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Quaker Valley School District - Home of the Quakers


Quaker Valley Athletics

Quaker Valley School District - Home of the Quakers

Quaker Valley Athletics

Quaker Valley School District - Home of the Quakers

Team News.

Team News

8.0 months ago @ 9:15AM

WPIAL swimmers earn No. 1 seeds for PIAA Class 2A finals

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | 12:58 PM


Michael Love | Tribune-Review Michael Love | Tribune-Review

Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University will be buzzing Wednesday afternoon and evening for the PIAA Class 2A boys and girls consolation and championship finals.

Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University will be buzzing Wednesday afternoon and evening for the PIAA Class 2A boys and girls consolation and championship finals.

The WPIAL will be well represented Wednesday afternoon and evening in the championship finals at the PIAA Class 2A swimming championships at Bucknell University.

On the girls side, the Mt. Pleasant 200-yard medley relay of sophomore Kiersten O’Connor and seniors SaraJo Gardner, McKenna Mizikar and Reegan Brown (1:48.29); King in the 200 freestyle (1:49.50); Mapletown senior Ella Menear in the 200 individual medley (2:04.44); and the Mt. Pleasant 200 free relay of O’Connor, Gardner, King and senior Trinity Graft (1:36.20) posted performances that have them as the top seeds for their events.

Northgate junior Elise Nardozzi wasn’t far behind King in the 200 free as she is the second seed (1:49.58) for the finals.

The top three preliminary finishers in the boys 200 free are from the WPIAL: No. 1 Preston Kessler, a sophomore from Indiana (1:40.44), followed by Mt. Pleasant sophomore David Mutter (1:41.28) and Kiski Area senior Parker Sterlitz (1:41.62).

WPIAL swimmers also populate the top three seeds for the boys 200 IM: Indiana junior Alex Bauer (1:51.57), Northgate senior Matthew Purcell (1:51.73) and Mt. Pleasant sophomore Joseph Gardner (1:51.74).

Also earning No. 1 seeds from the WPIAL was Southmoreland senior Henry Miller in both the 50 free (20.42) and 100 butterfly (49.83).

Mutter was second to Miller in the 100 fly by just two one-hundredths of a second (49.85).

The consolation and championship finals involving the top 16 from each preliminary event will be live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The girls finals begin at 3:25 p.m., and the boys finals will follow at 6:05 p.m.

Before the swimming finals, the Class 2A girls diving championships will be decided with North Catholic senior Maggie Foley, Quaker Valley sophomore Ruby Olliffe, Thomas Jefferson junior Addison Arndt, Montour senior Sydney Jarvis, Quaker Valley junior Kate Blackmer, Quaker Valley sophomore Ruby Krotine, Northgate junior Lilia Mackenzie and Hampton freshman Gabby Elk in action.

Foley, a four-time WPIAL champion, finished as the PIAA Class 2A runner-up both last year and 2021.

Olliffe earned a sixth-place medal in her WPIAL debut last year.


Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

Team News

8.0 months ago @ 9:22AM

Girls relay teams push pace for Quaker Valley swimmers

Sunday, March 12, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Submitted by Rose Stidsen

Members of Quaker Valley’s 200 freestyle relay, from left, Emily Connors, Paige Juliano, Kwilai Karto and Ella Fuener, competed at the WPIAL championships March 2.

The stars of the show for the Quaker Valley swim program were the girls relay teams. All three relay units were medalists at the WPIAL Class 2A championships March 3-4 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

The 200-yard freestyle relay team, consisting of senior Ella Fuener, sophomores Kwilai Karto and Paige Juliano and junior Emily Connors, led the way by finishing second with a time of 1 minute, 38.38 seconds.

The 400 freestyle relay unit, comprising Fuener, Juliano, sophomore Margaret Getty and Connors, placed fifth in 3:40.18.

And the 200 medley team, consisting of freshman Alexa Westwood, senior Emma Smith, Getty and Karto, took eighth place (1:57.02).

Connors reeled in four medals at the meet, two in the relays and two in individual events. She placed third in the 100 butterfly in 56.33 and fourth in the 100 freestyle in 51.79 and holds the school record in both events.

“I thought I had a very good meet,” Connors said. “I was looking for a drop in the 100 fly and the 100 free. While I was only able to accomplish a drop in the fly, I still think I swam right where I needed to be elsewhere. I had my fastest relay splits, as well, and thought that was also very good.

“I am looking forward to states and what is to come for our relays this year. We are seeded high in the 200 free relay, which is very exciting. I think we will definitely show up there. As for the 400 free relay, I think we can make the A final and medal this year. We placed 10th last year, and I feel we can move up in the rankings.”

Connors, a three-time PIAA medalist, also reeled in four WPIAL medals as a freshman and sophomore. She was a medalist both years in the 200 medley relay, 400 free relay, 100 free and 100 butterfly.

Quaker Valley ended up third in the team scoring this year with 189 points behind only Mt. Pleasant (290) and Northgate (198).

“Overall, I’m proud of how our girls swam,” Connors said. “We showed up when it was needed and had some solid swims.

“However, I definitely think we have room for improvement going into PIAAs.

“I think the (QV) boys also had some solid swims. A good majority of them had some good time drops as well.”

