This spring, Somerset County’s girl’s track is ready to jump into action. The state’s best competitors have a series of accolades under their belt.
Frontrunners this season are Hannah Taylor of Montgomery, who has been a favorite in the event since entering high school. She showed how capable she is this past winter when she finished third at the Meet of Champions. During her high school career, she has tackled an array of challenges, including taking the win for the Somerset County high jump title last spring and this past winter. With a two time jump of 5-8, Taylor claimed the Central Group IV and Group IV titles during the 2014 outdoor season. She tied the fifth best performance in the nation by jumping a 5-8.
Another stand out, Franklin’s Selena Thorne, has soared into the spotlight as well. Now a junior, Thorne has much experience under her belt. Her preparation will come in handy during the junior outdoor campaign with the Warriors this spring. “I feel like I know more things about the sport now,” Thorne said. “The experience definitely helps me and is an advantage going into the season.”
Thorne followed Taylor at the MoC in the high jump, completing the event in fourth place (5-4). Thorne was consistently in the top five during the winter season, which is something the junior feels will help her when heading outdoors. “It pushes me to a higher level,” Thorne said about her success indoors. “Outdoors is definitely is bigger for me so it makes me want to go harder during the spring. I’m definitely looking forward to the outdoor season.”
Ridge stand-out, sophomore Jessica Creedon, is the youngest of the group. Jessica exudes a level of maturity not often seen by her age group. While battling a sickness, she finished out the winter MoC with a fifth place finish, but she feels she could have done better if it were not for the setback. “I’m satisfied with where I’m at, but I’m definitely hungry to do better,” Creedon said. “I didn’t necessarily meet my exact goals this past season, I wanted to get a 5-6, but I ended up getting a stomach virus. I set high expectations for myself and I’m excited to see how I do during the spring season.” Creedon was challenged early on, competing against Taylor and Thorne as a freshman. “It was exciting,” Creedon said about her rookie campaign. “It was definitely interesting because of the new experiences. It was awesome to meet all of the new competitors and experiencing all of the new events.”
In addition to track, Creedon is also a member of the Ridge volleyball team. She feels that volleyball boosts her success for track season. “Volleyball helped me improve my vertical because we do strengthening for legs,” Creedon said. “It keeps me moving during the fall season. Volleyball is a fun sport to compete in.”
Taylor, Thorne, and Creedon know that the spotlight is on them each time they compete in an event, but the girls know how to handle themselves. A mutual respect is shared amongst the three. Their friendship allows them to separate fun from focus, and helps them work towards becoming the best in Somerset County, and possibly the state. “We are all good friends and we talk at the meets,” Taylor said. “Once the bar goes up we all know that it gets serious.”]]>
Tuesday was cause for celebration for Harrisburg’s District 2AA triumph. What is being touted as a great game ended in a strange way. After falling behind, a controversial call allowed Harrisburg to close out the game, inching slightly ahead of the Warriors 59-56. With 5.1 seconds left and a lead of 56-55, Washington’s Syd Arrington was fouled and the whistle blew. Sam Slaughter from Harrisburg pressed on to fight for the ball. “It should have been called immediately,” said Washington coach Jamie Parish, referring to continued action after the initial foul. “In that situation, the officials know that they are going to foul us. It should have been a quick whistle — the play should have been over.”
The two players came to tousle when Arrington, with two hands on the ball, whipped her arms upward causing Slaughter to crash onto the floor. Arrington said she tried to “chin” the ball up toward her chest in an attempt to avoid a jump ball that would have given Harrisburg a possession. Officials deliberated and garnished Arrington a technical — her fifth foul — ruling that the junior post threw and elbow.
Adding to the eccentricities of the game, Harrisburg got a pair of free throws and posession of the ball, but not before Washington had its chance. Washington called upon Anna Goodhope, a move Parish said the officials “OK’d.” But a moment later, the refs explained that Arrington’s substitute, Madison Aasen, would have to attempt the free throws. Aasen missed both attempts, and then Danni Honner — who led all scorers with 25 points — knocked in both Tiger attempts to make it 57-56.
During halftime, Harrisburg pulled ahead 31-26. Autumn Steffen sunk a 3-pointer with two seconds to spare. Goodhope proved to be a strength for the Warriors, scoring 10 in the first half, while Donner shined for Harrisburg. “You’ve got to credit (coach) Mayer and the Harrisburg kids — they played their butts off. They showed up to compete,” Parish said.
Washington’s season is on the line Thursday as the Warriors host Yankton in the region qualifier. Harrisburg will visit No. 2 Lincoln.]]>
Central Catholic girl basketball sported a familiar phrase of hope on the backs of their shooting shirts — “Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep battling.” Just three days after the death of their beloved assistant basketball coach, Jeff Dienhart, passed away, the team needed his words of encouragement more than ever.
