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Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — The Athens girls track & field team boast big numbers, and a large number of District 4 qualifiers from last season heading into the 2024 campaign.

“Our numbers are great this year,” said Athens coach Mike Bronson. “Our girls’ roster is just under 40, which is the biggest team we have had in a number of years.

“We have a very solid number of returners who have been big contributors for us in past seasons, and we have a big group of freshmen,” noted Bronson. “Then, we have some sophomores and juniors who are either new to track or are returning after not competing since junior high.

“I am really happy with the number of girls we have and the work that they have been putting in during the first few weeks,” he added.

Key returners from last year are junior Sara Bronson (800-, 1,600-, and 3,200-meter runs), sophomores Abby Burgess (100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes), and Ava Hughes (1,600 and 3,200), seniors Emily Henderson (100- and 300-meter hurdles), and Thea Bentley (400 and 800), junior Addy Wheeler (100 and 300 hurdles), and seniors Emma Pernaselli (shot put, discuss, javelin), senior Abbie Panek (long jump), and senior Mya Thompson (long jump at triple jump).

The Wildcats also have several newcomers to keep an eye on in junior Emma Renninger (100 and 200), sophomore Lizzie Gorsline (100 and 300 hurdles), junior Gretchen Schmieg (100 and 200), and freshman Abigail Wagner (shot put, discus, javelin).

“We have a lot of 9th- and 10th-graders who we are expecting to be contributors for us as the season progresses,” said Bronson.

Bronson said there are several girls capable of qualifying for the PIAA Championships, but two in particular.

“In Pa., it is really difficult to qualify for the state meet,” he said. “I think Sara Bronson, who qualified in the 3200 last year, can qualify again. Abby Burgess who just missed last year in both the 100 and 200 is working hard towards this goal.  

“I think we have some other girls who can be in the mix at districts if they make the progress I think they are capable of this season,” Bronson added.

Bronson said he has the same expectations for this season as he’s had for any of his other teams.

“My expectations for the girls don’t really change from one year to the next,” he said. “We always focus on competing hard, improving throughout the season, and being at our best when we get to the NTL and District IV Championships.”


“The NTL is always tough and the level of competition on the girls’ side is really high this year,” said Bronson.  

“Wyalusing and Troy are always very solid across the board, but you can’t take anybody lightly,” he added.

Athens, 2-0 on the season, returns to action today when it hosts Troy and Wyalusing.


IN PHOTO: Athens junior Sara Bronson.

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