By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T

The flip-flop fit perfectly.

Last year, St. Mary Magdalen School in Media won the boys’ Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) archdiocesan track and field championship while the girls placed third. Two weekends ago at Franklin Field, it proved to be just the opposite.

“The girls have been competitive and getting closer for the past few years,” said SMM coach Judy Putsch, a 1975 Academy of Notre Dame de Namur graduate. “We knew there was a good chance we could win it this year. We have a lot of talent and it spreads through three age groups.”

CYO track includes the novice (grades four and five), minor (grades six and seven) and cadet (grades seven and eight) classifications.

SMM enjoyed an uncommonly balanced attack. Led by standout performances by seventh-grade minor Moira Putsch (Judy’s daughter), eighth-grade cadet Rachel Nowoswiat and minor Courtney Newsome, SMM was able to experience its first-ever girls’ track title.

Putsch finished first in the 100-meter dash, as well as the 200 and 400, setting archdiocesan records in each event. Nowoswiat established a record in the triple jump, and Newsome placed first in the 800 meters.

All six of SMM’s relay teams medaled.

“Sometimes you have one or two people who can carry a team to the championship by getting a lot of points,” said Putsch, whose assistant coaches include Mike Dolan and Joe Babin. “When it’s spread out like we had, I think it’s a lot better. And for us, we needed every point we could get.”

SMM won despite rugged competition from St. Ignatius of Antioch in Yardley and St. Alphonsus, Maple Glen, who finished tied for second. Despite solid performances from the runner-ups, St. Mary Magdalen accrued enough points to finally win a coveted team title.

“We have a large group who participated,” said Putsch. “We not only have a lot of talented inspaniduals, we have a lot of spirit and desire. We set goals early in the season. It certainly wasn’t a sure thing because there were a lot of very good teams. But we needed everybody to come through, and that’s what they did.”

In the boys’ meet, Mary, Mother of the Redeemer of North Wales was celebrating something even more special – the first archdiocesan championship in school history.

With Andrew Stone placing first in both the 800 and 1600 meters, Vince Esposito winning both the high jump and long jump and finishing second in the 200 and third in the 100, Riley Gaibler taking a silver in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump, and Scott Pierson adding a fourth-place finish in the novice 1600, MMR outscored second-place Our Lady of Mount Carmel and third-place St. Mary Magdalen to capture the title.

“It’s a thrill,” said MMR coach Tim Esposito. “It’s very exciting to accomplish this. I’m very proud of the boys.”

This was actually the second time that MMR had performed admirably at Franklin Field. Earlier in the month, the relay team of Gaibler, Connor Sassnacht, Stone and Esposito seized a gold medal in the archdiocesan 4×100 event at the Penn Relays.

Although garnering a Penn Relays gold medal was a storybook accomplishment, Esposito said winning the archdiocesan crown was even more satisfying.

“The day started around 9 and it wasn’t until 3, 3:30 before the trophies came out and the winners were announced,” said Esposito. “They stuck around and did a lot of celebrating.”

The long hours were obviously worth the effort.

John Knebels can be reached at