...From the pages of Suburban Family Magazine's Spring High School Sports Preview...
Bishop Eustace Crusaders
Players to watch: Team MVP Gina Bischof graduated last year, but Eustace brings back two other athletes who qualified for states. Sophomore Sarah Jones (pictured) placed fifth in the 100 hurdles at the Non-Public A meet and seventh at states. She was also second in the Camden County Championships behind Bischof, and will be a contender for the title this year. Senior thrower Colleen Schmitt made it to states in the javelin after a fifth-place finish at sectionals. She was also all-conference in the discus and shot put. Junior sprinter Michelle Carrie is another leading competitor for the Crusaders. Other returners include senior Sarah DiDomenico, junior Caitlin Reyes and sophomore Christine Adams (distance); and junior Natalie Kelly and sophomore Elise Connelly (middle distance).
Outlook: The Crusaders finished second in their division for the third straight year, and took sixth at sectionals for the second season in a row. Expect another consistent season this spring.
Camden Catholic Fighting Irish
Players to watch: Senior Kelly McHugh shines in the mile and two-mile for Camden Catholic and has competed at states the last two seasons. She’ll attempt to finish her career on a high note this spring. Junior sprinter Zarria Williams also qualified for states in 2014, running the 200 after an eighth-place finish at sectionals. Other returning sprinters are senior Kaylin Blacks and junior Moriah Hall, and sophomore Holly Bednarek is back to run middle distance.
Outlook: McHugh and Williams are certainly contenders to return to states, and they may bring one or two of their teammates this spring as well.
Players to watch: The Chiefs have a recent history of impressive throwers, and junior Kaela Schrier is the latest standout. Last year, she was the Burlington County champion in the javelin, took second at Group IV sectionals and fifth at states, earning a trip to the Meet of Champions. Other returning throwers are senior Rachel Kapanzhi and juniors Nicole Florio and Amanda Hyde. Junior Maya Dawkins took third at the county championships in the 200 and leads a group of sprinters that also features seniors Karli Cinelli, Lua Fernandez, Jess Strauss and Gianna Thornton and sophomore Sierra Keller. The distance runners include seniors Megan Gernhardt and Gabby Vassalotti and sophomore Breanna Gleason, and the middle distance runners are juniors Jess McAdams and Amanda Chen and sophomore Julia McMillan. Junior hurdler Nicole Berry is another experienced returner.
Outlook: Cherokee took second in the county and 10th at sectionals and should be a force at those meets again this season.
Cherry Hill East Cougars
Players to watch: Junior Jessica Bryant should be one of the top competitors for Cherry Hill East after placing sixth in South Jersey Group IV in the long jump last year and earning a trip to states. Senior Monica Lee is one of the Cougars’ best runners, as she took third in the Olympic Conference in the 800 last spring and had a strong cross country season in the fall. Sophomores Greer Field, Taegan Field and Alexa Happ are promising distance runners and junior Bianca Christophe is a versatile athlete who competes in the 400, hurdles and long jump. Other returners on the track are sprinters Laura Morella, a senior, and Jessica Smith, a junior; and middle distance runners Nicole Marechetti, a senior, and Grace Garemore, a junior. The throwers include senior Michelle DiVito, juniors Jessica Wrinn and Alex Warner, and sophomores Dahyo Coleman and Julie Woods.
Outlook: The Cougars have some talented returners, particularly in the distance events, and will look to improve on their 15th-place finish at sectionals.
Cherry Hill West Lions
Players to watch: The Lions graduated their only state qualifier, high jumper Sasha Williams, who placed fifth in Group IV. In her absence, others will look to step up as team leaders, such as senior Ayanna Dixon, who is strong in the sprints and long jump. Juniors Hannah Johnston and Gabrielle Rash compete in the hurdles and distance events and sophomore Nicole Schmalbach is another returning hurdler. Other sophomores are middle distance runners Christina Cabanero and Aaditi Tamhanker and distance runner Nina Calzaretto.
Outlook: The Lions won’t be contenders at the conference or sectional meets, but they will look to improve as a team and aim for high finishes in several individual events.
