Friday, August 3, 2012

Hull to stay at PSU?

Numerous reports on Twitter say Michael Hull, a linebacker from Canon-McMillan High School, has decided to stay at Penn State. Hull had been considering a transfer and visited Pitt last week.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don't fall off the scaffold on your way out the door

We’ve all had them. Those moments when you ask yourself, "What the heck am I doing? Is this what has become of my life?"
Sure, like most people, those thoughts occasionally bounced around the cranium, but anything along those lines was quickly forgotten Oct. 7, 2006 while covering a football game between Serra Catholic and Beth-Center in Fredericktown. (Remember, turn right at the butcher shop.) Both teams took unbeaten records into the game, and the winner would go on to claim a conference championship.
That winner was Beth-Center. The Bulldogs beat Serra Catholic, 13-6, on an unusually chilly Friday night and went on to win their first 11 games before stumbling against Clairton in the WPIAL Class A semifinals.
It was a major step in Beth-Center’s climb toward the upper crust of Class A football, a place the Bulldogs occasionally hang out.
It’s also the night I thought my life might end while covering a high school sporting event.
Normally, a big game at Beth-Center draws the likes of ... well, me. Maybe one other scribe, possibly a radio station. This Friday night was different as there was an unusually high media interest in the game, including a television crew. At a press box with the capacity of Beth-Center’s, accommodations needed to be made. So, for whatever reason, a 20-foot scaffold was staged behind the main spectator area.
I drew the assignment for the Observer-Reporter. Josh Yohe, the fine Penguins reporter for the Tribune-Review, drew the assignment for the McKeesport Daily News. As guys in the business go, we’re both pretty easy-going, not the type to throw a fuss over seating. So, when the press box became overwhelmed with people, the decision to look for other accommodations was made.
To the scaffold.
So, Yohe and I slung our belongings over our shoulders and made the climb. Twenty feet sure looked lower from the ground.
The conditions were far from ideal. In fact, they were a bit unsettling. But, at least, we figured a good story could be told.
As the game progressed, the wind picked up. The scaffold swayed. The temperatures dropped.
And that was only the first quarter.
Yep, this was going to be one long night, but the investment had been made and, maybe, the thought of getting down from the scaffold was more unsettling than actually being perched atop it.
Mercifully, the second quarter ended (only one half to go) and many of the game’s revelers headed toward the concession stand, located behind the scaffold and below the press box. Among those attending the game was a coworker and his son. The coworker stopped to chat during halftime. Actually, he came over to make fun of us for being on a scaffold. As the conversation continued, the coworker’s son began to rock the recently thrown together structure.
He wasn’t the biggest guy, but the scaffold wasn’t the most stable. What seemed like some innocent pushing on firm ground actually swayed the top of the scaffold with some serious movement.
Not sure what went through Yohe’s mind, but I pictured my immediate future including a rushed ambulance ride to Mon Valley Hospital.
This business, particularly at the grass-roots level, holds its share of surprises and difficult situations, but I sure hope it’s the last time an assignment involves scaffolding.
If it does happen again, it won’t happen as a member of the O-R sports staff as Tuesday night marks my last with the Observer Publishing Company.
Starting Monday, July 9, the main contributor to The Varsity Letters will be the sports editor of the Tribune-Democrat, located in Johnstown. It’s an exciting opportunity, one too good to pass.
The scaffold incident is one of many accumulated over almost 13 years working for the O-R, and definitely a favorite. One reason I waited so long to write about it is, well, I don’t find it necessary to write about myself.
Never considered myself part of the story.
Never will, this lame attempt an obvious exception.
Hopefully, after 13 years, readers realize my desire was to make high school coverage about the athletes. A novel concept, huh?
Made the occasional friend along the way. Made the occasional person(s) upset along the way. Cultivated sources. Worked hard. Every time a player, coach or parent complained about not being an Athlete of the Week, Player of the Year or Athlete of the Year, I felt validated.
When I arrived, Fort Cherry’s Mike Vernillo was ready to break the WPIAL career rushing record. Waynesburg football was set to establish a lasting legacy. Sports that rarely received coverage, were about to make some headlines.
These days, Twitter has become a popular vehicle for communication. Like many, I was hesitant in accepting social media. Like many, I no longer know how to do my job without it. (Yes, I will continue to track the future success of many student-athletes I’ve gotten to know in recent years via Twitter.)
It’s been one interesting ride, and one that lasted a lot longer than originally planned. Yet, it’s a stay I’ll always appreciate.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Five storylines from 2011-12

