Just like that, the spring season has come to an end for the Penn Charter boys lacrosse and tennis teams, while the postseason has arrived in the form of the PAISAA tournament for our girls lacrosse, baseball and softball teams. Additionally, both PC track teams are preparing for their own PAISAA event this weekend, while the crew program gets set for its penultimate competition of the season—the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the largest scholastic regatta in the world. It’s sure to be a thrilling conclusion to an action-packed spring campaign, so let’s take a closer look at where each individual team stands as we approach the finish line for 2023.
Note: This report covers Penn Charter athletic events between May 11-16.
Girls Track & Field
For the second consecutive year, the Quakers left the Inter-Ac Championship meet ahead of the rest of the field. PC scored 180 points to top Episcopal, who finished in second place with 141.
“It means a lot for the program,” head coach Candice Lee said. “A great accomplishment that is proof that all of the girls have bought in. It has created a winning attitude and culture that also spreads to the cross-country and indoor track seasons. They want to continue this string of success.”
Alli DeLisi picked up first-place finishes in both the 800 and 1600 and was a member of the victorious 4x400 relay team along with Michaela Poland, Dani Shipon and Alex Jaffe. The 4x400 crew set a new league champs record in the event, finishing the race in 3:59.51. Poland also had a big day, winning the 400 while finishing second in the 200 and third in the 100. Jaffe placed fourth in both the 400 and 800 and was a member of the winning 4x800 relay squad along with Zady Hasse, Aisling Brady and Grace Neuwirth. Shipon ended up third in the 800, while Sam Jaffe finished fifth in the 400.
Elsewhere, Kaylinn Bethea had strong showings in both the 100 (fourth place) and 200 (third), while helping the 4x100 relay team secure a second-place finish (along with Ci’Nya Vincent, Haley Lewinski and Olivia Roland). Nieve Keitel had top-five finishes in 1600 (fourth) and 3200 (third), and Neuwirth and Hasse ended fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3200.
The Quakers did excellent in both the 100 and 300 hurdles: in the 100, Veronica Lentz (second), Roland (fourth) and Lucy Sokoloff (sixth) placed in the top-six; in the 300, the order went Roland (second), Lentz (third) and Sokoloff (fourth).
In field events, Louella Whitaker achieved a fourth-place finish in the pole vault and Sokoloff finished fifth in the long jump. Mariah Mays was second in the discus, javelin and shot put, while Zsuzsi Pollock ended two spots behind Mays in the javelin.
Now that the Quakers have earned back-to-back league championships, they will look to accomplish the same feat in the PAISAA championship, to be held May 20 at Malvern Prep.
“We are definitely aiming to finish strong,” Lee said. “We have a lot of quality athletes and are just deeper than most of the other schools.”
Boys Track & Field
A year after finishing in last place at league champs, the Quakers rose to third in 2023, compiling 83 points to finish behind Episcopal (162) and SCH Academy (98). In his first season as an outdoor track athlete, Zahir Kalam Id-Din had a standout performance in scoring 26 points—he finished fourth in the 100 and third in the 200, and was also a member of the first-place 4x100 and third-place 4x400 relay teams.
Elsewhere, the 4x800 relay quartet of Nate Johnson, Jack Frank, T.J. Zwall and Wes Trautwein finished first and broke the league champs record in the event with a time of 8:08.32. The members of that team also had strong showings in individual distance events: Trautwein finished fourth in both the 1600 and 3200, while Johnson placed fifth and third, respectively, in the same races; Frank was sixth in the 800 (he also ran on the third-place 4x400 relay), and Zwall returned from an injury sustained in the Penn Relays with a gutsy performance in the 3200, finishing sixth. Luis Rincon finished fifth in a very competitive pole vault field.
Ohifame Ijeboi finished third in the 100 one spot ahead of Kalam Id-Din, while Davin Barnett capped off his PC track career with a sixth-place triple jump finish and a gold medal as a member of the 4x100 relay squad.
