Note: This SportsZone report covers athletic events played between April 24-28.
It was a lighter week than expected for the Quakers, whose April 28 match against Germantown Academy was postponed by rain and will be made up on May 11. Not only that, but a May 2 match with Malvern Prep was moved to May 3 due to inclement weather, and then that match was postponed too. It will now be made up on May 8.
Prior to the postponements, it was still a fantastic week for the team, as sophomore Nate Arnold won the Inter-Ac Singles Championship that was played on April 27 at Episcopal Academy. Arnold won the tournament a year after finishing as runner-up to Penn Charter teammate Liam Birnie OPC ’22. After a first-round bye, top-seeded Arnold mostly cruised through his first three matches—he defeated Josh Miller from SCH Academy 8-0 in Round 2, scored an 8-4 win over Haverford School’s Phinneas Manogue in the quarterfinals and picked up another 8-0 shutout, this time against Germantown Academy’s Aiden Swartz, in the semifinals.
“Nate played with a great mix of patience and aggressiveness, recognizing the openings available to him and pushing his opponents into defensive positions,” head coach Philip Stevens said. “He played the big points really well, shutting the door on his opponents at those key moments.”
The final against third-seeded Max Olsen of Haverford was a much more competitive bout. Arnold staked himself to a 5-1 lead before Olsen rallied, setting up a thrilling tiebreaker conclusion that Arnold—the only freshman selected to the all-league First Team a season ago—finished with an 8-7 victory.
“The final few games were tense and momentum shifted repeatedly,” Stevens said. “Once Nate got up in the tiebreaker, however, he moved his opponent around easily and caused several unforced errors and easy put-aways. Nate had answers for everything that was thrown at him and he was able to execute his game plan effectively and confidently.”
Arnold and the Quakers (2-7, 1-5) will be back in action on May 5 at Germantown Academy for the first of two meetings between the two rivals.
Girls Track & Field
The Quakers had an excellent showing at last week’s Penn Relays, running a total of four relay races over the course of two days. First up on the morning of April 28 was the 4x100 relay team of Cassie McCusker, Kaylinn Bethea, Olivia Roland and Michaela Poland, who finished in 49.53 seconds. According to head coach Candice Lee, the girls ran well and missed qualifying for the next round by a second. Even so, it was the fastest time all season for PC in that event.
Later that afternoon, the distance medley relay team consisting of Dani Shipon, Poland, Alex Jaffe and Alli DeLisi finished in fifth place out of 15 teams despite it being only the second time all season that the Quakers had raced that particular event. The key, according to Lee, was shifting Shipon to the leadoff leg, which in this case was the 1200-meter portion. Shipon ran “an incredible leg” in 3:48.30 even though it was her first time running the 1200 this season. Poland ran the next leg, the 400, and performed well as expected in 59.79. Lee called Alex Jaffe “the missing piece we needed for this relay,” running the 800 in 2:25.17. Then it was up to DeLisi to bring it home, which she did by finishing the 1600 in 5:04.75.
“Alli was able to run another incredible leg and moved us up into fifth place, allowing us to bring home a medal,” Lee said. I am so proud of all of the athletes on this relay and how they have continued to improve and show up.”
The next morning, the team of Veronica Lentz, Shipon, Poland and DeLisi linked up to win the 4x400 Philadelphia Academic relay, finishing ahead of 12 other schools in 3:59.05, almost 10 seconds faster than the next closest team.
The win advanced the Quakers to the 4x400 Philadelphia Area race later that afternoon, and Lee said due to senior prom commitments that evening, she had to replace Lentz and Shipon with Alex and Sam Jaffe. Despite the reconfigured lineup, PC placed third, setting a new 4x400 school record by finishing the event in 3:55.47, with just a little over a second separating the Quakers from the first-place team.
“This race was very competitive and came down to the anchor leg with Alli moving the team from sixth place to third, blazing down the track with a 55.61 split, the fastest in the race.”
On May 2, the team reconvened for a dual meet at Episcopal, with EA coming away with a 57-56 win. It was the first Inter-Ac loss of the season for Penn Charter, and Lee rested DeLisi, Poland, Shipon and Lentz to keep them fresh ahead of the league championship meet at Penn Charter on May 13. Before then, the Quakers will compete in the Henderson Track Invitational at Henderson High School in West Chester at 3 p.m. on May 5, a final tune-up meet heading into the postseason.
“I am very impressed how the team has progressed this season,” Lee said. “We had a lot of first-time runners who have continued to improve. I like where we stand, and my goals are to win league champs and states.”
Boys Track & Field
The boys track team sent a pair of relay teams to compete in the Penn Relays on April 27. In fact, the 4x800 squad of T.J. Zwall, Nate Johnson, Wes Trautwein and Jack Frank kicked off the 127th iteration of the event by running the very first race at 9 a.m.
