Wallenpaupack Area duo reflects on an impressive high school career that netted each 12 varsity letters

An argument could be made that Wallenpaupack Area is producing the best athletes in its history right now.

From 1981-2000, just five Buckhorns earned 12 varsity letters during their careers in Purple & White: Sharon Peifer in 1982; James Oplinger in 1986; Christie Kennedy in 1988; Lisa Hochreither in 1994; Erin Maculaitis in 2000.

Between the turn of the millennium and 2014 there was a drought finally broken by Nicki Mann.

Two years later, Matthew Vosburg entered the club. This year, for the first time in school history, two have attained the feat. Madison Schmalzle and Rachael Tirjan are the third and fourth 12-letter athletes in just the past five years.

Dedicated Service

What is interesting is that while Schmalzle plays field hockey and is a swimmer and Tirjan plays soccer and basketball, the two join forces in softball season.

For the past four-years, they've served as the Lady Bucks battery with Maddi in the circle and Rachael behind the dish.

This past year, both had the customary responsibilities that automatically come with being a senior. However, as underclassmen, leadership was thrust on them at different intervals depending on the sport.

Admittedly, both say wintertime athletics are their “Third Sport.” In so much as they provided their teammates with the necessary drive in the fall and spring, Maddi and Rachael also have demonstrated that being a good follower is necessary as well.

Each showed prowess as a plebe. Maddi began taking on leadership roles in field hockey as early as sophomore year while Rachael was fast-tracked on the pitch her first day as a freshman.

They both demonstrated they had skills and that earned them respect by fellow players and by their coaches. Over the course of their respective careers, Schmalzle and Tirjan would post some impressive stats.

Humility

Rachael has perpetually made her mark every soccer season by leading the Lady Bucks in goals.

This past fall she became the all-time leading scorer by shaking the net for the 116th time in 199 career chances. She accumulated 270 points by adding 38 assists and averaged 1.5 goals per 77 games.

She is a four-time Lackawanna League Firsy Team All Star, a two-time All-Region player, has mad the All-State roster twice.

Recently she was named an All-American.

Come winter, Rachael hit the hardwood and provided key defense for the Lady Bucks often covering the opponents’ best players.

Over four seasons she racked up 570 points, hitting 61 three-pointers, and draining 119-of-187 attempts from the line.

Tirjan is as adept on the diamond as she is on the pitch. She was named to the LIAA First team All-Stars each of her four years.

She received an All-State honorable mention as a freshman and made the All-State team each year thereafter. She has a .519 lifetime batting average, 118 career hits, 87 runs, and 26 RBIs.

Regardless of the season, Tirjan is reluctant to take credit for anything on her own. Any laurels that come her way she immediately attributes to her teammates.

Remind her she made 116 goals, and she’ll remind you that 116 people passed the ball to her.

“Senior year was a lot of fun and hopefully we were good role models for the younger players,” Tirjan said.

Diligence

Maddi played alongside of some skilled and dedicated field hockey specialists freshman through junior years.

Athletic and apt with the stick, she fit right in and greatly assisted in rebooting the program to the point where they made the district playoffs two years in a row.

However, as a senior she was tasked with providing the backbone to a much younger squad, laying down the foundation for what will hopefully be another successful several seasons.

During her junior season, she sent six balls into the net and this past year banked 24 goals and a trio of assists.

Schmalzle was no slacker over the winter. Even though she might not have been at home in the pool as she was elsewhere, Maddi nonetheless qualified for the district meet in at least one event each of her four years on the team.

This past season, she made it to the podium with the girls 400M freestyle relay team.

Any uneasiness Maddi may have had about being at home in the water was more than made up for come softball season.

Equally talented in the circle or in the batter’s box, she averaged .360 at the plate with 73 career hits, 62 runs, and 54 batted home.

She closed with 226 career strikeouts, earning 145 of them this past season and finished with a lifetime ERA of 3.72.

She was the Lady Bucks Defensive Player of the Year sophomore, junior, and senior seasons and was named to the LIAA First Team All-Stars in each of those years as well.

Maddi is an observer or the game and much as a player. She makes mental notes on what she sees and then takes action. Even poolside, she is generally vigilant either watching the swimmers in line of her for the relay or just watching with dedication to support her teammates.

“Senior year had it’s ups and downs,” Maddi said. “But, overall I’ve had fun the past four years spending them with my friends.”

Off the Field

Rachael is a member of Hemlock Grove United Methodist Church youth group, SADD, FBLA, the Athletic Council, the Ambassador Program, and served as class secretary for two years.

She is a member of the National Honor Society and is a member of the executive council, she has attained the Gold Scholar Award and has been a National Merit Finalist.

Rachael will attend Messiah College next fall where she will continue her soccer career and major in Biology on a pre-med track.

Maddi has earned the Gold Scholar Award in the National Honor Society, is a member of SADD, the local history club, the Foreign Language Club, the Prom Committee, Friends of Rachel, and the Athletic Council.

She plans to attend Towson University to major in chemistry and minor in international business.