Getty was a triple medalist for the Quakers, locking up eighth place in the 500 freestyle in 5:28.05. Getty also finished 12th in the 200 freestyle.

Smith is one of nine seniors in the QV swim program this season, along with Fuener, Hope Linge, Zoey Murawski, Tia Pethel, Ashton Ragoowansi, John Shillingsburg, Alex Wagner and Spencer Wiehe.

“My senior season has definitely been the best season I could have asked for,” Smith said. “I’ve had best times in nearly every event I swam and hit a new level of training where I have been able to see myself work harder than I ever have. This has also been my favorite season because of the connections between everyone on the swim team and our ability to become a family this year.

“I’ve had lots of ups and downs throughout my career, but I would say I have seen a lot of growth throughout my time at QV. As I’ve gotten older, I have focused on what I could do to make sure the girls team was able to win four consecutive section titles. I’ve worked to become a team leader that people can go to.”

In the fall, Smith will be attending William & Mary to study political science and environmental science.

“While in college, I plan to continue swimming on their club swim team,” Smith said. “I will be very sad to end my time with everyone (at QV). Some of my fondest memories are all the times I’ve been able to spend with my closest friends, Paige Juliano, Alexa Westwood, Thomas Fuener and Ryan Steinfurth.

“I would also say getting to the podium at MACs and then winning MACs as a senior after missing my junior year due to food poisoning was very surreal.”

Smith’s biggest influences in her swim career have been threefold: her parents and QV coach John Nemeth.

“My parents have been my biggest supporters for the last 14 years,” she said, “getting me to any swim practice even if it meant they had to wake up at 5 a.m., taking me to every swim meet and always teaching me to believe in myself.

“Coach Nemeth has been my swim coach for the last three years and has always pushed me to be the best I can be, getting me to hit new times during meets and also believing in my abilities as a swimmer.”

Other noteworthy performances at the WPIAL meet were turned in by Juliano (200 free, 500 free), Fuener (50 free, 100 free), Karto (50 free, 100 free) and Westwood (100 back, 100 free).

Karto, Juliano and Fuener were double medalists thanks to their efforts in the relay races, and four QV girls qualified in the 100 free — Connors, Fuener, Karto and Westwood.

The lone medal winner for the Quaker Valley boys team was Thomas Fuener, a sophomore, who took seventh place in the 100 butterfly with a time of 53.22. Fuener also placed 11th in the 200 freestyle.

Other WPIAL finalists for the Quakers were Wagner (200 IM, 200 breast), Ragoowansi (50 free), Wiehe (100 back), Ryan Steinfurth (100 free, 100 back) and junior Wesley Riddle (100 free).

The QV boys placed ninth in the 200 medley, 10th in the 400 freestyle and 19th in the 200 free relay.

Steinfurth, Wagner, Fuener and Riddle swam in the 200 medley relay. The Quakers missed out on a medal spot by less than five-tenths of a second.

Wagner, Steinfurth, Riddle and Fuener competed in the 400 free relay, while Wiehe, freshman Austin Young, junior Jack Szuba and Riddle represented the Quakers in the 200 free relay.

QV’s boys team finished 13th in Class 2A.


Team News

8.0 months ago @ 9:24AM

Ruby Olliffe, Quaker Valley divers have strong showing at WPIAL meet

Sunday, March 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Submitted by Becca Kirby

Quaker Valley’s 2023 WPIAL diving medalists (from left) sophomore Ruby Krotine, sophomore Ruby Olliffe and junior Katie Blackmer.


Quaker Valley’s Ruby Olliffe repeated as the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up in girls diving.

The sophomore diving specialist placed second to North Catholic’s Maggie Foley with a 477.65-point total at the WPIAL finals Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

“It was an incredibly competitive meet. Every girl there came prepared with their best dives, and there was a lot of talent on the pool deck,” said Becca Kirby, QV’s diving coach. “Ruby Olliffe had a great day. She had a very successful performance. She has remained consistent all season with her scoring, and it was no different at the WPIAL meet.

“With the new WPIAL dive format, the divers completed 12 dives versus 11. While it doesn’t seem like a big change, that’s now one more dive they must score well on. To complete 12 dives well is difficult, and I am thrilled with how Ruby handled the change. Second place is an amazing achievement among difficult competition.”

Olliffe was aiming for a successful showing and her hard work at practice paid off.

“I was unbelievably happy with my performance,” she said. “I’m happy to place so high against such talented divers. A silver medal at WPIALs is an honor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I think there is always room for improvement. I think the next three weeks, while I get ready for states, are just going to be about cleaning up and perfecting my dives.”

Foley, a senior and Pitt recruit who compiled a 491.40 score, and Olliffe have finished one-two at the WPIAL meet in back-to-back years.

“Maggie Foley and Ruby Olliffe are definitely the two top competitors in 2A diving,” Kirby said earlier this year. “I knew coming into this season that Ruby would be a strong competitor. Last season, Ruby definitely made her name known and set herself up for future success in PIAA diving.

“She is a very consistent and clean diver. Her ability to consistently perform clean entries is definitely what allows her to maintain her spot as a top competitor in 2A diving.”

