Saturday, May 29, 2010

PIAA Track and Field, live blog

2:03 p.m. – McGuffey senior J.T. Deschamps wins Class AA 300 intermediate hurdles in a blistering time of 39.01 on a humid, muggy afternoon. Deschamps becomes McGuffey's first PIAA track champion since distance runner Jeff Weiss and the first from Washington-Greene counties since Char-Houston's Brianna Liebold.

9:14 a.m. – One race complete, one medal for a local athlete as South Fayette's Nicole Hilton wins silver in the Class AA 3,200.

Hilton, a junior, never did much running before the summer, when she began going for jogs with her father. She played soccer, basketball and softball at South Fayette as a freshman and sophomore.

She decided to give indoor track a try this winter, excelled and no she's a silver medalist in the 3,200. Hilton ran a personal best of 10:48.4.

"I didn't think I'd make it this far when I started," Hilton said. "I started to run this summer and I found out that I like to run."

10:41 a.m. – Trinity's Mike McClelland cruised past the first two heights in the Class AAA high jump. The boys are at 6-4.

Haven't seen official results yet but there's a chance that Fort Cherry's Brian Lauff and McGuffey's J.T. Deschamps qualified for the finals in the Class AA 110 high hurdles. There's also a chance neither qualified as both were close to fourth place in their respective heats.

Clairton's Trenton Coles just competed in the 100 dash.

10:52 a.m. – Lauff qualified for the finals in the 110 hurdles by placing fourth in his heat. Deschamps just missed with a fifth place finish in his heat but he qualified for the finals in trhe 300 hurdles yesterday.

Peters Township senior Phil Venanzi did not medal in the Class AAA shot put. Venanzi was seeded eighth.

McClelland just cleared 6-4. He's closing in on his first PIAA outdoor medal.

11:06 a.m. – In what qualifies as a surprise, Fort Cherry sophomore Jessie Merckle did not medal in the Class AA javelin. Merckle, the WPIAL champion, hadn't thrown her best at the end of the year but, at one point this spring, she was ranked among the top five throwers in the country in the event.

And for our Clairton people, Coles advanced to the finals in the 100 dash.

12:27 p.m. – McClelland places 7th in high jump at 6-6. Only two jumpers topped that height but McClelland placed behind four others on scratches.

Fort Cherry senior Brian Lauff placed sixth in the 110 hurdles at 15.04. That equals his placement from last year's meet.

"I'm happy to place but I felt I could have run better and placed higher up," Lauff said. "I wanted to be in the top 3 but sixth isn't too bad."

12:32 p.m. – Hilton places seventh in the 1,600 run for a two-medal day. Canon-McMillan's Nick Gibson, who pulled out of the 800 run and the relays, will be running in the Class AAA 1,600 shortly.

1:14 p.m. – Gibson clutches left leg on third lap of 1,600. He finished hard but he did not medal. … Trenton Coles of Clairton placed seventh in the 100 and third in the 400. The 400 champion was a young man named Kyle Younkin of Somerset, which was discovered by the Germans in 1904. Translated it means, "Land of 400 champions." Some blog followers may remember that's my hometown. Congrats to Younkin, the first PIAA track champion in Somerset history.

Speaking of Somerset, my lunch today was an Italian hoagie from Frank's Pizzeria. If you're ever in Somerset, head uptown to Frank's.

3:30 p.m. – Meet has concluded and the area snagged three additional medals.

Canon-McMillan senior Chelsea Zahn placed third in the Class AAA discus (134-01). She placed fifth last year.

Jefferson-Morgan's Hans Lubich took fourth in the Class AA high jump at 6-4 and Fort Cherry's Nate Bellhy was sixth in the high jump, also at 6-4.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Transfers updates

The PIAA Board of Control overruled a previous ruling by the WPIAL and made former Burgettstown standout Dylan Bongiorni eligible for the 2010 football season at West Allegheny High School.

The Indians, which advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA championship game, have an opening at starting quarterback.

Bongiorni, a sophomore, left Burgettstown nine games into the boys basketball season where he was averaging 19.7 points. Craig Lee, Bongiorni's attorney, stated the reason for leaving was because of harsh treatment received from basketball coach Brendan Cypher.