Unfortunately, the Quakers were unable to finish after an accidental mid-race collision during a handoff took Zwall out of the event. While collisions happen occasionally in track, it was still an unfortunate occurrence, but one that head coach Steve Bonnie said is just a part of the sport.
As a result, Zwall, who was set to run as the anchor leg in the 4x400 Inter-Ac race later that afternoon with Jaxon Adams, Oliver Jackson and Zahir Kalam Id-Din, was replaced by alternate Mason Knight. The altered relay team finished fifth out of the six competing teams in 3:37.29.
“Mason is a fine young man who stepped up for us, but I think all of the kids were maybe a little distracted by what had happened earlier,” Bonnie said.
Things got much better for the Quakers on May 2 as the team defeated Episcopal 87-39 in the final Inter-Ac dual meet of the season. Bonnie called the Churchmen “a tremendous, excellent team,” so it was a big win for PC as it heads into the final few events of the 2023 season.
Bonnie praised the efforts of Ohifame Ijeboi, who won the 100 by almost a full second in 11.05 and narrowly edged six of his PC teammates in the 200, finishing that race in 23.66. Ijeboi also anchored the 4x100 relay team that won the event in 44.62. Elsewhere, Jackson performed well in the 300 hurdles, winning in 43.60, while Britton Armbrister had a strong 16.87 showing in the 110 hurdles. The jumpers were also solid despite cold, windy and rainy conditions.
Just like the girls' team, the boys will compete in the Henderson Track Invitational at Henderson High School in West Chester at 3 p.m. on May 5, a final tune-up meet heading into league champs and PAISAAs.
“The main thing this time of year is to keep everyone healthy,” Bonnie said. “In track, you throw a lot of stuff at the wall and hope that some of it sticks. We’ll see what happens, but more than anything we need health in order to participate and compete.”
Girls lacrosse split a pair of league bouts over the last week, beating SCH Academy on April 27 before falling to Episcopal on May 2 in identical 9-8 final scores.
The Blue Devils had defeated Penn Charter in PC’s first game of the season back on March 21, which interestingly enough also ended 9-8 on the scoreboard. This one against SCH went to overtime, with Gracie Shoup’s third goal of the contest serving as the overtime game-winner. Aditi Foster led the way with four goals, while Bea Buckley scored twice. The Quakers were without starting goalie Kayla Joyce, and backup Maeve Magarity stepped in to make 13 critical saves.
“It’s a huge pressure situation for a freshman goalie and Maeve came up huge, making some big saves at the end of a close game,” head coach Colleen Kelly said. “SCH is a huge rival for us and there have been so many intense games with them. There were momentum switches the entire time, and we stayed composed and disciplined and made big plays when we needed to.”
Kelly called the 9-8 loss to Episcopal “a huge improvement” from the first meeting, when EA dealt PC one of its most lopsided defeats of the season. The Quakers actually led the reigning league champs by two goals late before ultimately taking a close loss.
“We lost, which tells me we still need to raise the bar at practice,” Kelly said. “What caused us to lose was unforced turnovers that we can’t make when playing a team as good as EA. I told our team, ‘Hey, we’re right there,’ and I think we just need to hold ourselves more accountable because those little things matter.”
The Quakers (9-7, 3-4) have six regular season games left—three non-league and three against Inter-Ac opponents, beginning with a May 5 home game against Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. PC will also host Manheim Township on May 6 at 2:30 p.m.
After battling injuries all season, the Quakers are as healthy as they’ve been all year as they get set for the final four games of the regular season.
PC dropped a pair of Inter-Ac games over the past week to SCH Academy and Haverford School, but the final scores of both games are an indicator of how far the team has come in a short amount of time. First up was an April 27 game against the Blue Devils, who had defeated the Quakers 19-11 on April 11. Penn Charter did spot SCH a 10-2 first-half lead before finishing strong with a 9-3 second-half scoring advantage in the eventual 13-11 loss. Casey Felter and Owen Black each scored three times, while Lucas Weinstein netted two goals. Gavin Michener, Chet Kempinski and Eian Kilpatrick all had one goal, while George Glomb won 20 of 27 faceoffs and Noah Dacanay made 11 saves.
After losing 15-4 to Haverford on April 14, Penn Charter and the Fords, the sixth-ranked team in the nation according to US Lacrosse Magazine, were tied at 12 to start the fourth quarter on May 2 before the Quakers ultimately fell 16-12. Michener scored four times, including his 100th career goal with his junior season still in progress. Kempinski, Black and Nick Walter all had two goals, while Felter and Ben Zaberiek netted one apiece. Glomb won 19 of 31 in the faceoff circle, while Dacanay was again strong between the posts with 14 saves.