And keep on fighting they did; with just over 50 seconds left, Central Catholic outscored defending state champion Oregon-Davis, bringing them to a 47-44 Class A north semistate victory. “This was the most important game to Jeff of this season. He stressed that all year. We knew we had to win for him,” said senior Emily Burks, who scored nine points in the final 1:44. All of the girls were feeling the pressure to do their absolute best to make Coach Jeff proud. “Losing Coach Jeff is weighing on all of us right now,” Central Catholic senior Sammy Bonner said. “We know we have to do it for him right now. We were hoping he would be able to be there. Even though it’s painful, we know we have to do this for him.”
An inherited condition, Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. After last season’s loss to the Bobcats, Dienhart left the hospital and arrived at Crown Point in time to see the final game of the season. He had to be there to see his team, which he believe in very much, win the Class A state title. As the season pressed on, Dienhart’s condition worsened.
Sadly, the players were informed last Wednesday of the passing of their beloved coach. “The whole game we were stressing that we were playing for Jeff,” junior point guard Cameron Onken said. “We had been talking about having heart, having dedication and just fighting like he fought, even in his last days. I definitely think that is what pushed us to have that motivation at the end.” Onken make two free throws, cutting the gap to four. Burks felt the comeback and sunk a 3-pointer from the right wing. Burks followed up with a foul with 21.9 seconds left, giving them a 45-44 lead. “We told them during a timeout that you’ve got to keep on fighting,” CC coach Craig DeVault said. “These girls kept on battling throughout the game until the final buzzer.”
“We gave as much heart as we had,” Burks said. “We showed our heart, put it together and earned the points that we got. I am very proud of our team for that.”
“Jeff loved this team with all his heart and saying he will be missed is an understatement.”]]>
The second Mr. and Miss Pennsylvania Basketball Awards are underway! The award puts the spotlight on the best male and female high school basketball players, and gives them the recognition they deserve. All high school basketball players in the state of Pennsylvania are eligible for nomination, which started yesterday.
The panel of judges choosing from the pool of nominees is a mix of basketball fans, sportswriters and sportscasters, and coaches. The fans will nominate and vote before their decisions are handed over to the judges and narrowed down. Fans, media, and coaches will represent 1/3 of the judging panel.
All voting will take place online on pabball.com. The deadline for nominations will be March 5th, 2015. In order for a player to be considered for Mr. and Miss PA Basketball, they need to receive at least fifty fan nominations.
Awards programs like this have been a tradition for twenty-six states with prestigious basketball programs, such as Texas, Indiana, Ohio, California, Kentucky, Kansas, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and North Carolina. According to basketball enthusiasts, Pennsylvania is long overdue for this program. As the talent continues to turn out in the Keystone State, more and more athletes are ready to receive recognition.
COME ON, PENNSYLVANIA… NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE PLAYERS NOW!!!
Miss PA Basketball
Nominate your favorite deserving female player here:
Mr. PA Basketball
Nominate your favorite deserving male player here:
Here is the schedule from pennlive.com
*The following will be the selection process time line:*
Nomination Deadline: March 5, 2015
Tremendous Twenty Selected: March 15, 2015
Top Ten Selected: March 25, 2015
Finalists Selected: April 1, 2015
*The nominations deadline and selection process time line for each voting round are subject to change]]>
Whitehall senior, Brett Radocha has been the superstar of the High School’s boys basketball team so far this season. The center racked up a game-high 21 points on Saturday afternoon’s game against Bangor, launching them into a 50-41 victory in the District 11 Class AAAA quarterfinal at Pleasant Valley High School. The win advances the Zephyrs into the semifinals today, against Nazareth.
Radocha showed his skill with a 3-pointer, and made 4 of 6 from the foul line. He also had six rebounds.“We always feel like Brett can score,” Whitehall coach Jeff Jones said. “Part of our emphasis is to get him the ball inside. Teammate and fellow senior, Jacob Meyers, assisted with 14 points for Whitehall, which brought them to a 14-7 lead.