Early commits from Class of 2013
The Class of 2012 failed to produce a Division I scholarship player, but the same cannot be said for the upcoming senior group.
There are already three players committed to Division I programs.
Waynesburg native Scott Orndoff, the son of former Waynesburg and West Greene head coach Scott Orndoff and a big-time prospect from Seton-La Salle, was Pitt's first recruit after the hiring of coach Paul Chryst.
He'll be joined at Pitt by South Fayette's Zach Challingsworth, whose recruitment made headlines. Challingsworth recently attended a prospect camp at Pitt, and, after not receiving a scholarship offer that day, committed to Toledo. The day after Challingsworth committed, Pitt invited him back down to the football offices, where an offer was extended. Challingsworth waited a day and changed his committment to Pitt.
Monessen's Chavas Rawlins was also wooed by Pitt, but for the strong-armed quarterback, West Virginia and its high-flying offense was the choice. Rawlins had approximately 20 offers when he committed to WVU in May.

Strange twist to Spridik removal
Coaching positions are opened for many reasons. Bentworth volleyball didn't figure to be one of those positions, not after Greg Spridik compiled a 107-18 record with two PIAA playoff appearances in seven years.
Spridik, however, had his position opened in December - a result of Act 24 of 2011. Spridik's firing was traced to a drug arrest in 1980, a conviction which hadn't shown up on any previous clearances. Spridik also had clearence as a PIAA official.
Alyssa Dye was eventually hired to replace Spridik.

Dalton says "See ya" to Trinity, "Hello" to McGuffey
Ed Dalton and the Trinity School Board rarely saw eye-to-eye, and the battles between the two were well-documented, including having his football position opened on multiple occasions only to gain it back.
In February, Dalton put an end to the battle, at least for the foreseeable future, when he became the athletic director and football coach at McGuffey.
To many, the move was a curious decision. McGuffey's football program is not as stable as Trinity's, but, for Dalton, it was an easy decision. It gave him the opportunity to become an athletic director again.

Repeated excellence
Canon-McMillan wrestling, Peters Township girls soccer, Peters Township girls tennis and Chartiers-Houston softball and enjoyed championship seasons, something all four programs are accustomed to having.
C-M won its third straight WPIAL team title, and second straight PIAA team title at the individual tournament. PT girls soccer won a second straight PIAA championship and made a third appearance in the state title game in the last four years. PT girls tennis won its third WPIAL and PIAA championship since 2006. C-H softball won a second consecutive WPIAL title and the ninth in program history.

Tracking success
Was the 2012 track season the best in local history? The possibly exists. Historians would be hard pressed to find a better one.
At the PIAA championship meet, there were 11 top-three finishes. Washington's Dustin Fuller, Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle and Waynesburg's Marissa Kalsey won state titles. WPIAL and school records books were assaulted this season, and the Washington boys track team were absolutely dominant in winning the WPIAL team titles.
Fuller won four golds at the WPIAL meet - the first time a male accomplished the feat since 1982.
Canon-McMillan's Shawn Johnson swept the jumps at the WPIAL meet - the first time the feat was accomplished by a male since 1986.
Canon-Mac's Mira Carrozza placed second in the girls Class AAA javelin, the highest placement by a Big Macs athlete at the state meet.

Washington's Josh Wise, Fort Cherry's Sean Darragh won WPIAL titles on the boys side. Wash High's Alyssa Wise, Waynesburg's Peyton Hampson, Kalsey, Merckle and Carrozza were WPIAL champs on the girls side.

