November 1, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Powerhouse North Penn-Liberty fought off a pesky Athens squad in the first set, then rolled to a sweep here Tuesday night in the semifinals of the District 4, Class AA volleyball playoffs.

The top-seeded Lady Mountaineers, now 18-1, won by scores of 25-21, 25-17, and 25-15.

“We played all out,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “I couldn’t be prouder of their effort.

“The plan was to play with all-out effort, and smiles,” noted Hanson.  “They did it … we tried unconventional ways to turn it around if errors were made, and we had fun.

“We just made too many errors.

“This a special, fun, close-knit team,” added Hanson. “I am truly blessed, and I can’t thank them enough for letting me be their coach this year.”

Senior Jenny Ryan led Athens with three service points, seven kills, 13 setter assists, and 16 digs, while senior Audrey Clare had six kills, two blocks, two assists, sophomore Kassie Babcock had six kills, and 12 digs, and senior Cassy Friend registered two kills, and eight blocks

Sophomore Ella Coyle had two points — both aces, and 11 digs for the Lady Wildcats, while senior Cailin McDaniel had two points and three digs, junior Izzy Davis recorded five digs, and junior Keaton Wiles chipped in with two kills, and one block.

The Lady Wildcats wrap up their season at 9-9, with three losses coming to NP-L.

Hanson will say good-bye to five seniors, a group she speaks very highly of.

“These five seniors are so, so, so, special,” said Hanson. “And, unbelievably talented in everything they do. They do so much on top of everything they do on the court; most of them also have some kind of employment too.”

Hanson lauded each of her seniors.

“Audrey Clare is such a leader and team player. The hardest hit ever … I love when she pounds the ball

“I am so flipping proud and impressed by Cassy Friend’s skills. She started playing in 8th-grade and has made a complete 180-degree turn into an extremely intense player and huge blocker.

“Cailin McDaniel is a passionate player and so, so, so, competitive. She pushed herself last season to become a starter this season and earned it.

“Jenny Ryan is an incredible player who has worked her butt off to be where she is at today. She makes her position look easy, when it is absolutely not. She is fast, can hit the ball hard, and can play defense. An all-around amazing player.

“Braelynn Wood Is a standout leader, and extremely smart player. She knew where to put the ball all the time and was also incredible at defense.”

Hanson said the seniors were the key to Athens’ success in 2022.

“This fearsome five came into preseason and took control,” she said. “It was awesome to watch the leadership and mentorship take off from day one.

“I’ve had so many compliments from parents saying how kind the girls have been to the freshmen,” added Hanson. “They are amazing role models and deserve all the best.”

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October 31, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens had six players honored with NTL all-star selections, including three first-teamers — seniors Ally Thoman, sophomore Addy Wheeler, and junior Mya Thompson.

Freshman Kaitlyn Sutton, junior Lizzy Shaw, and senior Karlee Bartlow earned second-team honors.

The NTL “Player of the Year” and All-State selection was Wyalusing junior Olivia Haley, while Troy junior Addy Parker was selected “Offensive Player of the Year,” and Troy’s Caelyn Pine senior was the “Defensive Player of the Year.”

Ally Thoman, senior, Athens:
Fast and physical with a penchant for getting in position to score, Thoman found the back of the net 18 times, and doled out six assists.

Also selected first-team forwards were: NEB senior Kayleigh Thoman, Wyalusing junior Olivia Haley, and Troy junior Addy Parker.

Addy Wheeler, sophomore Athens:
A heady and athletic player, Wheeler had three goals and eight assists.

Also selected first-team midfielders were: NEB junior Melanie Shumway, Wyalusing senior Layla Botts, Troy senior Caelyn Pine, and Troy senior Camille McRoberts.

Mya Thompson, junior, Athens:
A fast, athletic, and heady defender, Thompson was the anchor of the Wildcat defense. She had one assist on the season.

Also selected first-team defense were: NEB junior Lani Thomas, Wyalusing senior Sydney Friedlander, Wellsboro senior Rylie Boyce, and Troy junior Chloe Swain.

Wellsboro senior Annie Gehman.

Katelyn Sutton, freshman, Athens:
A key contributor early in the season, Sutton had a good freshman season with nine goals and two assists.

Also selected second-team forwards were: Williamson sophomore Tori Stratton, Troy freshman Saydi Renzo, and NEB senior Kierra Thoman.

Selected as second-team midfielders were: Wellsboro senior Jordan Abernathy, Towanda sophomore Anna Dunn, Troy freshman Alexis McRoberts, North Penn-Mansfield freshman Brooke Wilcox, and Towanda junior Katherine Dunn.

Lizzy Shaw, junior, Athens:
A physical presence on the back line, Shaw was a key part of the Wildcat defense.

Also selected second-team defenders were: NEB senior Mikayla Post, Towanda senior Bella Hurley, Williamson sophomore Maddie Millard, Troy sophomore Maddie Palmer.

Karlee Bartlow, senior, Athens:
A good all-around athlete, Bartlow logged 1,382 minutes in net, registering 107 saves, two “clean sheets” (shutouts), and allowing 40 goals.

