Rams return after state finals run

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Photo courtesy of Lifetouch

Spring-Ford sophomore Anna Azzara returns as starting point guard for the Rams this season.

Staff Report

Last year’s girl’s basketball team was the talk of the state.

The Rams recorded a nearly undefeated season — where their only loss occurred to North Allegheny in the State Championship Game.

That run, along with a District One Championship, was truly a remarkable accomplishment that will go down in history as a dominant year for Spring-Ford sports.

This winter season is a new start and the Rams must overcome several obstacles, however, to position themselves for similar success.

The top problem that needed to be addressed in the offseason is how to fill the shoes of two-time PA First Team All-State and Spring-Ford all-time-leading scorer Lucy Olsen. From freshman to senior year, she led this Rams to these aforementioned heights as arguably the best player in the state.

But Olsen’s excellence should not discredit the impact that the graduated Abbey Boyer, Hailey Hudak, Mac Maloney, and Emily Tiffan also had on their near state title run as well.

The Rams will look towards senior Kam Pufko, along with sophomores Anna Azzara and Mac Pettinelli as they focus on repeating last year’s success.

— Andrew Eross

Wrestling

After a historical class of wrestlers Spring-Ford had last year, it would be understandable to be prepared for a rebuilding season. However, that is the complete opposite as Spring-Ford looks to remain dominant.

Last season, Spring-Ford’s seniors set records difficult to match. State-qualifier Zach Needles, state silver medalist Jack McGill, and state champion Joey Milano are among the former Rams wrestling their first years in college.

Senior Dominic Ortlip (120 pounds) returns as a consistent star over his career and is hungry to add onto his resume.

“I would like another district title,” said Ortlip, “I hope to get a regional title as well as a state title,”
Another returning starter is junior Cole Smith, who has already made it to states and is excited for the next two seasons he has as a Ram.

“I’m hoping every tournament I can at least place or win” stated Smith. “I made it to states, but I wish I went farther.”

Since COVID, athletes, and more specifically wrestlers, have been heavily impacted. Luckily, restrictions have been lifted, allowing the boys to reach their full potential and accomplish more
“I feel that it’s a challenge, but I hope it’s one to complete,” explained Ortlip, discussing his set goals for his final season. This determination is a shared mindset amongst all.

One thing is for clear, Spring-Ford wrestling has seen some phenomenal talent, and it does not seem to stop.

— Kyla Wilhelm

Boys Basketball

This is shaping up to be the year of the unknown for the boys basketball team. After a difficult season affected by COVID-19 restrictions, there was a major coaching change this offseason.

Coach Christopher Talley left the program and former LaSalle High School coach Nick Stanek will take over as the new head coach.

The Rams lost key seniors in Zack Skrocki and Nate Santiago, both of whom were named on the 2020-2021 Pioneer Athletic Conference All- Liberty First Team.

The Rams are now led by seniors Gavin Schauder and Jake Kressly, and juniors Caleb Little and Alex Lewis are other names to look out for this year.

Hopes are high for this Basketball program, as the Rams will play to win the PAC this year.

— Luke McCready

Winter track

The Rams track team returns this season after an altered season because of COVID.

These major changes left only a handful of opportunities for the athletes to participate in meets.
Despite major senior departure, there is still hope inside of the team to make a big impact in the PAC.
The upperclassmen who were on the team during their freshman and sophomore years will have a chance to lead the charge, showing the underclassmen the attitude and procedures of the team.
Some athletes to watch out for are Ryan Trimble, Ester Mokonchu, Nene Mokonchu, Amanda Muhall, and many others. Despite the lack of a real season last year, this year is poised for success for the Rams.

— Luke McCready

Bowling

The shortened 2021 season did not fare well for the Rams as both boys and girls had difficulty competing last season. However, the Rams return this year with hopes of changing that narrative and to stand out as a competitive squad in a regular year.

Spring Ford will lose some senior talent on both sides, as the girls have graduated Kayleigh Wolfe and Jessica Pan while the boys side graduated Kyle Culp.

Despite these losses, the team still maintains Mason Doan who competed in Eastern Regionals at the end of the 2021 season.

The squad has high hopes headed into their 2022 campaign and aims to win another PAC championship.

— Anthony Goldsmith

Swimming

The Spring Ford Swimming team is in a prime position to make a huge splash headed into their 2022 campaign. The boys and girls squads are headed by major swimmers. The Girls side sees junior Ashley Gutshall (1st team All-PAC team), Sydney Koehler (honorable mention All PAC), and Maris Sadowski (Honorable mention All-PAC) all returning from accomplished years. While the boys side stars include Jacob Dourte and Patrick Bendowski.

The Rams lost some key swimmers in Brendan Bendowski, Kasey Linton, Chloe Rouyer, and Sam Ricci, who will continue his diving career at Alfred State university. Sam Ricci was the 2021 All-PAC 1st team for diving to close out the 2021 season.

— Anthony Goldsmith