Burgettstown contested the transfer and the WPIAL originally ruled Bongiorni ineligible for all sports for one year from the transfer date in January. The PIAA ruled Bongiorni eligible for football but he must sit out part of the basketball season.

As a freshman, Bongiorni passed for more than 1,000 yards but did not have as productive a sophomore year with the Blue Devils.

* The WPIAL ruled that Monessen brothers Terrance and Josh Stepoli are ineligible for part of the 2010-11 basketball season following their transfers from Monessen to Greensburg Central Catholic.

Both brothers are permitted to play football for the Centurions. Terrance Stepoli was Monessen's starting quarterback and Josh Stepoli started along the offensive and defensive lines.

Terrance Stepoli, a 6-4 junior, was kicked off Monessen's basketball team in January following an incident at Washington. Josh Stepoli, a 6-5 sophomore, left Monessen after he was suspended for two games following the fight that broke out between fans at the Washington at Monessen boys baketball game.

Jim Stepoli, the father, is an assistant for Joe Salvino at Monessen.

* The PIAA voted to allow blocking/tackling sleds to be used in offseason workouts.

* I'll be at the PIAA Track & Field Championships Saturday at Shippensburg University and plan to provide a live blog. So track fans can check back here periodically through the morning and afternoon for updates.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One of the monuments to WPIAL's golden era of football ...

Every time I cover a game at Charleroi's downtown football stadium which sits atop the bank of the Monongahela River and was build in 1937, I feel like I've been transported into the past. That stadium is a link to the great era of WPIAL football when players like Myron Pottios and Mickey Bitsko dominated opponents and led the Cougars to prominence and WPIAL titles.

Just think about how many great players and teams rang that bell in the end zone near the home locker room.

Sadly, the 2010 football season will be the last played there before Charleroi moves into an on-campus stadium in Fallowfield Township.

It's definitely one of my favorite venues, probably at the top of my list just ahead of Parker Field in Jefferson.

Three teams, two games, one site

Local softball fans have it easy on Thursday as the three teams remaining in the WPIAL playoffs - Waynesburg, Bentworth and Chartiers-Houston - will play at the same site.

First, in a Class A semifinal, Bentworth (15-3, second place Section 1) plays No. 2 seed Chartiers-Houston (17-1, first place Section 1) at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township at 2 p.m. The Bucs beat the Bearcats twice this season, 2-1 and 7-0.

A win for Chartiers-Houston gives the Bucs a chance to win the team's eighth WPIAL softball championship and first since 2007. Bentworth has never made it to the title game.

In Class AA, No. 4 Waynesburg (16-3, first place Section 2) plays undefeated Valley (19-0, first place Section 3) following the C-H/Bentworth game at 4 p.m. The Raiders are looking to win a second WPIAL softball championship (2005).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cal's Hartman Class A Coach of the Year

California High School baseball coach Don Hartman is the WPIAL Class A Coach of the Year based on the Trojans' regular season and voted on by WPIAL head baseball coaches.

Hartman is one of the area's more decorated coaches in any sport. His teams at California have won WPIAL Class A titles in 2001 and 2006. The Trojans were runners-up in 2007 and have made it as far as the PIAA semifinals. California has won seven section titles in Hartman's 13 years, including one this year.

California is 20-2 overall and the No. 3 seed in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. The Trojans play second-seeded Neshannock (16-4) Tuesday at the Burkett Sports Complex in Robinson Township at 5 p.m.

California can still qualify for the PIAA postseason with a loss if it wins a third-place consolation game.

The WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association named players, pitchers and coaches of the year in each classification Monday.

Players of the Year
AAAA – Matt Berezo, Pine-Richland
AAA – Colin Loughner, Blackhawk
AA – J.R. DeWeese, Center
A – Brandon Schultz, Monaca

Pitchers of the Year
AAAA – Ryan Oglesby, North Allegheny
AAA – Scott Dierdorf, Hopewell
AA – Dillon Haviland, South Fayette
A – Alain Girman, Serra Catholic

Coaches of the Year
AAAA – Dan Caponi, Baldwin
AAA – Joe Colella, Hopewell
AA – Chris Graczyk, Freeport
A – Don Hartman, California

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

APB, Where are they Now?