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October 31, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens junior Alex Campbell was named the NTL’s “Defensive Player of the Year,” and junior Korey Miller was tabbed a first-team-all star, while three of their teammates also earned recognition recently in voting by the league’s coaches.

Senior Brayden Post was a second-team selection, while sophomore Marco Quiros and junior Mitch Hamilton earned honorable mention recognition.

Wellsboro senior Peyton McClure was named the NTL “Player of the Year,” and the league’s all-state selection, while his classmate Jack Poirier was named the “Offensive Player of the Year.”

Wellsboro’s Todd Fitch was named “Coach of the Year,” after leading the Hornets to an unbeaten league record.

Korey Miller, junior, Athens:
A heady player with a knack for getting in position to score, Miller led the Wildcats with 13 goals, and was second on the team with six assists.

Also selected to the first-team as strikers were: Wellsboro junior Caden Smith, Galeton junior Zach Pagano, and NP-Liberty sophomore Brady Stetter.

Selected as first-team midfielders were: Wellsboro senior Jack Piorier, Wellsboro senior Sam Rudy, NEB junior Cesar Alvarez, and Williamson senior Duncan Kerr.

Alex Campbell, junior, Athens:
Athletic, physical, and possessing a high soccer iQ, Campbell anchored the Wildcat defense. He had one assist on the season.

Also selected to the first-team defense were: Wellsboro senior Peyton McClure, NEB senior Joe Stanton; and Williamson senior Cody Peers.

Wellsboro senior Aiden Gehman.


Selected to the second team as strikers were: Galeton senior Gavin Sykora, Wellsboro sophomore Alex Citrino, NEB junior Josh Stanton, and Williamson senior Trent Achey.

Brayden Post, senior, Athens:
Athletic, with a high soccer IQ, Post could be counted on to be in the right place. He was second on the team with 11 goals, and had two assists.

Selected to the second team in the midfield were: Galeton senior Matt Smith, Troy junior Brady Spalding, and Williamson junior Will Gehman.

Selected to the second-team defense were: Williamson senior Robert Kipferl, Troy sophomore Ethan Cole, Wellsboro junior Ian Hoose, and Wellsboro junior Watson Feil.

Williamson sophomore Logan Stickler.

Marco Quiros, sophomore, Athens:
A fiery player with good foot skills, Quiros made an impact in his first year with the Wildcats. He had six goals and one assist.

Strikers also receiving honorable mention recognition were: Wellsboro sophomore Lucas Cuneo, Williamson senior Ayden Sprague, and Williamson sophomore Kade Ficks.

Mitch Hamilton, junior, Athens:
A skilled player, his defense and passing often flies under the radar. He had two goals and four assists on the season.

Midfielders also receiving honorable mention recognition were: NP-Liberty junior Zach Wilcox, Towanda sophomore Jack Wheaton, and Wellsboro junior Jacob Abadi.

Defenders receiving honorable mention recognition were: Galeton junior Matt Zur, Towanda sophomore Conner Barnes, NP-Liberty junior Corey Smith, Wellsboro sophomore Gabe Sprouse, and Williamson sophomore Jordan Monroe.

Galeton senior Ayden Whipple.

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October 29, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens overcame a first set loss and gutted out a 3-1 win over Northeast Bradford during District 4, Class AA quarter-final action here Saturday afternoon.

“It feels amazing,” said Wildcat senior Jenny Ryan. “Usually, we don’t get this far in districts, but we just really wanted it, so it feels really good to get this.”

NEB would rally for a 25-21 first set win, but Athens pulled away for 25-19 and 25-16 wins in the second and third sets. The Wildcats would build a 12-3 lead in the fourth set, only to watch the Panthers come back to take a 19-18 lead.

However, Athens out pointed them 7-3 after that to get the 25-22 deciding set victory.

Ryan finished with 21 assists, 10 digs, eight kills, six blocks, and three points — picking up two crucial fourth-set points on a block and kill that led them to the win.

“It was just a huge momentum boost because we were down seven points in serve-receive passes,” said Ryan. “I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to do something.’ And I think that just boosted our momentum a lot.”

They were strong defensively all match long, with 18 blocks, and 65 digs.

“Our blocking on the outside has really stepped up,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “Cassy Friend has been a force, as far as blocking.”

Seniors Cailin McDaniel, Cassy Friend, Audrey Clare, and Ryan combined for the majority of the blocks on the day.

“Their timing is great,” said Hanson.

And on the back row she complimented sophomore Ella Coyle’s leadership.

“(She) really stepped in today with digging everything,” said Hanson. “Just taking that back roll on.”

Coyle finished with 16 digs, four points, and three aces, while Clare finished with a team high 11 kills, four blocks, two assists, eight digs, and one point.

Kassie Babcock had six kills, 14 digs, three points, two aces, and was 10-for-10 in serve receives, and Keaton Wiles finished with three kills, three digs, and one block.

Friend had three kills, and three blocks, and McDaniel finished with four blocks, three digs, one kill, four points, and three aces. Junior Izzy Davis chipped in with three points, and 11 digs.

The first set was nip-and-tuck until 12-12 when Athens scored six of the next seven points to take an 18-13 lead. However, NEB rallied, and would tie it at 20-20.

From there, the Panthers out scored them 5-1 to take the first set home.

