December 18, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens jumped out to big first-half leads, and posted big wins over Northeast Bradford and Canton Thursday and Saturday to improve to 4-0 on the season in NTL junior varsity basketball action.

Athens 50, NEB 18

Athens used a stifling defense to build a 24-point halftime cushion on its way to a 50-18 win over Northeast Bradford Thursday.

Kolsen Keathley scored four points and Korey Miller knocked down a 3-pointer to help Athens to a 12-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

Connor Mosher, Jace Babcock, who had a rare four-point play, and Nicholas Jacob scored four points apiece in the second quarter to fuel an 18-2 blitz that gave the junior Wildcats a 30-6 halftime lead.

Athens kept up the pace in the third quarter with a 13-4 burst, keyed by five points from Chris Mitchell, a 3-pointer by Mosher and a three-point play by Miller. Athens led 43-10 entering the final eight minutes.

Mitchell led a balanced Athens attack with eight points, while Mosher scored seven points, and Miller contributed six points, three rebounds, four assists, and four steals.

Keathley and Jacob scored six points apiece in the win, while Babcock and Xavier Watson chipped in with four points, and Peter Jones grabbed three boards.

Athens 50, Canton 30

At Canton, Athens raced out to a double-digit lead early, and cruised to a 50-30 win over Canton Saturday night.

Chris Mitchell and Connor Mosher, who drained a pair of 3-pointers, scored six points apiece, and Korey Miller knocked down a trey and scored five points in the first quarter to fuel a 19-7 run in the first eight minutes.

Miller canned his second 3-pointer of the game and scored seven points in a 16-7 run that extended the junior Wildcats' lead to 35-14 at the half.

Xavier Watson scored four points in the third quarter as Athens added to its lead, and took a 42-19 lead into the final eight minutes.

Miller led Athens with 12 points and four rebounds, while Mitchell had 10 points and four boards, and Mosher had six points and three assists

Jack Cheresnowsky contributed five points, three rebounds, and three steals in the win, while Jase Babcock had five points and three steals, Watson scored five points, and Troy Rosenbloom hauled down four rebounds.

Athens, now 4-0, hosts Sayre Thursday.

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December 18, 2021 Tim Birney

MILL HALL, Pa. - Junior Layla Bennett pinned her way to a title, and senior Raven McCarthy-Gardner finished second at the Queen of the Mountain tournament Sunday here at Central Mountain High School.

Bennett finished the 4-0 to win the round-robin 117-120-pound bracket,while McCarthy-Gardner was 3-1 in the 158-175-pound bracket. Braelynn Wood (131-136 pounds), Lily Galasso (135-140) and Halei Schlosser (151-164) all went 0-4 on the day.

Athens finished 11th in the 23-team field.

Bennett opened the day with a 30-second fall of Brooklyn Southwick of Crawford, and followed it up with a pin of eventual second-place finisher Anna Krieider of Annville-Cleaona in 3:37.

After a bye in Round 3, Bennett decked Sky Kophazy of Crawford in 30 seconds, and finished off her perfect day with a pin of Chloe Hills of Parkland in 3:11.

McCarthy-Gardner opened with a 30-second fall of Selinsgrove's Emily Genet, then pinned Sarah Lynn of Big Spring in 2:33.

McCarthy lost via first-period fall to eventual champ Natalie Rush of Canon-McMillan in Round 3. She bounced back with a pin of third-place finisher Kylee Dean of North Allegheny in 23 seconds.

Athens will wrestle Western Wayne Wednesday at the Athens Duals.

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December 17, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens fell behind early, but dominated through the middle two quarters on its way to a 52-33 win over Canton here Friday night NTL girls basketball action.

Carolyn Thoren scored six points, and the Lady Warriors held Athens without a field goal in the game's first eight minutes en route to a 10-2 lead, but senior Caydence Macik took over for the Lady Wildcats in the second quarter.

Macik poured in 14 points to fuel a 17-3 blitz that put them ahead 19-13 at the half.