“The Haverford game was as close to being fully healthy as we’ve been,” head coach Pat McDonough said. “It was a 12-12 game with five minutes left. All of a sudden, we’re putting pressure on a team that doesn’t play under pressure all that often with the season they’re having. The result is what it is, but just great effort by our kids, who fought hard and played as complete of a game as we could have asked of them.”
Photo Caption: Michener and McDonough celebrating the former's 100th goal.
McDonough also praised the leadership and maturity of Michener, whose older brother, Colin (now playing lacrosse at Villanova), had a record-setting senior season a year ago. Gavin, who has assumed the role of leading scorer vacated by his brother, was under the weather against the Fords but still powered through. He now has 43 goals on the season.
“I appreciate his grittiness and toughness,” McDonough said. “His brother reached excellent heights by his senior year, and Gavin is in the midst of that process now as a junior. I can’t speak more highly of his character and the leadership he provides. He is one of our best players and does a great job of being that rock for us. He’s a player who makes others around him better, and he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. He has a lot more in him, which is scary.”
The Quakers (6-11, 1-6) will look to finish their season strong, beginning with a 4 p.m. road game at Episcopal on May 5 and on Saturday, May 6, a home match at 11 a.m. versus Allentown Central Catholic. McDonough said that if the team wins its final three league games then there’s a good chance it will qualify for the four-team Inter-Ac postseason.
“If it goes in our favor, great,” he said. “If not, we put our best foot forward and can always feel proud of our effort the last couple of weeks.”
Head coach Charles Warren and company went 1-2 over the past week, dropping a pair of Inter-Ac contests before picking themselves back up with a non-league win.
SCH Academy improved to 2-0 against PC this season on April 27 by claiming a 6-1 victory. In two meetings, the Quakers have managed just three runs against talented eighth-grade Blue Devils pitcher Sam Snyder. Lauren Gedraitis was solid over six innings for Penn Charter, allowing three earned runs while striking out four. She had the only RBI of the game on a single in the first inning. Maddy Wray went 2-for-3 at the plate, but Snyder made life tough for a strong PC lineup.
“Tip of the cap to Sam, who handles herself with extreme poise,” Warren said. “They get a lot of runners on base and don’t play from behind often. They put pressure on us with runners on and capitalized on our mistakes. We had runners too, we just didn’t cash them in.”
On May 2, PC fell 12-4 to an Episcopal team that has not lost a game this season. Like they did against Germantown Academy on April 25, the Quakers fell into a huge early hole but showed admirable fight thereafter. This time, EA built a 7-0 lead after three innings before Penn Charter got three back on the strength of RBI doubles by Wray and Macie Bergmann. PC got to within 7-4 later on thanks to consecutive doubles by Maddie Bergmann and Ari Willis before EA blew it open with five runs in the top of the seventh.
“We knew what we were up against and were ready for the challenge,” Warren said. “The game was a lot closer than what the final score showed. We didn’t capitalize when we needed to, but these are all learning moments we can take into the PAISAA tournament. Our team played great, and they understand what they need to do moving forward.”
The Quakers (6-7, 1-6) rebounded with a 7-3 win at Lawrenceville on May 3. Ryan Hatty tossed a complete game with seven strikeouts, and PC broke a 3-3 tie with four runs in the top of the seventh. Maddie Bergmann had a two-run single, and Gedraitis went 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI. The team is now 5-1 in non-league contests. A team with no seniors on the roster continues to improve, and Warren is excited for the rest of this season while already looking ahead to the 2024 team’s potential. There have been growing pains as the team builds chemistry, but the foundation has been set during Warren’s first season in charge.
“A smooth sea never made a good sailor,” Warren said. “We’ve taken our lumps, but facing adversity is only going to make us better in the long run. We’re right on track, and every loss has been a bright spot that we have learned from.”
PC will next be in action on May 5 when the team hosts Notre Dame at 4 p.m.
Playing for the first time in almost a week following an April 27 rainout at SCH Academy (which has been rescheduled for May 16), the Quakers suffered a 7-2 defeat on May 2 at the hands of Haverford School. The Fords avenged a 14-7 PC win on April 14 at Haverford.
Penn Charter did produce 10 hits from eight different hitters but struggled to cash in against Haverford pitching. Garrett Mathias and Kyle McKernan each had multiple hits for the Quakers (12-6, 2-4), with McKernan knocking in one of the two runs. Gavin Ruta laced an RBI triple, and Christian Clauss pitched extremely well in relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three over 3 ⅔ innings.
There are just five regular season games left on Penn Charter’s schedule before the PAISAA Tournament, with four of them being Inter-Ac contests. The team will be at Episcopal on May 5 for a 4 p.m. first pitch before returning home the next morning to take on Archbishop Carroll at 11 a.m.
The Quakers were idle from competition last weekend and will return to the Schuylkill River on May 6-7 for the PSRA City Championships.
More information on the event, including a livestream link to watch the May 7 races on YouTube, can be found here.