“That first game, when we just couldn’t break away I was like, ‘oh boy,’” said Hanson. “We can play with confidence at some points, if it’s like 10-point lead, but when it’s a little sketchy, it starts to be that careful play and stuff.”

They played with confidence the next two sets, leading both from the first serve to the last point.

The final set looked like it was going to be a blow out as they jumped out to a 9-point lead, but NEB rallied behind the serving of Gabby Susanj, who had five aces in a row, and six during her serve, to make it 17-17.

Ryan would end the run with a block, but NEB tied it back up again as an Athens push kill was out.

A kill would give NEB a 19-18 lead, but that’s when the Wildcats went on a 3-0 run thanks to back-to-back kills from Clare and Ryan, while Babcock followed with an ace to give them a 2-point lead.

The two teams traded service errors, followed by two straight missed attacks from Athens to knot it up at 22-all.

However, a service error from NEB put Athens up 23-22. Ryan then had a decisive block for the 2-point lead, and an attack into the net from NEB ended the match.

Hanson believes that the fourth set was a learning moment for her team.

“That’s all I’ve been talking the girls this whole season is, it’s how we react to if we’re not winning, we’re learning,” she said. “How do you react if you don’t win a rally, and sometimes it seems like we have to have these four or five point things before we’re like, ‘oh, maybe it’s time to turn it around.’ We can’t do that, and we can’t do that again.”

Athens will now get the top seeded NP-Liberty Mountaineers Tuesday, back at its home gym. NPL went undefeated in the league for the sixth year in a row, but the Wildcats feel they can match up with them, as they lost two of the matches by just a few points.

“It’s all about momentum in this last game, especially against Liberty,” said Hanson. “And all I ask of the girls is to leave it all out there, but with their voices. We have the skills.”

They hope to lead with their defense once again, as that will be the focus at practice on Monday.

“I think that we just really need to work on our defense,” said Ryan. “Come into Liberty prepared, and show them what Athens volleyball really is.”

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October 29, 2022 Tim Birney

TON — Athens pushed top-seeded Shikellamy for 58 minutes, but the game got away from them late in a 5-0 loss here Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the District 4, Class 3A girls soccer playoffs.

Athens coach Rich Pitts was pleased with his team’s performance, especially considering he threw a formation change at them on Thursday.

“I changed formations for the fifth time,” he said. “We had some breakdowns, and go caught a little bit, but we played pretty well over a full 80 (minutes).

“(Shikellamy) is a good team,” said Pitts. “They play a formation like Troy, so we had just seen it, and that helped us.

“I watched them on film twice, changed the formation, and gave it to the girls two days ago. We worked on it for two days, and I thought they executed it amazing.

“It was 2-0, then we’re pressing, so it’s ends up 5-0, but it’s not really 5-0,” noted Pitts. “We got caught in some counters with us pushing a little bit forward. We were pressing forward trying to get back into it, and that’s what you risk; you risk getting countered.

“We got beat 8-0 last year, and it wasn’t close. This game was close for 60 minutes,” added Pitts. “The final score is not indicative of the game.”

Elli Ronk scored the first half’s only goal in the 14th minute, and Shik took a 1-0 lead into the halftime intermission.

It was nearly 45 minutes before the Lady Braves added to their lead. Lily Persing, off an assist from Paige Fausey, scored with 21:33 remaining in the game to make it 2-0.

“Even when we got down 2-0, I thought we still had a chance if we could get a quick goal,” said Pitts. “We got into their end, and we just didn’t connect the final pass in the final third. If we had finished, it would have been 2-1 and we’re right back in it, but that’s the game.”

About five minutes later, Ronk scored again to make it 3-0.

With 5:35 remaining, Ronk finished off her hat trick to extend the lead to 4-0, and 3 1/2 minutes later, McKenna Zellers put the finishing touches on the Lady Braves’ win.

Shikellamy enjoyed a 20-5 advantage in shots-on-goal, and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks.

Senior Karlee Bartlow recorded 13 saves in net for the Lady Wildcats.

Athens finishes the season with an 8-10-1 record.

The Lady Wildcats will say good-bye to several seniors.

“It’s unfortunate, every year is a sudden ending, no matter what,” said Pitts. “This senior class is great.

“We had (Karlee) Bartlow coming out and giving us two years in goal, so as not to put that pressure on Carm (Pomaquiza) as a freshman and a sophomore, and working with her, and putting under her wing. Carm is going to be great next year.

“Obviously, Ally (Thoman), Taegan (Williams), and Taylar (Fisher), who’s been out with an injury, and Ashlyn Husted — that girl has gotten better and better with every practice and game,” added Pitts. “We’re going to miss that group.”

Pitts is already looking forward to 2023.

“I’m excited about this group coming up behind these girls,” he said.

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October 29, 2022 Tim Birney

MILTON — Selinsgrove proved why it’s the top seed in the District 4, Class 3A boys soccer playoffs with a convincing 7-0 win over Athens here Saturday evening.

“I thought our guys played hard,” said Athens coach Jake Lezak. “Selinsgrove is a better team. If they don’t end up as District champs, I’ll be blown away.

“We knew their top three guys were going to hard for us to handle, and hard to run with, and they were.