“Bron does a great job. I really respect those kids. They played as hard as they could,” said Jones of Bangor’s coach, Bron Holland and team. In the third quarter, senior forward Shavaughn Morris hit a basket which led the Slaters 25-20 with 18 seconds to go. The lead didnt’ last long, however, because the Zephyrs bounced back 28-26 with five minutes left in the third. “In the second half we did a better job chasing their shooters,” Radocha said. “I give credit to our guards for contesting their shots.”]]>
Kiera Supple has been in the spotlight for some fantastic firsts for her school’s swimming team. Supple, a junior at Salem Academy in Oregon, was one of the first swimmers from the school to win a district championship and qualify for the OSAA Class 4A/3A/2A/1A State Championships in 2013. On Saturday she gave the school its first state championship in swimming, taking the win in the 100 backstroke in 59.29 at the state meet at Mt. Hood Community College
“It feels really amazing,” Supple said. “It feels really surreal, like you’ve been dreaming about it, but it actually hasn’t happened. It’s great. We’ve had so much support come out and help us, it’s really amazing.” Supple’s win set the tone for the team and their capability of competing at the state level. In fifth place, Salem Academy reached its best state finish in four years and third consecutive top 10 placing. “I think that’s our goal as a program is to get as many state champions in the future as possible,” said Salem Academy coach Maria Robertson. “It’s really awesome Kiera’s our first, and she will always be that. And I think she’ll be something that these other girls and guys can look up to, a person they can look up to in the future. We like to dream big, and Kiera helps with that a lot.”
Joining this team effort was Grace Warde, Emma Boles, and Joelle Debban, placing second in the 200 medley relay in 1:54.50.
Kiera displayed her knowledge of the sport at the start of the backstroke with her ability to pace herself and finish strong. She appeared to start slow and was the third swimmer to touch the wall after the first 25 yards. Coach Robertson comments, “I was watching that, too, and I was like, ooh, she’s not as much in the lead as she normally is, and then at the wall when she flipped I saw her split, and I said, no, she’s doing what she needs to do. I was confident that Kiera’s endurance was going to take her home.” Supple knew she needed to pick it up, quickly blowing past Sweet Home sophomore, Jessica Coats, by almost a full second to take the win. “I could see the two girls next to me really close to me and it really pushed me to go faster,” Supple says.
On Wednesday evening, Central Bucks West senior, Mackenzie Carroll rightfully took her place in the school’s history. In the final moments of the Bucks District One Class AAAA, she made a foul shot that allowed her to reach her 1,000th career point. She joins senior Nicole Munger in acheiving the prestigious feat this season. “She’s worked as hard as anybody,” coach Terry Rakowsky said of his senior captain. “Even just physically — I tell my freshmen, ‘Look at yourself in the mirror. That’s how Mackenzie was in ninth grade.’
During her sophomore year, Carroll started to show her ability to rack up points. “When you look at her now on the court — that’s all working hard, which improved her game because she can get to the basket now. And she gets there with a lot of authority,” said Rakowsky.
Carroll went into Wednesday night’s game against Council Rock North with the intention of tightening the gap and taking the win. “Scoring a thousand points is a big deal, but we want states,” said Carroll, who needed six points entering the game. Fans littered the stands in support of Carroll that evening, excited to see her reach that goal. They cheered and held up photos of Carroll’s face.
The Bucks advanced to face No. 7 Upper Dublin — a 36-33 overtime winner over No. 10 Perkiomen Valley — at home on Saturday at 1:30.]]>
As a child going through school, many of us were involved in sports or clubs of some sort. It was one way to shape our interests as a person, make new friends, and develop a healthy, well-rounded school day. Some of us will find that one sport or club that turns into a life-long passion; others will take an interest in lots of different activities.
18 year-old Jack Zielinski sampled many different sports as a kid. “My dad wanted me to try everything — and I pretty much did: track, football, lacrosse … you name it. But hockey was different. Right away I loved hockey. Lacrosse and football — they were OK. They were fun. But to me they were nothing compared to hockey,” he says. Hockey ignited a pure adrenaline rush in him that no other sport did. “As soon as I got on the ice for the first time” — as a 5-year-old — “I just fell in love with it,” said Zielinski, a standout defenseman with the Richmond Generals, a Tier III junior team based out of Richmond, Virginia. When he was just 7 years old, he began playing competitive hockey, where he really fine-tuned his skills.
“It’s hard to describe” hockey’s appeal, he said. “The speed, I think, is a big part of it. It’s a very fast game. I like that,” says Zielinski. The chill of the rink and wind-in-your-face excitement coupled with hockey’s inherent spontaneity provides a winning combination for enthusiasts. “Most sports are built around set plays,” he said. “You’re supposed to go here. You’re supposed to do such and such. But not hockey. In hockey, the game is constantly moving and changing in front of you. You constantly have to adjust and adapt. You never know what’s going to happen. You have to think quickly and you have to react quickly. I like that, too.”