Along with Kalam Id-Din, several other first-year outdoor track athletes helped PC score critical points. Trey Shinholster secured third place in the high jump, while Isaiah Grimes was not far behind in fifth. Mark Butler took fifth in the long jump, and both he and Grimes were members of the victorious 4x100 relay team. Jaxon Adams finished sixth in the 400 and was on the third-place 4x400 relay team; Britton Armbrister earned a third-place finish in the 110 hurdles; and Oliver Jackson placed fourth in the 300 hurdles while running on the 4x400 squad.
“We competed in most of the events,” head coach Steve Bonnie said. “The spirit of the team was much better this year.”
After going “full blast” at league champs, Bonnie said that the Quaker contingent at this weekend’s PAISAA championship (May 20 at Malvern Prep) will be smaller. That being said, the longtime head coach believes his 4x800 relay team could very well win a state championship, and it should be a positive day for all of those competing regardless of results.
“When you’re not in line to win this event as a team, it’s mostly experiential,” Bonnie said. “It’ll be the last race for the seniors who go, and it’s an opportunity for members of the younger core group to come out and do their best.”
The Quakers are playing their best softball of the season as the team gets set for its first PAISAA tournament under first-year head coach Charles Warren. PC won its final five games of the regular season, including an impressive 6-2 victory over Baldwin in the finale on May 12, avenging a 12-8 loss to the Bears on April 18.
This time around, Ryan Hatty continued her recent strong run in the pitching circle, firing a complete game gem with nine strikeouts while allowing just one walk and one earned run. Hatty made 10 starts during the regular season, posting a 7-3 record while striking out 59 and walking 16 across 72 innings. At the plate, she hit a sizzling .556 (30-for-54) with a team-leading 11 doubles.
“Ryan started off a little rusty this season but has found her groove just in time,” Warren said. “She feeds off the success of the defense, which has played with great energy behind her. She’s a well-rounded player.”
Warren also gave credit to catcher Macie Bergmann, who calls Hatty’s pitches instead of Warren himself and has built strong chemistry with the pitching staff. Bergmann also doubled, tripled and knocked in two runs against Baldwin, while shortstop Maddie Bergmann added an RBI triple of her own. Maddy Wray continued to serve as the table-setter atop the PC lineup by getting on base and scoring a run in all three of her plate appearances. Wray’s first-inning double served as a spark plug that led to an early 2-0 lead that the team never relinquished. Wray is batting .500 with a team-leading 27 runs scored and is also tied for the lead with seven stolen bases.
“She gives us the selectiveness and patience of a true leadoff hitter,” Warren said. “She and Maddie Bergmann, who bats second, give us an advantage as a strong one-two punch.”
The third-seeded Quakers (10-7, 4-6) will look to stay hot as they prepare for a May 19 PAISAA quarterfinal game in which they will square off against Baldwin for the second time in a week, First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
“Our approach is to stay within ourselves and treat it like any other game,” Warren said.
The Quakers, winners of four straight to close out the regular season, are also peaking at the perfect time as the team gets ready for PAISAAs.
The hot streak began with a 6-3 victory over Germantown Academy on May 12. Will Vieira pitched 5 ⅓ shutout innings and struck out six, while outfielders Sammy Davey and Gavin Ruta each delivered two-run doubles at the plate.
PC then hosted a pair of talented Catholic League opponents on May 13 and May 15, respectively. First up was current league frontrunner Father Judge, with the Quakers securing a back-and-forth 6-5 victory. Gavin Ruta got the start on the mound, allowing just one run in four innings while striking out four, while Christian Clauss and Scott Doran slammed the door shut in relief. Kyle McKernan and Liam Rowan each had two hits and an RBI at the plate. Then, two days later against Neumann-Goretti, Clauss picked up where he left off by striking out 12 in six dominant innings on the mound. Doran earned the save in relief for the second straight game, and Ruta led the way on offense by going 3-for-3 with a stolen base in the 3-0 win.