“We were hoping to contain them, and get a goal or two, and see what we can do,” added Lezak. “At the end of the day, that team should go very far.”

Colin Findlay put the Seals on the board with a penalty kick about 2 1/2 minutes into the game.

About six minutes later, Nick Ritter made it 2-0. He completed a first-half hat trick by scoring with 15:53 and 5:58 remaining before the intermission.

“We made a couple mistakes in the first half that resulted in goals, but the other two — that’s just how good they are,” said Lezak.

Findlay scored again about 5 1/2 minutes into the second half, and Logan Rodkey and Jake Keeney added goal in a 2 1/2-minute span to make it 7-0 with 19:08 remaining in the contest.

Athens wraps up the 2022 campaign at 9-8-2.

The Wildcats will graduate a number four seniors.

“I’m really proud of the seniors,” said Lezak. “They came back last year, and won the league title

“They worked really hard this year, and did everything we asked them to,” he noted. “We moved them around, and played them in different positions.

“We’re glad they’re part of our soccer family, and we’re going to hate to see them go,” added Lezak.

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October 28, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Tioga scored on its first three possession of the game en route to a 29-13 win over Athens here Friday night in non-league football action at Alumni Stadium.

The game marked the first meeting between the two schools separated by just 14 miles.

“We had a good week of practice,” said Tioga coach Nick Aiello. “Once we knew we were playing Athens, I think the kids locked in. I’m sure Athens was the same way.

“We’ve never played before, but I guess you’d call it a rivalry, or a ‘Border Brawl,’” noted Aiello. “The kids were definitely focused, and wanted to come in here and put a good game together.

“We treated this week like a playoff game,” he added. “In the end, it was a great week. I’m glad we could come down here, and I really appreciate Athens hosting us.”

In a normal year, Athens would have hosted Sayre in the “Rusty Rail” rivalry game, but Sayre folded its varsity program in mid-August.

“We didn’t want a week off, and the kids deserve to play,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “How fortunate was it for this game to happen?

“For 10 weeks, I’ve called multiple states, and all across Pennsylvania trying to get us a game, and was unsuccessful,” he noted. “We left here Monday thinking we were going to have Tuesday off, so it was exciting to have this game come together.

“It was a little stressful Tuesday and Wednesday trying to put game plans together,” added Young. “I just wish we could have been better tonight. I think this could have been a barn-burner. We just weren’t good enough to make it one.”

With both teams heading into the playoffs next week, neither coach wanted a week off.

“Playing this game is huge,” said Aiello. “I didn’t know until Monday at 7 p.m. (that Deposit-Hancock was canceling) … to be able to pick up this game it really set our focus.

“Going into the playoffs next week, I thought this was the exact game we needed,” he noted. “We needed to be focused, which we were. We needed to come out and do some really good things, which we did.

“It’s a great springboard into next week when we start playoffs, and you have to be 1-0 every week,” added Aiello.

“We definitely didn’t want a week off heading into the postseason,” said Young.

Tioga took the opening kickoff, and marched 69 yards (although they covered 74 yards after a penalty prior to the first snap) on nine plays in a drive that consumed nearly five minutes.

Junior QB Caden Bellis connected with junior tight end Karson Sindoni for an 11-yard completion on Tioga’s first play, then a pair of short runs gave the Tigers their initial first down of the game.

Bellis added runs of 11 and 8 yards on QB keepers as the Tigers moved into Athens territory.

The big play in the drive was a 34-yard pass from Bellis to junior Valentino Rossi that moved the ball to the Athens 2.

Junior Drew Macumber plowed into the end zone on the next play. Junior Gavin Fisher’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter.

Athens’ opening possession of the game ended in a three-and-out, and the Tigers took over at its 16 following a 46-yard punt by senior Lucas Horton.

On third and seven, Bellis hooked up with junior Evan Sickler for a 7-yard gain. Athens was also assessed a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that moved the ball to the Wildcat 46.

After another 7-yard pass to Sickler, Tioga went to the ground and picked up 25 yards on five carries to the Athens 14. Macumber chewed up 23 yards on four carries in that stretch.

After a 9-yard pass from Bellis to Duncanson, Macumber picked up 4 yards to the Wildcat 1 on the final play of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Macumber bulled his way into the end zone to make it 13-0 with 11:56 remaining in the first half. After Athens jumped offsides on Tioga’s PAT attempt, the Tigers chose to go for two, and Macumber ran it in to make it 15-0.

The Tigers were penalized after their TD run, and the ensuing kickoff was from their 20. Horton fielded the kick at his 25, and returned it 28 yards to the Tioga 47.

Senior QB Mason Lister connected with sophomore wideout Xavier Watson for a 13-yard gain on the first play of the drive, and senior tailback Caleb Nichols followed with a 9-yard run.

On third-and-1, Tioga batted down a pass, but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play to move the ball to the 13-yard line.

Nichols covered the final 13 yards on three carries, capping the eight-play drive with a 5-yard TD run with 9:33 remaining in the half. Lister’s PAT kick closed the gap to 15-7.

Rossi quickly erased any momentum the Wildcats had with a 58-yard return of the ensuing kickoff to the Athens 27.

