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Upper Perk Senior Athletes Celebrated; Alumni Remembered
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2014-06-11

Travis Kline and Kayla Smith garnered the All-Around Athlete Awards at last week's Blue and Gold Banquet.

                As usual the annual Upper Perkiomen Blue and Gold Banquet was a night to honor achievements and a fitting sendoff for the current crop of senior athletes. But the 2014 banquet also provided an opportunity to remember some greats from the school's past, including the larger -than-life 2005-06 state wrestling champions who became the first team placed on the Wall of Fame.

                Wrestlers Darren Kern, Chris Sheetz, Brent Fiorito, Zack Kemmerer, coach Tom Hontz and three-sport athlete Tim Fox were also individually voted onto the Wall by the selection committee.

                Hontz, who relinquished the wrestling position at the conclusion of this past season, introduced each of his wrestlers and recalled the glory days of the only Upper Perk team to ever win a state championship.

                For a few brief moments, the Blue and Gold audience in the Upper Perk gym, where so many memorable matches had been fought, were reminded of the incredible spectacle that the 2005-06 squad was.

                That year the team was 29-1, their only loss to the top wrestling program in the nation, Blair Academy. In the state tournament, the team's heart-pounding 27-26 semi-final win over Nazareth was made possible by Chris Sheetz's "flying headlock" with just seconds remaining in the final bout.

                The team then pinned six times in a 46-19 rout of Easton in the finals.

                The greatest of the great, Zack Kemmerer, still holds the state record with 199 career wins and went on to a storied career at Penn where he is fourth on the Quakers' career victory list with 117. He graduated with degrees in chemistry and philosophy and is pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

                Sheetz racked up more than 100 victories at Delaware Valley College and was an All-American. He got a BS in Criminal Justice from Kutztown and volunteers with the current Upper Perk wrestlers.

                Fiorito wrestled for two years at Virginia and earned his degree in history and also works with Upper Perk wrestlers.

                Kern graduated in 2004 and wrestled at Bloomsburg. He was an NCAA Tournament qualifier in 2007. Darren enlisted in the Navy and is serving his second tour of duty in Bahrain in the Special Weapons Combatant Crewmen Unit (SWICK).

                For Hontz, coaching elite wrestlers was fun, but a challenge.

                "As a coach, you're always trying to maximize, make sure they don't underachieve. While it was enjoyable being successful, it was also very stressful, because you want to make sure you keep them moving forward."

                Dr. Tim Fox (Class of '83) played football, basketball and baseball, leading the latter team to the BuxMont championship in 1983.

                He played basketball and baseball at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Sciences and is a member of PCPS' Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as Upper Perk's Academic Hall of Fame.

                Fox is now a pharmacy supervisor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and lives in Delaware County, but his heart never left the Valley.

                "I always think about the kids that are here and hope that they're all doing well. It meant a lot to us, the athlete's back in my era, being involved in sports, learning the lessons sports taught us. I'm forever indebted to Upper Perk. I'll never forget what it's done for me."

                Among the highlights for today's Upper Perk athletes was the recognition of the state tournament participants including the field hockey team led by Casey Umstead; cross-country runners Rachel Landis and Jacob Keiper; swimmers Christina Williams, Jackie Hammill, Kirsten Siwy, Brandon Umstead and Kristen Kilroy; and wrestler Dustin Steffenino.

                The Outstanding Athlete Awards went to Umstead and Aidan Schaffer. Kayla Smith and Travis Kline garnered the All-Around Athlete Awards.

                Umstead and Smith also earned Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Sports Boosters. Umstead was the MVP for hockey and softball, while Smith was soccer's MVP and a winner of the Valley Soccer Award.

                Schaffer was football's Offensive MVP and the recipient of the Coventry Transportation Football Award. Kline also took home the Keith Klepac Memorial Award and the track MVP.

                Other multiple award winners included: Ian Benz (Joseph Ricapito, Sr. Award, Kyheim Tripp Memorial Award); Maddie Fox, Dr. Fox' niece (lacrosse MVP, Deborah L. Hodge Memorial Award); Brooke Knisely (Valley Soccer, U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, Ralph W. Engle Award); Emily Leight (Valley Soccer and U.S. Army Scholar Athlete); Ryan Mercando (water polo MVP, Samantha Snyder Memorial Award); Chris Mundy (Terry Fetterman Award, U.S. Marines, soccer MVP); Adam Nye (U.S. Army, Ralph W. Engle Award); and Michalyn Winkler (water polo MVP, Samantha Snyder Memorial Award).

                Athletic Director Steve Perlstein coordinated the event, and the dinner was sponsored by the Green Lane/Marlboro Lions Club, the Green Lane-Marlboro Lioness Club and the Upper Perkiomen Valley Lions Club. The high school cafeteria staff prepared the meal.

                The Sports Boosters sponsored the trophies and other awards.


 

 

 

 

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