Foley, who was a PIAA runner-up last year, has won four straight WPIAL championships. She is the fifth girl to earn four gold medals in diving and the first since Maria Lohman of Chartiers Valley did so from 2012-15.

“I’m so proud of my fellow competitor, Maggie Foley. She deserved that win and to go out on top as a senior,” Olliffe said. “I’m also incredibly proud that all three Quaker Valley divers got on the podium and are going to states. So, I’m very happy to say the least.”

QV ended up with three divers among the WPIAL’s top six as junior Katie Blackmer and sophomore Ruby Krotine corralled fifth and sixth place.

“We will be sending all three to states,” Kirby said. “We were the only (2A) school to have more than one diver qualify for states. To be sending three divers is amazing, and I am so happy for the girls. They have put in a lot of hours and hard work to achieve this, and it is very rewarding to see it all pay off.”

Blackmer and Krotine posted scores of 401.95 and 391.10 at the WPIAL finals.

“I could not be prouder of Ruby Krotine’s performance,” Kirby said. “Throughout the season, I focused on having her compete her hardest dives so that she would be comfortable with them by WPIALs. I also knew she had very high-scoring voluntary dives. Almost every dive (at the WPIAL meet) was the best she’s ever done, and that is very hard to do in a high-pressure situation.

“Katie Blackmer had a bit of an off day, which is never ideal at a championship meet. Diving is a very mental sport, and Katie showed phenomenal mental strength by not letting any bad dives affect her future dives. I was very impressed with how she handled it. To have an off day, still place fifth and qualify for states speaks volumes about her as a diver.”

Blackmer repeated her fifth-place performance from a year ago and was excited to qualify for states once again.

“The WPIAL championship was definitively competitive. I was happy to have been able to perform well enough to place fifth and make the cut for the state championship,” Blackmer said. “The state championship will be much different than it was when I competed last year. The switch to a six-dive format from the usual 11 will mean we will have to be more careful in the dives we select. But since we are doing fewer dives, I feel there is definitely room for me to focus on that limited set of dives and improve my form.

“Even with the changes, I’m really excited for the opportunity to compete against girls from all over the state.”

Krotine moved up one spot from seventh to sixth at the WPIAL meet. She also was thrilled to advance to the PIAA finals.

“I am very happy with my performance at WPIALs. There are always aspects of my dives that I think I could have done better, but overall, I had a great meet,” Krotine said. “Going in, I knew I was going up against some amazing divers. Looking back on last season and WPIALs, I think all three of us have really improved. Having Becca Kirby back for the dive season has been amazing. I started my diving career with Becca, and she really pushes us to be the best divers we can be.

“I’m super excited for the upcoming opportunity at states. There’s always room for improvement leading up to states. I think it’s going to be all about getting reps in and trying to get consistent entries on my optionals.”

Quaker Valley was the only team to have three divers qualify for states in 2022, and Olliffe and Krotine were two of only three freshmen to qualify.

Olliffe placed sixth at the PIAA meet last year. Blackmer was a semifinalist and finished 17th. Krotine advanced to the quarterfinal round and ended up 22nd.

“Katie and Ruby (Krotine) took me by surprise with the amount of offseason training they did,” Kirby said. “The two of them have given 110% at every practice and have taken themselves to the next level with their diving. Each week, I watch their scores continue to rise.”

Quaker Valley’s talented trio regularly ranked among the leading competitors on the board at QV swim meets this season.

“My standards are definitely set high for the girls since we have so much talent on one team,” Kirby said. “The internal talent level increases the competition and level at which they perform on a daily basis.

“Ultimately, my goal is to get all three in the top 10 at the state championships, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”

This year’s PIAA Class 2A girls diving finals will take place March 15 at Bucknell.

“Now that states is only six dives, it could truly be anyone’s meet,” Olliffe said. “Whoever is on it that day could win, which is really upsetting for all the divers in Pennsylvania that have worked hard to get to where they are.

“Nonetheless, we will do our best and see what happens.”

The WPIAL also will be represented at the PIAA meet by Hampton freshman Gabriella Elk (450.25), who placed third in 2A, Thomas Jefferson junior Addison Arndt (413.65) and Northgate junior Lilia Mackenzie (386.75).

Mackenzie and Arndt ended up 11th and 13th, respectively, at states last season.


Team News

9.0 months ago @ 12:31PM

Seniors help Quaker Valley girls swim team capture 4th straight section title

Sunday, February 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Nine seniors were recognized Feb. 16 for their contributions and dedication to the Quaker Valley swim program.

Five girls were lauded: Ella Fuener, Zoey Murawski, Emma Smith, Tia Pethel and Hope Linge.

On the boys team, Alex Wagner, Spencer Wiehe, Ashton Ragoowansi and John Shillingsburg were the honorees.

“The goal for every class is to leave the team better than when they started, and this crew definitely did that,” QV coach John Nemeth said. “They each brought a different perspective and led the team in unique ways. It’s a well-rounded group that bought into what we are doing and set the right example for everyone else on the team.

“They’re just a great group of kids that will be missed next year. They each led in their own way, and we were very lucky to have them as our leaders this year. Our program is far better because of them.”

Led by the senior class, the QV girls team won its fourth consecutive section championship this year with a 7-0 record, took first place at the MAC competition and finished 9-2 overall.

