It’s hard to believe since it’s been such a mild winter, but February has arrived, meaning we have reached the home stretch of our winter sports season. It’s an exciting time in Penn Charter athletics, so let’s take a closer look at how our Upper School varsity teams fared Jan. 24-31.
For the first time in program history, the Quakers will be Inter-Ac champions in back-to-back years — all that’s left to decide is whether they will share the title or claim the prize outright.
Penn Charter continued its dominant run through the league, picking up three convincing wins in the last week to push their league record to 10-0 with the average margin of victory in those contests a staggering 21.8 points. In the team’s 57-29 win at SCH Academy on Jan. 24, the Quakers shared the ball well the entire game, picking up 20 assists in the process. Eighth grader Ryan Carter registered a team-high eight assists along with seven points, five rebounds and four steals, while two of her teammates reached double figures in scoring: sophomore Kaylinn Bethea (15 points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals) and senior Bella Toomey (12 points, five rebounds, two assists, three blocks).
Back at the Graham on Jan. 27, PC (14-9, 10-0) cruised past Episcopal in a 52-31 win on Senior Night. The program’s three senior stalwarts made their typical big impacts, with Toomey scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds, Aleah Snead leading the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Gracie Shoup playing well on both ends of the court en route to five points, three rebounds and two steals. Additionally, senior Kelsey Bess, who has been a program mainstay for five years, scored the first two varsity points of her career while also grabbing a rebound.
“We shared the ball really well in those two wins,” head coach Joe Maguire said. “We pride ourselves on making the right play and we played together both offensively and defensively. Having that versatility makes us tough to cover and is something we take advantage of.”
The Quakers hosted Notre Dame on Jan. 31, with the Irish being the only Inter-Ac team that PC had not defeated by 10 points or more. This time around, Penn Charter jumped out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter and Notre Dame never got within single digits again after PC took an 18-8 advantage early in the second period. Snead had a great all-around game in the 63-45 win, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals. Bethea (15 points, eight steals), Toomey (11 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) and Carter (11 points, four assists) all reached double digits in scoring.
With the win, PC moved three games in front of Notre Dame in the standings with two to play, making Germantown Academy the only other Inter-Ac squad with less than three losses (two, both to Penn Charter). If Notre Dame wins at GA on Feb. 3, the Quakers will be outright league champions; if GA wins, PC will have to beat Baldwin on Feb. 7 at the Graham (5:30 p.m. tip) to make it official. The only scenario in which PC can share the title is by losing its final two games and GA winning out.
“It’s great,” Maguire said. “Every year that’s the goal: to win a championship. Last year we talked about getting a banner, which we did at 11-1; this year, we want to go 12-0. No team here has ever done that, and we want to be the first.”
The Quakers will take a brief pause from Inter-Ac play when they host Cardinal O’Hara on Friday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m before finishing next week against Baldwin and at Agnes Irwin on Feb. 10.
After losing a 57-52 heartbreaker in overtime at SCH Academy in front of a capacity crowd on Jan. 27, it’s a two-team race to the finish line for the league title with three games remaining. One year after PC shared the Inter-Ac crown with Malvern Prep after each team finished 8-2, it will again be the Quakers and Friars duking it out for league supremacy, with the only question being will the two share the title again or will one claim it outright?
Although PC lost at SCH for the first time in six league games — and just the second time in 21 games this season — it was an instant classic. The Quakers led for most of the contest, but neither team ever held an advantage of more than five points. After PC took a 15-14 lead early in the second period, the Blue Devils didn’t lead again until it was 41-39 early in the fourth. The rivals traded blows for the rest of regulation — a three-pointer by sophomore Kai Shinholster tied the score at 42, and senior Mark Butler gave PC a 44-42 lead on a pull-up with 2:06 left. Following an SCH triple, Butler (11 points) scored again to give the Quakers a 46-45 lead until junior Blue Devils guard Cam Burns made two free throws with 14.2 seconds left. PC senior Isaiah Grimes made the front end of a one-and-one with 0.4 seconds remaining to tie the score at 47, but the second rolled in and out.
Unfortunately, SCH made more plays in the extra session, with PC’s only field goal being a triple by senior Colin Schumm. Senior Keith Gee (12 points) had a good look at a game-tying trey with 15 seconds left but it was slightly off the mark, and the Blue Devils closed it out at the foul line. Senior Trey Shinholster led PC with 13 points.
“It’s hard to win on the road in the Inter-Ac, and the atmosphere was electric as expected,” interim head coach Dave Bass said. “Kudos to SCH: they came ready to play and earned it.”
Bass said that he hoped the loss would add “fuel to our fire” to stay the course and win out, and that scenario played out in the team’s next game, a 67-38 victory over Haverford at the Graham on Jan. 31. After Haverford scored the first bucket of the game, the Quakers (20-2, 6-1) ripped off 14 straight and led by double digits for the rest of the game after junior Kevin Cotton connected on a three-pointer to make it 20-9 early in the second quarter.
