The Sparta area has generated several student athletes that have continued their academic as well as athletic careers at the collegiate level and deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Here’s the latest group of local athletes to cheer on:
JJ Valentin and Luke Wilson, graduates of Sparta High School, were on the roster of the DeSales University lacrosse team this year. Wilson, a sophomore who played attack, competed in five games for DeSales. Valentin, a sophomore defender, played in 11 games and started in one of them for DeSales, with 12 goals and two assists.
The Bulldogs netted an overall record of 10-6 with a mark of 4-3 on their home field. In Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom Division they were 6-2. They advanced to the MAC Freedom Tournament where they were defeated by Arcadia University in a game held in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Valentin is listed as a TV and film major and Wilson is listed as a forensic psychology major.
Kiki Darrell, formerly of Pope John High School, spent part of her senior year at DeSales University as a competitor in sprints and hurdles for the women’s track and field program this past season. The Bulldogs finished in sixth place at the MAC Outdoor Championships held in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Darrell is listed as a communications major.
Tim Connell, also a Pope John High School graduate, played as a middle-distance runner for the DeSales University men’s track and field program in his sophomore year this spring season. The Bulldogs placed fourth at the MAC Outdoor Championships. Connell is listed as a medical studies major.
Max Merlino, another Pope John High School alum, was a senior goal keeper for the Gettysburg College men’s lacrosse team this spring season. Merlino competed in two games and made five saves for Gettysburg. The Bullets posted an overall record of 14-8 with a mark of 10-1 at home. In the Centennial Conference they went 6-2. Gettysburg advanced to the Centennial Conference Championships where they defeated Muhlenbberg in the semifinals before losing a one goal overtime contest to Dickinson in the final round. From there, they competed in the NCAA Division III Championships where they topped Roanoke and Dickinson to reach the quarterfinal round. In the NCAA quarterfinals, the Bullets lost by one goal to Union. Merlino is listed as a health sciences major.
Sean Roberts, a Pope John High School grad as well, was a senior pitcher for the Keystone College baseball team in 2022. Roberts appeared in two games on the mound and struck out two batters for Keystone. The Giants had an overall record of 26-20 with a mark of 10-4 on their home field. In the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) they were 10-2. Keystone advanced to and won the CSAC Championships with triumphs over Saint Elizabeth University and Wilson College. From there, the Giants competed in the NCAA Division III Regionals where they went 2-2 versus Immaculata University and Ithaca College in games held in Immaculata, Pennsylvania. Roberts is listed as a psychology major.