Neumann-Goretti's Townsend shy yet spry

Sydni Townsend loves to craft fantasy, sci-fi, and fan fiction pieces, believing that writing helps her to explore the depth of her creative potential. If the 16-year-old ever grows tired of testing her imagination, she could certainly pen many accounts of her life as a track and field star. The sophomore at Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., has found herself with plenty of possible material lately, as she and the Saints achieved admirable results in the Philadelphia Catholic League Championships and emerged as the District 12 AA City conquerors.

“I’ve always believed in being a hard worker and a determined contributor to whatever team I’m on,” the teenager said from her East Passyunk Crossing-situated secondary institution. “I like helping this group to be well-rounded and compete for big titles.”

The Delaware County inhabitant and her peers raced to victory at last week’s Germantown Super Site-held city pageant, with Sydni helping the 4×400 meter relay team to finish first and the 4×100 meter relay squad to come in second. She also claimed the top spot in the 300 meter hurdles and the 200 meter dash, the latter producing the fastest time in the state. This came on the heels of the club’s third-place participation in the Catholic League tournament in which she earned the Track Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Athlete of the Meet plaudits for helping the 4×400 meter relay unit to tally a second-place showing and for scoring first-place distinction in the aforementioned individual challenges and third-place in the 100 meter high hurdles.

“I might be a bit biased, of course, but I’m incredibly proud of her dedication,” father Lincoln Townsend, the coach of the accomplished seven-member-strong outfit, said of his daughter. “Coming back in April from an injury that had kept her out since November, she really proved her tenacity.”

The patriarch has experienced similar secondary and primary joy within the world of track and field, as his son, Todd, likewise ran to renown when at Neumann-Goretti, graduating in 2013, and he left foes out of breath, too, as a competitor, with qualifying for the 1988 and ’92 Olympic Trials in the 400 meter dash among his accomplishments. The overseer noted that he stresses the process over the product, estimating that track and field is 20 percent physical and 80 percent mental. That cerebral emphasis has greatly benefited his offspring, with Sydni happy to pit her concentration against that of her adversaries.

“I see myself as a leader for the team,” the Collingdale denizen divulged. “We go up against some pretty talented teams, so if we stress believing in ourselves each time, we’re going to remain in the hunt for championships.”

Thanks to her father and mother Jonette, Sydni has received considerable encouragement in her sporting endeavors. The couple started the Delco Stallions in 2003, with their little girl quickly considering their efforts vital to her maturation. Winning her first national championship at age 8, she spent the next four years really honing her admiration for the different disciplines, deciding just shy of adolescence that she could make track and field a big part of her life.

“It’s really helped me to feel confident and composed,” Sydni said of the calling that has compelled her to compete in numerous state and national championship duels. “I owe a lot to track and field.”

Because of her track record, she felt no intimidation when beginning her high school career and has spent her first two years making area foes find something within them to counter her conviction, endeavors that have not proven successful at all.

“I still find myself a bit stunned with everything,” the humble youngster said of her South Philly-based journey. “I want to keep improving as an individual and as a teammate because there’s always room for improvement and always someone pushing you to grow.”

“Last year was amazing, but this year is even more phenomenal,” Lincoln added, singling out the District 12 prowess. “We’re going to use the summer to recharge so that we’re ready for productive indoor and outdoor seasons.”

Before the calendar calls for a break, the Saints will head to Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania today for the state championships. If all goes according to their wishes, Sydni will have many tales to spin, albeit of the actual variety.

“It gives me a different sort of satisfaction,” she said of her output, some of which appears on “I’d like to do something writing-related in college, but there’s plenty of time to figure out what that will be and how track and field will continue to be a factor in who I am.”

“If she wanted to walk away from this, I’d be happy as long as that is what she truly wants,” Lincoln said. “I want for her to explore and test herself no matter what she chooses.” SPR

Contact Editor Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.

Sydni Townsend has proven a consummate competitor in her two years at Neumann-Goretti

Portrait Photo by Tina Garceau; Action Image provided by Lincoln Townsend