Newark Charter volleyball

Newark Charter’s volleyball team secured the top seed in the state tournament.

It’s playoff and championship meet time for fall sports with the exception of football, which still has two regular-season games remaining.

Newark High School enjoyed success during its first season as a member of the Blue Hen Flight B conference. Soccer, volleyball, and boys and girls cross-country running captured conference championships. On the other side of town, Newark Charter School’s volleyball team captured the school’s first No. 1 tournament seed in any sport.

Here’s what the head coaches had to say about the successes.

“Winning the Blue Hen Conference and making the tournament this year were two of our preseason goals,” Newark soccer head coach Mike James said of his team, which wrapped up the regular season with a 12-3 record. “We are very proud to have accomplished both. With a relatively new group of players this season, we quickly developed chemistry early on and it continues to grow as we approach the postseason. This could not have happened without our senior leadership and younger players stepping up to play like upperclassmen. I am very excited because I don’t think the team has reached its peak yet as we enter the postseason. There is still a lot of untapped potential.”

Newark’s boys cross-country team went undefeated on its way to the Flight B title and finished second to Concord High School in the combined conference championship meet.

“Junior Zeke Dawkins repeated as overall conference individual champion,” head coach Mike Mooney said. “Seniors Isaiah Gerard, Matt Guckenberger and Evan Prusisz have improved significantly. Newcomer sophomore Alejandro Lobo has been an outstanding performer and has solidified our top five. Junior Caleb Cutler just had a great race at the conference meet and is now looking to be a scorer at the county and state meets.”

The girls cross-country team edged Brandywine to capture the Flight B title.

“Great to win Flight B,” head coach Gordon Thomson said. “The girls had to reach deep down to beat Brandywine. All the girls are running their personal bests heading into the state championship.”

Thomson mentioned a surprise newcomer to the pack who is making a difference heading into the most crucial part of the season. She also knows what it takes to win a title.

“Our No. 3 runner, Rachel Tims, is a junior and is the defending state champion in the 1-meter dive,” Thomson pointed out. “Seniors Allie LaPorte, Ariz Hernandez, Erin Dillon, Leia Clendaniel, and Charlotte Rose are excited to finish strong.”

Newark Charter’s lone volleyball defeat came at the hands of perennial powerhouse Padua Academy. Other than that one hiccup, the Patriots ran the table, finishing with 14 wins to earn the top seed in the upcoming tournament.

“We are very excited going into the tournament as the No. 1 seed,” head coach Jessica Weller said. “It’s just a seeding and we realize that we need stay focused and consistent to continue our winning streak. Everyone’s record is 0-0 and we are looking forward to seeing how the tournament ends up. There are so many talented team this year, whoever shows up ready to play will take the title.”

Weller pointed out that her team reached its goals on the way to a nearly perfect season.

“Some of our keys to this season’s success are having small goals and reaching them,” she said. “Our serving has been strong and consistent. Our three-option passing has allowed us to run a mixed offense, keeping other teams out of system. We have gelled as a team and we are working consistently and coming to the gym every day ready to work hard and practice how we play. Our seniors have provided amazing leadership to help mentor some of the younger players on the court. The energy and enthusiasm each day is transferring over to our matches.”

Newark Charter has a bye in the opening round of the tournament and will host the winner of the Caravel-Dover match on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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