The Quakers wrapped up the regular season with a huge 10-7, extra-innings win over SCH Academy on May 16, pushing three runs across in the top of the ninth after the Blue Devils had tied the game with a two-out, two-strike hit in the home seventh. The win deprived SCH of an outright Inter-Ac title, as PC’s local rival will instead have to share the crown with Malvern Prep. Colin Schumm scored the go-ahead run thanks to some heads-up baserunning, and Mason Avrigian delivered a clutch RBI single later in the ninth. Ryan Conrad delivered a quality start on the mound, while Doran again entered in relief with excellent results, hurling four shutout frames with five strikeouts. The win was payback for the Quakers, who had not forgotten about the Blue Devils beating them on their home field on April 11 in another game that went nine innings.
“We played the role of spoiler on their Senior Day, and our kids respectfully embraced ruining that party,” head coach Justin Hanley said. “The two schools are separated by two miles, so we always want to beat each other. It was a great, back-and-forth battle.”
Aside from PC’s 7-0 start to its season, the team is playing its best baseball right now heading into the postseason. The sixth-seeded Quakers (17-8, 5-5) will host Shipley on May 19 at 4 p.m. in a first-round PAISAA game, with the winner advancing to next week’s quarterfinals at third-seeded Haverford School. Coincidentally enough, Shipley dealt PC its first loss of the season back on April 3, while the Fords eliminated the Quakers in the semifinals of last year’s tournament. The two teams split a pair of games during the regular season.
“We are pretty confident,” Hanley said. “We just took out the best team in the league with its full arsenal of pitchers, so our kids should believe they can win a championship. At this moment, we’re doing everything right. We’ve been close all year in scratching the surface as a good team trying to become a great one. We feel that everything is falling into place.”
After splitting a pair of league contests to close out the regular season, the Quakers will now aim to defend the program’s first PAISAA championship.
On May 12, PC earned a 9-8 payback win at Germantown Academy after the Patriots had won by the same score at Penn Charter on April 25. Grace Walter led the scoring attack with three goals, while Aditi Foster and Alex Glomb netted two apiece. Gracie Shoup and Ava Diaz each scored once while Kayla Joyce made 14 saves in goal.
On May 16, Agnes Irwin turned a tight 6-5 halftime advantage into an 11-5 win, holding PC’s offense scoreless the entire second half. Walter had another multi-goal game with two, while Foster, Shoup and Molly Dougherty all scored once. Joyce made 17 saves as two of the league’s top three teams split a pair of regular season meetings.
“We had 16 or 17 turnovers against Agnes Irwin, just too many against a really good team,” head coach Colleen Kelly said. “We need to get better in five key components: effort, energy, focus, discipline and relentlessness. We’re going to move past it and look forward to how we can get better in the next game.”
Kelly described the season as “a rollercoaster,” and while the Quakers (13-9, 5-5) have been inconsistent at times, they have also played some exceptional lacrosse against top-flight talent both locally and outside of the area. The slate is wiped clean heading into the PAISAA tournament, and PC’s first shot at defending its title will come as the No. 2 seed on May 19 when the team hosts league rival Notre Dame in a quarterfinals game at 4:30 p.m. The Quakers went 2-0 against the Irish during the regular season.
“I do believe in our players and I always will,” Kelly said. “We have to learn from this last loss fast, and we don’t need to have a mentality where we feel the need to be perfect. But we can have perfect energy and attitude with eternal belief in each other at all times.”
Additionally, the Inter-Ac announced its 2023 All-League team this week — Foster, Shoup and Joyce were selected to the First Team, while Bea Buckley and Nora Maione were named to the Second Team. It was the third straight all-league selection for Shoup, who was named to the Second Team in both 2022 and 2021; meanwhile, Joyce was honored for the second straight year after making the Second Team in 2022.
Penn Charter closed out the 2023 season with a 14-7 win over Germantown Academy on May 12, which happened to be the final game of a long career for head coach Pat McDonough, who is retiring from coaching after 21 seasons in charge of the program. While he will continue in his role as a middle school science teacher, McDonough felt like this was the right time to leave his coaching post. McDonough won 216 games as head coach.