With the WPIAL softball playoffs heading toward the quarterfinals, The Varsity Letters decided the time was appropriate to track down one of Washington County's more accomplished pitchers.

We're issuing an All Points Bulletin for former Chartiers-Houston ace Erica Riggle.

Riggle struck out 200-plus batters in each of her final three year at Chartiers-Houston and finished her varsity career with more than 750 (a school record). Riggle got it done when it mattered as she led C-H to one WPIAL championship and two PIAA runner-up finishes.

She went on to Robert Morris University, where she pitched from 2002-05 and, in 2007, Riggle was an assistant coach at Trinity.

Anyone knowing Riggle's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Max Preps releases top 100 football recruits

Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for Max Preps and CBS College Sports, released his top 100 players from the Class of 2011 earlier this week. According to Lemming, the nation's top prize if running back/linebacker James Wilder from Plant High in Tampa.

The highest ranked player from Pennsylvania is Jameel Poteat of Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg at No. 50. If the last name sounds familiar, it should. His older brother is former Pitt defensive back Hank Poteat, a former Steelers draft pick who played for the Cleveland Browns in 2009.

There are no WPIAL players in the rankings.Link
For the complete list, click

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Updates brackets for baseball, softball

Most baseball teams will be playing Thursday and Friday, weather permitting.

All first-round softball games now have sites and times.

Photos from Canon-McMillan's WPIAL team track championship

All photos courtesy of Steve Burchesky, who was kind enough to share his work with us. Thanks for letting The Varsity Letters post your work Steve.

Canon-McMillan freshman Michael Burchesky on his way to a key win in the 300 hurdles.

Future opponents in the Big Ten, teammates on the Big Macs' 400 relay team, Mike Hull hands off to Chad Hagan.

The Big Macs lift Novian Robinson in celebration after his anchor leg in the 1,600 relay helped clinch the championship at West Mifflin High School.

The team and coaches. Kudos to the ladies from C-M who worked the press booth and were keepers of the official results.

A few Thursday softball games are set

Blogger's note: All WPIAL softball playoff games scheduled for today have not been postponed.

While the softball teams at Bentworth, McGuffey and Waynesburg await sites and times for their first-round WPIAL softball playoff games scheduled for Thursday, a few others know destinations.

Trinity, the 12th seed and last year's WPIAL runner-up, plays Hampton at North Hills starting at 4 p.m.South Fayette plays Sto-Rox in a Class AA game at North Hills at 2 p.m.

Mother Nature's a real mother

The streets and yards are dry in my neck of Western Pennsylvania but parts of the region have once again been affected by rainy weather and it continues to wreak havoc on the WPIAL baseball schedule.

All local baseball teams, which the exception of Chartiers-Houston, scheduled to play today have had games postponed. The Bucs play Monaca at the Burkett Sports Complex in Robinson Township at 4:30 p.m.

The WPIAL has postponed the following baseball games:
Class AAAA
Norwin vs. Baldwin; Penn Hills vs. Penn-Trafford; Peters Township vs. Hempfield; Shaler vs. Plum; Pittsburgh Central Catholic vs. Butler;
Class AAA
Montour vs. Greensburg-Salem; Laurel Highlands vs. Trinity; Thomas Jefferson vs. Hampton;
Class AA
Shady Side Academy vs. Waynesburg; Washington vs. Seton-La Salle;
Class A
Jeannette vs. Jefferson-Morgan; Beth-Center vs. OLSH; California vs. Carmichaels; Bentworth vs. Cornell.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baseball, softball playoffs resume Wednesday

The first round of the WPIAL baseball playoffs will begin Wednesday. With several proms on the horizon, there are multiple site and time changes.

For the complete updated brackets,

The WPIAL softball playoffs will also start Wednesday and the teams scheduled to play today will start Thursday.

For the updated brackets,

Softball games postponed

All WPIAL softball playoff games scheduled for today have been postponed. No make-up dates have been announced.