Duncanson opened the drive with a 12-yard run, and three plays later, Bellis scored on a 4-yard run with 7:28 remaining in the half. Fisher’s PAT kick made it 22-7.

Athens went to its short passing game on its next possession, overcoming a sack of Lister by Tioga junior Trent Browne, thanks to a 4-for-4 effort by Lister, moving the ball to the Tioga 27.

The drive stalled there as Sindoni and Duncanson combined on a QB sack for a 10-yard loss to move the ball back to the 37.

After an incompletion and a penalty for a false start, Athens faced a third-and-25 at the Tioga 42. Sindoni and Duncanson once again got to Lister for a 1-yard loss.

Athens punted to end a possession that chewed up 7 minutes off the game clock, but came up empty.

The Wildcats, who won the pre-game coin toss and deferred, quickly drove the second-half kickoff from its 35 to the Tioga 13.

Lister was 4-for-4, completing back-to-back passes of 8 yards to senior Matt Machmer, a 12-yarder to junior Josh Martin, and a 21-yarder to Nichols.

After back-to-back incompletions, Nichols was stuffed for no game to force Athens into a fourth-and-10. Lister’s fourth-down pass was picked off in the back corner of the end zone by Rossi.

Tioga moved the ball to midfield, but gave Athens life with a fumble that Lister pounced on at the Tioga 49.

Two plays later, the Wildcats were in the end zone.

After a 33-yard scramble by Lister, he completed a quick slant to Martin for a 16-yard TD with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter. The PAT kick was blocked, and Tioga’s lead was 21-13.

On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Martin stepped in front of a Bellis pass to give the Wildcats the ball at the Tioga 35.

On fourth-and-3 at the Tioga 28, Lister found Watson for a 5-yard gain to the 23 on the final play of the third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lister, after being flushed out of the pocket was hit by Duncanson and sophomore Brennan Sindoni. Attempting to get rid of the ball, Lister, as he was being driven to the ground, unleashed a pass that went backwards and resulted in a 16-yard loss.

Two plays later, Lister’s 19-yard pass to Martin for an apparent first down, was nullified by a holding call downfield, leaving Athens in a third-and-15 situation.

After a 9-yard pass to Horton, Lister was again flushed out of the pocket, but this time Duncanson finished off the sack for a 13-yard loss.

The Tigers needed just three plays — all on the ground — to cover 67 yards. After a 15-yard run by Macumber, Duncanson ripped off a 34-yard run up the middle. Macumber finished off the drive with a 16-yard TD run with 9:02 remaining. Fisher’s PAT kick made it 29-13.

The Wildcats put themselves in a hole on their next possession with a holding call on first down that resulted in a first-and-27. Three plays later, they punted. Athens was penalized eight times for 85 yards.

Tioga took over with 6:20 remaining, and with the aid of a pair of first downs was able to run nearly five minutes off the game clock.

Athens’ final possession ended on downs after four plays, and Tioga took a knee to run out the clock.

“The message all week was ‘we have to play Tioga football, come in here and do what we do,’” said Aiello.

“I told the guys, ‘you might not be the biggest team out there, or even the most talented, but you have to do the little things right, and you have to execute on offense, and play great defense.’

“I’m very proud of the boys,” added Aiello. “They had a very good week of practice, and it showed tonight.”

“I think we played out of character tonight,” said Young.

“When you play an opponent like (Tioga), you have to be better than we were,” he noted. “They are a well-greased machine, and it’s obvious why they’re successful.

“We shot ourselves in the foot, we went backward too many times offensively, and, especially in the first half, our physicality wasn’t there at the line-of-scrimmage on either side of the ball.

“All year long the penalties have killed us … every time we got ahead of the sticks, it seems there was a penalty or a sack, and we were back behind them.

“We did some things that were positive and productive, but against a team like that we have to be much better than we were,” added Young. “Again, hats off to them. They did the little things that had to be done.”

Tioga had 295 yards in total offense, while Athens totaled 193, including just 31 on the ground.

Macumber led the Tigers with 106 yards and three TDs on 20 carries, while Duncanson ran for 57 yards and one TD on seven carries, and Bellis added 29 yards and one TD on seven carries. In all, Tioga had 207 yards on 41 carries.

Bellis completed 5 of 9 passes for 68 yards, and was intercepted once. Rossi led Tioga with two catches for 41 yards.

Lister completed 21 of 32 passes for 162 yards, one TD, and one interception.

Machmer led Athens with seven receptions for 41 yards, and one TD, while Horton had five catches for 38 yards, Watson added four grabs for 35 yards, and Martin had three catches for 47 yards.

Nichols led Athens with 42 yards and one TD on 11 carries.

Tioga — now 9-0, winners of 22 straight, and ranked No. 1 in Class D in New York State — takes on SVEC Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Section IV, Class B semifinals.

Unofficially, Athens, now 6-4, will host Montoursville (4-6) Saturday, at a time to be announced, in the semifinals of the District 4, Class 3A playoffs.

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October 27, 2022 Chris Manning

BLOOMSBURG — Athens saw two runners earn state berths at the District IV, Class AA Cross Country Championships on Thursday. Sophomore Sara Bronson earned her second trip to states, while senior Ethan Denlinger secured his first.