The QV swimmers are gearing for the WPIAL Class 2A finals Thursday and Friday, at Pitt’s Trees Pool, followed by the PIAA finals March 15-16, at Bucknell.

Among the seniors on the girls team, Fuener specializes in the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly events, while Murawski’s top events are the 200 free, 500 free and 100 breaststroke.

“I am very grateful to my teammates and coaches,” Fuener said. “Their support and encouragement made me a much more confident swimmer than I was as a freshman.

“In addition to my teammates, my family has been one of the biggest influences on my career. My mom and dad both swam for QVSA when they were in high school, and all my siblings are also swimmers. It has been super fun to be able to swim with my brother, Thomas, the last two years, and I am excited to get to watch my sister, Anna, swim for Quaker Valley next year as a freshman. My family has driven me to countless practices and meets, provided lots of pre-meet snacks, and encouraged me every step of the way.”

Smith’s specialties consist of the 200 IM, 100 back and 100 breast; Pethel’s best are the 50 and 100 free.

Linge, a 100 and 200 freestyler, recently returned from an injury.

Fuener, Murawski and Smith are four-year varsity competitors. Pethel and Linge have competed for three years.

“One of my career highlights would be when I swam butterfly on the 200 medley relay at states last year,” Fuener said. “I’ve always been a freestyler, so I was super skeptical when the coaches decided to switch up the relay lineups. However, that meet ended up being one of the best of my career, and swimming on the medley relay definitely made butterfly much less intimidating.

“My fondest memory would be cheering for my teammates at WPIALs. When you’re up on the blocks at a stressful meet, looking down the lane and seeing your whole team cheering you on is one of the best feelings. Our team has always been extremely positive and supportive, and I will really miss it next year.”

The QV girls zipped past Beaver FallsCentral ValleyBlackhawkRiverside, Beaver, Hopewell and West Allegheny by an average score of 85-61 in section competition.

“The season has been going well,” Fuener said. “Over the last few years, we’ve really shone at the WPIAL and state meets so I’m super excited to see what we can do this season. On the girls side, we have many swimmers with tons of racing experience as well as a strong freshman class that really helped us hold on to the section title this year.

“Next year, I am planning on going to college to study engineering. I have not chosen a college yet but would love to go somewhere out West (Colorado, Washington, etc.) where there are good mountain biking trails and outdoor activities.”

Quaker Valley’s boys team ended up 3-4 in section action, 4-7 overall and placed fourth at the MAC championships.

Wagner’s focus this season has been on the 200 IM and 100 breast while Wiehe’s specialties are the 200 IM and 100 back. Wagner, a state qualifier in the 200 IM as a junior, took first place in the same event at the MAC competition.

“My senior swim season has been more than I could ask for,” Wagner said. “All my teammates are making it a great environment for me and making it a great last year. My QVHS swim career is one that will stick with me throughout my whole life. From my freshman year, it just felt like I was in the right place doing the right things and my coaches and teammates reassured that every year by making me feel wanted and welcome. My most memorable moment would be states last year. The energy and the team bonding that happened there was unlike anything I had ever experienced.”

Wagner said his parents have been a major influence in his swimming career.

“I can dedicate my swim career to my parents,” he said. “They were the ones who got me into the pool in the first place. They have been so supportive and they’ve pushed me to be the best me I can be.”

Wagner plans to attend either Bowling Green or Jacksonville and study aviation science.

“I want to become a pilot and these schools offer exactly what I want,” he said. “While getting all my ratings to become a pilot, I will get an accelerated master’s degree in aviation management.”

Nemeth praised the efforts of a trio of QV swimmers throughout their varsity careers.

“Alex Wagner and Ella Fuener don’t get enough credit for how much they’ve contributed over the years,” the third-year coach said. “They swim whatever the team needs and have qualified for WPIALs and PIAAs multiple times.

“Emma Smith, too. She’s worked so hard this year and competed at a high level and will be swimming a relay at WPIALs. She has come a long way in the pool and took on a big leadership role over the last couple of years.”

Ragoowansi and Shillingsburg are students at Sewickley Academy who compete with Quaker Valley.

The WPIAL recognizes the Quaker Valley swim program as a cooperative effort between QV and Sewickley Academy. The varsity team trains and competes at the Sewickley Valley YMCA.

For Ragoowansi, his best events are the 50 free, 100 free and 100 breast. Shillingsburg’s consist of the 100 back, 100 breast and 100 fly.

“So far, the QVSA swim season is going very well,” Ragoowansi said. “We are preparing for WPIALs and PIAAs. Over the course of my QVSA swimming career, I’ve really noticed how our boys team has grown in terms of numbers and talent. We continue to improve every year, and I expect that growth to continue after I’m gone. The girls team has been dominant all four years.

“My fondest memories have been qualifying for WPIALs with my brother, Aidan, and friends, Navin and Alex, in my freshman year at a last chance meet, and all the team dinners and bonding experiences, and listening to Ice Spice at practice. My mom has been the biggest influence on my career. She has pushed me to continue swimming and has been supportive through every practice and swim meet.”

Ragoowansi will be attending Dartmouth in the fall and majoring in government.

