Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY - In one of the more intriguing stories of the winter season, first-year diver freshman Taylor Walker of Athens qualified for the PIAA Diving Championships, and is the 2018-19 "Newcomer of the Winter" season.
Walker, who played basketball through 8th grade, finished second in her first-ever competition, a meet against Sayre on Dec. 12. She also finished second in the next two meets.
Walker registered her first win on Jan. 11 against Elk Lake, and went on to take first place in the final five dual meets.
Just 11 days after a third-place finish at the NTL Championships, Walker finished second at the District 4 Championships to earn a trip to States, where she finished 23rd.
Super 7 Female Newcomers of the Winter
Taylor Walker, freshman, Athens: See above.
Brooke Kopatz, freshman, Athens: Brooke Kopatz reached the podium in two events at the District 4 Championships. She placed fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:12.43, and narrowly missed the podium with a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard IM. Kopatz was also part of a medal-winning fifth-place 200-yard medley relay team.
At the NTL meet, Kopatz won the breaststroke and was second in the 200-yard freestyle. She also swam on winning 200-yard medley and 400-yard free relay teams.
Caydence Macik, freshman, Athens: Macik made an immediate impact for the Lady Wildcats, providing a low-post presence on both ends of the floor. She averaged 8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.8 steals per game.
Olivia Ayres, sophomore, Tioga: Ayres got better and better as the season progressed, and as her confidence grew she became as dangerous as anyone in the area from behind the 3-point arc. She averaged 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 assists per game, and knocked down 36 3-pointers on the season.
Rachel Houseknecht, 7th-grader, Waverly: Houseknecht stepped into the varsity line-up immediately and contributed. She finished her first varsity season with a 145 average, had a high series of 562, and a high game of 237.
Raven McCarthy-Gardner, freshman, Athens: McCarthy-Gardner won the 200-yard freestyle in her first varsity meet, and was second in the 500 free. She won the 100-yard breaststroke in her second meet, and swam on a winning 200-yard medley relay. She was a consistent point-getter all season for the Lady Wildcats.
Megan Collins, sophomore, Athens: Collins showed the ability to knock down the open jumper at key moments for the Lady Wildcats. She is a good all-around athlete, and could develop into a consistent scorer.
IN PHOTO: Athens freshman Taylor Walker.
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