Avon Grove recognizes 24 standout athletes who competed in fall sports
● By Steven Hoffman
In recent years, the Avon Grove School District has made a point to recognize the achievements of its student-athletes by inviting them to a school board meeting at the conclusion of the fall, winter, and spring sports seasons. At the school board meeting on Dec. 15, it was time to honor the standout athletes who competed in sports during the fall season.
Vanessa Robtison, the Avon Grove High School athletic director, led a presentation on 24 student-athletes who excelled in their respective sports—and in the classroom. Robtison noted that the 24 athletes recognized have a combined GPA of 3.941375.
Here's a look at some of the athletes who were honored that evening:
Robtison highlighted the accomplishments of two senior cheerleaders, Emma Meade and Samantha Curran. Robtison lauded Meade as a student “who sets the standard as a terrific Avon Grove student, teammate and cheerleader. She is respectful, hardworking and an example to everyone she meets. Emma can always be seen working with the newer members of the squad to show them how it is done and sharing what the team expectations are. Emma is usually pushing herself and her group to be the best they can be.”
Robtison said that Curran “works hard at everything she does—her grades, her stunts and her coaching.”
Curran is a student-coach for the Avon Grove Wildcats organization, where she coaches the girls at practices and games. She has coached the Avon Grove Wildcats to two first-place finishes in the past few years.
“Sam will truly be missed when she graduates,” Robtison said.
Boys Cross Country
Hunter Jarratt is a senior and was co-captain of the cross country team. As a captain, he helped lead the team to a tenth-place finish at the District 1 Championship.
“This is the team's best finish as a AAA school,” Robtison noted, explaining that Jarratt encouraged his teammates to attend summer runs to get ready for the upcoming season, and the hard work paid off.
“Hunter has a love for running that his coach and teammates feed off,” Robtison explained.
Jarratt dropped a minute and 30 seconds off his time and ran a season-best 16:32 at the Paul Short Invitational. He will be attending Bloomsburg University next year.
Senior Matt Chapla came back from an injury his junior year and was one of Avon Grove’s top three runners all season long in 2016.
“Matt's dedication helped push his team to their first ever victory over cross country powerhouse West Chester Henderson on their home course,” Robtison explained. “He was a big reason why Avon Grove had their best finishes at the Paul Short Invitational and the Ches-Mont Championship.”
Chapla earned several awards throughout the season, including medals at Bulldog (tenth place finish) and the Ches-Mont Championships (12th place finish). He was named to the Second Team All-Ches-Mont League. Chapla's personal best of 16:22 was just five seconds away from qualifying for States. Matt has plans to attend Virginia Tech or Penn State after graduation.
Junior Noah Dusseau was also a standout for the cross country team. He qualified for the state meet by finishing 28th with a time of 16:08 at the ultra competitive District 1 Championship.
“Noah represented his team and school well on a challenging course by finishing 67th with a time of 17:05,” Robtison explained, noting that Dusseau was Avon Grove's best runner all season long. He finished in second place to the state's top returning runner at the Bulldog Invitational to win his first medal of the season. He also earned a trophy for his fourth-place finish at the Ches-Mont League championships.
“Noah has a bright future as he returns next year as one of the top runners in the state,” Robtison said. “He will help lead his team by being a team captain.”
Girls Cross Country
Robtison talked about three top performers on the girls cross country squad: Molly Jacobs, Lauren Jones, and Lindsay Smyth.
Jacobs has been a leader on the squad since her freshman year, and helps motivate her teammates. She was unanimously picked as a Second Team All-Ches-Mont League selection based on her performances at the Ches-Mont League meet and districts. She started the season at 20:32 and ran her best time of 19:26 at the Paul Short Invitational. Jacobs can run a 20-minute 5k, regardless of the course, weather, day, and who the competition is. She is going to continue her academic and athletic career at Saint Joe's, Loyola or York College next fall.