With pure enthusiasm and serious skills, Zielinski is regarded as a legitimate NCAA Division I prospect. “He’s a tremendous skater — one of the best in the (18-team U.S. Premier Hockey League),” said Generals coach R.C. Lyke. “He’s fast and he’s strong, with great hands and a great shot. He has a chance, in my opinion, to be a big-time player.” Junior hockey tests not only the dedication of the player, but also that of his family. The athletes with the Generals lead lives similar to that of professionals, but without the pay. Practicing daily, putting in gym time three times a week, and playing a regular 40-game season, leaves little to no time for leisure. Since these are also high school students, they are fusing a rigorous athletic schedule with regular course work and studying. Lyke said Zielinski has flourished in this regimented environment because “he’s strong. He’s focused. He’s mature. He’s driven.”
The support of one’s family and friends is of utmost importance when the stress from such a schedule becomes overwhelming. “If a kid’s family isn’t 100 percent committed, there’s no way he’s going to be able to do this,” Lyke said. “It simply isn’t going to be possible.” Zielinski said the support of his parents, Joe and Martha, “has been huge … just huge. All of the sacrifice, all of the time they’ve invested, all of the weekends my dad spent driving me (to practices and competitions) — I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now without them.”
“It’s worth it, without a doubt,” Zielinski said. “The life I’m living right now is … well, it’s a pretty awesome experience. Playing hockey, traveling, staying in hotels, seeing cool places, meeting new people, making new friends — there’s nothing like it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”]]>
Compton plays travel softball for the Rock 18 Gold, where many of her teammates have already committed to schools. This encouraged Compton to search for the right school for herself. She visited Seton Hall and Boston College, but found a home in Providence. Now that she has committed to a school she can focus on her last two seasons as a high school varsity player. “It’s really a big relief,” she said. “We go to all these college showcases and on my (travel) team there were only three girls who were uncommitted and I was one of them.”
Compton has been on the varsity team since her freshman year, and is looking forward to her final two seasons. “Everybody in high school was a great role model,” she said. ”Ever since my freshman year … They accepted everybody and made everybody feel at home. They made me want to be like them. When in my junior year and senior year, I want the younger players to feel like that.”
Providence has struggled in the reconfigured Big East, with a record of 6-29 last year (4-15 in conference play). Mackensie, however, is up to the challenge.]]>
Timberlane High School in Plainstow, New Hampshire has built up quite the reputation for their Wrestling team. After winning 21 state titles over the past 22 years, the team has a proud tradition of working hard and succeeding. Winning is only part of their success however, because the team knows how to support each other not just as teammates, but friends — Andrew Strzykalski has been a huge part of that. The 15-year-old freshman from Atkinson was welcomed to the team with open arms this school year and has taught some important life lessons about acceptance and determination. Andrew is the first student with Down syndrome to join this elite wrestling team.
The team is all about a positive attitude. “I preach that every guy is important. Every guy on the team is valuable and we need everybody to do their best,” said Barry Chooljian, the high school’s head wrestling coach and director of guidance.
Although Andrew’s mother, Barbara was hesitant to have her son join the team, she has seen what an amazing influence it has been on his life. He wrestled for two years at the middle school, but she wasn’t sure it would work out at the next level. “They take it very seriously,” she said. With the team focusing more on being a good student first, then a good person and athlete, they have helped shape Andrew’s way of thinking. The team has lent themselves to improving Andrew’s academic performance through confidence building and support. “Now he’s feeling like he’s part of something. He’s recognized. He feels wanted and needed and included. That’s all anybody wants,” she said.
Teammate Brandon Berube, 14, of Atkinson, wrestled with Andrew last year. He said he’s a strong wrestler. “It’s fun having him on the team. Sometimes he makes some jokes and makes people laugh. He’s a good inspiration on the team,” Brandon said. Dylan Hughes, 15, of Plaistow, also likes wrestling with Andrew and helping him out. “He’s wicked happy when he wrestles and he always talks about it when he’s in class,” he said.
Also working with Andrew as one-on-one para-educator is Nathan Lawrence, a volunteer coach and former wrestler. “Nate helps me to wrestle hard and to focus,” Andrew said. “Mind, body, and spirit.” He works just as hard as the rest of his team, taking regular classes and attending team practices. “We expect as much from him as we do from anybody else,” Lawrence said. Both academically and athletically, Andrew consistently pushes himself to the next level. He goes through three-hour practices with the team, consisting of running laps, doing sit-ups and push-ups. He also plays basketball, takes karate lessons, and is interested in football. The time he has spent playing guitar has peaked his interest in launching a music career someday. “If you have any question about music, he knows everything,” Chooljian said, laughing. Andrew continues to amaze his family, friends, and teammates with his shining personality and drive to do more every single day.]]>