Freshman Addy Wheeler scored seven points in the third quarter, and Macik added six in a 15-2 third-quarter run that gave Athens a 34-15 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

Canton more than doubled its output in the game, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Wildcats matched their total salt away the win. Wheeler, with eight points, and Macik combined for 14 points in the closing stanza.

Macik led Athens with 26 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots, and Wheeler had 18 points, three rebounds, four steals, and one blocked shot.

Junior Karlee Bartlow had four points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals for the Lady Wildcats in the win, while junior Emma Bronson had four points and three rebounds, and senior Olivia Bartlow had four boards and two blocked shots.

Thoren, Aislyn Williams, and Emmi Tymeson scored eight points apiece to pace Canton.

Athens, now 2-0, travels to NEB Monday night.

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December 17, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Mya Thompson and Sara Bronson combined for 27 points to lead Athens to a 31-25 win over Canton here Friday night in NTL junior varsity girls basketball action.

Canton led Athens 8-7 after the first eight minutes, but the junior Wildcats flipped the script in the second quarter to tie the game at 15-15 at the half.

Thompson scored two buckets in the third quarter, and the Athens defense held Canton to just one bucket, and took a 19-17 lead into the final eight minutes.

Thompson scored six points in the fourth quarter, and Bronson added four points to offset eight points scored by Canton's Carolyn Thoren.

Thompson led Athens with 17 points, four rebounds, and five steals, while Bronson had 10 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, and Izzy Davis added four points.

Ella Coyle had three rebounds, three steals, and two assists in the win, and Ravyn Glisson had three boards and five steals.

Thoren led Canton with 16 points.

Athens returns to action Monday at NEB.

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December 16, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens used a 20-1 run to start the second quarter to build a 21-point halftime cushion en route to a 53-21 win over Northeast Bradford here Thursday night in NTL boys basketball action.

Senior J.J. Babcock canned a 3-pointer in the second minute of the game to give the Wildcats a lead, at 5-4, they would never relinquish.

Dan Seeley, who scored all eight of NEB's points in the first quarter, scored with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter to trim Athens' lead to 7-6, but the Wildcats scored the next five points on a bucket by Babcock, and three points by senior Nalen Carling, to take a 12-6 lead.

Seeley scored in the final seconds of the opening stanza to pull the Panthers within 12-8, but they wouldn't make another field goal for seven minutes.

Junior Mason Lister scored a pair of buckets, sandwich around a driving lay-up by Babcock to make it 18-8 with 6:45 remaining in the first half.

After a free throw by Seeley, Carson Smith knocked down a 3-pointer to trigger an 14-0 spurt that ended with old-fashioned three-point plays by Carling and senior Troy Pritchard, and a 3-pointer by Babcock to make it 32-9.

After a bucket by Seeley, Babcock scored a pair of buckets in the final 20 seconds of the first half to give the Wildcats a 36-11 lead.

Senior Ryan Thompson canned a 3-pointer in the closing moments of the third quarter to give Athens a 49-15 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

Thompson's bucket with 2 minutes left in the game gave Athens its biggest lead of the contest, at 53-18.

Babcock, who made 7 of his 11 shots from the field, led Athens with 16 points, four assists, and three rebounds, while Lister scored 12 points, and Carling had eight points, nine rebounds, and three steals.

Pritchard had five points for the Wildcats, while Thompson had five points and three rebounds, senior Tucker Brown had four rebounds, four assists, and three steals, freshman Kolsen Keathley blocked two shots, and junior Lucas Kraft chipped in with three steals.

Seeley led NEB with 11 points - all in the first half.

Athens, now 2-1, returns to action Saturday at Canton.

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November 6, 2021 Chris Manning

HERSHEY — Athens senior Matt Gorsline finished up his career at the PIAA Cross-country Championships on Saturday, while Sara and Emma Bronson gained experience for next season.