Top 10 teams of 2011-12

1. Canon-McMillan wrestling
When it comes to tradition, few, if any, can touch Canon-McMillan wrestling, and the highly accomplished Big Macs may have had their best season to date. Winners of the Observer-Reporter Sports Headliner, Canon-McMillan easily won section and WPIAL team championships before winning PIAA team titles at the team and individual tournaments. The Big Macs produced four WPIAL champions, one state champion and eight PIAA medalists.
2. Peters Township girls soccer
No team from the western half of Pennsylvania had won back-to-back PIAA girls soccer championships until Peters Township accomplished the difficult task last fall with a 1-0 win over Pennridge in the Class AAA final. The Indians finished the season 20-3-1, and avenged two of those losses during the state playoffs a regular season setback to State College and against Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL championship match.
3. Peters Township girls tennis
Winning PIAA titles isn’t easy, the Indians just make it look that way. Peters Township compiled a 22-0 record on its way to a third WPIAL and state team title since 2006. Peters Township boasted talent and depth. The Indians’ No. 3 singles and both doubles teams went undefeated. PT wasn’t pushed until the PIAA final, when it beat Shady Side Academy, 4-1.
4. Wash High boys track
One of the premier dual meet teams in WPIAL history, the Prexies were particularly strong in the sprints, hurdles and jumps. They rolled through the WPIAL Class AA team playoffs and are believed to be the first team to score 100 points against three opponents in the team finals. Washington went on to finish second at the PIAA championship meet.
5. Chartiers-Houston softball
The Bucs pieced together win streaks of six and 19 games en route to winning a second consecutive WPIAL Class A title and a 25-2 record, the ninth district championship in program history. C-H won the championship with a hard-fought, come-from-behind win over Carmichaels. For the second straight year, however, the Bucs lost in the PIAA semifinals.
6. Canon-McMillan softball
WPIAL championships are nothing new for C-M wrestling, but the softball team never won one before this year. The Big Macs were carried by a slew of big bats, outstanding defense nand crafty pitching. A six-game postseason win streak included a win over Hempfield in the WPIAL Class AAAA final and got C-M all the way to the PIAA semifinals, where its season ended with an 18-6 record.
7. Peters Township girls lacrosse
The Indians won their first WPIAL Division I championship since 2009 and their fourth overall by scoring a season-high 21 goals in the championship match against Pine-Richland. Peters Township finished 16-5 after a loss to Penn Manor of District 3 in the first round of the state playoffs.
8. California baseball
The Trojans accomplished a rare feat this sping when the swept through the regular season with a 17-0 record, possibly a first in program history. California advanced through the WPIAL Class A playoffs, including an epic win over Bentworth, before losing to Neshannock in the finals. A loss to Bishop McCort in the state playoffs gave California a 19-2 record.
9. Monessen boys basketball
With an enrollment barely reach triple digits, Monessen was one of the big boys of Class AA basketball. The Greyhounds reached the WPIAL championship a second consecutive year, this time losing to PIAA runner-up Beaver Falls. Monessen reached the PIAA quarterfinals and finished with a 25-4 record.
10. Peters Township boys soccer
The Indians hit a few rough patches during the regular season before another typically lengthy postseason run. All-State midfielder Matt Venazni’s goal with 1.1 seconds left against top-seeded Pittsburgh Central Catholic forced overtime in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals and ultimately helped PT, which finished 14-7-1, reach the title game for the sixth time in seven years.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Top five from 2011-12: Games I covered

Blogger's note: The following is a supplement to the Observer-Reporter's Athlete of the Year coverage, which is scheduled to appear in Sunday's edition. Today's topic is the top five games I covered during the school year.

