SJSW Weekly Notebook: Championship Season

Kayla Frank, who recently scored her 100th career goal, is the sparkplug that makes Moorestown’s lacrosse power go. The Quakers are eyeing their 16th state title since 2000 in the next week.  (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)
South Jersey Sports Weekly is a publication that launched in April that’s produced by Sun Newspapers that appears in physical copy within the Suns throughout South Jersey (in Moorestown, Medford, Cherry Hill, Washington Township, Deptford, etc). each Wednesday. Most of the content also appears online. The weekly, online notebook will provide you with even more of the content within SJSW’s physical pages.

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Player of the Week

KAYLA FRANK
Moorestown High School
Senior
Lacrosse

Overtime winner to keep her team from being upset at Haddonfield? Check. A half dozen goals, including a late-game winner, to knock off a team from Washington D.C. that’s also one of the nation’s top teams? Check. An athletic scholarship to continue her career at a D-1 program? Check.

The Virginia Tech-bound Frank is wrapping up an impressive prep career in grand fashion. In the last week, she reached the 100 goal plateau and was invited to play in the Under Armour All American Game as she also keeps Moorestown in line to collect its 16th state title since 2000.

“In a game, Kayla’s style of play is the spark that lights the (Moorestown girls lacrosse) fire,” Quakers coach Colleen Hancox said. “Whether she is winning a draw control, scoring an impressive goal or denying a challenger on defense, Kayla creates a wave of momentum for Moorestown. … When my friends and family come to watch Moorestown with fresh, new eyes one of the first things they say to me post-game time is, ‘Wow. Who is 51? Where is she playing next year?’

“When Kayla is on the field you cannot take your eyes off of her. She is tenacious, dynamic and plays with emotion. … Kayla is a go-to player on the field, who has delivered the goods when called upon in clutch moments. Off the field she is a popular, fun-loving member of the team. I have incredibly high expectations of Kayla because when she plays at her best she is unstoppable.”

The Quakers play Notre Dame this afternoon (3 p.m., at Point Pleasant Boro) in the Group 3 state semifinals. The winner advances to the state championship game at noon on Saturday at Kean University.

Moorestown’s boys lacrosse team, meanwhile, plays in the Group 3 state championship game tonight, at 5 p.m., vs. Chatham at Hopewell Valley High School.

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Games to Watch
Wednesday, May 22 – Tuesday, May 28

Boys Volleyball: NJSIAA South Jersey Championship

Wednesday, May 29

Clearview at Southern
5 p.m. at Southern Regional High School

Boys Lacrosse: NJSIAA Group 3 State Championship

Wednesday, May 29
Moorestown vs. Chatham
5 p.m. at Hopewell Valley High School

Boys and Girls Track & Field: NJSIAA State Group Championships

Friday May 31, Saturday June 1
Groups 2, 3 and Non-Public A at Central Regional High School
Groups 1, 4 and Non-Public B at Franklin High School
2:30 p.m. start time at both locations

Softball: NJSIAA Public State Semifinals

Thursday, May 30
Group 2, South vs. Central champions: Delran vs. Bordentown/Robbinsville
1:30 p.m. at Stockton University

Baseball: NJSIAA Public State Championship Semifinals

Monday, June 3
Group 1: at Rider University
Group 2: Toms River North High School
Group 3: East Brunswick Vo-Tech
Group 4: Monmouth University
Teams TBD, all games at 4 p.m.

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Coaches Corner

RICK CRAFT
School: Burlington Township High School
Sport: Track & Field
Years as coach: 42

Hanging it up: A 1972 graduate of Burlington Township, Craft was hired to teach physics and algebra five years later and began his illustrious coaching career in 1978. Craft will retire from both positions in June, helping his wife, Cheryl, look after their twin granddaughters, Jane and Eloise, and perhaps make more trips to Florida to visit their grandson, Brixton, too. “I hit 65 this year and basically I’m retiring from teaching so, do they have to go together, I don’t know,” he said. “I might still be around helping out, but it’s time for the young guys to take it on and learn all of the other little things (that go along with coaching).”

Fun fact: Craft, who doubled-majored in geophysics and secondary elementary at Penn State, got into teaching after realizing he might not be cut out to be a field scientist. “I did some summer work and ended up in Montana, and I realized the length of the season I had. I thought, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ I was working at 9,000 feet and we were an hour’s drive from anywhere. … I came back and decided to add secondary ed and look at the options of teaching. And that’s where I ended up.”

Coaching Highlights: “There are a lot of groups that had something special,” Craft said. “I remember struggling with a small Group 1 team and in the Freedom Division in the early ‘80s when it was 10 teams. And to beat anybody or get any All-Star over the other schools that had reputations (was gratifying). … Probably in 1987 I was interviewed by a paper for the first time after winning the Freedom Division meet. We had some really talented individuals and that made it special. We had a county record set in the discus that year that’s still held, by Kurtis Johnson.  … As a small Group 1 track team, we always struggled with having four runners who could handle running a successful 4×400. We had not won a Saturday relay race under my tenure until 1995. … We made our first trip to the Penn Relays that year, and came back with a win in our heat of the 4×400 and our first Penn Relay plaque. Later that year, we would win the South Group 1 Sectional Track meet by one point over Burlington City.

“As the spring of 1996 was approaching (the Burlington County Times) predicted that we were likely to be state champions that coming season. Would these boys ever be able to live up to these expectations?  Fortunately they were; they went 9-0 in dual meets, won the Bridgeton Relay and Woodbury Relay team trophies, and returned to the Penn Relays to win our second plaque. With these accomplishments, we were encouraged to try something different and we traveled north to the East Coast Relays in Morristown, N.J. We ran the 4×100 and Sprint Medley races. Ironically, we ran a school record time to win the first heat, which I was accustomed to being the slow heat; but I was wrong. We had the fastest time of the day, beating some 80 schools in attendance.”

Life lessons: Beyond seeing players improve in their four years at Burlington Township, what does Craft hope his athletes can take out of their high school experience? “That they were simply proud of what they had accomplished, while still respecting the accomplishments of their peers,” he said. “I hope that I treated everyone with a level of respect, that they would likewise emulate to others.”

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Scenes From Last Week

Boys Tennis: South Jersey Group 4 Championship
Cherry Hill East vs. Lenape
(All photos: RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

 

Boys Tennis: South Jersey Group 3 Championship
Moorestown vs. Clearview
(All Photos: MIKE MONOSTRA, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

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Stories from Last Week

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