Fuener and QV’s junior standout Emily Connors, a three-time PIAA medalist, are the team leaders for the girls in 2022-23.

Connors finished third in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle at last year’s WPIAL finals. She set new team records and advanced to states in both events.

“My season is going well. I’m feeling good going into WPIALs based on how I’ve been performing,” Connors said. “I am expecting some time drops from last year’s WPIALs and some good team relays this year.

“I also hope that states will prove to be a little better than last year, just because I added a little in each event from what I swam at WPIALs.”

Team News

9.0 months ago @ 12:47PM

Returning coach helps Quaker Valley divers reach new heights

Sunday, February 12, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Courtesy of Becca Kirby 

Quaker Valley’s Katie Blackmer took first place in the girls diving competition at the 2023 MAC championships. Ruby Olliffe and Ruby Krotine took fifth and sixth, respectively.


Quaker Valley diving coach Becca Kirby witnessed their extraordinary potential years ago.

Kirby coaches the QV divers, particularly star pupils Ruby Olliffe and Ruby Krotine, both sophomores, and junior Katie Blackmer.

Back in January 2017, Kirby started a youth diving program through the Sewickley ValleyYMCA.

“Katie Blackmer and Ruby Krotine were both part of that first dive session I held and continued to dive with me until I left in August 2019 for school,” Kirby said. “Katie was 11 at the time, and Ruby was 10.”

In the fall of 2017, Ruby Olliffe joined the program. Kirby coached her as well as the two other girls until she left for school in August 2019.

Kirby served as dive coach at Quaker Valley for the 2018-2019 season.

“While I didn’t coach them the last three years, I definitely kept in touch and always checked in on how they were doing,” Kirby said. “At ages 11 and 12, the three of them were performing dives that would be competitive at the high school level, so I knew if they stuck with it, they would definitely excel when they finally got to high school.”

All three qualified for the PIAA Class 2A championship last year, and all three are expected to make significant noise in the postseason this year.

Quaker Valley was the only team to have a trio of divers qualify for states in 2022. Krotine and Olliffe were two of only three freshmen to qualify for the state finals.

When the energetic Kirby left for college, Vernon Yenick, who was Kirby’s coach in high school, took over as QV’s dive coach for three seasons.

“When I left, Vernon took over both my youth program and Quaker Valley diving,” Kirby said. “Around Dec. 1, he asked if I would be willing to take over the Quaker Valley position since I had just recently moved back to Pittsburgh.

“For me, it was exciting to come back and work with the same girls. In a way, I feel as though we are finishing what we started back in 2017.”

The Quaker Valley girls repeated as team champion with 403 points at the MAC meet held Feb. 3 at West Allegheny.

“It was a great meet for us,” QV coach John Nemeth said. “The girls took first for the second year in a row, and the boys took fourth, which was a jump from last year. I was happy with how they raced and competed. We have two more dual meets and then it’s onto WPIALs and PIAAs.”

Blackmer finished first in the girls diving competition with a total score of 205.55. Olliffe and Krotine placed fifth and sixth.

“It was fantastic to see the Quaker Valley girls win the championship again, and I was excited to place first,” Blackmer said. “All three Quaker Valley divers finished in the top six, earning 47 points toward our team total.

“The QV diving team works really hard at practices, and we constantly encourage and challenge each other. Working together the way we do just makes us all better divers. Swim coach John Nemeth and dive coach Becca Kirby are terrific. They work to make sure we have enough practice time and constantly work with the team on improving our technique.”

In the swimming events, QV junior Emily Connors won twice, taking first place in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and the QV girls 200 and 400 freestyle relayers also were gold medalists.

Other individual point-producers for the girls team were seniors Emma Smith, Ella Fuener and Zoey Murawski, junior Kate Hines, sophomores Mia Fusco, Margaret Getty, Kwilai Karto and Paige Juliano and freshman Alexa Westwood.

For the Quaker Valley boys, senior Alex Wagner corralled first place in the 200-yard individual medley.

Other individual point-producers included seniors Ashton Ragoowansi and Spencer Wiehe, juniors Wesley Riddle and Jack Szuba, sophomores Thomas Fuener and Ryan Steinforth and freshmen Austin Young and Tyler Bell.

All three QV diving specialists — Olliffe, Blackmer and Krotine — placed in the top 10 at the recent Beaver Bobcat Invitational against many of the leading divers in Western Pennsylvania.

Olliffe led the way with a third-place finish. Blackmer ended up fifth and Krotine placed ninth.

“I’m super proud of what I accomplished,” Olliffe said. “Third place is amazing considering all the fantastic divers that attended this meet. With having a major setback with my back injury, I never thought I would do as well as I did at such a high level.

“Everyone on my team did amazing. Everyone put in a ton of effort to get to where they are now, and I think that’s the most important part to recognize. Everyone put their best foot forward, and I think it showed by how well we performed.”

The Beaver invite was the first chance this season for Blackmer to compete in an 11-dive meet.

“And also my first chance to compete against many divers from 3A,” she said. “I was so happy to place fifth and excited that all of QV divers placed in the top 10. We all work hard at practices and encourage each other, so it’s great when we all have a good meet.