California 2, Bentworth 1 (baseball)
A place in the WPIAL Class A championship game went to the winner. Both teams got to pitch its ace, and neither T.D. Conway or Tyler Delval disappointed in front of a crowd that spilled out of Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park. A combined 30 strikeouts and eight hits were all part of a nine-inning masterpiece complete with an electric crowd (imagine a WPIAL semifinal basketball game and you'll get an idea) and a 2-1 victory for California. Making the game more memorable was a stomach bug which inflicted several members of California's team the day before the game. Conway was released from Mon Valley Hospital just hours before his pitching arguably the best game of his high school career.

Chartiers-Houston 3, Carmichaels 2 (softball)
The Bucs entered the WPIAL Class A championship game at California University as the defending champion and prohibitive favorite. Carmichaels was fresh off a semifinal win over perennial power Sto-Rox - the Mikes trailed 5-0 at one point. Carmichaels probably got the better of play in the title game, but Chartiers-Houston twice rallied from one-run deficits to beat the Mikes 3-2 in nine innings. The Bucs won on Piper McLaughlin's two-run, two-out triple in the ninth. Oh, and 1,907 turned out to watch a championship game played at 11 a.m. during the work week.

Peters Township 2, Pittsburgh Central Catholic 1 (boys soccer)
Central Catholic dominated WPIAL Class AAA soccer throughout the regular season, and the Vikings received the No. 1 seed in the postseason. Peters Township was seeded fifth, mostly because of a three-game slid to end the regular season. Yet, come playoff time, the Indians had advanced to the semifinals, where it faced the favorite at Baldwin High School. PCC led 1-0 until Matt Venanzi, who will play at Pitt this fall, collected a throw-in just in front of net and scored with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Peters Township celebrated wildly, but the game was far from over. Neither team scored during overtime, and the Indians won a shootout when goalie Chris Gagianis made a key save on Teddy Larkin.

Peters Township 1, Pennsbury 0 (girls soccer)
The Indians have always had talent, and the 2011 team was no exception. For Peters Township to repeat as PIAA Class AAA champions, it needed more than talent. The situation called for grit. Turns out the Indians have plenty. After Veronica Latsko fought off three Pennsbury defenders to score the lone goal of the championship match in the first half, the Peters Township defense dug in and kept a high-scoring offense from denting the scoreboard. Goalie Megan Parker made four saves and several outstanding plays in the shutout.

Ringgold 42, Greensburg-Salem 41 (football)
The only regular-season game to make the list, and rightfully so. Several seniors made enough plays in this game alone to fill a highlight reel, and the momentum swings were wild. For Ringgold, Quad Law rushed for 188 yards and passed for 110. Dom Affinito rushed for 126. Alfon Cook scored on a run following a lateral which defied description. Greensburg-Salem twice led by 14 points and Ringgold held a late 14-point lead, but the game would not be settled until a GS two-point attempt with 13 seconds remaining fell incomplete.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

APB, Where are they now?

With the NHL Draft held at Consol Energy Center completed, The Varsity Letters was reminded of the first player from Washington County ever selected.

And he was drafted by the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins.

An All Points Bulletin is being issued for Dwight LaBrosse, a McMurray native and ninth-round selection of the Penguins in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, LaBrosse told the Observer-Reporter, "I had no idea I'd get drafted by Pittsburgh. I can't believe it. I've had season tickets forever, since I was 7 or 8 until I left at 15."

LaBrosse was the youngest player on the U.S. National 21-and-Under team at the time of his selection and was the goaltender for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.
He played in 31 games with the Storm, compiling a 15-11-2 record with a 3.22 goals against average and stopping over 89 percent of the shots he faced.

LeBrosse struggled in the minors and, according to NHL.com, last played in 2003-04 for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. A Google search (yep, I fired up the old Google machine) showed LaBrosse has done some competitive fishing in recent years.

Anyone having information on LaBrosse is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Boys Athlete of the Year Finalists

Over the past 12 years, the Observer-Reporter has recognized an United States Olympian (Coleman Scott), a NCAA football All-American (Dan Mozes) and one of the nation's premier marathoners (Jeff Weiss) among others as its Boys Athletes of the Year.

