Hill School, Perk School close out season at PAISAA meet

POTTSTOWN — For more than a decade, The Hill School has been hosting the independent schools state track and field championships, now known as the PAISAA (Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association) Championships.

This year, the Blues closed out the 2015 track and field season, Wednesday, by hosting the sixth annual PAISAA meet.

The Perkiomen School also competed in the meet along with a host of private schools from the greater Philadelphia area with some as far away as Pittsburgh.

The Hill boys (81) placed an impressive second behind Haverford School in a field of 15 schools. The Hill girls placed fourth (62) behind Germantown Friends School (94), Episcopal Academy (84.5) and Mercersburg Academy (75) in a field of 16 schools

The Hill may not have the numbers and the depth of Germantown Friends or the Haverford School, but the Blues have plenty of standout athletes and many from right around this area.

On the girls side, Pottstown native Payton Miles is not only the Blues top swimmer, but also their best middle distance runner. She crossed sixth in the 800 (2:23.41) and anchored the Blues to fourth in the 4×800 relay (10:35.04).

Rachel Schaaf, a freshman Phoenixville native, has been the Blues’ most prolific point scorer this year, competing in multiple events. She closed out her first year by winning the triple jump with a school record 37-0 while also taking fourth in the high jump (5-0), fifth in the 100 hurdles (16.33) and seventh in the long jump (16-9).

Liam Macartney, who grew up “just off Pughtown Road’ and would have gone to Owen J. Roberts had he not come to The Hill, closed out his Blues career by winning the pole vault with a 12-6. Pottstown native and Pope John Paul II graduate Kirk Cherneskie, a Hill post-grad, took second in the javelin with a personal best 150-10, finishing behind Hill winner Calvin Martin (157-8).

Xavier Friel, a Hill sophomore who grew up just outside of Pottstown and would have gone to OJR, placed 12th in the 1,600 (4:48.34) and ran on the 4×800 relay team that placed third (8:35.34).

The Perk School 4×800 boys relay placed sixth (9:14.06), and those Panthers were all smiles because at least they have a track and field team again.

With the Hill’s Mid-Atlantic Prep League dual meets mostly far away from home, this was finally a chance for their families to cheer the locals on.

And Miles loves to run — and swim — in front of them. She took up swimming at age eight at the Pottstown YMCA under former coach Kathy Cook before added running to her list in eighth grade. She’s become great in both.

“I build my cardio in the pool, but it’s a whole different kind of cardio on the track,’ she said. “I like swimming a lot better,’ she admitted.

And it was the swimming that drew her to Hill.

“Because a lot of girls like Madison Marcheskie (Pottstown native and former Hill standout swimmer) talked it up a lot,’ she said. “And it’s just a great place to balance your academics and athletics. The family sense of it is what keeps me here. I love this championship meet. Usually our dual meets are very small, but this is a big deal. And to have my family watch me is great.’

For Schaaf it has always been track and field, going back to when she started running and jumping at Holy Family School in Phoenixville.

“I just try my best each time I come out,’ Schaaf said. “Two of my cousins came here so I wanted to. One of my cousins was actually in the first girls class here.’

The Hill School went co-ed in 1998 and Shelly Schaaf was among those first girl students.

“Then she had her wedding here and that’s when I first came and loved it,’ Schaaf said. “I was only in third grade, but I said, ‘˜I want to go here when I get to high school.’ I did consider going to a public school for a while because in seventh and eighth grade I went to Phoenixville Middle School.’

In fact, her twin brother, Christian Schaaf, did go on to Phoenixville High School.

“He runs long distance for Phoenixville,’ she said. “We didn’t really want to separate, it was where each of us wanted to go. He didn’t want to go to Hill and I did.’

Macartney wanted to follow his older brother Kier (2011), also a standout pole vaulter for the Blues, to The Hill.

“It’s my last season so I just wanted to give it my all,’ Macartney said. “I’m ecstatic winning the pole vault. My PR is 13-0 and I was trying to better that today, but it didn’t work out. I didn’t do as well in my other jumps, but as long as I did well in my main even that’s what counts. It’s a good way to end my track career.’

And no wonder Cherneskie is such a good javelin thrower. He learned it from St. Pius X, then PJP, and now Daniel Boone legendary javelin coach “Bob’ Reismiller.

“My whole family is here, my parents, my grandparents, it inspired me to do my best,’ Cherneskie said. “It’s the big meet, it’s the state meet. Yes, Coach Bob taught me originally. My brother Johnnie did a post-grad year here and I knew it would be a good experience to do one. I live in Pottstown and I always wanted to go to The Hill School. It feels really great to PR in the javelin today, go one-and-two with Calvin, and be second in the state.’

The Perk School foursome of the twins Henry and Ben Fisher, Ethan Feldman, and Lane Corbett were elated just to be running here.

“It’s really nice, considering the spring program of track was only started three years ago at our school,’ Henry Fisher said. “It shows us how far we’ve come. As a senior, this is the last meet I’m going to run in high school, so it’s really cool to see how far we’ve progressed. We worked really hard these past two seasons and to see it pay off is really nice.’

“This was our last time running together and we had a good season this year,’ his twin brother Ben Fisher said. “No, I don’t compete against my brother, I’m really good friends with my brother. We’re going to different colleges next year. I’m going to Boston U, he’s going to Lehigh. So it was great to run here one more time.’

Feldman is a Pottstown native and actually started grade school at Wyndcroft School, kind of the elementary prep school for The Hill.

“I switched from Wyndcroft to the Perkiomen Middle School when I was in seventh grade and then continued on to the Perkiomen High School,’ Feldman said. “I felt I found my needs there and developed a lot over the past two years. It’s fun running here, a lot of good competition. To measure up against people who can really run is nice.’

For Corbett, a post grad, it’s been a great year at Perk School.

“Today we ran in states, which was nice,’ he said. “I ran the anchor and liked that. We didn’t get the good time I expected, but this is our last meet and I’m proud to help my team. There is this little rivalry with the Hill and we just want to show our best.’

And as always, Hill did a great job running it. No wonder the PAISAA Track and Field Committee wanted to “pay special recognition this year to Coach Bill Yinger of the Hill School.’

Coach Yinger has been the meet manager for the State Championship from even before PIASAA was created … voluntarily vies tirelessly of his time to make sure we have a championship-quality meet each year,’ the committee stated in the program.

For Yinger, a former standout at Hill, it’s all for love of the school and the sport.

“It’s not that the meet is growing every year, it really is getting better,’ Yinger said. “It’s becoming more competitive. There are some pretty darn competitive events today. And that is something we’re really proud of.’

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