We are still waiting to see when the WPIAL baseball playoff games that were postponed Monday and today will be played.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Briggs hired as boys coach at C-H; C-M coaching update

Eugene Briggs has been hired as the head varsity boys basketball coach at Chartiers-Houston. Briggs spent the 2009-10 season with the Bucs as the top assistant to Jerry Cypher, who resigned as head coach to help his son Brendan at Burgettstown.

Briggs is no stranger to the local hoops scene.

He was a long-time head coach at Fort Cherry, where he was also one of the school's all-time leading scorers. Briggs also helps organize the annual Washington-Greene Senior All-Star Games.

* Canon-McMillan will not hire a head football coach at tonight's school board meeting but there will be an executive session where the finalists will be discussed. A head coach could be hired as early as next week in a special meeting of the school board.

* Mike Brodnick, the man Cypher replaced at Chartiers-Houston, has resigned as girls basketball coach at Canon-McMillan.

Brodnick guided the Big Macs to a pair of rare playoff appearances in 2004-05 and 2006-07. He also coached the first C-M girls player to land a Division I scholarship in point guard Natasha Williams, who plays at Akron.

Rain washes out baseball games

All WPIAL baseball playoff games scheduled for today and Tuesday have been postponed. There was a total of 27 baseball games scheduled for those two days, including games for all local teams.

A decision has not been made on WPIAL softball playoff games, which begin Tuesday.

Friday, May 14, 2010

C-M football search; Adams draws D1 interest

Canon-McMillan could name a varsity head football coach as early as Monday, but the number of candidates to draw from isn't what one might expect for a Class AAAA school in the WPIAL.

Jobs like the one at Canon-McMillan often draw 60-70 applicants. Ringgold said it received 80-plus applications for its vacant football position.

Canon-McMillan received 17 applications, some from states as far away as Maine, Texas and Mississippi after Guy Montecalvo resigned last month. Montecalvo is Canon-McMillan's athletic director.

One possible reason for the lack of interest is the lack of a teaching position to go with the job.

* Alex Adams, a junior at Canon-McMillan, is drawing interest from Division I school as a running back.

Adams (5-11, 200) is strong and fast and he'll likely get a chance to be the Big Macs' featured running back with the impending graduations of Mike Hull and Chad Hagan.

Bowling Green, which landed Wash High's Bryan Thomas as part of its 2010 recruiting class, may offer soon and Adams plans on attending camp there in early June. Cincinnati, Connecticut and Pitt have all visited with Adams.

WPIAL baseball pairings

North Allegheny, Moon, Shady Side Academy and Serra Catholic are the defending champions and each has an excellent chance to repeat. NA is the top seed in Class AAAA. Moon is the No. 2 seed in AAA. Shady Side Academy is seeded fourth in AA, while Serra is the top seed in A.

South Fayette, Washington and California are the local teams with high seeds in their respective brackets.

First round
Class AAAA
No. 5 Peters Township (14-6) vs. No. 12 Hempfield (11-9), Monday, 7 p.m. at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park. The Indians can hit. They need pitching to make another playoff run.

Class AAA
No. 12 Trinity (11-5) vs. No. 5 Laurel Highlands (15-4), Monday, 2 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant. Trinity is the only local team to make the PIAA playoffs in each of the past three years.

Class AA
No. 1 South Fayette (17-1) vs. Riverview/Deer Lakes winner, Tuesday, site and time TBD. The Lions reached the PIAA finals last year and have not lost to a WPIAL team this year.

No. 3 Washington (13-5) vs. No. 14 Seton-La Salle (12-4), Monday, 4:30 p.m. at Upper St. Clair. The Prexies haven't won a playoff game since 2005, losing their last five.

No. 13 Waynesburg (11-5) vs. No. 4 Shady Side Academy (17-2), Monday, 2 p.m. at W&J's Ross Memorial Field. A dominant program a decade ago, Waynesburg makes its second playoff appearance since 2001.

Class A
No. 3 California (18-2) vs. No. 14 Carmichaels (7-12), Monday, 4 p.m. at Beth-Center. These two friendly rivals have won five WPIAL Class A titles the past decade. California beat Carmichaels, 16-2, in early April.