2011 - Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette
2010 - Mike Hull, Canon-McMillan
2009 - Nick Wilcox, Peters Township
2008 - Dan Conley, Burgettstown
2007 - Andrew Sweat, Trinity
2006 - Robert Heller, Ringgold
2005 - Jeff Weiss, McGuffey
2004 - Coleman Scott, Waynesburg
2003 - Colby Giles, Carmichaels
2002 - Dan Mozes, Washington
2001 - Lanfer Simpson, Waynesburg
2000 - Michael Sutton, Washington

Some years, the choice was easy. Other years, it was a difficult selection.

The O-R Boys Athlete of the Year falls under the difficult category. Time will tell if any of the finalists prove as successful as many of their predecessors, but there were many to choose from.

Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette
The Pitt football recruit played receiver, quarterback, defensive back, punter and kick returner for the Lions and was a first-team All-State pick. He was also on the O-R All-District basketball first team.

T.D. Conway, California
A two-sport (football, baseball) standout headed to Cal U for football. Conway owns several Trojans passing records and pitched the baseball team into the WPIAL Class A finals this spring.

Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
Erenberg competed against some of the toughest competition the WPIAL can offer as a vital member of the football and baseball teams at Peters Township. An All-State selection and Fordham signee, Erenberg rushed for 1,343 yards with 17 TD. In baseball,. he batted .468 with 22 RBI.
Dustin Fuller, Washington
Fuller played soccer and kicked for the football team last fall, but made his mark in track. In fact, it's been some time since an area athlete had a better track season than Fuller. He became the first male to win four events at the WPIAL championships, and followed it with four medals at the state meet, including one gold and one silver.

Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
Fort Cherry's career passing leader went for 2,171 yards and 23 TD as a senior with 12 rushing TDs. The future Bowling Green football player wrestled this winter after playing basketball as a junior. In baseball, he batted nearly .500 and struck out 88 as the team's top pitcher.

Quad Law, Ringgold
There wasn't much Law couldn't or didn't do on the football field during his senior season, which was one reason why he was selected the O-R Player of the Year. The future Gannon multi-purpose threat, was an All-State player as he rushed for 1,341 yards and averaged 11.2 per carry.

Chavas Rawlins, Monessen
Name the sport, and chances are Rawlins plays it for Monessen and he excels. It's football, however, where the WVU recruit shines as he accounted for 16 TDs as a junior.

Cody Wiercioch, Canon-McMillan
In his first season with the Big Macs, Wiercioch went unbeaten on his way to WPIAL and PIAA titles. The O-R Wrestler of the Year also helped C-M win team championships at the state and district level.

Josh Wise, Washington
The rare three-sport athlete who excels in every sport he particpates, Wise helped the Prexies qualify for the playoffs in football, basketball and track, where Wash High won a WPIAL title. Wise made the All-District basketball first team and was a WPIAL high jump champion.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Girls Athlete of the Year Finalists

Following the completion of every scholastic sports year, the Observer-Reporter honors a boys and girls athlete of the year. It is voted on by members of the sports staff.

Generally, the distinction is given to a multi-sport athlete, though a single-sport athlete can be selected, as evidenced by the past two Girls Athlete of the Year honorees.

Previous O-R Girls Athlete of the Year were Shelli Spamer, Peters Township (2011), Taylor Schram, Canon-McMillan (2010), Amanda Kennedy, Bentworth (2009), Jenna Phillips, Washington (2008), Paige McMenamin, Peters Township (2007), Brianna Liebold, Chartiers-Houston (2006), Ashley Young, Canon-McMillan (2005), Samantha Slagle, Beth-Center (2004), Stephanie Kuhn, Ringgold (2003), Jessica Perry, Peters Township (2002), Shellie Cotton, Charleroi (2001) and Kristen Lancas, Ringgold (2000).

The following five players were considered for this year's distinction:
Beka Bellhy, Fort Cherry
Bellhy was the O-R Girls Basketball Player of the Year and an All-State selection. She also played volleyball and participated in track.

Jessica Dorazio, Bentworth
Dorazio was a three-sport standout. She earned All-State honors in volleyball, was the area's leading scorer in girls basketball and one of the premier defensive players in softball.

