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THE FINAL WORD: PUTTING A BOW ON THE 2024 SPRING SEASON (2024-06-17)

Looking back at the action this spring, two things jump out at me: Waverly sprinter Ralph Johnson, and the Waverly flag football team.

Johnson had an impressive regular season both in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, as well as the 400-meter relay. It was more of the same in the postseason on his way to States.

At the state meet, Johnson was part of a gold-medal 400-medal relay with senior Micah Chandler, and juniors Kolsen Keathley and Xavier Watson, then won two gold medals — the NYSPHSAA and Federation golds — in the 200-meter dash, smashing the Waverly school and Section IV records in the process.

The most impressive thing about Johnson’s efforts in the 200 is that it came on the heels of a DQ for a false start in the 100-meter dash finals after he ran the fastest time in the prelims.

The ability to re-group and perform at the level Johnson performed at is impressive and admirable.

Johnson followed up his performance at States with a third-place finish in the 200 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, breaking the Waverly school and Section IV records in the process.

Johnson lowered his school-record time in the 200 from 21.52 seconds to 21.15 seconds in the prelims, and to 21.08 in the finals. The previous Section IV mark was 21.42 seconds.

While records are made to be broken, I think Johnson’s record in the 200 could stand a while both at Waverly and in Section IV.

As for flag football, I really did not want to like the sport. I don’t know why, I just didn’t, but I have to tell you, the first season was a lot of fun, and I loved it.

Give coach Dave Shaw, and assistant coach Peyton Miller a lot of credit. They started from scratch this season, with most teams in Section IV having a two-year head start, and were more than just competitive, they ended up being a playoff team.

The Wolverines, led by seniors Paige Robinson, Ally Barrett, Ashlen Croft, and Erica Ryck on offense, and sophomores Mira Kittle and Claire Clonch, senior Brenae Tedesco, and 8th-grader Lauryn Welles on defense, went 8-1-3 in the regular season, before losing to Maine-Endwell in the Section IV semifinals.

Shaw and Miller are great football guys. If they keep getting the athletes (and a lot of that depends on the future of the dual-eligibility rule), this is a program that will have a lot of success in the future.

Johnson wasn’t the only track athlete to make the headlines this spring as Athens junior Sara Bronson, Sayre junior Marco Quiros, and Tioga sophomore Gavin Albrecht each qualified for States.

Bronson qualified in three events, and won the only medal side in the group, placing fourth in the 1,600-meter run, while Quiros qualified in 200 and 400, and Albrecht qualified in the pole vault.

All three earned valuable experience, and I’ll be surprised if all three aren’t in contention for the podium at States next year.

The other big story of the spring was the Tioga golf team winning the Section IV, Class C title — the program’s second title ever.

The Tigers won a division title, and were second at the IAC Championships, with senior Evan Sickler qualifying for States.

On the baseball diamonds this spring, Waverly baseball racked up the most wins with 16, including a 14-5 regular-season mark in its first run through the STAC.

The Wolverines had two postseason wins, including a win over old IAC foe Lansing in the semifinals, but lost to longtime nemesis Oneonta in the Class B title game.

A young Tioga team had a 12-6 season, including a postseason win before bowing out in the Class C quarterfinals.

A young Athens team was in the fight for a playoff berth until the final week of the season in an 8-12 campaign, while Sayre had several close losses in a 5-12 season.

On the softball diamond, a young Tioga team went 17-4 on its way to an appearance in the Section IV, Class C championship game.

Likewise, a young Athens team rebounded from a 3-5 start to post a 13-8 mark, ending its season with an extra-inning loss to Loyalsock in the District 4, Class 3A playoffs.

Tioga and Athens are both chock full of young studs, and have pitching. I expect both to contend for a trip to States in 2025.

Waverly had a solid 10-7 season in its first STAC campaign, and Sayre won five games in a 5-15 campaign.

Again, both of these teams are young, and should be improved next year.

——————

As always the end of a season means the end for student-athletes like Ralph Johnson, Micah Chandler, Valentino Rossi, Elizabeth Vaughn, Kelley Reid, Josh Nittinger, and Thea Bentley on the track and the field.

Waverly’s Jay Pipher, Joey Tomasso, Sean Bubniak, and Jake VanHouten, Tioga Cam Rought, Sayre’s Tanner Green, and Will Crossett, and Athens’ Nicholas Jacob, and Connor Mosher wrap up their careers on the baseball diamond, while Athens’ Ashlyn VanFleet, Sayre’s Meghan Flynn, Tioga’s Emily Bidwell, and Megan Vance, and Waverly’s Olivia Robinson have played their last high school softball game.

And, Tioga’s Evan Sickler, Tyler Roe, and Levi Bellis have played their final rounds of golf in high school.

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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