Players to watch: A great place to start with the Pioneers is their outstanding group of young distance runners. Sophomore Kaitlin Donohue took fourth in the Tri-County Conference and seventh in South Jersey Group IV in the two-mile run, and is also strong in the mile and 800. Emily Schaeffer, a junior, is another talented runner who placed second in Gloucester County, fifth in the conference and 12th at sectionals in the two-mile. But distance isn’t the only strength for the Pioneers. Senior I’Shay Little is a versatile competitor who shines in the sprints and hurdles, and senior Kiara Stefanik does all three throwing events, including the discus, her best event. Sophomore sprinters Rachel Lanzalotti and Dyani Bigelow and junior hurdlers Madison Cydis and Taylor Montgomery are also back. Other key returners on the track are seniors Jordan Lin and Jennifer Cromley and juniors Ava Fritz and Jenna Pumphrey. Junior Stephanie Palese is a returning pole vaulter.
Outlook: The Pioneers have a talented nucleus back and look like a team that can place high at the county and conference meets.
Players to watch: Sydney Jackson and Melanie Edwards will look to cap their impressive careers at Eastern with strong senior seasons this spring. Jackson competed at states in the 100 and 200 last year, took second in the Olympic Conference in the 200 and is also a talented long jumper. Edwards is also a sprinter whose specialty is the 400, in which she placed second in the conference and seventh in South Jersey Group IV. Another standout senior is thrower Imani Taylor, the conference champion in the shot put. Senior Carly Kenselaar leads a group of distance runners that includes juniors Danielle Hess and Jillian Frisch and sophomore Nicole Meskin. Senior Alexis Bibbs and junior Amanda Ashmen are back in the throws and sophomore Tamika Voltaire returns in the jumps. Sophomores Alexis Ruffin, Taylor Bostic and Kiara Ross started to learn hurdles last spring and showed a lot of potential this winter during indoor season.
Outlook: Jackson, Edwards and Taylor are all senior leaders who should help the Vikings place in the top 10 at sectionals once again.
Gloucester Catholic Rams
Players to watch: Senior Maura Bobrek emerged as a strong thrower for the Rams last spring, as she took fourth in South Jersey Non-Public A and fifth in the state in the javelin. She went on to compete at the Meet of Champions and will look to build on that breakout season this year. Senior Abby Chrzanowski is a versatile athlete who took fourth in the Tri-County Conference in the 400 hurdles and 10th at sectionals in the triple jump. She also competes in the 100 hurdles and long jump. The Rams also have strong all-around performers in seniors Shae Coniglio (hurdles, pole vault) and Danielle Baxter (400, 800, long jump and triple jump). Other returners are sophomore thrower Samantha Hiester; junior hurdler Lisette Virella; and sophomore distance runner Cassandra Hickman.
Outlook: The Rams have several athletes who will be in the mix for sectional titles and have the potential to move up a spot or two on their ninth-place team finish from 2014.
Players to watch: Briana Gess will look to follow up her amazing freshman outdoor season with another impressive performance this spring. Last year, she was the Meet of Champions winner in the 1600 with a personal-best time of 4:45.97, adding to her Group II state championships in the 1600 and 3200. Gess also claimed South Jersey titles in those events and the 800, and it will be exciting to see how one of the state’s premier distance runners performs as a sophomore. She’ll be pushed by fellow sophomore star Kaitlyn Bonnet, who placed third in the state and 10th at the Meet of Champions in the 800, as well as seventh in the state in the mile. Her sister, senior Carly Bonnet, was the South Jersey and state champion in the 400 hurdles and also shines in the 200 and 400. Other returning state qualifiers include senior Gia DelDuca (long jump and triple jump) and sophomores Alexa Gostovich (800) and Anna Haley (3200). Also back on the track are senior hurdler Rachel Scalese, junior sprinter Ana Buzzerd and sophomore sprinter Abby Neveling. The distance runners include seniors Olivia Peifer and Julia Fonshell, junior Natalie McCrudden and sophomore Lauren Lynch. Senior Isobel Wilkie and sophomore Bridget Kane are strong in the high jump, juniors Mary Sabia and Chyanne Holloway also return in the jumps and senior Lily James is back in the pole vault. The throwers include seniors Jean Gerlach, Tomorrow Baldwin-Montgomery and Frankie DeMedio, junior Sasha Rosen and sophomore Megan Helf. There are also several freshmen who could make an impact if they decide to compete in the outdoor season, including Lily Minor, Casey Clarke, Layla Watkins, Lizzie Mulvenna and Bella Nugent.