Bronson (20:40.7) was 10th overall in the race and the fourth individual qualifier.

“It’s awesome,” she said about earning another state berth as a sophomore. “It’s been one of my main goals all of this season, so I’m super excited to be there again.”

This was going to be one of the fastest races of Bronson’s season, and she went out aggressive.

“I wanted to really run hard, and put myself out there with some of the girls that I’ve run against before to try and get in the top 10,” she explained.

She did go out quick, running fifth at the first split, and seventh at the mile mark. She settled into eighth at the 2-mile, before dropping two spots further back at the finish.

“It just kind of happened,” she said about the quick start. “I just wanted to get myself in a good spot to start with, and that happened to be where I felt it was a little bit harder than I wanted it to be, but I think I got in a pretty good position.”

She plans on doing one more hard work before states, then resting up.

“I just want to make sure that I’m in top shape to run next Saturday,” Sara said.

The Wildcats took sixth as a team with 159 placement points.

Senior Emma Bronson (22:32) was 31st, with Thea Bentley (22:53.3) taking 35th. Emily Henderson (24:56.6) came in 58th, and Olivia Cheresnowsky (25:58.6) was 65th to round out their scorers.

Denlinger’s race was a bit of redemption after missing states by one second a year ago.

“It’s awesome,” said the senior, who was the ninth individual in. He took 19th overall in 17:42.

Denlinger knew coming in he was going to be on the bubble, and that didn’t change once he started running.

“I was a little nervous with my own counting, but my mom stood on the sidelines and helped me with numbers, so I’m grateful for that,” remarked Denlinger.

He had quite the finish, sitting 25th just after the two-mile mark, so he made up six spots in just less than 1,600 meters.

In the final stretch, he caught Midd-West’s Anden Atikins for 19th, not knowing if that would be the final spot.

“People kept telling me checkered (jersey), so I just kept on striving for him,” explained Denlinger.

He plans on working those famous Hershey hills at the state race.

“I’ve got long legs, so I’ve got to use my strengths in getting up those hills as fast as I can, and then taking the downhill,” said Denlinger.

The Wildcats were seventh as a team with 208 points.

Ethan Hicks (18:45) took 34th, with Nate Prickitt (19:50) finishing 49th. Sam Sensenig (20:07) was 52nd, and Aiden Oldroyd rounded out the top five in 72nd at 22:11.

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October 25, 2022 Tim Taylor

WELLSBORO — Athens rallied after dropping the first set, then held off a Wellsboro comeback attempt to win a five-set thriller, and qualify for the upcoming District 4, Class AA volleyball playoffs here Tuesday night.

The Lady Wildcats dropped a 25-20 decision in the first set, but bounced back to win the next two by scores of 25-16 and 28-26. The Lady Hornets evened the match with a 25-22 win in the fourth set, but Athens closed it out with a 15-10 win in the fifth set.

A week ago, Athens was 5-8, and in need of three wins in its final three games to qualify for the postseason. Wins over Troy and Towanda last week, set up Tuesday’s win-or-go-home match at Wellsboro.

“The girls played crazy fired-up tonight,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “They were relentless.

“When we played Wellsboro before, there were many long rallies ending with Wellsboro putting the ball down and crushing our momentum,” she noted. “Not tonight, we fought and won many of the long rallies.

“What a confidence boost,” Hanson added.

The last week, noted Hanson, has seen the Lady Wildcats in postseason mode. She hopes her team’s sense of urgency continues into the postseason.

“The biggest takeaway from this whole experience was the joy and crazy intense enthusiasm from all,” said Hanson. “Even in moments where they got down they turned it around; that is a mindset that’s necessary for the next part of the season.”

Senior Jenny Ryan posted a triple-double with 15 service points, 27 setter assists, and 16 digs, to go along with seven kills, and three blocks, and senior Audrey Clare had five points, 20 kills, three blocks, eight assists, and 14 digs to lead the Lady Wildcats.

“Special props to Audrey Clare for having 20 kills tonight, the girl was loud, determined and a leader,” said Hanson. “Jenny Ryan ran the court, with over 100 setter attempts meaning she gave her hitters a ton of chances to hit.

“Those were a couple highlights, but none of that would be possible without the entire team,” she added. “Ella Coyle had incredible serves tonight, and Cailin McDaniel came in clutch with her serves.”

Sophomore Ella Coyle had 14 points (two aces), and three digs in the win, while senior Cassie Friend registered three kills, seven blocks, and two digs, and sophomore Kassie Babcock had nine points, five kills, and 15 digs.

Sophomore Keaton Wiles had eight kills, and 11 digs for the Lady Wildcats, while senior Cailin McDaniel had four points, one block, and three digs, junior Emily Marshall added four digs, and junior Izzy Davis recorded three digs.

Sophomore Paige Logsdon led Wellsboro with 15 kills, 11 blocks, 10 points (two aces), and nine digs, while sophomore Lexi Arena had 16 points (four aces), and 19 digs, junior Natalie Cleveland added 10 points (three aces), and 23 digs, senior Emily Starkweather had seven points, six kills, three blocks, and 18 digs, and senior Maddi Bordas chipped in with 31 setter assists, 13 digs, and three kills.

