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SportsZone for March 22, 2024

Like Spring Break, spring sports have officially arrived at Penn Charter. Eight varsity sports have embarked on fresh seasons, and all but two have already begun competing in games, matches and races. Let’s take a closer look.
Baseball, softball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, boys track & field and girls track & field had their team photoshoots prior to spring break. View each album linked above. The photoshoot for crew is scheduled after Spring Break.

BASEBALL

Varsity baseball players having a catch

Following an 18-win season that ended with a semifinals appearance in the PAISAA Tournament, the Quakers have gotten off to a 2-1 start with non-league wins over Germantown Friends School (19-5) and Lower Merion (2-0), and a 5-2 loss to Central Bucks East.

The team returns two of its top starting pitchers in seniors Will Vieira (a returning First Team All-League selection) and Christian Clauss. Other exciting hurlers are junior Ryan Conrad, who came on strong late in 2023, and junior Tazio Perkins, who missed last season but is back in the fold to also play shortstop. In the win over LM on March 20, Vieira tossed five shutout innings with five strikeouts, while Conrad pitched the final two frames to record the save.

“Pitching will be our strength and will carry us through the season,” head coach Justin Hanley said. “Will and Christian give us a lot of comfort atop the rotation. Strong pitching is what wins in our league.”

On offense, Hanley returns some of his best bats, too. Junior first baseman Garrett Mathias supplies power and can drive the ball to all fields, while junior catcher and captain Kyle McKernan is back for his third year as a starter . Hanley called McKernan the team’s “security blanket” for calling  a masterful game and controlling the pitching staff with maturity. 

Hanley said the team is also filled with exciting prospects. Senior designated hitter Joey DiBenedetto crushes fastballs, while senior third baseman Mason Avrigian brings strong athleticism.. Much like Conrad on the mound, junior left-fielder Rowan Griffith came on strong late last season and will bat in the middle of the order. Sophomore right-fielder Ryan Musial has been batting leadoff, while freshman Noah Hall won the starting second baseman job.

The Inter-Ac, as always, will be a strong league.. The Quakers were in the middle of the pack at 5-5 last year but were competitive in just about every contest. 

“It’s one of the best leagues in Pennsylvania, but nothing is out of reach,” Hanley said. “Malvern is probably deepest from a talent standpoint, but the league champion changes from year to year. Every game is a pressure cooker that means something.”


SOFTBALL

Varsity softball catcher in stance

Head coach Charles Warren returns for his second season at the helm with a mostly intact roster; last year’s team finished the season 10-8 overall and 4-6 in league play. The Quakers are off to a 1-2 start, with a 9-5 win over St. Hubert, a 3-7 loss to SCH Academy, and a 8-11 loss to Conwell-Egan. 

“Year two feels good, definitely very excited and eager to get it going again,” Warren said. “Having most of the roster back plus some new additions will set us up for success..”

In the pitching circle, PC will again be led by juniors Lauren Gedraitis and Ryan Hatty. Each racked up 11 strikeouts through the team’s first two games. Hatty went 7-for-8 with a home run and five runs scored through two games, and Gedraitis was 5-for-9; both have split time at first base when not pitching.

“They’re a good contrast to each other,” Warren said. “Lauren is more of a power pitcher with higher velocity, while Ryan is a location surgeon that focuses on hitting her spots and generating ground balls with a good defense behind her.”

Senior Macie Bergmann has been the starting catcher early on and has the team’s other home run on offense. Sophomore Maddy Wray is at third base and can also play catcher, while sophomore Maddie Bergmann is at shortstop and ninth grader Ellie McKernan is holding down second base. The outfield features senior Francesca Luzi, junior Arielle Willis, sophomores Avery Goodheart, Jordan Simon and Nora Prasad, and ninth graders Hudson Torrisi, Reagan Bailey and Elaina Nicolucci. Macie Bergmann and Hatty were First Team All-League last season, while Gedraitis cracked the Second Team. 

“Our outfield is no longer as thin as it was last year, and we’re still seeking the perfect alignment,” Warren said. “The team as a whole is a year older and more mature, and Macie’s senior leadership keeps us intact. Now is the time for us to fight for an Inter-Ac and a PAISAA championship.”