No. 5 Beth-Center (11-5) vs. NO. 12 OLSH (11-6), Monday, 2 p.m. at Upper St. Clair. The Bulldogs went undefeated in Section 1 but are 1-5 out of section. Four of those losses came against Peters Township, California, Jeannette and Waynesburg.

No. 6 Bentworth (16-3) vs. No. 11 Cornell (10-6), Monday, 4:30 p.m. at W&J's Ross Memorial Field. The Bearcats have lost two games to Class A teams, each by one run.

No. 9 Jefferson-Morgan (11-6) vs. No. 8 Jeannette (12-4), Monday, 4 p.m. at Baldwin. Tough to get a read on the Rockets. They beat Brownsville but lost to Chartiers-Houston, Bentworth and Avella out of section.

No. 10 Chartiers-Houston (12-6) vs. No. 7 Monaca (12-5), Monday, 4:30 p.m. at the Burkett Sports Complex. The Bucs are the only Class A team to play within five runs of Serra Catholic, a 14-11 loss in early April.

WPIAL softball pairings

Hempfield, Franklin Regional, Riverside and Vincentian Academy are defending champions and all four teams are in the field.

Peters Township, Trinity, McGuffey, Waynesburg, South Fayette, West Greene, Jefferson-Morgan, Chartiers-Houston, Carmichaels and Bentworth are the local teams involved.

First round
Class AAAA
No. 3 Peters Township (16-3) bye; gets winner of Latrobe-Kiski in quarterfinals with date, site and time to be determined.

Class AAA
No. 12 Trinity (14-6) vs. No. 5 Hampton (11-6), Tuesday, 4 p.m. at Baldwin. The Hillers advanced to the WPIAL championship game and PIAA semifinals as the 10th seed last year.

Class AA
No. 5 Waynesburg (14-3) vs. No. 12 Mt. Pleasant (14-5), Tuesday, 4 p.m. at California University. The Raiders haven't been to the PIAA playoffs since 2006.

No. 11 South Fayette (12-5) vs. No. 6 Sto-Rox (12-4), Tuesday, 2 p.m. at Baldwin. The Vikings were a WPIAL finalist last year.

No. 9 McGuffey (14-5) vs. No. 8 South Park (13-3), Tuesday, 2 p.m. at Elizabeth Forward. The Highlanders take an eight-game win streak into the postseason.

Class A
No. 2 Chartiers-Houston (15-1) vs. No. 15 Riverview (8-8), Wednesday, 4 p.m. at Fairhaven Park. The Bucs are finally on the opposite side of the bracket from Vincentian Academy. The Royals knocked them out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals the past two years.

No. 3 Carmichaels (15-1) vs. No. 14 OLSH (12-6), Wednesday, 4 p.m. at California University. The Mikes won their last three games by a combined score of 46-0.

No. 13 West Greene (11-8) vs. No. 4 Mt. Alvernia (16-2), Wednesday, 4 p.m. at Burgettstown. Hard to imagine a lower-seeded team playing better than the Pioneers, who have won seven straight.

No. 5 Jefferson-Morgan (17-3) vs. No. 12 Leechburg (11-5), Wednesday, 2 p.m. at California University. The Rockets are the highest-seeded second-place team but draw a perennial contender in the first round.

No. 6 Bentworth (13-3) vs. No. 11 Avonworth (10-7), Tuesday, 4 p.m. at Fairhaven Park. The Bearcats' only losses are to Chartiers-Houston (twice) and Jefferson-Morgan.

You can read the complete brackets by clicking

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ringgold hires AD, loses baseball coach

The Ringgold School Board hired Ron McMichael as its athletic director at Wednesday's meeting. McMichael replaces Lloyd Price, who resigned abruptly as Ringgold's athletic director and football coach in late March.

McMichael is the athletic director at The Neighborhood Academy, a college-preporatory school for low-income students located in Pittsburgh. McMichael started the athletic program at the school, which competes in the WPIAL.

