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Three Saint Joseph’s Academy athletes take talents to next level

Photos by Kenny Varner

Courtesy of Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy

Hometown Sports editor’s note- Be on the look out the next few days as we did One on One interviews with all the athletes who were honored today

BOALSBURG, Pa–Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy seniors Kathleen Simander, Zachary Witmer, and Camryn Eby gathered together this morning alongside friends, family, coaches, teammates, and fellow seniors to sign their National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.

Saint Joe’s Director of Athletics & Student Activities, Dr. Justin Rodkey opened the ceremony by recognizing some of the many athletic accomplishments of these athletes. “Over the past four years, Camryn & Kathleen have run many miles together. Countless hours of warming-up, cooling-down, or running for what might seem like hours, brought them to this point today. They shared tears, enjoyed many laughs, and experienced much success. Camryn & Kathleen’s accolades include district and state championships… Zack’s journey over the past four years took place on the mat. His countless hours involved take-downs, escapes, and pins. Zack and his teams had fun with their wacky warm-ups and never complained when they had to set-up/tear-down the mats. Zack’s accolades include 2 district titles, over 150 wins, and is a 3-time state medalist. Let’s get #4!”


Simander committed to the United States Naval Academy and will be on the cross country and track teams. Since she was in middle school Simander has had the dream of attending the Naval Academy. She has recognized some similarities between Saint Joe’s and the Naval Academy saying, “The family and community aspects of both schools are very alike. Both schools are self-driven, how you do at both institutions is up to you individually.” Simander will be studying Cybersecurity.


Saint Joseph’s track and cross country coach Jayson Jackson reflects on Simander’s determination to get to the Naval Academy. “When I met Kathleen for the first time at Accepted Students night in April 2017, she stated her desire to attend the US Naval Academy and be on the track and field team.  Each year she closed in on that goal and finally obtained it through hard work and persistence, which has to be a very rewarding and confidence-boosting experience.”


Simander has been dreaming of this day for years and is thankful for the opportunity. Although the world is a little unconventional, these days I am grateful to be able to have this opportunity and a little bit of normalcy. Thank you to everyone again and thank you Saint Joes for the opportunities, memories, and friendships made. Oh and…  GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!” 


Witmer officially committed to continuing both his academic and wrestling careers at Columbia University in New York City. He selected Columbia University “due to their immense athletic and academic resources offered” as well as “the university’s location in New York City.” Witmer also noted that the small class sizes—6:1 student to faculty ratio—will help to create a smooth transition from Saint Joe’s. He will be studying economics.


Witmer began his decorated wrestling career at three years old. Since then, it has taken “a lot of hard work, dedication, and belief” in himself to perfect his craft. When asked what this day means to him, Witmer said, “This day means a lot to me as I am able to take some time to celebrate and look forward to the future which has something that the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t given my family and I much time to do.”


Former Saint Joe’s wrestling coach Patrick Flynn believes that Witmer has the “tools to become a great Division 1 wrestler.” Witmer’s current coach, his Dad, Brian Witmer, echoes Flynn’s sentiments saying, “Zack is a student of the sport of wrestling.  He studies the techniques which are proven successful at the highest level and tries to perfect them on the wrestling mat.” From a more parental perspective, Brian Witmer could not be prouder of his son. “He is attending his dream school and is continuing his wrestling career at the DI level.  He is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, teammates, and friends at SJCA.  Zack’s dream was to attend and wrestle for an Ivy League school.  He was recruited and accepted into every Ivy League school [with a D1 wrestling program]. He would also not be in this position if did not make the choice to attend SJCA.  SJCA challenged him to a whole new level academically and prepared him for this day.  Today is a reflection of both Zack Witmer as an individual and SJCA as an academic.”


As for Witmer’s future wrestling coach at Columbia University, Coach Zach Tanelli is looking forward to adding Boris—Witmer’s nickname—to their roster. “Boris is a perfect fit for Columbia and the program we’ve built. His gritty style meshes well with our coaching staff, roster, and New York City as a whole. We’re excited to get him on campus and have the ability to develop him further athletically, academically and socially. We know he’ll be proud of the results.” 


Eby committed to Duquesne University where she will major in the Physician Assistant Studies Program while running on their cross country and track teams. She is looking forward to running at an elite level saying, “Running has taught me so much and given me some of my greatest friendships and memories. Being able to continue that at a higher level is very exciting and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”


Coach Jackson believes it was Eby’s work ethic and determination that got her to where she is today. “Camryn used a strong junior season to put herself on the radar of college coaches. Ultimately making it possible to be able to compete at her top academic choice, Duquesne.” 


Eby recognizes the hard work and dedication needed in order to compete at the collegiate level. “It took a lot of behind the scenes work in both my training and in communicating with coaches throughout the recruitment process. I had to learn to be patient in my training and work for the long-term goals rather than looking for instant gratification.”


In closing, Dr. Rodkey noted that “Camryn, Zack, & Kathleen we are proud of you, we are looking forward to following your careers once you depart from us, and we will support you as you press on towards your goals. You will forever be what few can claim, you are a part of the Saint Joe’s WolfPack.


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