THE FINAL WORD: PUTTING A BOW ON THE 2023 SPRING SEASON
I’m sure you’ve seen me say it before, but I’ve never been a big fan of the spring sports season here in the Northeast.
It’s not the sports. I love baseball, and softball, and enjoy watching track & field, and golf. Tennis, too.
It’s definitely not the student-athletes. Year-in, and year-out, our athletes continue to amaze me.
Simply put, it’s the weather in the Northeast in late March, April and early May — it’s usually wet, cold, and miserable.
However, spring 2023 was pretty good. Sure, there were some cold days, but there were more good than bad, and there was very little rain.
And, the performances were excellent as usual.
Senior Kayleb Bechy and junior Ralph Johnson ran faster than any sprinters before them at Waverly, and teamed with senior Jerrell Sackett, and junior Micah Chandler to run faster than any 400-meter relay team ever has in Section IV history.
Athens sophomore Sara Bronson was the lone girl in the Valley to qualify for States, but several youngsters — Athens freshman Abby Burgess, Waverly 8th-grader Makenzie Olmsted, Sayre freshman Kailyn Sutton and sophomore Rose Shikanga, and Tioga freshmen Mia Hall and Abbie Engelbert, and 7th-grader Vida Rossi sure look they’ll challenge for spots at the state meets over the next few years.
The Tioga boys also made history by winning the program’s first-ever Section IV, Class D title.
On the diamonds, Lucas Horton, Luke Kraft, and Cam Sullivan led a senior-laden Athens team to an 18-1 regular season, while senior Ty Beeman, and juniors Jay Pipher and Joey Tomasso led Waverly to a 17-2 regular season.
The game of the year came on April 29. Athens entered the contest at 11-0, and Waverly at 12-0. Horton tossed a 1-hitter over 6 1/3 innings, and struck out 14 batters to lead the Wildcats to a 1-0 win.
Athens went on to win the NTL Large School Division title, but lost to Mifflinburg in the District 4, Class 3A semifinals.
Likewise, Waverly went on to win an IAC South Large School Division title, and the overall IAC Large School championship game. And like the Wildcats, the Wolverines dropped their first postseason game.
On the softball diamonds in the Valley, all four teams were young, and it showed with some peaks and valleys for all four programs. That said, the future looks bright.
Waverly and Tioga both qualified for the playoffs, with the Lady Wolverines posting the only postseason win in 2023 — softball or baseball — for the four Valley schools.
On the links this spring, juniors Evan Sickler and Tyler Roe led Tioga to a 9-3 duals season and a second-place finish in the Section IV, Class D Championships.
Waverly sophomore Breanne Robinson was the lone Valley golfer to qualify for States (Athens junior Evan Cooper qualified for the PIAA Championships in the fall).
The Waverly tennis team had one of the best seasons in program history (It may have been the best ever, but no one seems to know for sure) under first-year coach Rob Chamberlain.
One of the biggest stories of the spring came off the field, but it has a massive impact on Waverly athletics, as the Wolverines ended their 35-year run in the IAC by moving to the STAC.
As always the end of a season means the end for student-athletes like Horton, Beeman, Kraft, Sullivan, Mason Lister, Zach Garrity, and Bryce Bailey on the baseball diamond, and M.J. Thetga, Felicia Lantz, and Michaela Lauper on the softball diamond.
Bechy, Sackett, Jaden Wright, Ethan Denlinger, Emma Bronson, Kennedy Westbrook, Natalie Garrity, and Abby Knolles wrapped up their track & field careers.
For all the aforementioned seniors, and many more it’s a wrap. Let me just say, “thank you, it’s been a pleasure chronicling your career. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.”
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