Gorsline (18:28.1) was 142nd overall in the Class AA boys’ race. He had a strong finish — he was 161st at the 4,000-meter mark, so in the final thousand meters he improved 19 spots.

Freshman Sara Bronson (21:39.3) was 99th overall. She went out hard, sitting 46th at the mile mark, but fell back running those famous Hershey hills during the middle portion of the race, running 82nd at the 2-mile.

Emma Bronson, a junior, finished 115th in 21:53.2. She was 70th at the mile, and 95th at the 2-mile.

District IV did well in both Class AA races. For the girls, there were four medalists from the district, while Danville took fourth and Lewisburg was ninth.

On the boys’ side, Lewisburg won the team title by 20 points with four medalists.

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November 5, 2021 Tim Birney

MONTOURSVILLE — Montoursville had the perfect recipe for success. It scored on a big special teams play early, established its running game, and forced four Athens turnover on its way to a 48-14 win here Friday night in the quarterfinals of the District 4, Class AAA football playoffs.

“You can’t make mistakes we made tonight,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “You can’t make them ever, let alone in a playoff game. The teams are too good, and they make you pay.

“You can’t play a game like we played tonight and expect to win — too many mistakes,” added Young.

The Warriors were on the board just 15 seconds into the contest when Matt Conklin returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a score. Wyatt Fry’s PAT kick made it 7-0.

“We kicked the ball exactly where we wanted to kick it, but we didn’t do a good enough job in coverage,” said Young.

The Wildcats hit on a 38-yard pass from junior QB Mason Lister to senior tailback Shayne Reid on their first play from scrimmage, but were forced to punt shortly thereafter.

The Warriors took the punt and marched 70 yards for a score, with Kayden Frame capping the drive with a 3-yard TD run with 5:03 remaining in the first quarter to make it 14-0.

Moments later, Rocco Pulizzi picked off a Lister pass and returned it 29 yards to the Wildcat 1-yard line. Frame punched it in with 3:55 left in the first quarter to extend the lead to 21-0.

After forcing the Wildcats to punt on its next possession, the Warriors drove for another score with Jake Reeder pulling in a 6-yard TD pass from Maddix Dalena to make it 28-0 with 10:53 remaining in the first half.

Athens threatened on its next possession, moving into the Montoursville red zone on a 66-yard hook-and-lateral pass from Lister to senior J.J. Babcock to Reid. However, Athens fumbled the ball away two plays later.

The Wildcat defense forced a Montoursville punt, and the offense quickly put points on the board, with Lister connecting with Rude for a 26-yard TD strike. Reid’s PAT kick made it 28-7 with 5:01 remaining in the first half.

Athens kept the momentum going when Reid recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Wildcats fumbled the ball away moments later.

The Warriors capitalized with a short scoring drive culminating with a 16-yard TD run by Frame to make it 35-7 with 2:01 remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats gambled on its first possession of the second half with a fake punt in their own territory, but the Warriors stuffed it at the Athens 32.

On the next play, Dylan Blackwell ripped on a 32-yard TD run to make it 41-6 with 9:16 remaining in the third quarter.

Athens fumbled the ball away again on its first play of the ensuing possession, and Blackwell capped a short scoring drive with a 3-yard TD run to make it 48-7with 6:55 left in the third quarter.

Athens lit up the scoreboard for the final time of the season with a 38-yard TD pas from Lister to Rude with 8:54 left in the game. Reid’s second PAT kick provided the final margin.

Reid led Athens with 32 rushing yards on 11 carries. The Wildcats had just 39 yards on the ground on 21 carries.

Lister completed 14 of 25 passes for 264 yards and two TDs, while being picked off once.

Rude led Athens receivers with seven receptions for 108 yards and two TDs, while Reid had four catches for 127 yards, and Babcock added two grabs for 27 yards.

The Wildcats graduate 13 seniors from this team, including Reid, Rude, Babcock, Dylan Harford, Troy Jennings, Troy Pritchard, and Jared Peterson.