McMichael lives in the Ringgold school district and his wife Jen is an assistant track coach. McMichaeLinkl also helps compile a WPIAL boys track honor roll with Steve Tinker at

In other Ringgold news, Brett Grandstrand has resigned as baseball coach. Grandstrand, a former Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick who spent three years with the Washington Wild Things, went 15-23 in two seasons. Ringgold completed its season Monday.

Bizarre student imposter story out of Texas

We've all wondered what it might be like to relive our "glory days" in athletics. This guy actually pulled it off.

ODESSA, Texas (AP) — A lot of guys dream about going back to high school and recapturing their athletic glory days. A man who went by the name of Jerry Joseph did it, police say, and now he’s in big trouble.
Authorities say the boyish-looking 22-year-old posed as a 16-year-old sophomore phenom to lead the Permian High School basketball team to the state playoffs. He was jailed on fraud charges, and the rabidly competitive West Texas high school that inspired the movie “Friday Night Lights” may have to forfeit its season.
“Everyone just thought he was a big guy,” said Permian senior football player Steven Pipes. “He played the part good, skipping down the hallways acting goofy like a 16-year-old.”
Pipes and some teammates approached the 6-foot-5 player they knew as Joseph soon after he enrolled last year, asking him if he wanted to play football. Pipes said Joseph, who was attending a junior high at the time, declined. He liked basketball instead, and he was good enough to average about 20 points per game over the final nine games heading into the playoffs, where Permian lost in the first round.
Joseph was a starter and played center and forward. But suspicions about the player’s identity first arose when three Florida basketball coaches familiar with a former player named Guerdwich Montimere recognized him last month at an amateur tournament in Little Rock, Ark. Montimere, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti, graduated from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale in 2007.
School officials and immigration authorities initially believed Joseph when he denied the allegations and let him remain enrolled. But school police and immigration agents confirmed Montimere’s identity Tuesday. When confronted, he confessed, said school district spokesman Mike Adkins.
Montimere was arrested and charged with failure to identify himself to a police officer. He posted $500 bond Wednesday, said Ector County sheriff’s Sgt. Debbie Bruce.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, he could face a maximum of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Bruce said there was no record of an attorney for Montimere.
Montimere’s mother, Manikisse Montimere of Tamarac, Fla., said she had not seen her son in about two years. She said basketball was important to him.

Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baseball all-star rosters released

The Western Pennsylvania Baseball Coaches Associations all-star games will be played Sunday, June 13 at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township. The Class A vs. AA game begins at 1 p.m. Class AAA vs. AAAA is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

As usual, there will be a strong local flavor.

Class AAAA
Jim Boris, Canon-McMillan
Rick Falascino, Peters Township
D.J. Michalski, Canon-McMillan
Matt Berezo, Pine-Richland
Jon Boyd, Upper St. Clair
Nate Campbell, Latrobe
John Crummy, Butler
Ryan Davis, Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Nathan Ellwood, Norwin
Tyler Garrone, Kiski Area
Anthony Girdano, Bethel Park
Mike Johnson, Penn Hills
Will Kengor, Pittsburgh Central Catholic
C.J. LaPlace, Baldwin
Anthony Maroadi, Norwin
Pat McCarthy, Baldwin
Mike Norkus, Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Ryan Oglesby, North Alleghent
John Orr, Shaler
Blake Robinson, Albert Gallatin
C.J. Stotler, Plum

Class AAA
Bob Bracken, Ringgold
Joe Havrilak, Trinity
Tyler Amrhein, Montour
Max Beatty, Laurel Highlands
Scott Dierdorf, Hopewell
Joe Fearer, Mt. Pleasant
Cullen Hinderliter, Knoch
Jordan Izzo, New Castle
Colin Loughner, Blackhawk
Ethan Mildren, Laurel Highlands
Nick Miller, West Mifflin
Zach Nichi, Ambridge
Kevin Quinn, West Mifflin
Andrew Rush, Mars
Zak Schmidt, Moon
Brad Schnelle, Moon
Frank Szubra, Thomas Jefferson
Kevin Welsh, Hopewell
Brett Williams, Hampton
Buddy Wilson, Elizabeth Forward

