It’s a whole new world for high school sports in Pennsylvania this spring.
Denied an entire season in 2020 because of the pandemic, players and coaches are excited to get their 2021 season under way. It’s just going to be different at the start, with plenty of new names to learn, smaller rosters and not much knowledge about what to expect.
Many of the area baseball and softball teams play their first games today, as well as lacrosse. Most area schools’ track and field teams will begin with the 15th Tim Cook Invitational at Chambersburg on Saturday.
Here is a brief look at Chambersburg and Greencastle-Antrim teams (baseball and softball were previewed earlier):
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
The Tim Cook Invitational was snowed out one year, canceled last year and was nearly called off this year. But it is back, with most area teams, plus Carlisle and Cumberland Valley, entered, and best of all, spectators will be allowed into Trojan Stadium (meet begins at 1:00).
“I’m happy for our seniors, who will get to compete in their last Cook,” Trojan coach Bob Walker said.
Walker felt his 2020 team had a legitimate chance of competing for a PIAA team title, but most of those athletes have graduated.
“I feel like we’re starting from scratch,” Walker said. “We’ve had a whole year with not much we could do. We’ll just figure out our best lineup, send them out and see what happens. We do have some athletes with potential.”
Among the athletes expected to score some points are sprinters Jayden Jones and Kenan Korkutovic, hurdlers Darion Baumgardner, Michael Kelly and Edis Korkutovic, Malaki Blair in the jumps, high jumper Tanner Myers and Aiden Coffey in the pole vault.
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
Trojan girls coach Chris Monheim brings back a pretty strong list of performers with the pedigree to score points, but with no season last year, “We don’t know a lot about what else we have,” he said.
The sprint crew, featuring Shanelle Burrowes, sisters Jacelyn and Aniyah Jones, Taryn Robinson and Tayah Warren, are a strength for Chambersburg, as is the distance group of Camy Kiser, Maddie Kinton, Keira Whitehead and Olivia Rieck.
Ainslee Ackerman (pole vault), Josey Reineman (jumps), Jillian Cook (hurdles) and Kaleah Leisher and Madison Ogden (throws), as well as versatile athletes Kate Etter and Caitlyn and Cayce Elbin should also score points.
“Sprints and distance are definitely strengths, while the jumps, throws and hurdles have improved a lot,” said Monheim, who also said to keep an eye on freshmen Natalia Holmes and Jahnaya Wimberley. “We are a pretty well-rounded team.”
Chambersburg’s new coach, Joey Wilmot, has a sense of fulfilled destiny.
“In my junior year (playing for the Trojans), I told my dad (Tim, the catalyst for starting the sport at Chambersburg), that I wanted to coach lacrosse, and I wanted to coach here at Chambersburg. Now, it’s worked out that way.”
Wilmot played in college at Eastern University and he was the head coach at Houghton (N.Y.) College for three years. He and his wife moved back to the area two years ago, and when longtime coach Paul Flohr resigned, Wilmot was ready to take over.
He will begin with a very young squad. There were 16 seniors on last year’s team; this year the Trojans have only 11 juniors and seniors among their 29 players.
“We have only one guy who has played in a varsity game, Dom Marangoni (13 goals, 11 assists in 2019),” Wilmot said. “But our freshman class is really solid. Three years ago, that group won their league, so there’s some talent there.”
Trojan coach Keara Allshouse has been pleasantly surprised with her team, which has only 22 players.
“We had high numbers last year, so we do have a lot of returning players,” Allshouse said. “The girls who were brand-new to the sport last year have picked it up and there’s a lot of growth with the team. We have better skill levels.”
The coach will be counting on scoring from Emma Grimm, who tallied 23 goals two years ago, and returns goalie Emma Moschetti, who has looked good in scrimmages.
Other players to watch are Ridglee Flohr, Hannah Woolf and Ellisa Gamby.
In addition to returning only two varsity players from two years ago (Riley Laite and Kyle Ganoe), the Chambersburg volleyball team had a setback in the preseason when they had to quarantine for a positive COVID-19 result.
“We’ve only had six practices so far,” Trojan coach Marta Helfrick said Monday, “so we had to rewind and do a lot of first-week things all over again. We have a lot of work to do by Monday (season opener).”
One more hurdle for Chambersburg: Only 18 kids came out, making it impossible for both varsity and JV to play 6 v 6. And injuries have also taken a toll.
“It might take us a while to get rolling,” Helfrick said.
The Trojans have a new coach, Niko Mucci, who replaced Brad Hill.
Mucci played in high school at York Catholic, played four years at Millersville University and was an assistant at Palmyra for two years.
Ironically, Chambersburg’s first match was against Palmyra, and the Cougars took a 5-0 win. Currently, the team is 0-3.
Mucci said, “We wouldn’t have had many seniors starting last year, so now we do. I think we should be pretty competitive at No. 1 and 2 singles with Sam Vessah and Kadyn Taylor. I think we should be pretty competitive in most of our matches.”
The Trojans have only 10 players, about half what they would have had in 2020.
TRACK & FIELD
The Blue Devils are down in numbers, but certainly have some star power.
“This is the most blind I’ve been going into a season,” G-A coach Devin McCauley said, referring to missing the 2020 season. “And we’re definitely down in numbers, especially with the young kids.”
On the boys side, Weber Long appears poised for a fine season in the distance races, based on cross country and indoor results.
McCauley said, “He’s definitely a kid we expect to be in position to do well in the postseason. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s on the border of being nationally recognized.”
Other boys who should be point scorers for Greencastle include Nate Kirkwood (jumps), David Neibauer (sprints), Ethan Shank (pole vault), Jackson Wright (high jump) and Luke Montedoro (hurdles).
For the girls, distance runner Claire Paci has already shown her chops as a freshman. Other top girls include Claire Coons (sprints), Olivia Winslow (jumps), Avery Parks (hurdles) and Karleigh Bubeck (jumps).