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SportsZone for Feb. 23, 2024

It’s hard to believe, but the winter athletics season at Penn Charter is all but over. A few postseason events remain, but before you know it, we’ll be heading back outside for spring sports. Until then, let’s spend a bit more time with our winter squads. 

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING

The Quakers swam to a fourth-place finish out of 30 competing teams at last weekend’s Eastern Prep Swimming & Diving Championship, which was held jointly at Franklin & Marshall College (swimming) and Germantown Academy (diving) on Feb. 16 and 17. Penn Charter scored 456 points as a team.

To begin the event on Feb. 16, PC took fourth place in the medley relay (Eliza Black, Lili DeMartinis, Eva McIver-Jenkins and Abby Steinbrook), putting up the second-fastest time in school history and narrowly missing a program record. In the 200 freestyle, both Ava Coombs (fifth place) and Nola Waldbuesser (eighth) earned critical points, as did Lili DeMartinis (12th) and Cate DeMartinis (20th) in the 200 individual medley. 

Black (seventh), Steinbrook (14th) and Page (17th) made it to the finals in the 50 freestyle, and in the 100 butterfly — the final individual event of night one — McIver Jenkins placed sixth andEloisa Tovar finished 10th. Meanwhile, over at GA, Jade Ostroff brought home a 14th-place finish in the diving competition. 

On day two, the girls had another strong showing. McIver-Jenkins (third place), Coombs (sixth) and Steinbrook (16th) started the day off right in the 100 freestyle, while Lili DeMartinis (10th), Waldbuesser (12th) and Ryan Zinser (18th) all finaled in the 500 freestyle. Black (13th) and Kala Zingle (22nd) did well in the 100 backstroke, and, in the final individual event of the meet, three more Quakers made it to the finals — Cate DeMartinis (12th), Harbor Campbell (19th) and Georgia Baran (24th) all brought home valuable points in the 100 breaststroke.

In the final relay event — the 400 freestyle — McIver-Jenkins, Lili DeMartinis, Steinbrook and Coombs raced to a sixth-place finish. 

“Eva lowered her 100 freestyle team record three times over the weekend, which was pretty incredible,” head coach Brian Hecker said. “I also want to shout out Abby and Kala, who were great leaders of the team all weekend. Katie Fitzpatrick and Colleen McLafferty were unable to compete, but showed great leadership and have given a lot to the program over the years.” 

“The girls should be proud of the year they had, as well as their fourth-place finish at Easterns. They performed up to the level the program has become accustomed to and are looking forward to continued growth and a run at the top spot in the league next year.”


BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING

The boys swimming & diving program also competed at Easterns last weekend, placing 19th out of 31 teams with 70 team points. Every swimmer dropped time in at least one of their races.

Individual point-scorers included PJ Duffy in the 50 freestyle (21st place), as well as Aidan Trautwein (sixth) and Calvin Zulick (19th) in the diving portion of the event. The team also scored points in the 200 freestyle relay (Avi Mondgock, Joe Repetto, James Walters and Duffy), placing 19th. Finally, PC swam to a 15th-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (Duffy, Mondgock, Repetto and Xander Bowen). 

“We knew due to the size of our team that it would be hard for the guys to score a lot of points, but their performances over the weekend did not disappoint,” Hecker said. 

Hecker was sure to thank his senior class of Duffy, Laurence Toncich-Mandel, Blaine Tartikoff and Elliot Dziedzic “for their years of service to the team and for being positive leaders.”

“The individuals who participated this year all showed great improvement and dedication,” Hecker said. “In order to grow the program, we will need to improve our numbers, but we are excited about the core group of swimmers.”


WRESTLING

For the second consecutive year, Penn Charter wrestled to a third-place finish at the PA Prep State Tournament, which was held Feb. 16 and17 at GA. The Quakers scored 137 team points, with only Wyoming Seminary and Malvern Prep finishing ahead of them.

Individual highlights from the weekend included a pair of fourth-place finishes from Hugh Maley (144 pounds) and Greyson Catlow-Sidler (157); fifth-place finishes from Matteo Pritchett (113), Leo Pritchett (165), Jack Bowen (175) and C.J. English (285); sixth-place finishes from Munir German (126), Lucas Weinstein (138) and Tristen Padget (215); and seventh-place finishes from Ryder Horan (106), Carter Mangan (120) and Simon Bethea (150). Henry Greenberg narrowly missed seventh-place at 132 pounds, losing his match by a tight 10-9 decision.

“The team ended up finishing third again,” head coach Peter Shaifer said. “It was close, so each win and pin mattered. Each team member, even those who did not wrestle, should be proud of their effort. The energy, training, support and encouragement are all important, and we needed it all.”