Jones was lauded for her leadership skills, and for helping her teammates. “Lauren has naturally strong leadership skills and cares about all the athletes on her team,” Robtison explained. “She would pick up runners who had not quite finished the workout or race and cheer for them.”
Jones started her senior season off at 24:13 and ended it with a time of 20:55. She is going to continue her academic career at University of Tampa or Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale next fall.
Smyth has also taken on leadership roles with the team.
“This season,” Robtison explained, “she served as the warmup captain. Each day, it was her responsibility to rally up the team and get them started on the warmup routine.”
Smyth was able to drop her time from 21:40 at the start of the season to 19:54 at districts, and has the potential to improve her times even more. She will continue her academic and athletic career at Kutztown University next fall.
Lindsay Traino is a three-year varsity player and starter for the field hockey team. As a captain, Lindsay helped lead the team to a 13-5 season, a number-ten district ranking, and first place Sportsmanship Award for the Ches-Mont National League. She was also the team’s second-leading goal scorer with 10 goals, 6 assists and 26 points. Lindsay received Second Team All-Ches-Mont Honors and was awarded the team's Coaches' Award for the second consecutive year because of her dedication, work ethic, and unending help throughout the season.
“Not only is Lindsay a stand-out field hockey player, but she has excelled in the classroom as well and will earn All-Academic Honors at both the state and national levels,” Robtison explained.
Caroline McCulley is also a three-year varsity player and captain of the field hockey team. Caroline played an integral part in the team's success this season as both a forward and midfielder, contributing two goals and 11 assists. She was named as one of the team's Most Outstanding Seniors because of her aggressive play, determination, and willingness to play any role on the field. Caroline received Honorable Mention All-Ches-Mont honors, and will also receive All-State and National All-Academic Honors.
Emma McCulley is a first-year varsity forward for the field hockey team. “Emma was a huge contributor to the team's success this season posting 15 goals, 10 assists and 40 points,” Robtison said, explaining that not since 2005 has 15 goals been scored in a single season by a player. She consistently was in the top 15 for all high school goal scorers in the Philadelphia area.
McCulley unanimously earned First Team All-Ches-Mont honors. She was also awarded the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the year Award for the team. Next year, as a senior, she will be looked to as a leader and key starter of the 2017 field hockey team.
Brett Yurkovich was selected to the 2016 All-Ches-Mont Academic Team. He has a 4.47 GPA and is ranked 18 in a senior class with 456 members. Brett is a four-year member of the football program and two-year varsity starter at wide receiver with three receiving touchdowns in his career. He was also a co-captain his senior year.
“Brett represents a great example of what a student-athlete truly can be,” Robtison said.
Spencer Wallace is a three-year varsity starter and a four-year member of the football program. Spencer was selected as a Second Team All-Ches-Mont selection as an offensive lineman and was a co-captain for the 2016 team. Spencer has a 3.91 GPA and is ranked 102 of 456 in his class. He was honored to wear the number 55 jersey, which is given to the player on the football team who most represents the core values of the program.
Matt Chalupa is a four-year player on the varsity golf team and a three-time district qualifier. During his senior year he served as captain of the golf team. He is an outstanding student whose efforts and achievements, both academically and scholastically, have earned him a significant financial package to attend and play golf at York College.
Like Chalupa, Nick Conley is also a four-year member on the golf team. This year, Conley qualified for participation in the district tournament. “Nick is also an excellent student and has been accepted by Purdue University, among others,” Robtison explained. “His personal maturity and quiet leadership have made him a senior leader, who leads by example.”
Stetson Fenster is a four-year varsity player that includes two years as a team captain. He was a First Team and Second Team All Ches-Mont League selection and a top goal-scorer for two seasons. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, he is also an exceptional student-athlete, a National Honor Society member, and is well-respected by his teammates, peers, faculty and staff. He is also a regionally qualified soccer official and has aspirations of moving on to a national level.