Athens, now 8-8, now awaits confirmation on its District 4 opening-round opponent. The current power rankings has Athens as the fourth seed, with a home game next week against fifth-seed Wellsboro. Brackets are expected to be released Friday.

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October 22, 2022 Tim Birney

EAST TROY — For 80 minutes, Athens’ defense stood on it heads to keep Troy out the goal. They allowed a goal in the first minute, but then shut Troy down for the next 79. However, inside the first minute of overtime, Troy scored for the 2-1 win here Saturday during NTL girls’ soccer action.

The win clinches the NTL title for Troy. If Athens had won, the two teams would have been tied.

Troy’s first goal came 39 seconds into the match off the foot of Addy Parker. However, Athens held strong after that, sticking to Troy’s forwards — Parker and Saydi Renzo, while Mya Thompson cleaned up the Trojan through balls.

“I am very proud of how the girls responded,” Athens coach Rich Pitts said. “To get scored on that early can cause it to go sideways on you, but they didn’t panic.”

Athens’ goal came when Ally Thoman found Emma Yohe, who beat two Troy defenders, and the goalie, to knot things up just past the halfway mark of the first half.

“We worked our way back into the game, and got a great goal rom Emma Yohe, who has just returned from injury,” Pitts said. “She was so excited, and that was huge for us.”

After a scoreless second half, Troy’s Camille McRoberts found seam into the box, and buried her shot into the high near corner for the game-winner.

“In OT, we just didn’t make a good play on the ball, and it just fell to Camille’s foot, and game over,” Pitts said.

Troy’s had some fast starts this season, but this may have been the fastest, as Saydie Renzo found Parker, who beat the goalie with a far corner shot to put the Trojans up 1-0.

The Trojans had two more good chances within the first 10 minutes as Bartlow stopped a strong Alexis McRoberts shot, and Parker would hit the crossbar.

Athens’ first good chance came in the 21st minute, as Troy’s defense turned it over in the middle of the penalty box. Athens got a hard shot off, but Troy keeper Madelyn Seeley challenged the shot, and blocked it out of the box.

Troy had another chance a minute later, as a Parker cross went through Bartlow’s hands across the face of the goal, but the Trojans weren’t able to get a touch on it.

Then, with 17:19 to play, Athens found the equalizer. Thoman hit a streaking Yohe, who got her shot off with two Troy defenders on her. She beat the goalie low, and it just snuck inside the far post to make it 1-1.

Early in the second half, Alexis McRoberts had a good look on a direct kick just outside the box, but her shot was just over the crossbar. At the other end, with 31:07 on the clock, Thoman had a hard shot that was saved by Seeley.

Troy’s best opportunity to take the lead came at the 28:55 mark as Parker had a nice lead pass to Renzo into the box behind the defense. Renzo, though, lost her footing, and couldn’t get a good shot off.

Alexis McRoberts would follow that up with another direct kick, this one also stopped by Bartlow. With 13:30 on the clock, Parker crossed it high just inside the post, but Bartlow was able to make a clean grab.

Inside 10 minutes, both teams each had a chance for the winner. Seeley would make a good stop on an Athens shot, while a Renzo attempt was just wide of the net.

“The second half they had a bit more of the looks, but we kept battling to get the next goal,” Pitts said. “That didn’t come.”

Then came Camille McRoberts’ goal in overtime for the winner.

Bartlow finished with 10 saves on the night, as Troy had a 16-8 edge in shots.

“I’m disappointed four our seniors, but they have had great careers so far, including a district title, and two NTL titles in their four years,” Pitts said. “We will see if they have any magic left for probably next Saturday in the district semifinals.”

Athens finishes the regular season at 8-9-1, including an 8-3-1 NTL mark.

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October 22, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — For the second time this season, Athens and Williamson played 100 minutes of soccer without determining a winner — this time in a 2-2 decision here Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

On Sept. 28, the teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock at Williamson.

The Warriors scored in the third minute to take a quick 1-0 lead, then tacked on another goal in the 24th minute to make it 2-0.

Sophomore Marco Quiros, off an assist from junior Korey Miller, put the Wildcats on the board with 3:39 remaining in the first half to cut the deficit in half.

Midway through the second half, Miller tied the game with an unassisted goal.

With the tie, Athens finishes the season second in the NTL with an 8-2-2 mark, and Williamson was third at 7-2-3. Wellsboro claimed the team title with a perfect 12-0 league mark.

Athens wraps up the regular season at 9-7-2, while Williamson finishes up at 10-5-3.

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October 21, 2022 Tim Birney


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October 20, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens held off a second-half rally to pull out a much-needed, 3-2, win over Wellsboro here Thursday evening in NTL girls soccer action at Alumni Stadium.

The win keeps the Lady Wildcats’ hopes of a league title alive. They are 8-2-1 in NTL play, trailing division-leading Troy (9-1-1) by one game. Troy hosts Athens Saturday at 2 p.m. in the regular-season finale.

I’m super-proud of the girls tonight,” said Athens coach Rich Pitts.  “After a tough game (6-0 loss at Bloomsburg), and a long ride home, they came out tonight and got themselves a great lead in the first half.

