FROM THE PRESS BOX: RECORD-BREAKING WAVERLY SPRINTERS TOP SUPER 7 'STORYLINES OF SPRING' IN 2023
I've talked about storylines in the past and how they normally come in one of four realms: the start of a storyline, the continuation of one, the likely culmination of one, or a storyline totally out of the blue.
This spring had a good mix of storylines, and even had one that doesn’t quite fit any of the aforementioned norms.
Without any further ado, I give you, from No. 7 to No. 1, the Valley Sports Report
“Super 7 Storylines of the Year:
”7. Waverly tennis posts best season in program history?:
No one knows for sure, and the records are scarce to non-existent, but the 7-3 record posted this spring by the Waverly tennis team is the best anyone can recall.
First-year coach Ron Chamberlain inherited a young team, and saw three student-athletes switch sports to tennis, and all three made an impact. The result was a 7-3 season, a fourth-place finish at the IAC Championships, and a couple decent showings in the postseason.
This storyline should have at least one more chapter to be written considering there was not a senior in the starting junior-laden line-up.6. Sayre softball program shows signs of life:
A 2-18 record may not seem like much of an achievement, but the Sayre softball program entered the season with 23 straight losses, and ran that mark to 28 before beating Sullivan County on April 13 — its first win since May 5, 2021.
Sayre’s last three-win season was 2016, but the 2023 Lady Redskins were young and much more competitive in most games than they’ve been in recent years.
With a young core group in place, Sayre could write more chapters to this story.
5. Tioga boys win program’s first-ever Class D track & field title:
It’s hard to believe, but Tioga had never won a Section IV, Class D title until this spring.
Junior Valentino Rossi, sophomore Andrew Earley, and freshman Gavin Albrecht were the driving force behind the title, and all return next year, along with nearly everyone else on the team.
Don’t be surprised if the Tigers write a sequel to this story in 2024.4. Sayre baseball sees postseason run come to an end:
The Sayre baseball program won District 4 titles in 2017 and ’18 and was runner-up in 2019. After Covid wiped out the 2020 season, which may have featured Sayre’s best roster in this run, the Redskins won another district title in 2021, but were upset in semifinals in 2022.
Most people expected Sayre to make one final run in 2023, but with uncertainty swirling around the school district, four would-be starters, including three incoming freshmen, transferred out of the district, leaving coach Jamie VanDuzer with only two starters returning.
VanDuzer did a tremendous job piecing together a roster, and the Redskins posted a respectable 8-12 record, but failed to qualify for the postseason.
VanDuzer will be hard-pressed to revive this storyline, but time will.3. After tremendous regular seasons, Athens and Waverly baseball lose in playoff openers:
Heading into the 2023 spring season, expectations were sky-high for the Athens and Waverly baseball programs.
Athens won its first 11 games, and Waverly its first 12, heading into a Valley showdown at Waverly on April 29. Athens senior Lucas Horton allowed one hit over 6 1/3 innings, while striking out 14 to outduel Waverly junior Jay Pipher in a 1-0 Wildcat win in the “Game of the Year.”
Athens finished the regular season at 18-1, having beaten Wyalusing twice to win the NTL Large School Division title, while Waverly was 17-2, winning both a division title and the overall IAC Large School Championship.
However, both season came to a screeching halt in the opening rounds of their respective playoffs. Waverly dropped a 7-0 decision to Lansing in the Section IV quarterfinals, while Athens dropped a 10-4 decision to Mifflinburg in the District 4 semifinals.
This is a unique storyline that really doesn’t fit the mold, so it’s doubtful it will be replicated.2. Waverly leaves the IAC for the STAC:
After 35 years in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference, Waverly severed its ties with the conference that is comprised mainly of Class C and Class D schools to join the Southern Tier Athletic Conference, which is made up of Class B, A, and AA schools.
Waverly’s administration cited the ability to play a more competitive schedule that will help its student-athletes be more prepared for the postseason. It’s also widely-known that the STAC is far more receptive to new ideas.
Waverly closes the book on the IAC, and begins a new one in the STAC in 2023-24.1. Waverly sprinters keep setting records:
In a continuation of last year’s storyline, Waverly’s boys sprint squad continued to re-write the program’s record book.
Senior Kayleb Bechy lowered his school record in the 100-meter dash to 10.79 seconds, but junior Ralph Johnson ran a 10.85. Speaking of Johnson, he established a new record of 21.95 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
Bechy and Johnson teamed with junior Micah Chandler and senior Jerrel Sackett to lower the 400-meter relay school record several times this season, including a Section IV record time of 42.3 seconds at the State Qualifier. That record only last a week, however, as the foursome lowered it again with a run of 42.03 in winning the silver medal at States.
Waverly’s 400-meter relay, as well as its 1,600-meter relay foursome of Sackett, Chandler, senior Treyton Moore, and Charlie Larrabee also ran at the New Balance High School Nationals.
It will be tough for this storyline to continue with the graduation of Bechy and Sackett, but we could see an individual sprint record or two fall next year.
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