BOYS LACROSSE

2024 boys varsity lacrosse seniors

Welcoming new head coach Conor Resch, the boys lacrosse program is ready to take on a competitive Inter-Ac league.  “I’m extremely excited,” said Resch, who was named the team’s new head coach in August. “I  went to kindergarten at PC, so I was a Quaker myself way back in the day. I feel very strongly for the culture of the school as a whole and I was very lucky to be selected. I hope to continue to push the program in the right direction.”

Resch steps in following a 8-13 overall season for the Quakers last year, with a 2-8 mark in league play. Senior Gavin Michener (the team’s lone returning All-League selection) is back as captain and leader of the team’s attack for the second straight year. Fellow seniors James Joel (face-off specialist) and Curran Rahn (defensive leader) give Resch experience at multiple levels, while seniors Zack Curtin and Lucas Weinstein, junior Casey Felter, and sophomore Dom Comatile all bring versatile skills that will help the team compete in a very strong Inter-Ac. Senior Harrison Quinn and freshman Charlie Kraus, a transfer from Saint Joseph’s Prep, have split time in the cage for the first two games of the season.

“Our senior class is super exciting, and I’m very lucky to have that group,” Resch said. “We took a couple of lumps in our first two games, but it’s moving in a positive direction. Based on our practices, the kids are learning from their mistakes.Early season woes are going to happen, but the team has shown an ability to improve.”

The Quakers fell to Academy of the New Church and Virginia-based St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes to begin the year. Though the Inter-Ac is a buzzsaw every year, Resch hopes to improve upon last year’s fifth-place finish. 

“We have the top-end talent to make us competitive,” Resch said. 


GIRLS LACROSSE

three varsity lacrosse players standing together smiling

The Quakers finished tied for third in the Inter-Ac in 2023 and enter this season with confidence after making it all the way to the PAISAA championship game, where they lost an overtime thriller to Agnes Irwin. 

Head coach Colleen Kelly brings back a strong core of senior leaders highlighted by Aditi Foster (First Team All-League) and Grace Walter on offense, and Nora Maione (Second Team All-League) and Ella Lewandowski on defense. Kelly referred to the Northwestern-bound Foster as “one of the best players in the country” – an elite goal scorer that can find the back of the net even when double- or triple-teamed. 

“Aditi is a dynamic attacker who has a target on her back since everybody knows who she is,” Kelly said. “Grace plays behind the net as a facilitator and is a sneaky finisher around the crease.. Ella and Nora are anchors of our defense and amazing positive role models. They pick the team up constantly and are our backbone.”

Other early standouts include eighth grader Makenna Myers, who Kelly said is playing fearlessly and already exceeding expectations. In goal, the Quakers lost multi-year starter Kayla Joyce to graduation, so senior Toni Plunkett and sophomore Maeve Magarity have split time early on.

“Both have done a phenomenal job,” Kelly said. “They have different styles, with Maeve more active and Toni staying in the cage more. Both are playing great and saving the ball, and they’re getting better while bringing out the best in each other in a healthy competition.”

PC dropped its first two games to Our Lady of Good Counsel (MD) and Lawrenceville, but Kelly saw a lot of positives in the way the team competed. The Quakers lost their first four games last season before righting the ship, and Kelly anticipates a similar path once the team has more time on the field together.

“We’re working on simple things like catching and throwing, taking care of the ball, winning 50-50 balls and trying to play for something bigger than ourselves,” Kelly said. “We have the capability to be a top team in the country if we step up and find an inner fire.”


BOYS TENNIS

Tennis players setting up for a serve

After a successful first season as head coach of the PC girls tennis team in the fall, Rob Isaacs will now get his inaugural run with the boys program. Junior and two-time All-League selection Nate Arnold, who was named Inter-Ac MVP as a sophomore, looks to again be the team’s top singles player. He may havelost his first match of the season to a talented opponent from Germantown Friends School, but rebounded for an impressive victory in his follow-up match against Friends’ Central. As a team, the Quakers lost both matches, but are confident with the top three singles players of Arnold, ninth grader Simon Zoldan, and senior Justin Gantz. Zoldan in particular has been an early revelation to start his PC career. 

“This past week, Simon had two big victories against two good players,” assistant coach Julio Toledo said. “His energy was great and he was very composed.”