“(Montoursville) was a better team than us tonight,” said Young. “I’m not sure they’re that much better than us, but at the same time I’m appreciative for these kids.

“They’ve played hard,” added Young. “This senior class is a special class, it’s avery talented class. There are some special people there, but I’m appreciative of the entire team, of their effort and their time.”

Athens wraps up the 2021 campaign with a 6-5 record.

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October 30, 2021 Tim Birney

MIDDLEBURG — Top-seeded Mifflinburg scored four first-half goals, and tacked on four more in the second half in an 8-0 win over fourth-seeded Athens here Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the District 4, Class AAA girls soccer playoffs at Midd-West High School.

“We knew what we were coming up against,” said Athens coach Rich Pitts. “They’re a pretty talented team, they have a number of travel players.”

Pitts said the biggest challenge was matching Miff’s speed of play early in the game.

“I knew MIfflinburg was good,” he said. “The speed of play, we’ve seen it in some of our non-conference games. I just wanted the girls to work their way into the game, catch up to the speed of the game, and I thought they did.

“The question was, can we win a ball, get possession and move forward?“ he noted. “Can we work our way into the game, get on our front foot in the attacking end? I thought we did it.

“Even though the ball was in our end a ton, I didn’t think there was a ton of dangerous stuff.

“We got in their end, and couldn’t be clinical enough to finish,” Pitts continued. “We weren’t able to attack with enough numbers to sustain anything in their end.

“I think if we had been a little more aggressive when we did get it down there, I think we could have created a few more chances,” added Pitts.

Sarah Fritz gave Mifflinburg a 1-0 lead about 12 minutes into the game, then scored again about 5 1/2 minutes later on a hard shot that squirted through the hands of Athens keeper junior Karlee Bartlow.

Bartlow redeemed herself a few minutes later with a nice save on a 1-v-1.

Peyton Yocum converted a nice cross from Emily Walls with 16:09 remaining before the intermission to make it 3-0, and Taylor Beachy capped the first-half scoring with a shot from 35 yards out two minutes later.

Beachy scored twice in a 5 1/2-minute span midway through the second half to complete her hat trick, and extend the lead to 6-0 with 16:29 left in game.

Walls made it 7-0 about 2 1/2 minutes later, and Yocum capped the scoring with 8:45 remaining in the contest.

Mifflinburg improves to 18-1, while Athens wraps up the season with a 9-9 record.

Following the loss, Pitts reflected on the season.

“I thought (Hannah) Walker was a huge leader for us this year,” he said. “She plays defender for her club team, but I can put her anywhere. She’s had a stellar career here.

“I think Addison Wheeler is the best freshman I’ve had. In terms of how she acclimated herself, and took charge in the middle, I think she’s brilliant.

“We  were missing (Emma) Yohe because she got hurt, but having the Sayre girls has been big for us,” noted Pitts. “Kendra Merrill played tons of minutes, I don’t know if we would have been the same team without her.”

Pitts said the biggest addition to this year’s team came after preseason camp was already under way.

On the second day of practice, starting keeper Abby Champion suffered a season-ending injury.

“I asked Caydence (Macik) which basketball player wasn’t playing a fall sport, and Karlee (Bartlow) got the call.

“Karlee came in and worked and worked, and worked,” said Pitts. “Today was her 18th game ever of playing soccer in her life.

“Some of the things she did today were brilliant, and some of the things are things you’d expect from someone who has never played the game, and never played in goal.

“That girls is all heart,” added Pitts. “That scoreboard today does not say what (Karlee Bartlow) has done for us, stepping into a tough position and doing a fantastic job.”

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October 30, 2021 Tim Birney

MIDDLEBURG — Nick Ritter scored four goals — all in the first half — to lead second-seeded Selinsgrove to a 7-0 win over third-seeded Athens in the semifinals of the District 4, Class AAA boys soccer playoffs here Saturday afternoon at Midd-West High School.

