Trio of Avonworth senior athletes commit to Division I programs

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | 4:03 PM


Three Avonworth seniors in various sports have made commitments to NCAA Division I programs, including one near home.

Abby Wert, Pitt women’s soccer; Emily Ferketic, Maryland-Baltimore County women’s volleyball; and Karen Siddoway, James Madison women’s swimming, will join their teams in the 2019-20 seasons.

Wert, a midfielder, scored 14 goals for the Antelopes girls soccer team last season. She led the Antelopes to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, where they lost in the quarterfinals.

She will join a Pitt squad that went 0-9-1 in the ACC, but hopes to turn things around under new coach Randy Waldrum.

Wert, who plans to study business, loved how close Pitt is to home. She considered Tampa, Fordham and Messiah.

“(It was) a big decision for her,” Avonworth coach J.C. Mahan said. “Now (it is) off her plate.”

Ferketic, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, had 10 kills per match and led the Avonworth girls volleyball team to third place at the WPIAL Class AA tournament last season. The Antelopes lost in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

She said she decided on Maryland-Baltimore County for academic reasons. Her other choices were Pitt, American, Seton Hill and Juniata.

“(What) I was looking for was a great STEM program, and UMBC has just that,” said Ferketic, who plans to study mathematics and possibly physics. “Plus, it is only four hours from Pittsburgh.

“My parents will be able to see my home games.”

Avonworth coach Doug Vandervort said Maryland-Baltimore County is a good fit for Ferketic.

The Retrievers went 6-6 in the America East Conference last season.

Siddoway earned WPIAL Class AA titles in the the girls 100- and 200-yard freestyle competing for the Northgate swimming co-op last season. She was PIAA runner-up in both events.

She said with her decision behind her, she can enjoy her final year in high school.

Among her other choices were Kenyon, Miami (Ohio), Buffalo and Pitt.

“I fell in love with (the) team and campus the first time I visited (James Madison),” said Siddoway, who plans to study chemistry and biology. “Touring around the campus with the girls on the team, I felt instantly included and a part of (the) team.”

The Dukes, who are based in Harrisonburg, Va., won their first Colonial Athletic Association title since 2012 last season.

Northgate/Avonworth coach Jessie McKelvey said Siddoway is a true athlete and expects her to thrive.

Avonworth athletic director Tim Giel said it is rare for the school to have three students commit to Division I teams in one year.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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