Outlook: Haddonfield captured its second state championship in three years and fifth straight sectional title in 2014. The Bulldawgs have an excellent chance of adding more hardware to their trophy case this spring.
Players to watch: Senior Thaila Cooper is primed for a fantastic end to her high school career and will lead the Dragons this spring. She competed in the Meet of Champions in both the 400 and 400 hurdles last year and will be a state championship contender in both events. Cooper is also strong in the 100 hurdles, taking second in that event in Gloucester County. Sophomore Rachel Vick is a terrific distance runner who placed second in South Jersey Group IV in the two-mile and went on to run at states. Sophomore Destiny Stanford is another strong distance runner who placed in the top five in both the mile and 800 in the county, and senior sprinter Arianna Waller did the same in the 100 and 400. Also back on the track are sprinters Tori Ransome, a senior, and sophomores Haley Rivell and Kelly Murphy; sophomore distance runners McKenzie Nugent and Marissa Heino; and senior hurdlers Farrah Deichert and Jaclyn Heineman. Senior Jade Daniels and sophomores Caprice James and Victoria Mbakwe are back in the jumps and juniors Emily Danilak and Kerry Gray are returning pole vaulters. Senior Kylesha James-Clark leads a group of throwers that includes seniors Alexia Menasion and Adora Ibekwe, junior Carly Jatzke and sophomore Jessica Lail. Incoming freshmen expected to have an immediate impact are Jasmine Jones (jumps and sprints), Najiyaha Palmer (sprints and hurdles) and Brielle Maiden (sprints), who could also team up with another girl to form an outstanding 4x100 relay.
Outlook: With Cooper and the distance runners leading the way, the Dragons should improve on their 12th-place finish at sectionals and are a threat for the county title.
Players to watch: The Indians have a sensational senior class that features four state qualifiers from last year, led by Carly Pettipaw. She placed second in the 400 and 800 and fifth in the 400 hurdles at the Group IV sectional meet, and went on to finish sixth in the state in the 400 and compete at the Meet of Champions. Ariel Mitchell went to states in the 100 and is also strong in the 200 and long jump, while Sabrina LaRosa competed in the high jump at states and is also an accomplished hurdler, long jumper and triple jumper. Samantha Maynes ran the 100 hurdles at states, and senior Camille Franklin is a standout distance runner. Pettipaw and Mitchell captured a state title in the 4x400 relay along with junior Shannon Storms and sophomore Jasmine Staten. Storms also runs the 400 and competes in the pole vault, and Staten is excellent in the long jump and sprints. Other returners on the track are senior distance runner Maeve Ryan; sophomore sprinters Ciaron Williams and Cian Williams; sophomore middle distance runner Megan Quimby; and hurdlers Dahlia Bailey, a senior, and Christiana Kellam, a sophomore. The throwers include seniors Gabriela Mills, Gabriela Friedman, Molly Dolan and Taylor Williams; junior Erika Johnson; and sophomore Jasmine Fuller; and the pole vaulters are senior Eryka Colucci and junior Gabby Sharp.
Outlook: Lenape finished second in the South Jersey Group IV and looks like a title contender again thanks to the outstanding seniors.
Players to watch: The Quakers have many experienced competitors returning, led by senior distance runner Genevieve Cickavage, a state qualifier in the two-mile after placing fourth in the event in South Jersey Group III. Cickavage is also a strong miler and sophomore Amanda Wichterman is another returning distance runner. Senior Gabriela Bertot and sophomore Jessica Fan lead the sprinters, and the hurdlers include senior Madeline Lamon, sophomores Nina Nelson and Corrine Zrada and Fan. Junior Heather Warren is a returning middle distance runner, junior Anna Blatcher is strong in the throws and sophomore Anjali Patel is a returning pole vaulter.