“We knew (Ritter) was a great goal-scorer, and he proved that today,” said Athens coach Jake Lezak. “We knew he was a good player, and we didn’t take care of business.

“We gave him too much room to play,” noted Lezak. “He stayed off our line, and created his own space. He did what a great goal-scorer does.

“I just don’t think we played against enough dynamic players like him to have been really prepared for that.

“And, once we got down, it was all uphill from there,” added Lezak.

About 4 11/2 minutes into the game, Ritter made a strong run down the left wing, and scored his first goal to put the Seals up 1-0.

About four minutes later, Ritter struck again. Six minutes after that, he headed in a corner kick for his hat trick to extend Selinsgrove’s lead to 3-0 with 25:20 left in the first half.

With 14 minutes remaining in the first half, Ritter collected a through-ball and deposited a shot into the back of the net to make it 4-0.

The Seals tacked on three goals in the second half — two by freshman Jace Diehl and one by sophomore Jake Keeney. Ryan Mangels had two assists.

Selinsgrove had a 21-3 advantage in shots-on-goal.

The Wildcats wrap up the season with a 12-7 record.

“I’m really proud of the boys for the season we had,” said Lezak. “We lost a lot of games, but it was a really tough schedule.

“We bounced back and won the league this year. The guys can hang their hat on that,” noted Lezak. “And, we had some non-league wins they can be proud of.

“Some of the other games gives us something to work for next year,” he added.

For the third year in a row, the Wildcats will graduate a large group of seniors.

“We have 11 seniors — it’s a really big loss for us. .

“I think they had as big of an impact off the field, as they did on the field for us,” said Lezak. “These guys do a lot of great things for the school and the team, and provide a lot of leadership.
“It’s definitely going to be tough to fill those shoes,” he noted. “They’ve had great careers.

“Last year was a down year for us in a sense, but we bounced back this year,” added Lezak. “I don’t think teams thought we’d be at this point this year, having to replace so many guys three years in a row.”

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October 29, 2021 Tim Birney

SAYRE — A costly penalty, and a perfectly-executed extra-point kick in a steady rain on a muddy field proved to be the difference in Athens’ 7-6 win over Sayre here Friday night in the annual “Rusty Rail” rivalry game at the Lockhart Street Bowl.

“That was a good old-fashioned football game,” said Athens coach Jack Young “I couldn’t be more proud.

“This is a special group. They are tough,” noted Young. “We didn’t play like ourselves the last two weeks.

“I’m so happy for this group because the last couple weeks have been really tough,” he added.

“It was a good game, but I don’t know that it was our best game,” said Sayre coach Kevin Gorman. “That’s the big thing with us, we’ve kind of whiffed the last three weeks.

“I know the kids are upset about it, and the (coaching staff) is too.

“Hopefully, next week we can get into playoff mode and get something rolling,” Gorman added.

Sayre senior Brayden Horton returned the opening kick 39 yards to the Athens 40. After one first down, the Redskins possession bogged down after a holding penalty, and a short punt gave the Wildcats the ball at their own 26.

Athens senior tailback Shayne Reid ripped off 38 yards on six carries, but the Redskin defense stopped Athens inches short of a first down on fourth-and-1 at the Redskin 30.

After an exchange of punts, Sayre took over at its 25, and put together its only scoring drive of the night.

Senior tailback David Northrup’s 10-yard run gave the Redskins their initial first down of the drive, then he hauled in a 12-yard reception from Brayden Horton for another first down to the Wildcat 44.

Four plays later, on fourth-and-4, Brayden Horton rolled left and found Lucas Horton open along the home sidelines for a 38-yard TD to give the Redskins a 6-0 lead with 6:25 remaining in the first half.

Athens junior Caleb Nichols batted down Brayden Horton’s pass on the conversion to keep the Sayre lead at 6-0.

The Wildcats came out throwing on their ensuing possession. Lister connected with senior Karter Rude on three consecutive passes for 6, 6 and 15 yards to move the ball to the Sayre 26.