Daniel Perkins is a co-captain and a First Team All-Ches-Mont League defender during his senior season. He also earned Honorable Mention All-Ches-Mont League honors as a junior. He exhibits strong character and discipline on the field as well as in the classroom. He also is the epitome of a student-athlete. He was this year's recipient of the soccer team's MVP Award after earning the team's Unsung Hero Award last year as a junior.
Lauren Kretzing is a sophomore who started every game this season and was one of the most consistent players on the team. She is a member of the girls soccer leadership council and holds the respect of all of her teammates. Her teammates voted her as one of the players they most wanted to be the face of the program.
“She embraced the role of playing one of the most thankless, yet important positions on the entire field,” Robtison explained. “She also stepped up the second half of the season and took it upon herself to control the defensive midfield. Her coaches and teammates are appreciative of her ability to always remain positive and lighten the mood when necessary. She was voted to the 2016 All-Ches- Mont League Honorable Mention Team.
Shannon Oakes played in the first two games of her junior season and scored in both of them. She suffered a season-ending foot injury in the second game and did not step back on the field as a player again.
“She is a fierce competitor and it was very difficult for her to sit on the bench,” Robtison explained. “However, she did everything possible to do whatever she could to benefit the team. Whether it was pumping players up before games, or getting the team focused when needed, Shannon went above and beyond as a leader and a captain. She became more of a coach on the sidelines helping individual players and communicating what needed to be done on the field.”
Genevieve Edelson earned the Most Outstanding Senior on the team this year. She started every game and was the most consistent defender on the team despite her desire to play an attacking role. She expressed her willingness to do whatever the team needed and was an example of a true team player. Her positive, never-quit attitude and toughness provided a good example for the younger players to follow. She was voted to the 2016 All-Ches-Mont League Second Team.
Senior Sophia Plankinton was a varsity player all three years with the tennis team, a captain twice and the top player on the squad the past two seasons. Her competitive drive and analytical mind made her invaluable as she served as an extension of the coaching staff and led by example at every practice and match. She played in the Ches-Mont singles tournament twice and the doubles tournament three times where she recorded multiple wins.
Marisa Glick is a sophomore that has played varsity singles in both of her seasons so far. It's rare to have underclassmen play on varsity in tennis, it's even more rare to have them be one of the top three players. Her on-court performance this year was commendable, recording wins against West Chester Rustin, Great Valley and Unionville, a team that made it deep in the state playoffs. She has been a captain once and will undoubtedly return to that post again in the future as one of the most well-liked and well-respected players on the team.
Chloee Kleespies is a four-year varsity starter who transferred to Avon Grove for her senior year. She led the team this season with most kills and was second in leading the team in digs and blocks. Chloee was awarded the Coaches Award this year and received First Team All-Ches-Mont honors. She also receive First Team All-Che-'Mont honors her freshman, sophomore and junior year along with First Team All-District 1 honors her sophomore and junior year. Chloee was also nominated for Gatorade Player of the year. She will be playing volleyball and serve as a thrower in track and field at the University of Toledo next fall.
Julia Crabtree is a four-year varsity starter. As a team captain her junior and senior year, Julia was one who impacted the team in a positive way. Always encouraging her teammates on and off the court, Julia showed that she had a true passion for the sport. She led the team this season in digs and aces and was second leading the team in kills. She was awarded Most Outstanding Senior and First Team All- Ches-Mont honors this season. She was also named Second Team All-Ches-Mont her sophomore year, First Team All-Ches-Mont her junior year and Second Team All-District 1 honors her junior year as well. Next fall, she will be playing volleyball at Elon University.
Superintendent Christopher Marchese and school board member Brian Gaerity both lauded the Avon Grove student-athletes for all their hard work and dedication.
“The work that you have put into your sports is amazing,” Gaerity said. “I'm really impressed by what you do, and thank you for representing Avon Grove so well.”