Early baseball surge for Fort Zumwalt West, Timberland
A commitment to winning baseball is the Fort Zumwalt West Panthers’ focus in 2017. Heading into the second week of April, Zumwalt West had a 10-6 record.
After five games in the Midwest Classic Tournament, they finished a nondescript 3-2. Their luck changed on March 25, thanks to a 12-10, 11-1 sweep over CBC.
Junior shortstop Patrick Connor, batting second, along with junior center fielder Andrew Schofield, drove the Panthers at the plate and gave them strength up the middle.
Connor, Austin Verschoore, Michael Cessna and Dylan Hansen comprise the Panthers’ core rotation and had solid starts. Hansen has a pair of wins and an ERA of just over one run per game.
Zumwalt West headed into mid-April fresh off a fifth place finish at the Midwest Classic and believe they are primed for a strong performance in GAC South Conference play and beyond. The Panthers closed out the classic with wins over Blue Springs South and Francis Howell North on April 1.
The Timberland Wolves raced into mid-2017 as one of the St. Charles County’s hottest teams, reeling off seven wins in their first eight games.
Junior first baseman Keaton Bruegenhemke, junior outfielder Alex Gauspohl, senior outfielder Caleb Gussner and senior outfielder/pitcher Parker Malensky swing the Wolves’ big bats. The Wolves head into the second half of the season with an 8-3 record.
Boys volleyball shows early strength
Boys volleyball is looking quite strong early for Gateway Athletic Conference South clubs Francis Howell Central, Fort Zumwalt West and Francis Howell.
The Howell Central Spartans won nine straight matches, including wins over Fort Zumwalt North, Chaminade, Parkway South, Pattonville and Parkway Central.
Howell Central players finished second in their tournament as they fell to Fort Zumwalt West in a three-set match in the championship game on April 2.
The Spartans received contributions from 6-4 senior outside hitter Nathan Goestenkors, 5-10 senior outside hitter Connor McAfee and 6-1 senior setter Cameron Zelei. Goestenkors averages nearly four kills per game while McAfee and Zelei are averaging slightly over 2.5 and almost two kills per game, respectively. Goestenkors also has 98 percent serve accuracy.
Fort Zumwalt West also has been an early force on the court as the Jaguars’ hitters won 10 of their first 11 matches rolling into April.
The Jaguars won games over De Smet Jesuit, Parkway North, Francis Howell North and Cape Notre Dame during the streak.
Kirk Jackson, Austin Reed and Crew Zelinsky give Zumwalt West scoring punch. Jackson averages just over three kills a game. Reed has two and a half kills per game and Zelinsky averages two kills a game.
Reed has been the Jaguars’ go-to server, with almost 91 percent serve accuracy.
Francis Howell is off to a solid start as the Vikings moved into mid-April with a 4-1-2 mark.
The Vikings tied both Cape Notre Dame and De Smet Jesuit in two-set matches in the Howell Central Tournament in pool play on April 1.
Fort Zumwalt South has track dominance
Alicia Burnett burst on the prep track scene as a freshman and gives Fort Zumwalt South a strong competitor in sprints and relays.
She was the fastest eighth-grader in the nation last summer after she won the 100- and 200-meter races in the under 14 AAU Junior Olympics.
In the Bulldogs’ first meet at Fort Zumwalt East, she smashed the school record in the 100 meters, winning it in 11.9 seconds, besting the previous time of 12.5.
In the 200 meters, she won the race with a 24.6, nearly two full seconds ahead of the old record of 26.1.
“Alicia is very explosive out of the blocks and she has great top end speed that allows her to finish strong,” said Fort Zumwalt South Coach Waylan Smith.
At the Lindenwood University High School Open, Burnett won the 100 meters in 11.71 seconds. Then, she won the 400 in 57.09 seconds, breaking the school record of 59 seconds.
Burnett said bigger meets and good competition bring out her nerves but she uses that to her advantage. “It works for me [the nerves],” Burnett said. “When I’m nervous and I think something bad is going happen at the end, I do well and either get a PR [personal record] or something good.”
Burnett is one of several Fort Zumwalt South athletes who excelled at Lindenwood. Middle distance runner Sofia Popp ran a strong 2:28 to win the 800 and the Bulldogs’ 3,200-meter relay team took first with a time of 10:34.