TJ athletes give new facilities rave reviews

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Friday, September 27, 2019 | 7:20 PM


The Thomas Jefferson football and girls volleyball teams are talent-laden. Each finished as a WPIAL runner-up last season.

The eight all-conference players on the 2019 football squad consist of WR/DB Dan Deabner, OL/DL Logan Danielson, TE/LB James Martinis, OL/DL Mike Huber, OL/DL Mac Duda, QB/DB Shane Stump, RB/LB Nathan Werderber and WR/LB Bowen Dame.

Along with last year’s all-conference selections, returning lettermen include RB/DB DeRon VanBibber, QB/DB Jake Pugh, WR/DB Ian Hansen, TE/LB Jack Konick, WR/DB Conner Murga, RB/LB Isaac Eckley, OL/DL Brendan Sluk, WR/LB Preston Zandier, RB/LB Trevor Barrett and RB/DB Dylan Mallozzi.

Although the Jaguars are playing their home football games at TJ Stadium, they are attending classes at the nearby and newly built $95 million, 300,000-square-foot high school, designed after Thomas Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello.

“Our new high school is amazing,” Deabner said. “The athletic wing is by far my favorite with a turf hallway and brand new basketball courts. I’m glad I will able to be a part of the first graduating class out of this school.”

While Deabner is one of the fastest and most athletic players on the team, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Duda, a third-year starter on the line, is one of the biggest and smartest with a 4.2 GPA.

“The new school has been great so far,” said Duda, a Princeton commit who landed offers from all eight Ivy League schools. “It’s exciting going to school in a brand new building for my senior year. The best part of the building is probably the pool because we’ve never had one before this year. My personal favorite part of the school, though, is the gym.”

The senior class is represented on the football team by Stump, Dame, Deabner, Mallozzi, Martinis, Nathan Werderber, OL/DL Chris Samolovitch, Huber, OL/DL Brendan Sluk, Danielson, OL/DL Logan Pazin, Duda and K/P Dylan Sullivan.

Meanwhile, the TJ girls volleyball team competed Sept. 12 in the first athletic event at the new facility, defeating Ringgold 3-0 in the high school gym.

The Jaguars’ starting rotation consists of seniors Tanner Patrick (L), Abby Chalovich (S), Tyler Turk (MH), Natasha Yanief (MH), Ashleigh Haines (OH) and Jenna Kisner (DS), juniors Lily Rockwell (RS) and Claire Whalen (DS), sophomore Julia Palmer (OH) and freshman Cate Galioto (DS).

“The new high school is insane,” Patrick said. “As a community, we have been waiting years to finally move into our brand new building. We are so extremely lucky. If you’d ask my whole team what their favorite part of the new school is, they’d probably tell you the new gym because we finally have air conditioning.”

Chalovich, like Rockwell and Whalen, is a two-sport standout at TJ. They also compete in softball, though their focus at this time is squarely on volleyball.

“We are eagerly anticipating (more) games and practices in the new gym,” Chalovich said. ”We are excited to be the first team to play in the new school and to show off the gym and the team to the community. We are hoping to have a big crowd at our games.”

There are 10 seniors on the team. Along with Patrick, Chalovich, Turk, Yanief, Haines and Kisner, they include OH Kaitlyn Urbanowicz, and defensive specialists Anna Janosko, Julia Putignano and Bella Regna.

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