Class AA
Jonathan Goodwill, South Fayette

Dillon Haviland, South Fayette

J. Jay Paskert, Washington

Admire Carter, Beaver Falls
Evan Chiapetta, Beaver Falls
Jake Dando, Laurel
Ken DiBucci, Riverview
Devin Holt, New Brighton
Cole Lentz, Freedom
Patrick Leyland, Bishop Canevin
Rory Lockhart, Ford City
Mike Natale, Laurel
Brian Nickel, Shady Side Academy
Danny O'Leary, Freedom
Zach Patterson, Brownsville
Nick Shook, Riverview
Ryan Siegel, Freeport
Ty Trainor, Seton-La Salle
Jim Velette, Deer Lakes
Christian Wolosik, North Catholic

Class A
Ty Bell, Bentworth
Dalton Bercosky, Bentworth (pictured)
Zac Edmiston, California
Anthonie Farrar, Carmichaels
D.J. Martinak, California
Derek McIlvaine, Chartiers-Houston
Brent Moskola, Jefferson-Morgan
Ryan Parker, Chartiers-Houston
Jordan Ault, Jeannette
Brett Basilone, Springdale
Ryan Caldwell, Serra Catholic
Ross Cortese, Vincentian
Zach Delturco, Monaca
Joey Fontana, Neshannock
Oliver Girman, Serra Catholic
Ryan Healy, Vincentian
Chris Kirkwood, Neshannock
Michael Mash, Jeannette
Steve Muscarella, Quigley
Brandon Schultz, Monaca

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Keeping up with ...

Chuck Gasti

A former multi-sport standout at Carmichaels High School, Gasti has started 37 games for the Cleveland State University baseball team and played in 40 games for the Vikings.

Gasti was a shortstop and pitcher for the Mikes but has spent time in the outfield as a freshman. The pre-med major and former Carmichaels valedictorian ranks fifth on the team with a .289 batting average (39-for-135) with seven home runs, 27 RBI, 11 doubles and 27 runs. Cleveland State, a member of the Horizon League (that's where NCAA basketball finalist Butler hails), is 11-35.

Gasti earned 11 letters (four baseball, four basketball, three football) at Carmichaels and earned two Baseball All-District first-team selections as a junior and senior. As a junior, Gasti helped Carmichaels win a WPIAL Class A championship and reach the PIAA title game. He batted .477 and led the WPIAL with 42 runs. He also posted a 9-1 record with 81 strikeouts and 1.05 ERA.

He pitched a complete game in the PIAA championship, which Carmichaels lost. His older sister Nikki pitched Carmichaels to WPIAL Class AA titles in 1998 and 1999 and the 1998 state title.

As a senior, Gastio batted .535 with 20 extra-base hits, including six home runs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Paterno, Wannstedt want spring football for state high schools

