The reign of Taylor Schram, who started as a freshman on the Penn State girls soccer team, as the Observer-Reporter's Girls Athlete of the Year is about to conclude.
The sports staff will select the 2010-11 Girls AOY from the following four finalists.
Nicole Hilton, South Fayette
An Ohio State track recruit, Hilton was a former four-sport athlete who discovered, as a junior, that she can run. As a senior, Hilton won WPIAL Class AA cross country champion and placed sixth at state meet. In track, she was a WPIAL Class AA champion in 1,600 and 3,200 runs, and a PIAA champion in 3,200 run.
Jessie Merckle, Fort Cherry
A ballgirl for the Rangers football team, who may end up being the kicker in 2011, Merckle made a name for herself in basketball and track. A scrappy, tough point guard on the best girls basketball team in FC history, Merckle played for WPIAL championship and the team reached PIAA quarters. She was first-team all-district in hoops, averaged 11.1 points in addition to being a top-flight defensive guard. A WPIAL Class AA javelin champion for second consecutive season, Merckle placed second at the state meet.
Shelli Spamer, Peters Township
Like last year’s AOY Taylor Schram, Spamer is a highly accomplished soccer player. She received a full scholarship to play at NC State and has been part of the national player pool in her age group for several years. Spamer scored 28 goals despite being a playmaker for WPIAL and PIAA champions. She dominated the pace of the PIAA championship game.
Tanya Timko, Chartiers-Houston
Timko is believed to be the first tennis player in WPIAL history to qualify for PIAA tennis championships in all four categories – boys singles, boys doubles, girls singles and girls doubles. As a senior, IUP-bound Timko played boys singles. She finished third in WPIAL singles, losing in the semifinals to the eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion. Timko lost in first round of state tournament.