“We have two goals this year, and that is win the NTL and win districts,” noted Pitts. “Both are still in play.

“We will show up and play our hearts out Saturday against a very talented Troy team,” added Pitts. “We are excited for the challenge.”

Senior Ally Thoman took a cross from sophomore Addy Wheeler about 4 1/2 minutes into the game, split a pair of Wellsboro defenders, and punched a shot past the keeper to make it 1-0.

About six minutes later, Thoman took a through-ball from Wheeler, beat one defender, and fired a shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

With 12:07 remaining in the first half, Wheeler took a feed from Thoman, and fired a shot from about 12 yards out to extend the lead to 3-0.

“I thought we controlled much of the game and played great soccer when in possession,” said Pitts.

Sara Seeling scored about five minutes into the second half, then scored again with 8:09 remaining in the contest to pull Wellsboro within a goal, at 3-2.

“Hats off to Wellsboro,” added Pitts. “They battled us to the end and made it interesting, but in the end we got an important win.”

Athens had a 10-4 advantage in shots-on-goal, and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks.

Senior Karlee Bartlow recorded two saves in net for the Lady Wildcats.

Athens improves to 8-8-1 on the season.

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October 20, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — A week ago, Athens had its back to the wall, needing to win its final three matches to qualify for the upcoming District 4, Class AA volleyball playoffs. After an emotional four-set win over Towanda Thursday night, the Lady Wildcats now only need to win their season finale at Wellsboro.

The Lady Wildcats won the first two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-20, but the Lady Black Knights won the third set, 26-24, to keep the match alive. Athens finished off the night with a convincing, 25-10, win in the fourth set.

“It was Senior Night tonight, and it was pretty emotional,” said Athens coach Heather Hanson. “What was so amazing and really hit me was, how loved these five seniors are and how amazing they truly are.

“You get so focused in the season you forget they are teenage girls playing a sport they love,” she noted. :Then you have Senior Night and remember all of it.”

“The girls played as a team tonight again just like at Troy,” added Hanson. “Sometimes, when you have these nights honoring certain players other players have a tough time handling that — not this team. They really supported one another.”

The fourth set ended with senior Braelynn Wood, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this season, at the service line, her leg adorned by a bulky knee brace. She served the match-ending point.

“Braelynn Wood was allowed to serve the game point in the fourth set, and that’s when I lost it,” said an emotional Hanson. “I really think that spoke to everyone —  play hard and support each other because you never know when it could be your last game. Braelynn Wood was the MVP tonight.”

Senior Audrey Clare led Athens with 14 kills, one block, 11 digs. four service points — all aces, and three setter assists, while senior Jenny Ryan had six points — all aces, 13 kills, one block, 24 assists, and five digs, senior Cassy Friend registered two kills and two blocks, and Cailin McDaniel chipped in with one block,

“All the seniors played great tonight,” said Hanson.

Junior Emily Marshall had five points in the win, while sophomore Ella Coyle had three points (two aces), and 11 digs, sophomore Kassie Babcock had two points (two aces), two kills, and five digs, junior Keaton Wiles had five kills and five digs, sophomore Gretchen Schmieg recorded three kills and four digs, and Izzy Davis chipped in with three points (two aces).

“We have a new addition to the team in Gretchen Schmeig, and she played outstanding ball tonight already,” said Hanson. “Izzy Davis also stepped up big and played front and back row exceptionally.”

Athens, now 7-8, closes out the regular season Tuesday at Wellsboro.

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October 19, 2022 Chris Manning

ATHENS — This season was 32 years in the making for Athens girls cross-country.

That’s the last time the Lady ‘Cats won a league title  — 1990 — and after knocking on the door a season ago, they were able to break through this season.

“It was really exciting,” said senior Emma Bronson. “Up until this year, progressively each year, our team overall has been getting better and better; and this year, it all came together.”

Emma, Sara Bronson, and Thea Bentley have been amongst the league’s best — they’re all NTL All-stars this year, too, but it was their fourth and fifth runners that made this possible.

“All of our teammates ran well,” said Sara Bronson. “Thea Bentley, Olivia Cheresnowsky, Janae (Harkins), Abby (Prickitt), and Emily (Henderson) all ran super well. It’s not often that you win a title. It feels good because we’ve all been putting in the miles.”

Their biggest competition in the Large School Division has been Troy, and they finally got them in week two.

“Going into the season, we knew that Troy would be our toughest competition,” said Emma. “Being able to beat them right from the start made the rest a little bit easier — not that it was easy, but I’m just really proud of all the girls. Every week, they were working really hard because we all wanted that title for each other.”

It also helped that they got Troy at their home course on Round Top.

“The last couple of years we’ve always run at Troy, but this year, to be able to finally beat them at our home course, it’s just awesome,” remarked Emma.

This is also the last season the two sisters will be running together, something they’ve done four of the last six years — counting junior high and varsity.

“She is so much fun to run with, and so fun to train with,” Sara said. “I think it’s a little sad. She’ll be good, whatever she does in the next four years.”

For the senior Emma, it’s been a run she won’t ever forget.

“This year, we’ve just had a really fun team,” she said. “It was really special to have my last season with them.”

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