Two plays later, on third-and-7, Lister rifled a pass into traffic to 6-5 senior J.J. Babcock for an 11-yard gain to the Sayre 12.

Four plays later, on fourth-and-3 at the Sayre 5, Lister was flushed out of the pocket, and his pass sailed over the head of Rude in the back of the end zone. However, Sayre was flagged for roughing-the-passer, giving the Wildcats new life at the Sayre 3.

“We were just dumb,” said Gorman. “We had the roughing-the-passer and later on a couple personal fouls … to win games, you can’t do that.

“It was fourth-down, we got some pressure on Mason (Lister), and he threw it high,” noted Gorman. “We would have gotten the ball back … (but) they end up scoring, and that won the game for them.

“You can’t keep shooting yourself in the foot, but we just keep doing it,” added Gorman.

After Lister moved the ball inside the 1 with a QB sneak, the Redskins stuffed him on second down. On third down, Reid bulled into the end zone to tie the game at 6-6 with 31 seconds remaining in the half. Reid’s PAT kick made it 7-6.

“We had a breakdown in coverage and (Sayre) took advantage, but I couldn’t be more proud of the way our offense came back out and answered,” said Young.

“You could hear it in on the sidelines, it was different this week. The guys were saying, ‘we need to answer,’” noted Young. “And, we answered with a great drive. We had a couple big plays, a couple big throws, catches, runs, and we put one on the board.

“And, I think we have the best kicker in the area … to execute a kick in this mess means something, and that was the difference in the game,” added Young.

Reid also accounted for the winning points in last year’s “Rusty Rail” game, with a 27-yard fourth-quarter field goal to lift Athens to a 10-7 win.

“How bout that, I’ll take it,” laughed Young.

The rain, which was steady for the entire first half, picked up in intensity during halftime, and both offenses struggled for consistency in the second half.

The Wildcats quickly moved the ball to the Sayre 34 on their first possession, thanks to an 18-yard run by Reid, and an unsportsmanlike conduct flag against the Redskins, but a low shotgun snap resulted in a 15-yard loss.  Three plays later, Athens punted.

Sayre’s first possession was a three-and-out, and Lucas Horton’s 36-yard punt gave the Wildcats the ball at their own 31.

After one first down, a pair of penalties put the Wildcats in a second-and-31 hole at their own 22. Two plays later, Reid was stacked up by the Redskin defense, and junior Zach Garrity stripped him of the ball, and recovered it at the Athens 32.

A 10-yard run by Brayden Horton moved the ball to the Wildcat 22, but the drive stalled there, and Athens took over on downs.

After the Wildcats punted the ball back to Sayre, the Redskins picked up one first down. On fourth-and-2 at the Athens 42, senior Jared Peterson picked off a Horton pass with 6:28 remaining in the game.

Athens’ offense did little, but a pair of third-down personal foul penalties against Sayre moved the chains.

The Wildcats eventually punted, and Sayre took over at its 21 with 2:03 remaining in the game.

After picking up a first down on a roughing-the-passer call against the Wildcats, Horton’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by Rude and returned to the Sayre 27 with 1:23 remaining.

Athens took a knee twice in victory formation to run out the clock.

Reid led all ground-gainers in the game with 117 yards and one TD on 28 carries. In all, the Wildcats ran for 111 yards on 40 carries.

“I’ll tell you what, 23 (Shayne Reid) doesn’t have much left in his tank,” said Young. “He ran hard, and the guys blocked their tails off.

“When it’s like this, you just pile int he box, and see who can tough it out,” he added.

Lister completed 7 of 10 passes for 46 yards. Rude led Athens receivers with three receptions for 27 yards.

The Redskins had 153 yards in total offense (compared to Athens’ 157.)

Brayden Horton completed 8 of 19 passes for 92 yards, one TD, and two interceptions. Senior Josh Arnold led Sayre with three receptions for 12 yards.