Shannon Flament, Charleroi
Flament earned All-WPIAL honors in soccer, was a four-year starter and the leading scorer for the basketball team and a PIAA qualifier in track.

Veronica Latsko, Peters Township
Already one of the more highly decorated girls soccer players in Washington County history, Latsko - a sophomore - scored 45 goals for PT, including the lone goal in the PIAA Class AAA championship match.

Jessie Merckle, Fort Cherry
For all Fort Cherry's basketball talent, the Rangers played their best when Merckle was on, which was most of the time. A two-time All-District selection in basketball, the Wake Forest track recruit was a PIAA and WPIAL gold medalist in the javelin.

Attention baseball and softball coaches

The Observer-Reporter needs all area high school baseball and softball coaches to send in final statistics.

If you have not sent us final stats, please send them to mkovak@observer-reporter.com.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Meyer creates stir before Big 33 game

CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) — Urban Meyer created a minor stir at a news conference Friday for a high school All-Star football game between Ohio and Pennsylvania without saying a word.
Imagine what Ohio State’s new coach could do on the recruiting trail in Pennsylvania, long fertile territory for prospective talent for the Buckeyes. There’s an added twist, too, in the interstate recruiting battles: Ohio State, Penn State and Pitt each have new coaches.
“There’s change. There’s maybe a little level of discomfort in what had happened in Columbus,” Meyer said when asked about how the dynamics of having three new coaches at each school might affect recruiting tussles. “Just keep fighting through it, and work as hard as you can moving forward.”
Ten minutes late, Meyer was seated before a bank of microphones right next to the Big Ten’s other high-profile new hire, the Nittany Lions’ Bill O’Brien, at the news conference to promote the Big 33 high school football game between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Also in attendance were Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, new Pitt coach Paul Chryst and Temple coach Steve Addazio — Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida.
Among the Pennsylvania contingent of coaches at the podium, Addazio was the dean of the delegation — and he’s only in his second year.
“I’ll take all the advice I can get,” O’Brien joked.
“Let me tell you something. I’m in no position to give any advice, OK,” Addazio retorted, drawing chuckles. “It’s hysterical to me sometimes how fast our business moves.”
Each member of the Pennsylvania contingent offered Meyer a cordial welcome upon his late arrival. Later, when they walked out on stage during a high-tech introduction before at least a couple hundred people inside an auditorium, Meyer was introduced before O’Brien — but O’Brien drew the biggest round of applause.
This is still Nittany Lions territory, after all.
“If you compare head coaches, I would say that Urban’s got the proven track record. I’ve never coached a game yet,” said O’Brien, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator entering his maiden season as a head coach. “What we try to do at Penn State is talk about Penn State .... At the end of the day, we worry about the kids who choose Penn State.”
For Meyer, it was his second trip this week into a hostile football territory that also lies in a Ohio State recruiting target area. Meyer was at a high school football camp outside Detroit on Wednesday to speak to attendees from across the country. Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi were among other coaches in attendance.
“You don’t have to think about the difference in how it was or how it’s going to be,” Meyer said Friday about recruiting, “except that it’s a street fight every day and you work as hard as you can.”
Meyer and O’Brien are acquaintances from when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame and O’Brien an assistant at Georgia Tech.
Chryst, a former assistant at Wisconsin, concurred with O’Brien that recruiting was about finding the “right fit.”
“Our job is to let players know, prospects known, who we are. Then to me it’s about finding a fit,” Chryst said. “You want football to be great in this state ... we can all be strong with Pennsylvania kids.”
Chryst made those comments with O’Brien and Addazio sitting before the microphones — but before Meyer arrived.
———
Tight end Adam Breneman, who has verbally committed to Penn State for the Class of 2013, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during offseason drills Thursday and will miss his senior season at Cedar Cliff High School. Breneman, considered one of the prospects in the country, chose Penn State over Ohio State. He told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that he now intends to enroll at Penn State early, and that he’s working with Penn State’s medical staff within NCAA guidelines.