“Our high school dive season is going really well. I’m happy to have Becca Kirby back. She’s been great about working with me on my dive lists and helping me improve on my dives. I’ve been lucky to have lot of fantastic coaches at Quaker Valley, including our former coach Vernon Yenick.”

Olliffe registered her best 11-dive score of 437 at the Beaver invitational.

“My goal is just to get comfortable with my optionals so I’m more prepared for WPIALs,” Olliffe said. “I think everyone on my team is doing phenomenal and they’ve all come so far. Katie Blackmer has really stepped up her game this season, Ruby Krotine has gotten so many new dives, and (sophomore) Gia Kuyler has improved so much in so little time.

“I think my major goals have changed a lot since the beginning of the season due to my back injury. My goals, as of right now, are to get comfortable with my dives, slowly improve them and dive with little to no pain. I’m really excited to just go to WPIALs and states, have fun and try to beat my scores from last year.”

Blackmer also racked up her highest 11-dive meet score at Beaver with a 405.65-point total.

“My goals this year are to continue to improve on the dives I’m currently doing and to work on adding a few new dives to my list,” Blackmer said. “I’m just trying to get in as much diving as possible.”

When not practicing with the Quakers, Blackmer finds time to work on her diving techniques at Pitt with the Pittsburgh Diving Club.


Team News

9.0 months ago @ 1:02PM

Quaker Valley divers preparing for WPIAL, PIAA championships

Sunday, February 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Michael Love | Tribune-Review 

Quaker Valley’s Ruby Olliffe (left) and North Catholic’s Maggie Foley  are among the top contenders for the WPIAL diving title this winter.

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A trio of skillful Quaker Valley divers has laid the foundation for a potentially prodigious high school career.

The QV girls competed Jan. 28 at the Beaver Bobcats Diving Invitational against many of the top divers in Western Pennsylvania.

Repeating their performance at last year’s PIAA Class 2A championships, QV was the only team to have three divers finish in the top 10.

Sophomore Ruby Olliffe captured third place, junior Katie Blackmer took fifth and sophomore Ruby Krotine ended up ninth.

“It was awesome job,” said John Nemeth, QV’s head coach. “I can’t say enough about those girls. They are an impressive group that contributes massively at every single meet.”

In all, there were 28 competitors — representing Class 2A and 3A schools — at the invitational held at Beaver High School.

“Anytime an athlete participates in a combined double-A and triple-A event, the competition level increases, and it requires them to give their best,” QV diving coach Becca Kirby said. “There were a lot of very talented divers there, and I was incredibly proud to have three in the top 10.”

Olliffe and Krotine were two of the three freshmen who qualified for the PIAA diving finals last year. Olliffe reeled in sixth place at the state meet after finishing as the WPIAL runner-up.

“I knew coming into this season that Ruby Olliffe would be a strong competitor,” Kirby said. “Last season, as a freshman, Ruby definitely made her name known and set herself up for future success in PIAA diving.

“She is a very consistent and clean diver. Her ability to consistently perform clean entries is definitely what allows her to maintain her spot as a top competitor in 2A diving.

“Ruby Krotine also gave an incredible performance (at Beaver). Seventh to ninth place was separated by two points, and she has put herself in a great position going into WPIALs.”

Blackmer and Krotine finished 17th and 22nd, respectively, at last year’s state finals and have displayed steady improvement in 2022-23.

“Katie Blackmer and Ruby Krotine took me by surprise with the amount of offseason training they did,” Kirby said. “The two of them have given 110% at every practice and have taken themselves to the next level with their diving. Each week, I watch their scores continue to rise, and I think their performances (at Beaver) were a testament to the amount of work they have been putting in and how much they have improved.

“Katie Blackmer has gone from finishing 17th at states to being in the top five at an incredibly competitive Invitational. (North Catholic’s) Maggie Foley and Ruby Olliffe are definitely the two top competitors in 2A diving, and Katie Blackmer has now put herself in the mix. The three were neck and neck, alternating rankings, with less than one point separating them at times, for most of the Invitational. Based on what I saw, I expect 2A diving at WPIALs to be very competitive.”

Quaker Valley took first place in the girls scoring and second overall at the invitational.

“We don’t have any boy divers on our team,” Kirby said, “which means we were able to be competitive with not only triple-A schools but also schools that took both boys and girls to the invitational.”

Olliffe, Blackmer and Krotine have consistently ranked among the leading divers at QV swim meets this season.

“My standards are definitely set high for the girls since we have so much talent on one team,” Kirby said. “The internal talent level increases the competition and level at which they perform on a daily basis. At the last several dual meets, Katie Blackmer and Ruby Olliffe have been within 10 points of each other, and I am very proud to have divers that will be able to be highly competitive at WPIALs and hopefully the PIAA championships.”

The trio’s priority this month is competing at the WPIAL diving championship, which is scheduled for Feb. 24 at North Allegheny.

“We’re less than 30 days from WPIALs and at this point all new dives have been learned,” Kirby said. “Our focus now will be to clean up and perfect the dives they have and hopefully get all three to states.

“Ultimately, my goal is to get all three in the top 10 at the state championships, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”

Team News

10.0 months ago @ 8:24AM

Quaker Valley swimmers off to strong start, look forward to championship meets

Sunday, January 22, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review

Quaker Valley’s Thomas Fuener competes in the boys 100 butterfly during the WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships March 3, 2022, at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Two up and two down.