Penn Charter will complete its stellar 2023-24 season by wrestling in this weekend’s National Prep Tournament at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena. The event will be held f on Feb. 23 and 24, with both days of competition beginning at 9 a.m. 


BOYS BASKETBALL

The Quakers’ season came to an end on Feb. 20 after a two-game run in the PAISAA Tournament.

Following a thrilling conclusion to the regular season that saw Penn Charter win its first outright Inter-Ac title since 2004 in its final league tilt against Episcopal, the Quakers opened PAISAAs with a resounding 86-59 victory over visiting Friends Select on Feb. 16. Jake West led the way with 23 points, while Jamal Hicks added 16 and Kevin Cotton scored 13 first-half points to keep his squad in the game after Matt Gilhool exited with two early fouls.

It was an especially great day for Cotton, one of the program’s two seniors who produced one of his best offensive performances in the penultimate game of his career. 

“Kev embodies fully what a Penn Charter basketball player is,” head coach Brandon Williams said. “He comes in every day and works to get better and appreciates any opportunity that he gets. It’s no secret how excited we all were to watch him get it going. The guys on the bench were so happy for him, because he does everything asked of him with no attitude or pushback. For him to have a moment like that was definitely great.”

Unfortunately, Penn Charter’s season concluded with a 70-65 loss to Westtown School in the quarterfinals on Feb. 20. Gilhool produced 19 points in his final game of the season, while T.J. Bryson (13) and West (11) each wrapped up their respective years with double-digit efforts. 

“This is a group that rose to the occasion so many times with their backs against the wall, so to give up 15 offensive rebounds really stings,” Williams said. “We missed out on something that would have been the next step in celebrating what this year was, but now we know what it takes to climb that mountain, get back to where we were and get over the hump.”

Despite the PAISAA defeat, there is  much to be excited for going into the 2024-25 season. PC will have the opportunity to win a fourth consecutive league title for the first time in 60 years and will bring back almost every major contributor from this season, including Gilhool, who was named Inter-Ac MVP after averaging better than 17 points per game in the team’s 10 league contests, West, an All-League First Team selection, and Shinholster,) an All-League Second Team selection.. While Hicks may have missed out on All-League honors, his evolution into a major offensive threat in the season’s second half also helped tip the scales toward a PC league crown. Other talented players such as Bryson and Carter Smith will also return next year. 

“Getting those guys recognized speaks to the year they had,” Williams said. “After we get past the initial shock of this exit, it will be something to be celebrated.”


GIRLS BASKETBALL

Following an exciting conclusion to the regular season that saw Penn Charter share the Inter-Ac title with Notre Dame and GA — PC’s third consecutive league crown after winning it outright in 2022 and 2023 — the Quakers were matched up with a familiar foe in the PAISAA Tournament quarterfinals.

For the third time this season, Penn Charter and Notre Dame met, and in all three instances the games were decided by seven points or less. After splitting a pair of regular season contests, the Irish took the rubber match on Feb. 20 at PC, ending the Quakers’ season with a 45-40 victory. Penn Charter senior Ashlie Johnson had the best game of her career in her final time taking the court for PC, finishing with 10 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

“Ashlie played great and left it all out there,” head coach Joe Maguire said. “She played like a senior playing in her last game, diving for loose balls to get us extra possessions. She went up against bigger, taller opponents all year and battled them admirably. Ashlie controlled the paint for us and did an unbelievable job..”

Unfortunately, the Quakers shot just 19 percent from the field against Notre Dame, yet still were within one possession of possibly tying the score before the Irish pulled away. After making it to the PAISAA Championship  the previous three years, PC  finished the year with a final record of 16-10. Junior Kaylinn Bethea crossed the 1,000-point threshold for her career, and ninth-grader Ryan Carter made tremendous strides in her second varsity season. Elsewhere, several younger players established their own roles and contributed to another Inter-Ac championship-winning season.

“I hope they all can appreciate now how great it is to be part of a team,” Maguire said. “As they get older, they will appreciate these moments and look at all they did beyond just the final game.”


BOYS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD

The Quakers gritted through the Track & Field Coaches Association of Greater Philadelphia Meet of Champions on Feb. 17 at Lehigh University with three athletes securing top-10 finishes: T.J. Zwall placed fifth in the 3000-meter run with a time of 8:57.11; Luis Rincon was sixth in the pole vault with a distance of 13 feet, 3 inches; and Nate Johnson ran the mile in 4:29.96, good for a seventh-place result.

“We didn’t run as hot as I had hoped, with a number of guys not feeling 100 percent,” head coach Steve Bonnie said. “Some were able to run, but not all at full blast.”