“I re-evaluate where I’m at at the end of every season, but this time with my youngest son (Patrick, a PC lax player) graduating, it just felt like the right time to try something different,” he said. “My older two are in college, and I haven’t been able to see them as much as I would like.”
After telling his own family of his decision, McDonough said he told his team the news the next day before PC’s game against Malvern Prep on May 9, which he called “a hard moment.” While the Quakers (8-13, 2-8) lost to the Friars that day, it was only fitting that they delivered the longtime head coach a victory over GA, the school’s biggest rival.
Being able to serve in the same role at a place like Penn Charter for more than two decades filled McDonough with gratitude, especially because few coaches at any level get to stick in one place for as long as he did.
“To be here that long means a lot to me,” he said. “Seasons come and go just like wins and losses do, but the relationships are what stay with you. I’m fortunate to still be connected to the majority of my players, whether that’s seeing them at weddings or alumni events, or hearing the announcement of one of their children being born. I’m forever grateful and blessed.”
McDonough said his biggest point of pride was not how many games his teams won or how many goals his players scored; rather, it was using lacrosse as a vehicle to prepare them for the next four years of their lives, whether they played college lacrosse or not.
Of course, he has more than enough memories to carry him through retirement. McDonough may not miss the grind of what he said has become “a 10-months-a-year job, if not more,” he will miss his PC kids as he gets set to spend more time with his own.
“I’ll take all the friendships with me — nothing can change those,” he said. “I got to coach my youngest son at Penn Charter. How many people can say they got to coach their son through high school? That’s the icing on the cake for me. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kids and having more of those experiences and moments with them, and I’m sure I’ll fill the time with other things, too.”
The tennis season came to an end on May 11 with a 5-2 loss to Germantown Academy, who shared the 2023 Inter-Ac title with Haverford School.
As he has done all season, No. 1 singles player and Inter-Ac singles champion Nate Arnold ended his brilliant sophomore campaign with another decisive, straight-sets victory (6-1, 6-1). The Quakers’ other victory in the match came from the No. 4 doubles team of Alex Zoldan and Ben Greenblatt, who shook off a 6-1 loss in the first set to take a tight second set 6-4 before closing out the match in a third-set tiebreaker.
Penn Charter finished 3-10 overall and 2-8 in league matches, but the team often played better individually than the final score indicated. In addition to Arnold, Justin Cockerham and Justin Gantz gave themselves and the Quakers a chance to win nearly every time they stepped on the court, and Gantz especially made tremendous strides as the No. 3 singles player as a junior after spending most of his sophomore season at second and third doubles. The four PC doubles tandems all displayed major progress as the season went on.
“The individual performances improved more than I could've expected at the beginning of the season,” head coach Philip Stevens said. “We won matches at every position on the team, and I am really satisfied with the progress they all made.”
It’s the end of the road for the program’s six seniors: Cockerham, Zoldan, Eric Liriano, Ethan Cohen, Ryan Packel and Steven Bernstein. Cockerham received all-league honors as a sophomore and junior with an announcement for this year’s selections still pending, while Liriano has been a program mainstay since middle school. Cohen and Packel improved dramatically since their freshman year, and Bernstein and Zoldan each cracked the varsity lineup for the first time as seniors. Stevens will have plenty of roster replenishment to address between now and next season, but will return Arnold and Gantz, two of the team’s top three singles players, in 2024. Other returning players, such as juniors Jevyn Dyer and Ege Gungor, are names Stevens said to keep an eye on next season.
“There will be opportunities to get involved and make a mark on the program quickly,” Stevens said. “Six of our top 12 players will graduate, so there will be open spots all over the place. The kids will need to arrive ready and willing to grab hold of them.”
Following the program’s best-ever 13th-place finish at the PSRA City Championship that took place on May 6-7, the Quakers were idle from competition last week as the team is now conducting final preparations for the 96th Stotesbury Cup Regatta, to be held May 19-20 on the Schuylkill River. According to the event’s official website, Stotesbury will feature 184 schools and 896 boats with more than 4,000 athletes competing in the two-day race.
More information on the competition, which will be recapped in next week’s SportsZone report, can be found here.