Kai Shinholster led a balanced PC attack with 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Trey Shinholster also contributed 14 points, while Grimes had 11 and Butler dished out seven assists.
“Before SCH we were really rolling, so it was just a matter of getting back into our flow,” Kai Shinholster said. “We really needed more energy defensively, and we just had to play more aggressively from the beginning with no let up. We got back on track and looked like our old selves.”
With three league games to play, the stage is set for a dramatic finish. Both PC and Malvern are 6-1 and each will be on the road Friday night — the Quakers at last-place Episcopal (1-6) and the Friars at GA (3-4). Then, the Friars will visit the Graham on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m., with the Quakers closing out the season Feb. 10 at GA and Malvern hosting SCH that same night.
“We understand that we can’t look past anyone,” Kai Shinholster said. “One game at a time. No game is bigger than any other, so we aren’t going to look ahead to Malvern even if they have a better record than Episcopal. After this Haverford game, our confidence is going to skyrocket. We had our hiccup, but our goal of winning the Inter-Ac is still the same.”
Girls Swimming & Diving
The Quakers began their season with a loss to Germantown Academy on Dec. 13 and have not been defeated since. Penn Charter picked up three wins in the past week, running the team’s win streak to five.
On Jan. 24, the Quakers hit the road to square off against league rival Agnes Irwin. The girls won 10 of the 12 events on the day, getting out to a fast start by placing first, second and third in the medley relay and never looked back in the 113-50 victory.
A few days later it was deja vu as PC knocked off visiting Lawrenceville 125.5-59.5 on Jan. 27 in a non-league contest. This time, the girls won 11 of 12 events and began with first and second-place finishes in the medley relay.
“To win 21 of 24 events in a two-meet span is an incredible accomplishment,” head coach Brian Hecker said.
The Quakers completed their league schedule on Jan. 31, securing an 82-26 win at Baldwin to improve their record to 5-1 overall and 4-1 against Inter-Ac competition. As they did the prior week, the girls jumped on Baldwin right away by placing first and second in the opening race. The ‘A’ relay team consisted of sophomores Eliza Black, Georgia Baran, and Eva McIver- Jenkins, and senior Aisling Brady, while the ‘B’ team featured junior Kala Zingle, sophomore Ali Sweeney, eighth grader Arden Keitel and sophomore Ava Gonnella. Elsewhere, junior Abby Steinbrook, freshman Ryan Zinser and eighth grader Eloisa Tovar dominated the 200 freestyle by placing first through third.
According to Hecker, the girls were so locked in that they also broke two Baldwin pool records. The girls 200 freestyle relay team of Molly Lo, Ava Coombs, Brady and Steinbrook beat a 10-year-old record that had been set by Episcopal, while the 400 freestyle relay crew of Steinbrook, Coombs, Lo and McIver-Jenkins also broke a standing record that Germantown Academy had set more than a decade ago.
With the regular season finished, the girls will now look to keep their hot streak going on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 4 when the swimmers compete in the Inter-Ac Invitational at Episcopal. The divers will also compete in the event, with their portion to be held at GA. Any swimmer or diver who wins an event will be automatically named an all-league selection.
Boys Swimming & Diving
While not having the same luck as the girls program in terms of wins, the boys competed hard in two meets last week, ultimately coming up short against Haverford on Jan. 24 (103-78) and Lawrenceville on Jan. 27 (123-60). The defeats dropped the team to 0-5 on the season, but according to Hecker, the Quakers have been a lot closer than it may look on the surface.
“Although the boys continued to struggle to put enough team points on the board to win the meet, they had some great individual swims,” he said.
Highlights included senior Alex Zoldan winning the 200 IM and 500 freestyle against the Fords before picking up wins in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle against Lawrenceville. Junior PJ Duffy dropped his time and improved his sprint speed with strong showings in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events. The diving trio of senior Elliot Langford, sophomore Aidan Trautwein and freshman Calvin Zulick competed with fearlessness as they continued honing their skills.
The boys will also compete in the Inter-Ac Invitational at Episcopal on Feb. 4, with their portion of the event to be held in the morning. The male divers will be at GA as well.
The Quakers won their lone match last week in dominant fashion, knocking off a thin but tough and motivated SCH Academy squad 71-3 on Jan. 27. It was the third win in four league matches for PC, with the only defeat coming at the hands of powerhouse Malvern Prep on Jan. 14.
Penn Charter (15-3, 3-1) went 4-1 against the Blue Devils, with eighth grader Carter Mangan opening the match with a pin. He was followed by freshman Simon Bethea, who hit a big move early, and then recovered from being reversed to his back to win by fall. Junior Jack Bowen wrestled smart and avoided a late throw to secure a tech fall with no time left on the clock, and senior Pat Rullo won by fall over an experienced opponent.
Eight additional PC wrestlers won via forfeit. The Quakers will be at Germantown Academy on Friday, Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. to wrap up their league schedule before returning to the Graham the next morning to host the Penn Charter Duals at 9 a.m.
