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SportsZone for Feb. 9, 2024

As we get set for the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time for our usual weekly check-in on how our nine varsity winter teams are faring with spring just around the corner.

Note: This SportsZone report covers PC athletic events played between Feb. 1-6. Visit the Penn Charter Athletics webpage for the most up-to-date game schedules and scores.

GIRLS SQUASH

Girls squash picked up a pair of league victories over the past week and clinched a second-place Inter-Ac finish in the process.

On Feb. 6, the Quakers edged Baldwin School 5-4 in what was the final home match for PC seniors Frances Guenther and Savannah Abernethy. The Bears came away with wins in the middle of the lineup from spots three through six, but even so, head coach Damon Leedale-Brown highlighted the strong efforts of freshmen Paige and Libby Taub.

Penn Charter secured wins from spots seven through nine from the sophomore tandem of Audrey Abernethy, Hope Goldman and Ana Buckley. Then, Sam and Alex Jaffe closed out the win with victories from the top two spots in the order. All five of PC’s individual wins were 3-0 sweeps, and the team victory pushed the Quaker win streak to three in a row.

The prior week, the Quakers earned an impressive 7-2 victory over SCH Academy on Feb. 1. Abernethy and Guenther were the only losses, but Leedale-Brown again praised his players for competing hard in defeat in what turned out to be tight four- and five-game affairs, respectively. All seven of PC’s individual wins came via 3-0 sweeps.

“A great all-around team performance to secure second place in the Inter-Ac,” Leedale-Brown said. 

The Quakers (7-2, 3-1) final two regular season matches — Feb. 8 versus Lawrenceville and Germantown Friends School on Feb. 14 — will be recapped in the next edition of SportsZone. 


BOYS SQUASH

Penn Charter dropped a pair of 6-3 matches over the last week. Most recently, the Quakers fell to Haverford School on Feb. 6, with the team getting solid wins at the top two spots in the order from senior captains Grant Roshkoff (3-0) and Marko Vucetic (3-1). The match also featured a come-from-behind 3-2 victory (7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7) from junior Dean Kaiser. 

“An amazing, hard-fought victory by Dean,” assistant coach Peter Lubowitz said “Most of the other matches were competitive, but the Haverford boys showed a little more experience and consistency at the end of games.”

On Feb. 1, PC fell to SCH Academy but in the process got wins from the top three spots in the lineup — Roshkoff, Vucetic and Griffin Yeatman. Tight losses from the seventh and ninth positions came close to flipping the match in PC’s favor, but the Blue Devils were ultimately able to prevail.

“Overall solid play from the boys as they continue to work on and develop the skills they’ve been training on, even if they were a bit short of the mark,” Lubowitz said.

The Quakers (3-7, 1-3) also are looking forward to their final two matches of the regular season: the Feb. 8 match against Harriton, as well as a Feb. 14 bout at GFS, both of which will be revisited in the next edition of SportsZone. 
 

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING

The Quakers swam to a second-place finish with 264 points at last weekend’s Inter-Ac Championship meet at Episcopal Academy on Feb. 3. Germantown Academy was the only league opponent to score more points than the Quakers.

The medley relay team of Eliza Black, Lili DeMartinis, Eva McIver-Jenkins and Abby Steinbrook got the event started by posting the second-best time in school history. The fast swims continued with Nola Waldbuesser putting up a personal-best time in the 200 freestyle by placing fourth, and Kala Zingle finishing 10th in the same event.

Other points grabs on the day included Lili DeMartinis (third), Ava Coombs (fifth), Cate DeMartinis (seventh) and Eloisa Tovar (11th) in the 200 IM; Steinbrook (third), Black (fourth), Zoe Page (eighth) and Georgia Baran (11th) in the 50 freestyle; Tovar (fourth), Coombs (fifth), Harbor Campbell (seventh) and Ryan Zinser (10th) in the 100 butterfly; Steinbrook (fifth) in the 100 freestyle; Waldbuesser (fifth) in the 500 freestyle, setting a personal record in the process; McIver-Jenkins (fourth) and Zingle (eighth) in the 100 backstroke; and Lili DeMartinis (second), Cate DeMartinis (third), Page (seventh) and Campbell (10th) in the 100 breaststroke.

The 200 freestyle and 400 medley relay teams both secured second-place finishes, with McIver-Jenkins breaking the 50 freestyle team record while leading off the 200 free. McIver-Jenkins also posted a pool record at EA in the 100 butterfly. 