Both the Quaker Valley boys and girls swim teams opened the season at 2-0, defeating Beaver Falls and Central Valley.

“We’ve had a great start,” QV’s third-year coach John Nemeth said. “The kids are training hard and are in a better place compared to last season, so we are excited to see what they can do at MACs, WPIALs and PIAAs.

“We want to keep training hard over the next couple weeks to set us up well for the championship season, especially WPIALs and PIAAs. Our goal continues to be growing as a team and improving each year, which they are doing. We just want them to show progress and continue enjoying the sport.”

The Quakers are gearing for their first big meet in February, the MAC championships. Diving is scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 3 at West Allegheny, followed by swimming at 10 a.m. Feb. 4, also at West A.

“The overall work ethic of the team has improved significantly and it’s a much tougher group in the water,” Nemeth said. “We have more depth on the boys side which gives us more flexibility with the lineup, too.

“It’s been a fun group who have really bought in and I’m amped to see them perform as champs.”

QV’s “leader of the pack” is none other than junior standout Emily Connors, a versatile, hard-working athlete. Connors has had an outstanding high school career thus far and is continuing that trend in 2022-23.

“Emily continues to impress and can do any event for us,” Nemeth said. “She has big goals this season and has worked really hard over the past 12 months. She is one of the top swimmers in Western Pennsylvania and is having an awesome season.

“She’s continued to step up when her team needs her, and she sets the tone for everyone else.”

Connors finished third in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle at last year’s WPIAL finals. She set new team records and advanced to states in both events.

A three-time PIAA medalist, Connors and senior Ella Fuener are the team leaders for the Quaker Valley girls.

“Ella is one of our most experienced swimmers who is working really hard in the water,” Nemeth said. “She has been to WPIALs and PIAAs more than anyone else on the team.”

Other returning state qualifiers for the girls team include sophomores Margaret Getty (200/500 free) and Paige Juliano (500 free).

Fuener’s younger brother, Thomas, also is a sophomore and one of the top athletes on QV’s boys team.

“Thomas had a great first year as a freshman and should take a big jump this year, as well,” Nemeth said. “His training has been excellent over the last couple of months, and he is putting in work that will pay off down the line.”

The younger Fuener sibling said the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle are his best events.

“My goals this season are to swim a sub-1:50 in the 200 freestyle and hopefully break the school record in the 100 butterfly,” he said. “I would like to offer a shout-out to John Nemeth for being a great coach and for helping to foster the growing Quaker Valley swim team.

“Also, a shout-out to the rest of the team, and to my sister Ella for driving me to be faster (in the pool) and to practice.”

Another leading performer for the boys is senior Alex Wagner, who qualified for the PIAA finals last season in the 200 IM.

“My main goal is to make states in both the 200 IM and the 100 freestyle,” Wagner said, “as well as in two relays. I want to drop below a 46 in my 100 free and beat the record on the board.

“I think our teams are hungry for improvement and this will be a good year for both boys and girls side.”

Wagner’s strongest strokes are the 200 IM and 100 free. He advanced to states last year in the 200 IM.

“But I am an all-around swimmer who will swim whatever event my coach puts me in,” Wagner said.

Nemeth agreed with Wagner’s assessment of himself.

“Alex is versatile as always,” Nemeth said. “I’m excited to see what he does his senior year.”

Ryan Steinfurth, a sophomore, advanced to the state meet a year ago in the 100 backstroke event.

“We are excited about the potential on the boys side,” Nemeth said.

Two outstanding freshman prospects in the QV swim program are Alexa Westwood for the girls and Austin Young for the boys.

“Alexa is a workhorse and does whatever we need. She’s such a great addition to the team,” Nemeth said. “Austin is completely new to the sport but has impressed with how quickly he has contributed, especially in the freestyle events.”

The three leading divers on the girls team last year — sophomores Ruby Olliffe and Ruby Krotine and junior Katie Blackmer — are back again in 2022-23.

Olliffe, the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up as a freshman, placed sixth at the state competition a year ago.

“Qualifying three divers for the (WPIAL) meet is beyond impressive,” Nemeth said. “They set the girls team up really well heading into the swimming events.”

The QV girls have placed second and third in the WPIAL team scoring the past two years.

Team News

11.0 months ago @ 2:47PM

Emily Connors, Quaker Valley swimmers set goals high

Emily Connors, Quaker Valley swimmers set goals high

Sunday, December 11, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review

Quaker Valley’s Emily Connors competes in the girls 100 butterfly during the WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships March 3 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Emily Connors has experienced much success in her two years in the Quaker Valley pool.

Connors ended her outstanding sophomore season in 2021-22 as a triple medalist at the PIAA Class 2A girls championships held at Bucknell.

She placed sixth in the 100-yard freestyle and eighth in the 100-yard butterfly. At the WPIAL finals, Connors finished third in both events; she holds school records in both (51.69 and 56.76).

Connors also swam the first leg on the girls 200 freestyle relay unit that placed sixth at states. She teamed up with then-freshmen Paige Juliano and Kwilai Karto along with Ella Fuener, who is a senior this year.