Northrup led Sayre’s ground game with 45 yards on 14 carries.

Athens, now 6-4, will likely open the District 4, Class AAA playoffs at Loyalsock (6-4) next weekend, while Sayre (5-5) will travel to Troy (7-3).

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October 28, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens saw its 2021 season come to an end at home Thursday night with a 3-0 loss to Large School champ North Penn-Liberty in NTL volleyball action.

The Lady Mountaineers won by scores of 25-19, 25-14, and 25-18.

Senior Ally Martin led Athens with five points, including four aces, six kills, and 15 digs, while junior Jenny Ryan had two points, seven kills and 15 digs, and senior Taylor Walker had nine kills and 11 digs.

Freshman Ella Coyle recorded 27 digs, while junior Audrey Clare had 12 digs and two kills, junior Cassy Friend registered three kills, and juniors Braelynn Wood and Kassie Babcock each chipped in with three digs.

Athens wraps up the season at 6-10.

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October 28, 2021 Chris Manning

BLOOMSBURG — For Athens’ Emma Bronson, Thursday’s District IV, Class AA girls’ Cross Country Championship race was a long time coming. The junior had come up just short of qualifying for states last year, and wasn’t going to let it pass by again, as she, and her freshman sister Sara Bronson both qualified for States, along with Matt Gorsline in the boys’ Class AA race.

“Coming into this season, I knew I wanted to do it, and I did, so it’s really exciting,” said Emma.

Emma (20:51) was the final state qualifier, taking 14th overall, as she continues to work her way back from an injury. Sara (20:36) came in ninth and was the second highest freshman finisher in the field.

“This was my goal all season long, so it was really nice to have accomplished it,” she said.

Sara ran mostly by herself as she got caught in between packs for much of the race.

“I just didn’t want to get passed by anyone because I knew where I was,” she said. “I just wanted to keep running a good race, and try and catch the girl in front of me.”

Emma was racing throughout the course, and was out kicked at the end in a pack, but was still 29 seconds ahead of the next individual placer.

“(I knew) right at the end, and then I was just waiting,” she said. “But it all worked out.”

For the two of them, this is a dream come true they they’re going to experience states together.

“It’s super fun being able to run with her,” said Emma.

The Wildcats were eighth overall with 199 placement points.

Thea Bentley (24:50) was 58th, Emily Henderson (26:25) came in 71st, and Cailyn Conklin (27:03) took 74th.

On the boys’ side, Gorsline ran right on the bubble for most of the race, but used a furious finish to be the sixth individual to qualify, taking 12th overall in 17:27.

“The race went very well, just how I wanted it to,” he said. “I did know I was going to be toward the back a little bit. I knew I just had to sit there and kind of pass a lot of people at the end, that’s what I did.”

Gorsline out kicked five runners of a pack he was in during the final sprint.

“I knew I was right at ninth and 10th individual, so I locked my eyes on one guy three places ahead of me, and I caught him,” he explained. “Then I went for the next two, and I actually caught them, too.”

Last year, Gorsline, along with two other Athens runners, would have made states if it had been a normal year. That motivated Gorsline to make it happen this time around.

“It really put the pressure on for this year,” he said. “It really pushed me to strive to get there.”

His teammate Ethan Denlinger (17:39) missed a state spot by one second as the first person out, taking 20th overall. Kyle Anthony (18:21) was 28th, Carter Lewis (18:46) came in 32nd, and Izaak Hobday (19:35) was 45th as the Wildcats were fifth as a team with 124 points.

The Sayre girls team had three competitors in Class A: Corey Ault (26:59) in 44th, Rose Shikanga (27:27) in 49th, and Deborah Shikanga (30:31) in 57th.

Braylon Dekay (23:29) was 56th in the boys’ Class A race.

The PIAA Cross Country Championships are Nov. 6 in Hershey.

