted times to set individual and team goals for the year while getting in some dedicated training over the next few weeks. The boys have already shown great work ethic in practice.”
Like the girls program, the boys will be off from competition until Jan. 9 at Episcopal, leaving the Quakers almost a month to work on improving their first showing of the season.
GIRLS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
Penn Charter got its season started on Dec. 8 in the first Delaware Valley Girls Track Coaches Association (DVGTCA) meet at Alvernia University in Reading. Head coach Candice Lee previously said that she would ease her team into the indoor season, taking just five athletes with her to Alvernia: senior Zady Hasse and sophomores Michaela Poland, Nora Prasad, Zsuzsi Pollock and Ailyah Leonard.
Poland had the highest finish of the meet, placing third in the 400-meter dash (1:01.47) while also coming in 18th in the 60-meter dash (8.49).
“What impressed me with Michaela was her confidence, which goes a long way in track,” Lee said. “I tell the kids they have to believe in their training and ability.”
Leonard was 11th in the 200-meter dash (28.55) and Hasse finished 18th in the 800-meter run (2:39.22). Prasad placed 32nd in the 3000-meter run, with Pollock securing 13th place in the shot put (27 feet).
“My key takeaway from this group was just getting them to understand what to expect,” Lee said “It was the first time any had competed in a Friday night indoor meet, and I really just wanted them to get a feel of what to expect the next couple of weeks.”
With winter break starting at the end of school on Dec. 15, Lee is still figuring out her lineup for the next DVGTCA meet at Lehigh University that same evening. She said the team is still working on transitioning from a cross country to indoor track mindset, as well as accumulating more base times and marks so the Quakers have things to improve upon moving forward.
“We had a good meet this past weekend,” Lee said. “All five of our runners stepped on the track and competed. I am encouraged they gave it their all, and we will work on speed and reaction time in the coming weeks.”
BOYS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
The Quakers will begin their season on Saturday, Dec. 16 at Lehigh University — SportsZone will catch up with them and all of the other PC squads after winter break.
Wrestling, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Boys Squash and Girls Squash had their team photoshoots prior to winter break. View each album linked above. Media days for swimming and diving and indoor track teams are scheduled for after winter break.
Written by: Ed Morrone OPC '04