“Overall, we were really happy with the girls’ performances,” head coach Brian Hecker said. “Our girls are confident and focused, and as we head into Easterns [on Feb. 16-17], we will do everything we can to try and outswim GA’s swimmers. Our goal is to be as strong as GA; we still have work to do, but we are on a good path.”

Easterns will be the final event of the swim season and will take place at Franklin & Marshall College. The Quakers placed third in last year’s competition and have similar lofty goals in 2024.

“Our goal over the next two weeks is to stay focused and healthy. On top of the physical, a lot of the work and preparation is mental.”


BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING

Penn Charter swam to a fifth-place finish in the Inter-Ac Championship meet on Feb. 3, compiling 109 points.

The team got some solid swims across multiple events, with PJ Duffy placing fifth and fourth in the 50 and 100 freestyle races, respectively. Joe Repetto swam well in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, placing sixth in the latter while not far off from his personal-best time. Ben Berger also continued his strong improvement over the course of the season, putting up a personal-best in the 500 freestyle.

Like the girls program, the boys will use the next two weeks to prepare for Easterns on Feb. 16-17, an event they swam to a 13th-place finish in 2023. The team did not do any resting heading into the league meet, so Hecker said the team will train for Easterns while also ensuring to get the proper amount of rest as the final event of the season approaches.

“Overall, I would say we are in a good spot to set up our training for the next two weeks,” Hecker said. “We saw some times that we wanted to see on Saturday [at the Inter-Ac meet], so we can be excited about where they might be in two weeks.”

The goal for the Quakers throughout this season has been to push each other every day while working to improve their individual performances.

“We may not score a ton of points at Easterns, but I am hopeful that after each race our boys can look up at the scoreboard and be thrilled about their times and realize that the hard work they put in all year has paid off,” Hecker said.


GIRLS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD

The girls indoor track & field program was also busy last weekend, participating in the Delaware Valley Girls Track Coaches Association Last Chance Meet at Lehigh on Feb. 2, followed by their own excursion to Staten Island for Ocean Breeze a day after than the boys team on Feb. 4. 

At Lehigh, the 4x200 relay squad of Lucy Sokoloff, Haley Lewinski, Aliyah Leonard and Michaela Poland nabbed the highest PC finish, placing fifth in 1:51.81. Other top 10 finishers included Sokoloff in the long jump (eighth, 15 feet-6 inches) and Poland in the high jump (tenth, 4 feet-11 inches).

“The 4x200 team did what they were supposed to do and qualified for the Meet of Champs, which was the main goal,” head coach Candice Lee said. “Michaela was able to get more practice in the high jump. Lucy was able to notice her form for the long jump.”

The Quakers made their presence known in Staten Island, with Poland setting a new school record in the 200-meter dash (seventh, 25.33), while the 4x200 quartet of Sokoloff, Lewinski, Nora Maione and Poland also set a school record (second, 1:48.95) while qualifying for the Feb. 25 state championship meet at Penn State in the process. Alli DeLisi set two school records in the 400 (first, 57.21) and 800 (second, 2:09.38).

Other notable finishers at Ocean Breeze included the 4x800 relay team of Zady Hasse, Alex Jaffe, Sam Jaffe and DeLisi (seventh, 9:59.36); Maione in the long jump (third, 15 feet-9.25 inches) and 200 (sixth, 29.01); Alice Summers in the 200 (second, 28.53); Louella Whitaker in pole vault (sixth, 8 feet); and Zsuzsi Pollock in the shot put (second, 27 feet-9.75 inches).

“I always train to peak at the end of the season for these big meets,” Lee said. “I am now working on their quickness since we have established a good foundation.”

This coming weekend, PC will use the Track Carnival at Lehigh on Feb. 10 as a tuneup to Meet of Champs on Feb. 16. Additionally, DeLisi was invited to the Millrose Games in New York City on Feb. 11. 

In addition to the 4x200 relay team, other Quakers who have already qualified for the Meet of Champs include Poland in the 200, 400 and high jump and DeLisi in the 800. Poland has also qualified for states in the 200 and 400, while DeLisi has qualified in the 400, 800 and 1600. 


BOYS INDOOR TRACK & FIELD

The Quakers had a successful weekend, with the team sending one contingent to Lehigh University and another to Staten Island on Feb. 3.