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October 26, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — For all intents and purposes, Athens’ volleyball season ended Saturday with a loss in the opening round of the District 2-4 Sub-Regionals, but it  still had a couple league games remaining this week.

After a good performance in a non-league loss at Corning Monday, Athens coach Heather Hanson decided to let her young team have a little fun Tuesday in what turned out to be a 3-1 home loss to Wellsboro.

“I did a skills challenge for the girls when we played Corning,” said Hanson. “If they achieved the goal I had set for them, they would be able to create the line ups for tonight's match.

“Let the girls be in charge of the line-ups for this game,” she noted. “Everyone wanted to try different spots so I put it in their hands, and every once in awhile made a suggestion.

“It was fun to watch them play and try something different,” added Hanson. “They played really well.”

Junior Jenny Ryan had a triple-double to lead the Lady Wildcats, registering 14 service points (two aces), 17 kills, 21 digs, and seven setter assists, while senior Ally Martin had 10 points six kills, and 11 digs, and freshman Kassie Babcock had eight points, six kills, and 10 digs.

Senior Taylor Walker had seven points, six kills, and six digs for Athens, while junior Cailin McDaniel had six points (two aces), and two digs, freshman Ella Coyle had four points and 24 digs, junior Audrey Clare had four points, three kills, and 10 digs, and junior Braelynn Wood had four points and 14 digs.

Athens, now 6-9, closes out the season Thursday when it hosts North Penn-Liberty.

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October 25, 2021 Tim Birney

CORNING — Athens got off to a quick start, but Corning righted the ship and won a 3-1 decision here Monday night in non-league volleyball action.

The Lady Wildcats, now 6-8, won the first set 25-20, but the Lady Hawks bounced back with wins of 25-18, 25-10, and 25-14 to win the match.

Freshman Kassie Babcock led Athens with eight points, including three aces, and four digs, while junior Jenny Ryan had seven points (two aces), 11 setter assists, three kills, and nine digs, and freshman Ella Coyle had six points (two aces), and 21 digs.

Senior Ally Martin had four points, a team-high six kills, and 14 digs for the Lady Wildcats, while senior Taylor Walker had two points, four kills, one block, and 12 digs, junior Audrey Clare had two points (two aces), three kills, and 13 digs, junior Cassy Friend registered two kills and one block, and junior Braelynn Wood recorded seven digs.

Athens returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Wellsboro.

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October 23, 2021 Tim Birney

BERWICK —  Last year, Berwick ended Athens’ Cinderella run through the District 2-4 Class AAA Sub-Regionals in the finals. This year, Berwick ended it before it could even get started.

The Lady Bulldogs swept the Lady Wildcats by scores of 25-15, 25-15, and 25-11 here Saturday in the opening round of the District 2-4 Class AAA Sub-Regionals.

“It was a good effort,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “Berwick has a big powerhouse hitter and that took the momentum from us.

“It was a great experience for the girls. I am so proud of them and the effort they put in,” added Hanson.

In 2020,  a senior-laden Athens team entered the Sub-Regionals as the seventh seed, and promptly upset second-seeded Greater Nanticoke in a five-set thriller. In the semis, Athens swept Tunkhannock to advance to the championship match against top-seeded Berwick.

Led by a pair sophomore hitters — 6-1 Cece Isenberg and 5-10 Sarah Steeber, Berwick swept Athens.

The Lady Bulldogs, who return nearly everyone from last year’s team, dominated play at the net Saturday.

Junior Braleynn Wood led Athens with seven service points, six assists, and three digs, while senior Taylor Walker had six points, and seven digs, and freshman Ella Coyle had four points and 14 digs.

Freshman Kassie Babcock had four points, including three aces, and three kills, while junior Audrey Clare had four points, four assists, and four digs, senior Ally Martin had three points, five digs, and two kills, junior Cassy Friend added three kills, and junior Cailin McDaniel chipped in with two digs.

Athens, now 6-7, wraps up the regulars season with three matches next week, beginning at Corning Monday.

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