Outlook: The Quakers probably aren’t a sectional title contender, but Cickavage has the potential to return to states and she’ll hope to have some company amongst her teammates.
Paul VI Eagles
Players to watch: The Eagles have a solid nucleus of four state qualifiers from 2014, including senior high jumper Steele Stokley, who placed third in Non-Public A at states. Senior Carly Murphy is a talented sprinter who ran the 100 at states, while junior Madeline McDonnell took sixth at states in the discus and junior Bernadette McGowan qualified for states in the javelin and shot put. Junior Michaela Urbach was in the top 10 at sectionals in the 800, and other returning runners are senior Yazmin Williams, junior Madeline Almand and sophomores Natalie Burns, Haley Karcher and Ann Foley. Junior Anastasia Ketchek and sophomores Fiona Hughes and Jariah McFadden are promising hurdlers; junior Gabrielle Scaramuzzo and sophomore Julia Esposito return in the jumps; and sophomore Anna Marie Carrozzo shines in the shot put.
Outlook: The Eagles have strong senior leadership and should be a team to watch at sectionals.
Seneca Golden Eagles
Players to watch: Senior Kayln Bryan is excellent in all of the throwing events, especially the shot put, as she qualified for states in the event and also placed third in the Olympic Conference. Seneca also brings back some talented runners, led by junior Joey Webb, who placed seventh in South Jersey Group III in both the 800 and 1600. Webb will be joined by several promising freshmen distance runners, as well as senior Kirsten Horn. Sprinters include senior Madison Chant, junior Rebecca Bohi and sophomores Sabrina Helvie and Kayla Martin, and junior Danielle Packard is a returning hurdler. Senior Alana Pullen joins sophomores Katelyn Dever and Elizabeth Hagmayer as returning throwers.
Outlook: With Bryan shining in the field events and Webb leading a solid group of runners, Seneca will be a force at the big meets.
Players to watch: Despite the graduation of standout Julia DeSpirito, the Renegades again boast a deep group of talented distance runners who helped the Shawnee cross country team win the sectional title in the fall. Three runners who placed in the top 10 in the two-mile at last spring’s South Jersey Group IV meet are back: sophomore Kara Bonner (third), senior Nina Bendixen (fifth) and sophomore Cara Keevey (10th). Bendixen went on to compete at states along with returning senior Morgan Arena, who took sixth in the mile at sectionals. Returning sprinters include seniors Jenna Maladra, Jordan Robinson and Taylor Smith and juniors Allison Jones and Molly Johnson. Junior Spencer Campbell will also sprint for the Renegades after competing in indoor this year. Junior Brooke Schillinger and sophomore Evaughn Aponte are back in the hurdles and seniors Marissa Suriano and Natalia Howard lead the throwers.
Outlook: The Renegades finished seventh at sectionals in 2014, up from 16th the year before. Thanks to an outstanding crop of distance runners, they should remain in the top 10.
Washington Township Minutemaids
Players to watch: The Minutemaids graduated their top athlete in Lexie Fraction, who placed seventh at the Meet of Champions in the 100 hurdles. They’ll look for new stars to emerge from a young group that includes sprinters Seanna Cleary, a sophomore, and Alyssa Key, a junior. The senior leadership comes from distance runner Jennifer Klavens and Erica Monte Carlo, who competes in the hurdles and the triple jump. Freshmen Julia Reilly and Katherine Taylor and sophomore Megan Kenderdine are promising distance runners, and sophomores Olivia Smithson, Marisa Ragone and Cameron Foss are all returning middle distance runners. Sophomore Megan Heston has been recovering from an injury and is also looking forward to competing in distance this season. Junior Rachel Hamer and sophomore Rachel Green are returning throwers. Freshman Jaelyn Davis (sprints) and junior Emilee Schipske (jumps) will both look to follow up their successful winter seasons this spring.
Outlook: The ’Maids will surely miss Fraction and a few other graduated standouts, but this is traditionally a strong program and it will be interesting to see how they reload.
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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Spring Sports Preview, January, 2015.
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