Other competitors at the Meet of Champs included Matthew Dunn finishing 16th alongside Zwall in the 3,000 with a season-best 9:17.98, as well as the 4x200 relay team of Zahir Kalam Id-Din, Eddie Kennedy, Matt Furda and Gavin Michener, which ran to a 17th-place finish with a season-best time of 1:36.08. Kalam Id-Din (17th, 7.27) and Britton Armbrister (27th, 9.40) also competed in the preliminary rounds of the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles, respectively.

The Quakers will head to Penn State University on Feb. 25 for the Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) State Championship Meet at 10 a.m. Rincon will participate in the pole vault, an event he has had a lot of success in this season. Zwall will also compete, likely in the 3,000, although Bonnie couldn’t say for sure yet as the junior qualified in multiple events at states. 

“It would be wonderful for T.J. to place, and it would be great if Luis reaches his goal on pole vault that day,” Bonnie said. “If Luis hits 14 feet, he has a shot to place in the top eight. Both of them have a shot, I’d say.”


GIRLS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD

Junior Alli DeLisi stayed ready ahead of the upcoming PTFCA State Championship Meet this Sunday at Penn State University by competing in the Garden State Invitational in Staten Island, N.Y. on Feb. 16. DeLisi raced in the 1,600-meter run, finishing in second place with a season-best time of 4:53.69. This was on the heels of DeLisi finishing third in the 600-meter run (1.31.26) at the 116th Millrose Games on Feb. 11.

“Her third-place finish was a huge deal, as Millrose is one of the biggest events in indoor track,” head coach Candice Lee said. “The 300-person field consisted of top talent from across the country. This was a school record and ranks her as number three [nationally].”

The Garden State Invitational represented another solid practice round before heading into states on Feb. 25, where DeLisi will compete in the 800. Additionally, sophomore Michaela Poland will run in the 200, and the Quakers will also compete in the 4x400 relay. Lee was still figuring out her lineup for the relay race as of this writing. 

The Quakers will get underway at 10:30 a.m. in State College on Sunday.


SQUASH

Both Quaker squash programs were idle from competition last week as they continued preparation for the final event of the season: High School Nationals, which will be held Feb. 23-25 at six venues throughout Philadelphia. There are seven divisions for each gender, with 16 teams in each division; all teams will play four bracketed matches over three days, win or lose.

After finishing second in the Inter-Ac this season, the girls team cracked the top division in the tournament, earning the 14-seed. The Quakers will begin the tournament on Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. against Lawrenceville at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in University City. It’s an opponent PC is familiar with, as the Big Red defeated the Quakers 7-2 on Feb. 8, with the lone Penn Charter wins coming from Alex and Sam Jaffe from the top two positions in the lineup. The bracket also features several other opponents PC has faced already this season, including Conestoga, Germantown Friends School, Agnes Irwin, Baldwin School and Episcopal.

“We’re excited to be in Division I, which was thoroughly justified based on our performance this season,” head coach Damon Leedale-Brown said. “We definitely earned the right to be seeded amongst the top 16 teams in the country. We’re looking to compete well against anyone we’re matched up with and come out with as high a finish as we can. We want to go have a good experience and make good memories while playing hard.”

Additionally, Alex Jaffe was recently named the Inter-Ac’s Most Valuable Player, one year after her sister Sam won the award (Sam was also named to the First Team this season). The duo again had an exceptional season, going undefeated in individual play and not dropping a single game the entire year. Frances Guenther was also honored, earning a spot on the Second Team. 

“I put forth the case for Sam and Alex to be joint MVPs, but it does seem fitting to have Sam as MVP last year and Alex this year,” Leedale-Brown said. “It was nice for Alex to be given that acknowledgement, and it’s great from a program perspective to win MVP in back-to-back years. Alex has played some amazing squash this year.”

As for the boys program, they are seeded fourth in Division III and will open the tournament against 13th-seeded Moses Brown School from Providence, RI on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Penn Squash Center. 

“Our boys and coaches are pleased with our division placement and seeding,” assistant coach Peter Lubowitz said. “We definitely feel that a strong weekend of play could result in winning the division, which would be equal to being number 33 in the country. All of our matches should be competitive, and individual match wins could come from any of the seven boys on the ladder. Every match is important, and we’re really looking forward to the weekend.”

Penn Charter senior captains Grant Roshkoff and Marco Vucetic were each named Second Team All-League when the honors were announced earlier this week.
 

Note: This SportsZone report covers PC athletic events played between Feb. 16-20 and will serve as the penultimate winter edition of SportsZone. Visit the Penn Charter Athletics webpage for the most up-to-date game schedules and scores.


Written by: Ed Morrone OPC '04

Photos by: Zamani Feelings