At Lehigh for Track & Field Coaches Association of Greater Philadelphia (TFCAofGP) Meet No. 7, the 4x200 relay team of Eddie Kennedy, Matt Furda, Zahir Kalam Id-Din and Gavin Michener finished first with a time of 1:35.14, qualifying for the Meet of Champs on Feb. 17 in the process. Oliver Jackson raced to a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash (24.35 seconds), while Britton Armbrister secured an eighth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles (9.11 seconds).

In addition to Jackson and Armbrister, the Lehigh meet also featured season-best performances by a number of Quakers: Joey DiBenedetto in the 60-meter dash (8.03 seconds), Ethan Gerstein in the 200-meter dash (25.03), Thomas Le in the 400-meter dash (59.42) and Chima Auguste in both the long jump (16 feet, 5.5 inches) and triple jump (36 feet, 6.5 inches). 

“It was Chima’s first meet, and he just missed the triple jump finals,” head coach Steve Bonnie said. “The Lehigh guys were running hot and had a really good day there.”

In Staten Island at the Ocean Breeze Invitational, Matthew Dunn finished fourth in the one-mile run (4:42.92) and Luis Rincon, who has already qualified for the Meet of Champs in the pole vault, was eighth in that event with a height of 13 feet. 

“It’s the nicest indoor facility I’ve ever seen,” Bonnie said of the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Facility. “There’s an incredible amount of seating and the stands face the beach — absolutely beautiful. We didn’t have a great day up there, but that happens sometimes in track.”

In addition to Rincon and the 4x200 relay team, Armbrister has also qualified for the Meet of Champs in the 60 hurdles, while T.J. Zwall and Nate Johnson hit their marks in their distance events. Kalam Id-Din is close in the 60-meter dash, while Bonnie said Michener in the 200 and Kennedy in the 400 remain possibilities. The Quakers will be in action Feb. 9 for the TFCAofGP Last Chance Meet at Lehigh University, which represents the final opportunity for student-athletes to qualify for Meet of Champs.


WRESTLING

As has been the case for much of the 2023-24 season, Penn Charter did lots of winning over the weekend.

On Feb. 3, the Quakers hosted the Penn Charter Alumni Duals, with six other area programs coming to compete — Father Judge, Germantown Friends, Academy at Palumbo, Pope John Paul II, New Egypt (NJ) and Indian River (DE).

In the semifinals, the Quakers won every single weight class against Palumbo, prevailing by a dominant score of 76-0. Mac Weinstein, Carter Mangan, Munir German, Lucas Weinstein, Simon Bethea, Greyson Catlow-Sidler, Jack Bowen, Augie Turner, Tristan Padget and CJ English all pinned their opponents, while Ryder Horan (forfeit), Matteo Pritchett (tech fall) and Hugh Maley (tech fall) also secured victories.

In the finals, PC earned another convincing victory by beating Indian River 62-12. Horan, Mangan, German, Lucas Weinstein, Maley, Padget and English all pinned their opponents. Pritchett, Mac Weinstein, Catlow-Sidler and Bowen also finished a strong day with triumphs in their respective bouts.

“We continued to compete well,” head coach Peter Shaifer said. “Despite Palumbo’s improvement that featured some competitive matches, we not only shut them out, but almost pinned at every weight. And Indian River is currently ranked fifth in the state. It is hard to pick stars of the day as we were tough up and down the lineup.”

The previous day, PC picked up a huge 48-24 rivalry win over Germantown Academy. The Quakers lost four of the first six matches to fall behind 21-9, but secured wins in  seven of the final eight bouts. Lucas Weinstein pinned his opponent, while German and Maley won via decision. The rest of the PC triumphs came by forfeit.

“The team put itself in great shape to finish second in the league again,” Shaifer said. “We again performed well [against GA], even in the losses. GA was frustrated in the matches they lost, as well as in the competitiveness of the matches they won.”The Quakers’ (18-2, 3-1) final league matchup of the season against SCH Academy on Feb. 8 and Lawrenceville on  Feb. 9 will be recapped in next week’s edition of SportsZone. 



BOYS BASKETBALL

While this season has certainly featured its fair share of ups and downs, a simple fact remains: with two games remaining, Penn Charter has a chance to capture a share of an Inter-Ac championship following an outright title in 2023 and a shared title in 2022. 

Following a 5-6 December and a 2-3 start to league play, the Quakers have won nine of their last 13 games overall and three straight league games to set up a dramatic conclusion to the season. PC, SCH Academy and Episcopal Academy all have identical 5-3 Inter-Ac records.