“It was my goal to podium in my individual events, and I was able to do that,” Connors said. “And one of our team goals was to get at least one of our relays on the podium, and we successfully did that.

“My personal goals this year are simply to better my PBs from last year, have successful WPIALs and states and have lots of fun.”

Connors, who trains with Steel City Aquatics in the offseason, also qualified for the PIAA finals as a freshman, in the 100 butterfly and as part of the 200 medley and 400 free relays. Both relay units took third place.

“I am looking forward to all of the racing opportunities I have this year and am really excited to see what this season has to bring,” Connors said. “We have three great out-of-section early meets that will provide excellent competition and opportunities for the team.”

QV coach John Nemeth offered praise for the 16-year-old Connors, a National Honor Society member.

“Emily is a tough swimmer,” Nemeth said. “She swims anything we need. She is a versatile swimmer who can swim a lot of different events and always steps up when it matters.

“She steps up when her team needs her, and she sets the tone for everyone else. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Two other returning individual state qualifiers at QV are sophomore Margaret Getty (200 free, 500 free) and Juliano (500 free).

The girls relays were represented at states last year by Connors, Fuener, Getty and Juliano in the 400 free and Getty, Gilligan, Fuener and Juliano in the 200 medley.

“Ella Fuener competes in the sprint free and fly and contributes on the relays,” Nemeth said. “She has a ton of experience at WPIALs and PIAAs.”

Quaker Valley was represented by 11 swimmers and three divers at last year’s state championships. Nemeth discussed their performances afterwards.

“We took a lot of positives away from the PIAA meet, and it is something our team is going to learn and grow from going forward,” he said. “There is a learning curve that comes with prelims and finals in meets like that.

“Being able to qualify 14 athletes is a huge deal. We are excited about the future of QV swimming and diving.”

Three divers — sophomores Ruby Olliffe and Ruby Krotine and junior Katie Blackmer — represented the Quakers at states. Olliffe, the WPIAL 2A runner-up, zeroed in on sixth place.

“Ruby Olliffe had an impressive performance at WPIALs and PIAAs,” Nemeth said. “She should be a top finisher again this season.”

The QV girls placed second and third in the WPIAL the past two seasons and ended up 10th in the PIAA team scoring last year.

“We want to keep building on the last two seasons and continue to show growth as a team. We saw that last year on both sides, and I’m excited to see what this crew can do,” Nemeth said. “MACs, WPIALs and PIAAs are where we want to perform our best, so we need to establish a strong team culture and work ethic early on.

“It can be a long season, and our goal is to have a close-knit group that supports one another and holds each other accountable.”

The QV girls won their third consecutive section championship last season.

“We had a strong year and showed good improvement as a team,” Nemeth said. “PIAAs were a great learning experience for our crew since so many of them had never been to the meet.”

Connors is looking forward to another successful season-long run for the girls team.

“I would say my early expectations are for the girls is to put together some good relays,” Connors said, “and to gain a few more WPIAL swimmers and have all of our relays make the final and medal at states.

“I also hope we can place in the top two as a team at WPIALs. We have quite a few good freshman additions that I think will score points for our team.”

Turning to the Quaker Valley boys, senior Alex Wagner (200 IM) and sophomore Ryan Steinfurth (100 backstroke) are two of the top swimmers back in 2022-23. Both were state qualifiers a year ago.

“Alex has most experience on the team,” Nemeth said. “He is a strong contributor and leader and is solid in every stroke.”

Wagner, Steinfurth, sophomore Thomas Fuener, junior Wesley Riddle and senior Spencer Wiehe all are returning team members.

“Thomas Fuener has a great freshman year in the 200 free and 100 fly,” Nemeth said. “He has room to improve and looks strong in the water.

“We are excited about the potential on the boys side. We want to just keep building up interest in the program and improving the team as a whole.”

There are 37 athletes listed on the 2022-23 varsity roster at QV, consisting of nine seniors, seven juniors, 13 sophomores and eight freshmen.

“The future is bright with nearly everyone back,” Nemeth said, “which is a huge plus as we continue to build the program.”

Other athletes on the girls team include seniors Hope Linge, Zoey Murawski, Tia Pethel and Emma Smith; juniors Kate Hines and Mia Hrabovsky; sophomores Mia Fusco, Serena Hutchens, Gia Kuyle and Abigail Suhaydar; and freshmen Margaret Burns, Kendra Hines, Makenna Kamnikar, Katherine Linge and Alexa Westwood.

Rounding out the boys squad are seniors Ashton Ragoowansi and John Shillingsburg; juniors Austin Batina, John Szuba and Bryson Williams; sophomore Jonathan Cheng; and freshmen Tyler Bell, Levi Carter, Jayden Juliano and Austin Young.

Cheng, Ragoowansi, Riddle and Shillingsburg attend Sewickley Academy.

The WPIAL recognizes the Quaker Valley swim program as a cooperative effort between QV and Sewickley Academy. The varsity team trains and competes at the Sewickley Valley YMCA.

“The team looks strong,” Nemeth said, “which is great because they are ahead of where they were this time last year.

“I’d say we also have a lot more depth on both sides, which should bode well at meets throughout the season.”