“If we are victorious against GA, we will officially clinch a second-place finish in the league for the second year in a row,” head coach Peter Shaifer said. “GA is short on numbers but tough, so we will need to wrestle to our fullest ability.”
The girls squash squad started its week off strong by picking up a 10-1 victory over Conestoga on Jan. 24. Senior captains Lexi Bari, Sydney DelBello and Alex Glomb led by example while claiming impressive 3-0 victories from the third, fifth and sixth positions, respectively.
“We played consistently well throughout the ladder,” head coach Damon Leedale-Brown said.
The next day, the Quakers (4-4, 0-4) hit the road to face a powerhouse Baldwin squad and competed admirably in an eventual 7-2 loss.
“An exceptionally strong Baldwin team that will start as one of the favorites to win High School Nationals at the end of February,” Leedale-Brown said.
Sophomore Sam and Alex Jaffe were fantastic as usual from the top two positions on the PC ladder, with each maintaining their unbeaten records in convincing 3-0 victories.
The next SportsZone report will take a look back at PC’s lone match of this week, a 4 p.m. non-league battle with Shipley on Thursday, Feb. 2.
The Quakers picked up a pair of wins in the last week, the first being a 7-0 shutout over league rival Malvern Prep on Jan. 24. Six of the seven PC players who competed secured dominant 3-0 wins, with the lone exception being sophomore Wills Kaiser, who fell behind 2-0 before finding his rhythm and rallying for a 3-2 triumph.
On Jan. 26, the Quakers (5-3, 2-2) delivered on an opportunity to avenge last season’s narrow 5-4 loss to Shipley by picking up a 7-2 victory. Senior Ramsay Killinger secured a 3-1 win from the top spot in the ladder, as did senior Steven Bernstein at the fifth position. Also earning wins against Shipley were juniors Griffin Yeatman (second), Marko Vucetic (third) and Grant Roshkoff (sixth), as well as sophomores Jacob Kestenbaum (seventh) and Dean Kaiser (eighth).
“Quality play from all of our boys,” assistant coach Peter Lubowitz said.
The team’s previously-scheduled match at Haverford on Jan. 31 was moved to Feb. 9, so PC’s lone match this week will be against Harriton at The Cynwyd Club on Feb. 2 at 3:15 p.m.
Girls Track & Field
For the second consecutive Friday, the Quakers were at Lehigh for a DVGTCA meet, with head coach Candice Lee saying she opted to rest runners who have already qualified for the Meet of Champs on Feb. 18, as well as states the following weekend.
Junior Olivia Roland and freshman Michaela Poland each secured top-five finishes in their events, with Roland placing fourth in the high jump (4-11) and Poland coming in fifth place in the 400m dash (1:01.24).
“This was a meet to give people more practice at learning how to compete,” Lee said. “For the upcoming meets, we are still focusing on qualifying for states.”
There are still two meets between now and the Meet of Champs: The Ocean Breeze Invitational on Sunday, Feb. 5 in Staten Island, N.Y., followed by the PTFCA Indoor Track Carnival at Lehigh on Saturday, Feb. 11.
So far, the Quakers have qualified for Meet of Champs in the following events: 60 hurdles; the 200, 400, 800 and 1600m races; the 4x200 and 4x800 relays; and the shot put and high jump. PC has also qualified for states (Feb. 26, Penn State University) in the 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 4x400 relay, and nationals (March 10-12, Armory Track & Field Center in New York City) in the 400, 800, 1600 and 4x400.
Boys Track & Field
The Quakers returned to Glen Mills for the second consecutive Friday and came away with several impressive performances. Sophomores Nate Johnson (800m) and T.J. Zwall (3000m) each secured second-place finishes to qualify for the Meet of Champs on Feb. 18, as did the 4x200 relay team of freshman Jaden Black, sophomores Mason Knight and Jaxon Adams and junior Britton Armbrister.
Armbrister had a fourth-place finish in the hurdles, a Meet of Champs event he has already qualified for, and he will be joined by junior Zahir Kalam Id-Din in the 60m dash and sophomore Luis Rincon in the pole vault. The Quakers have also qualified in both the distance medley relay and the 4x800.
“We got hot at Glen Mills,” head coach Steve Bonnie said. “I’m not sure the last time we had three relay teams qualify, which is pretty amazing. We’re getting better, but we’re not there yet.”
The Quakers have two meets left before Meet of Champs: The Ocean Breeze Invitational in Staten Island on Feb. 4, followed by a last chance meet at Lehigh on Feb. 10. There will be no qualifying for Meet of Champs at Ocean Breeze since the event features athletes from outside of Pennsylvania, but Bonnie said that PC could still qualify athletes for states and nationals. Feb. 10 will be the final opportunity to qualify for Meet of Champs, and Bonnie said he is hopeful that seniors Wes Trautwein and Jack Frank — already in as relay team members — will be able to qualify in individual events. Bonnie also said that there is historical precedent for one or two surprises qualifying in the last chance meet, but even if not, the Quakers will have a strong contingent in Lehigh on Feb. 18.