On Feb. 6, the Quakers traveled to Malvern Prep and avenged an earlier-season loss by leading wire-to-wire in a convincing 70-48 win. Kai Shinholster led a balanced scoring attack with 17 points, while Jamal Hicks (12 points), Matt Gilhool (10 points) and Jake West (10 points) also reached double digits. Everybody who played contributed to the victory, from eighth grader Carter Smith drilling two first-half 3-pointers to TJ Bryson playing lockdown defense all night as he continued to progress into a larger role in the rotation.

“We played together as a team, and our pregame talk was a ‘we over me’ theme,” head coach Brandon Williams said. “It’s not ‘How can I get a bucket? It’s how can we get a bucket?’ They cared for the group over themselves, which is paramount. Defensively, we have turned a corner tremendously. We didn’t give them anything.”

On Feb. 1 at Chestnut Hill College the Quakers picked up an exhilarating 61-58 over SCH Academy. Gilhool scored his 1,000th career point on a game-opening 3-pointer en route to a team-high 19 points. Shinholster provided 16 points, while Hicks chipped in 13. 

“It was an emotional night,” Williams said. “Matt executed a wide-open three to relieve any pressure on him right away, and once he got that off his back we were ready to roll. They had a five-point halftime lead, so we locked in on every single possession in the second half.”

While the Quakers (14-10, 5-3) secured wins over GA and EA earlier this season, nothing in this league comes easy to any team, so PC knows it will have to execute to prevail in the final two games. 

“At the end of the day, I always knew our collection of players would put us in a position to win this league,” Williams said. “The turnaround has been about our character and having faith in each other.”

Friday night’s game against GA will tip off at 7 p.m.


GIRLS BASKETBALL

The Quakers took care of business in a dominant 66-31 win at Baldwin School on Feb. 6 to move into prime position to capture a third consecutive outright league championship when the team takes on GA at home Feb. 9. 

Against Baldwin, Kaylinn Bethea led three PC scorers in double figures with 16 points while also adding five rebounds, five assists and six steals. Ryan Carter (12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Ashlie Johnson (11 points, five rebounds) also had strong games, while Mia DiBenedetto, Molly Dougherty, Natalia Modzelewski, Laila Sharp, Logan Lloyd, Katie Shoup and Chloe Fry all scored in the contest.

It was the 11th consecutive win for the Quakers, who have not lost a game since their league opener at Notre Dame on Jan. 5. Next up is the Feb. 9 home game against GA (5:30 pm), as well as a home game versus Agnes Irwin on Tuesday, Feb. 13 (4 p.m.). Both are vital, but the game against the Patriots should be especially thrilling due to the fact that PC and GA will enter with identical 9-1 league records. Penn Charter edged GA 61-58 on Jan. 18, PC’s closest league contest of the season.

“The game against Baldwin went well, and we’re treating every chance we step on the court as an opportunity to keep improving,” head coach Joe Maguire said. “With a week between games, we wanted to continue to have competitive practices and work on the things we need to get better at. They know they can’t turn it off for a couple days and then flip a switch to turn it back on.”

Maguire also said he used the week to allow the players to have some fun, which included an intrasquad kickball game to keep things light as the Quakers (15-8, 9-1) prepare to hopefully put the finishing touches on an unprecedented third straight championship. If they are able to beat GA on Friday and Agnes Irwin next week, the Inter-Ac record over the last three seasons would stand at an eye-popping 34-2. 

For a team that started 1-6 this season, being on the precipice of another league title is a credit to the coaching staff and players alike. Several of the players on the roster have won at least one championship, with Bethea being a key cog to both title-winning squads, so there’s no doubt that the girls are locked in knowing fully well what is at stake. 

“Even when we were down, I told them after the Notre Dame loss that we still have everything in front of us,” Maguire said. “They set themselves up to play this game on Friday night. The girls gave us that opportunity. They did the work to put themselves in this situation, and I’m excited for them to have this opportunity to control their destiny and the outcome of this season.”

Of course, Maguire knows that the Patriots, who are having a resurgent season of their own, won’t go quietly.“We’re focused on the little things and the things we can control,” he said. “Boxing out, rebounding, taking care of the ball and having good offensive possessions. There isn’t some great secret play to run to win this game. It was a one-possession game last time we played them, so those little things add up. If we do them right, we feel like we can end up on the right side again.”


Written by: Ed Morrone OPC '04