The team is still figuring out its doubles configurations, but so far seniors Nick Kraemer and Griffin Yeatman have held down first doubles, followed by senior co-captain Jake Morgan and freshman Henry Senoff at number two.

“Nick and Griffin have shown good chemistry and are great kids and competitors,” Toledo said. “Jake is a great leader who is all about supporting his teammates, and Henry has performed above expectations. He wasn’t afraid to jump in the wagon with Jake.”

The Quakers had a down season in 2023, going 3-10 overall and 2-8 in league play. Toledo said that he and Isaacs have kept expectations simple and the boys are only working on things within their control.

“Something we talk about in every practice is having discipline, knowing what you’re supposed to do and executing it diligently,” Toledo said. “Everyone is equal, so we’re expecting equal things from each one of them from varsity down to JV.”
 

CREW

The Penn Charter crew team kicked off its 2024 season on March 17 with the 1st Flick of the Horvat Regatta. Except for March 31, the team will race in a Horvat Regatta Flick each Sunday between March 17 and April 21.

According to head coach Katherine York, the rowers faced challenging conditions on the Schuylkill River, typical for this time of year. PC raced four boats in the 1st Flick, and it was a positive start to the season given the difficulties the rowers faced while out on the water.

“In pre-race talks, I articulated two goals: put forth your best effort, and walk away having learned something,” York said. “Each crew was able to articulate something positive from their race that they were able to build on and something challenging to improve on. All boats spoke to moments when, instead of panicking, they worked together to get their swing back.”

York said the team is looking forward to having more athletes participate in the 2nd Flick in order to build more skills and confidence while  focusing on steering and the rules of the river.

1st Flick Results:

Girls JV 4x Flight 1: Zoe Page, Grace Magee, Brea Turner, Inaya Edwards — 3rd place, 6:19.36
Boys Varsity 2x Flight 2: Jack Davey, Mac Haines — 2nd place, 5:52.51
Girls Varsity 4x Flight 2: Claire Lewis, Ellie Choate, Lili DeMartinis, Grace Agosto — 3rd place, 6:13.42
Boys Varsity 4x Flight 1: Elias Moulton, James Foley, Ross Lee, Jack Bowen — 3rd place, 5:17.00

 

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

Four female track athletes flexing their muscles

Penn Charter enters the 2024 season with immense excitement after winning both Inter-Ac and PAISAA Championships for the second consecutive year in 2023.

Junior Alli DeLisi was First Team All-League in the 800, 1600 and 4x400, while sophomore Michaela Poland received First Team honors in the 400 and 4x400 events. Seniors Grace Neuwirth (4x800) and Zady Hasse (4x800) and juniors Sam Jaffe (4x400), Alex Jaffe (4x800) and Mariah Mays (shot put) are additional First Team returners. Seniors Haley Lewinski and Olivia Roland and junior Kaylinn Bethea are back as All-League Second Team selections for head coach Candice Lee.

Sophomores Lucy Sokoloff and Zsuzsi Pollock had solid indoor seasons and will look to continue their progression this spring.

Like the boys program, the girls team has only competed in scrimmages so far, with the first meet of the season being the North Penn Open on April 6.


BOYS TRACK & FIELD

Seniors boys track athletes in group photo

Longtime head boys track coach Steve Bonnie brings an exciting and talented group into the 2024 season after the Quakers finished third at the Inter-Ac Championship behind Episcopal Academy and SCH Academy a year ago. 

The Quakers return three First Team All-League performers this spring in junior distance specialists TJ Zwall and Nate Johnson, as well as senior sprinter Zahir Kalam Id-Din. Senior Eddie Kennedy, a talented runner and hurdler, missed most of last season due to injuries, but was healthy and in a good place at the end of the winter indoor track season. 

Other names Bonnie expressed excitement over included senior Britton Armbrister, juniors Mason Knight and Luis Rincon, sophomores Ben Berger and Jaden Black, and ninth grader Matthew Dunn. The Quakers have been working themselves back into Inter-Ac contention the past few seasons, and have improved incrementally in each season since the pandemic. The team has only competed in scrimmages so far.The first meet of the season that will count is the North Penn Open on April 6.

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