A week ago, there were several local teams heading to postseason tournaments or championship meets.
Newark Charter’s Special Olympics Unified flag football team is in the quarterfinals, hosting William Penn Nov. 14 at 3:30 p.m.
For the other teams, it’s time for reflection.
Newark Charter’s volleyball team entered the postseason with more optimism than any other local team. After breezing through the regular season with a 15-1 record and capturing the program’s first Diamond State championship, the Patriots earned the school’s first ever No.1 seed in any sport.
Unfortunately, after enjoying a first-round bye, the Patriots were upset by the 24th seed, Wilmington Friends, 3-2. Despite the loss, head coach Jessica Weller was pleased with her team’s season.
“Putting the first volleyball banner up in the gym has been a tremendous accomplishment for our student-athletes,” she proudly boasted. “Day in and day out, our players were able to stay consistent, communicate effectively and play outside of our comfort zones. Our season motto was ‘Make it Count,’ and I think we did that.”
Newark Charter’s soccer team also lost in the first round when they were on the short end of a 5-4 penalty kick shootout following a scoreless regulation match against Sussex Academy. First-round loss aside, the Patriots had a successful regular season, finishing with an 8-5-2 record heading into the tournament.
Newark Charter’s field hockey team put together a program-best 11-4 regular season that included the team’s first conference championship. Eight Patriots received all-conference recognition and powered Newark Charter to the tournament quarterfinals, which is the furthest the team has ever advanced. Newark Charter beat Brandywine 2-0 in the first round of the state tournament before falling 4-0 to Indian River.
“The team made program history on many fronts as it was a highly successful season overall, and the future continues to look bright,” head coach Stacey Spiker said.
The Patriots’ girls and boys cross-country teams finished third and seventh, respectively, at the DIAA Cross Country Championships held at Killens Pond State Park in Felton. Eighth-grader Arianna Murphy let the Patriots, finishing in 14th place with a time of 20:14.50. Sophomore Alison Huthmacher (20:21) and freshman Lily Halfen (20:31.70) also finished in the Top 20.
“It was a little bit of an up and down season for the Newark Charter cross-country teams,” head coach Steve Sinko said. “With a number of new student-athletes stepping up to be key members, that was to be expected a little bit. Ultimately, the teams brought their best when it mattered the most and had a great DIAA State Championships. Veterans left their mark on the team and did a great job showing the young and talented newcomers what Patriot cross-country is all about. Expectations will continue to remain high for the years to come.”
Newark High junior Zeke Dawkins finished the highest of any local runners at the state championships, crossing the finish-line in sixth place with a time of 16:36.30.
“My race didn’t exactly go how I wanted it go, but I ran the best I could on that day,” Dawkins said the morning after the race. “My season didn’t go the best either this year, but I feel that I can take these experiences from my season this year and turn it into something special for my senior year season next year.”
Head coach Mike Mooney is confident Dawkins will continue to be an excellent runner, and just as importantly, a model teammate.
“Zeke has been an inspiration and a role model for everyone in the running program at Newark High,” Mooney said. “His example of goal setting and hard work has lifted everyone’s effort. Zeke is far from finished. He had to make adjustments as he has grown. This year, he saved his best for last. He repeated as Blue Hen Conference champion, finished 10th at the county meet and sixth in division two. In each race, he exhibited his bold, confident style, running right up with the leaders from the gun. He continues to push for further thresholds while at the same time improving his speed and finishing kick. He is a work in progress and very much knows what he is doing.”
Newark’s boys finished sixth overall, while the girls placed 11th.
“Four of our finishing six student-athletes got lifetime bests at the state championships,” head coach Gordon Thomson said. “First-year runner Rachel Tims led the team, and senior captain Allie LaPorte got a personal best that was from her sophomore year.”
After posting a 10-5 record in the regular season and capturing the Flight B championship, Newark’s volleyball team lost to Red Lion (3-0) in the first round of the state tournament.
Newark's boys soccer team also won the Flight B title with a 12-3 record. They then defeated Tower Hill in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 state tournament before falling to Archmere 2-1 in the semifinals.