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Getting Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Pitt counterpart Dave Wannstedt on the same campus is a rarity. Getting them to back the same idea is practically a coup.
Pennsylvania football’s highest-profile college coaches are lending their support to high school coaches seeking to add a spring football practice period — an idea that has been around for a while, but has never gained traction with the PIAA, the governing body for Pennsylvania scholastic sports.
Skeptics remain and the PIAA this week offered a lukewarm response, though backers of the idea hope to get a boost with JoePa and Wannstedt now on board.
“Absolutely,” Paterno responded when asked if he would support a measure before the PIAA to install a spring football period.
Three members of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association traveled to Penn State this week to garner the support of Paterno and Wannstedt. Temple coach Al Golden could not attend because of a scheduling conflict.
“Now we’re trying to put some action behind the talk,” said Red Land coach Frank Gay, one of the PSFCA emissaries, about spring practice. “It’s something that we felt we needed the support of Coach Wannstedt, Coach Paterno and Coach Golden because they see it, and that will give us some meat behind our argument.”
States like Texas and Florida already have spring practice periods. A spring period would not only hone the skills of developing high school players, but also get perhaps second-tier players not drawing attention from Division I schools more recruiting looks from Division II, III or Ivy League schools, said Clearfield coach Tim Janocko.
At issue are full-contact spring practices, similar to the spring drills held at Penn State and Pitt. The PIAA in December allowed schools for the first time to let players wear pads during spring workouts, though physical contact is not allowed.
“We’re inching closer,” Gay said. “If we’re going to get to that level, why don’t we just get it over with and do it that right way?”
The high school coaches would like a spring practice period in late May, mainly toward the end of track and baseball seasons.
“We all know how many repetitions it takes for a young man to develop a skill,” Wannstedt said, “and the more that he can get an opportunity to do that, the better opportunity he has to improve his skills and better his opportunity to be a better player and go to college somewhere.”
Paterno said his support has nothing to do with giving Penn State a recruiting advantage.
“But there are a bunch of kids that are this close, and with a little coaching, a little encouragement, a little pride in some things, they can do well and make a difference,” he said.
Getting the PIAA to approve a spring practice period may be challenging even with the high-profile support.
PIAA executive director Brad Cashman, in interviews this week with several reporters, cited a PIAA bylaw that states a sport could not operate at the detriment to other sports. In Pennsylvania, a potential spring practice period could interfere with track, volleyball, lacrosse, baseball and tennis.
“We don’t see it happening, and mostly because it will be a detriment to the five other spring sports,” PIAA assistant executive director Melissa Mertz said Friday.
To approve spring practice, the PIAA would also have to amend the bylaw. The last time the topic came up was in 2000, when it was voted down by a PIAA football steering committee, Mertz said.
The PIAA is also concerned that allowing full-contact drills outside of the fall would put more players at risk for concussions, Mertz said.
The PIAA, she added, has also “always been a proponent of letting kids be part of as many (activities) as possible,” she said. “We don’t think high school is a time to specialize. Some will do it, and that’s fine ... but we will always try to promote from this office always getting involved in several activities.”
A late May football period could conflict with multi-sport athletes in the state track meet or state baseball playoffs, “but when we look at the numbers, it’s not that many,” Gay said.
Athletes at schools with smaller enrollments may have more difficult choices. For instance, about three-quarters of the 60-70 football players at Selinsgrove participate in spring sports, said Brian Catherman, a track coach who will become athletic director this summer.
Catherman said the spring football practice issue hasn’t come up at Selinsgrove, which excels at track and won the Class AAA football title last season. Catherman also likes his students to play as many sports as they like. Football players working on speed run track, and linemen needing practice with footwork take part in field events.
“When you tell athletes you have to pick, well that’s not really fair to them,” Catherman said.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Canon-Mac Boys in WPIAL Team Track Finals

For the third time in four years, the Canon-McMillan boys track and field team is headed to the WPIAL team championships, which take place Thursday, May 13 at West Mifflin High School.

The Big Macs got there by beating North Allegheny (82-68), West Allegheny (107-42), Uniontown (102-48) and Hampton (119-31) in Wednesday's first round at North Allegheny.

Against North Allegheny, Canon-McMillan swept the three relay races and got a pair of first-place finishes from Nick Gibson (1,600, 800). North Allegheny won all the field events except the long jump.

Under the direction of head coach Mike Koot, Canon-McMillan won the WPIAL Class AAA boys title in 2008 and reached the finals in 2007.

Canon-McMillan will compete against Butler, Seneca Valley and Hempfield starting at 3 p.m.

Wash High's Paskert Scouting for Attention

South Fayette senior Dillon Haviland is the WPIAL's top pitching prospect and has been since the Lions' run to the 2009 PIAA Class AA championship game. Wash High's J. Jay Paskert drawn as much attention, but his senior season is gaining considerable attention from a few colleges and major league teams.

A big, burly righty, Paskert might be Washington's best baseball prospect since Justin Gregula, who went to Old Dominion after graduating in 2002.

He sports a 5-0 record with a 1.37 ERA and 91 strikeouts, which might lead the WPIAL. He's allowed only 17 hits.

Paskert has drawn college interest from Division II California and Slippery Rock, which has several local players on its roster. Pitt is considering attending Washington's game Monday and the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals have inquired about Paskert.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back from vacation

Greetings readers.
It's been a week since I last posted as I spent a few sun-drenched days soaking up the rays on the Mexico island of Cozumel.

I'll be spending the next few hours getting back up to speed with local sports happenings and will kick start the blog.