Ava Beal grew up with the goal of playing collegiate softball and worked hard to make sure that dream became a reality.
“My first memories of Ava were when my daughter started playing softball, and I got into coaching,” Quakertown assistant softball coach Chris Vanelli said. “One fixture at the RASA Fields when we were practicing as a team was little Ava on the side pitching constantly throughout all our practices and then running onto the field with her friends to play after we got off the field.”
The now Quakertown senior reaped the dividends for her hard work when she recently signed a letter of intent to play softball at the University of Albany.
A first team all-state selection, Beal surpassed the 100-hit milestone as a junior.
“Ava is an exceptional player and an exceptional person,” Vanelli said. “She was the spark that got our team going and led us to two state playoff experiences, which had not been done before, so that’s a credit to her. Ava is the epitome of what’s good in high school and collegiate athletics.”
Beal, who is undecided on a major, chose Albany from a final list that included Rhode Island, Furman, Providence and St. Joseph’s University.
“I chose Albany because the coaches are amazing people,” Beal said. “It feels like home, and I love the location and campus.”
Beal was one of five Quakertown seniors recognized on Wednesday, Nov. 8, for committing to play their respective sport at the collegiate level.
Abbey Wagner also will be playing collegiate softball, choosing Kutztown University from a final list that included Moravian, Wilmington (Del.), Elizabethtown and Purchase College.
Wagner will double major in psychology and art.
“Kutztown had my majors,” Wagner said. “Their softball team is very good, the campus is beautiful, and I love the location of the campus. There are a lot of opportunities at Kutztown.”
Wagner started playing softball at a young age and began considering playing collegiately when she was in eighth grade.
Eric Medlin had the opportunity to coach Wagner at the junior varsity level and as an assistant varsity coach last year.
“If I had to pick a word about Abbey it is her competitiveness,” Medlin said. “Just to see her growth over the year – I know she worked so hard to get to where she is now. I would see her and her dad almost every day at the RASA Fields.
“Also, Abbey is a great teammate, but it’s her hunger to compete. Kutztown is getting a great one – a special person, a special player.”
Calvin Lachman and Mason Ziegler both will continue their wrestling careers at Lehigh University.
Lachman is a three-time SOL champion, a two-time district champ and a two-time regional place winner. He competed in the National Wrestling Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, where he was a Fargo All-American, placing in the top eight.
“That’s a huge accomplishment, and it has not happened too many times here at Quakertown,” Panthers wrestling coach Kurt Handel said. “I love seeing his drive and determination. He had a heartbreaking moment at the state tournament, but he didn’t let it slow him down, and that’s part of that determination on and off the mat.”
Lachman, who plans to major in finance, chose Lehigh from a final list that also included the University of Pennsylvania, Davidson and Columbia.
“Lehigh is an amazing university with a great wrestling program,” Lachman said. “I also love the people that I will be with, and I see myself being happiest at this school.
“I knew I wanted to pursue wrestling in college after my sophomore year of wrestling when I found my love for the work that is involved with being a successful wrestler.”
Ziegler is 11th on the wrestling program’s all-time win list. He has surpassed the 100-win milestone and was a three-time SOL tournament champion, three-time district champion and two-time regional champ.
“Mason is one of the most relentless, determined, committed young men,” Handel said. “He is the dog on the bone.
“The other day he was heading to practice, and I said, ‘Aren’t you hurting?’ He was like, ‘Coach, I was put on this earth to hurt every day. I’ll be just fine.’ That is his mentality. Nothing is going to slow him down, and it shows.”
Ziegler plans to major in finance.
“Lehigh is a good school,” Ziegler said. “It’s close to home, and I love the coaches and the wrestling program.
“Ever since middle school, I started to love wrestling, and that’s when I knew I wanted to wrestle in college.”
Kiera Gallagher will continue her field hockey career at Kutztown University where she will major in special education/elementary education.
“I chose Kutztown because I love the team atmosphere along with the competition that we will face,” Gallagher said. “I first picked up a field hockey stick in middle school and immediately knew I loved the sport. I started going to camps and clinics at the start of high school while keeping my college options open.”
The first team all-league selection and two-year captain was named offensive MVP for her field hockey team that this fall captured a share of the SOL Liberty Division title. It was the program’s first title since 1991.
“Kiera is a versatile player that no matter where she’s at – if she’s inside or outside, she’s able to make a valuable play,” Quakertown coach MacKenzie Moser said. “She has a great eye for seeing the whole field. She is strong with her dodges, quick to move and get open and fearless to take a strong shot.
“In two short years of coaching Kiera, I have had the honor of seeing her grow both on and off the field.”