DeSales Roundup: Runners look to chase down goals

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Senior Megan Shuey is among the top returnees for the DeSales girls cross country team.

Having spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for the DeSales cross country program, Amy Schockling already knows almost as much about the Stallions' runners as she can in her first fall as the head coach.

Schockling still is impressed by what she sees as extra motivation from her boys and girls teams this season, especially considering that most of them missed out on track and field last spring because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"Having missed out on their track season, all of the returners came back ready to work. They have come back stronger, faster and more motivated to make the most of this season," Schockling said. "The team is a very close-knit group that has an incredible group of upperclassmen who have been the driving force behind the work ethic on both teams."

DeSales opened Aug. 29 with the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion.

Although the boys team lost Division II state qualifier John Shoemaker to graduation, four of its remaining top six runners to end the season returned in seniors Isaiah Rush and Nick Schetter and sophomores Aidan Shannon and Adam Weithman. Senior Aiden Williams was in the top seven for five races last season but was injured for the postseason.

Shoemaker finished 96th at state.

Schockling, a 2012 graduate of DeSales, succeeded Ben McGinnis, who resigned in June after five seasons. She is in her fifth year as a math teacher at the school.

The girls team returns nine of its top 10 runners from last year, including sophomore Josie Dages, who was DeSales' top finisher in each of its eight races. She is joined by seniors Bre Callahan, Hannah Pekarcik, Evie Sarle, Megan Shuey and Gracey Wilson, juniors Audrey Callahan and Monica Sullivan and sophomore Ellie Reash.

Dages finished third in the CCL meet, 22nd in Division I, district 2 and 56th at regional. While she was the team's second regional qualifier in three years, following Cammy Bury in 2017, DeSales is hoping for its first regional appearance since 2014, when it was in Division II.

"Having qualified for regionals as a team last year, the boys' ultimate goal is to return to regionals to earn a chance at qualifying for the state meet," Schockling said. "The girls have been working hard to qualify for regionals as a team for the first time in six years. That is a big goal of ours."

Other expected varsity contributors for the boys team include sophomores Pierson Bryan, Owen Eckstein, Max Figliola and Brendan Lackey and freshmen Luke Aaron and Neal Ritchie.

Freshman Mary McCallister also is expected to vie for time in the girls' top seven.

According to Schockling, the program has almost 50 runners.

"We have the biggest group of freshmen we've had in a while, mostly (on the) boys (team)," Schockling said. "I can't wait to watch them improve and contribute."

Girls tennis team earning solid wins

With a stable lineup led by Molly Ballard, Maddie Hill and Evie Brainard at first, second and third singles, respectively, the girls tennis team was 8-3 overall and 1-0 in the CCL before playing Ready on Sept. 15.

The Stallions won two of three matches last week, bouncing back from a 5-0 loss at Watkins Memorial on Sept. 7 to defeat Hartley 4-1 the next day in the CCL opener for both teams and Big Walnut 3-2 on Sept. 10.

Big Walnut had won the OCC-Capital Division championship less than 48 hours earlier.

Ballard clinched the win against the Golden Eagles, defeating Kina Ehlers 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (13-11) despite losing a 5-2 lead in the second set.

"We've lost a lot of third-set tiebreakers and a lot of three-set matches, more than we did last year, and I felt we were pretty good in those situations last year. That's what you see sometimes when you have four newcomers (to the varsity lineup); people are learning how to compete," coach Tom Snyder said. "That was a big win for us as a team. We're heading into the meat of our schedule with a lot of good opponents ahead of us."

The doubles lineup has been equally stable, with Ella Dingman and Kat Jolley at first doubles and Pascaline Ndayishimye and Amelia Zaremba primarily at second doubles.

DeSales wraps up CCL play Tuesday, Sept. 22, against two-time defending league champion Watterson at the Park of Roses.

Boys golf coach pleased with progress

Boys golf coach Tony Pinson said the team constantly has adjusted its goals this season, but only because the Stallions feel they can handle increased expectations.

"We're continuing to aim for something better. First it was (shooting) a 330 (as a team), then 320, then 315 and so on," Pinson said. "Our bad days are getting better, and what I mean by that is our high scores aren't what they used to be. Everybody is improving. We're shooting much better than we were at the beginning of the season, and that's what you want to see."

Freshman Vaughn Harber has led the team from the start, having earned top-eight finishes in three invitationals entering the week, including a 70 in Bexley's Bob Darwin Memorial Invitational on Sept. 5 at Westchester.

"He's shot a lot of low 70s. He's just been consistent," Pinson said. "He hasn't shot in the 60s yet, but that's coming."

The Stallions shot a season-best 315 in the inaugural DeSales Invitational on Aug. 22 at Chapel Hill.

Scott Armstrong, Jake Pierce and Devin McInerney have rounded out the top four in that order. Joe Couhig, Luke Gabrielli and Will Jordan have alternated as fifth player.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

At a glance

CROSS COUNTRY

*Coach: Amy Schockling, first season

*Top athletes: Boys -- Isaiah Rush, Nick Schetter, Aidan Shannon, Adam Weithman and Aidan Williams; Girls -- Audrey Callahan, Bre Callahan, Josie Dages, Hannah Pekarcik and Gracey Wilson

*Key losses: Boys -- John Shoemaker and Owen Weikert; Girls -- Cate Leithauser

*2019 CCL standings: Boys -- Watterson (35), Hartley (46), St. Charles (59), DeSales (71), Ready (155); Girls -- Watterson (37), DeSales (38), Hartley (53), Ready (119)

*2019 postseason: Boys -- Fourth at district, 16th at regional; Girls -- 14th at district

First-singles player Molly Ballard has been among the top performers for the Stallions girls tennis team, which was 8-3 overall and 1-0 in the CCL before playing Ready on Sept. 15.