BeeGraphix Football Classic

It's all-star football weekend, and the area gets in on the fun with Saturday's BeeGraphix Football Classic. The game kicks off from Belle Vernon at 7 p.m. and features players from southern Allegheny County, Washington County, Greene County, Westmoreland County and Fayette County.
The North looks strong along the offensive line and boasts speed in Canon-McMillan's Kenyadda Brown, the Washington County champion in the 100 and 200 dashes during track season. Quarterback Tanner Garry (Bowling Green) and Corey Garry (Robert Morris) were two of the more highly recruited players on the North roster.
South coach Ed Woods was impressed with the practice habits of Trinity products John Laschinsky and Brandon Robertson. Several South skill position players are headed to Division II programs including Ringgold's Alfon Cook (Slippery Rock), Beth-Center's (Sal Faieta) and California's T.D. Conway (Cal U).

North Team
1-Zach Hamilton, Chartiers-Houston P/K
2-Vincent Magnone, Washington WR
3-Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry QB
4-Kyle Rodriguez, Frazier WR
5-Jalen Morris, Washington OL
6-Kenyadda Brown, Canon-McMillan RB
7-Dan Lis, Chartiers-Houston QB
8-Kyle Cline, Bentworth WR
10-Billy Simpson, Bentworth TE
12-Rock Vargo, Frazier OL
13-Anthony Cinello, Bethel Park QB
14-Tony Kudyba, Frazier OL
16-Keith Cox, McGuffey OL
18-Santo Piccolomini, Geibel WR
21-Dalton Barbus, Southmoreland TE
23-Connor Mcklveen, Southmoreland WR
24-Mason Tororice, Elizabeth-Forward TE
27-Zach May, South Park OL
31-Asa Costelnock, Southmoreland OL
32-Wade Durbin, West Greene TE
34-Corey Garry, Fort Cherry FB
35-Zack Soyring, Canon-McMillan FB
40-Austin Hague, McGuffey OL
43-Cody Stolar, South Park WR
51-Galega Atte, Bethel Park OL
52-Joe Graziani, Canon-McMillan OT
53-Brian Cumpston, Canon-McMillan C
54-Mike Dunlap, Bethel Park OL
55-Ryan Tucker, South Park OL
58-Bob Mele, Chartiers-Houston OL
65-Matt Pawlak, McGuffey OL
67-Nate Grandelis, Chartiers-Houston OL
71-Ben Bowman, Fort Cherry OL
75-Ryan Schilinski, McGuffey OL

South Team
2-Sal Faieta, Beth-Center QB
3-Jake Riddell, Laurel Highlands QB
3-Alfon Cook, Ringgold WR
5-Tre Hall, Brownsville RB
6-Nick Zupper, Waynesburg RB
7-Jake Burritt, Belle Vernon TE
7-TD Conway, California QB
7-Denzel Beasley, Laurel Highlands RB
10-Dominic Gibson, Uniontown WR
12-John Laschinsky, Trinity WR
18-Tyler Kamenos, Mapletown WR
20-Mike Rumble, Mapletown RB
21-Lamar Bell, Brownsville WR
23-Deshan Brown, Beth-Center RB
25-Kyle Gray, Mapletown FB
28-Tyler Yocca, Trinity WR
30-Brandon Robertson, Trinity FB
36-Skyler Dickinson, California FB
35-Sheldon Chun, Carmichaels FB
35-Adam Cole, Belle Vernon FB
48-Jake Sofran, Beth-Center FB
52-Desmond Davis, Monessen C
54-Mike Beveridge, Ringgold T
55-Tevan McDowell, Waynesburg T
62-Derek Bedenbaugh, Trinity T
63-Dylan Gaskill, California G
66-Chris Hall, Uniontown T
68-Brendan Wright, California G
72-Jeff Blaker, Jeff-Morgan G
73-Mike Kope, Charleroi G
78-Juwan Mull, Monessen T
83-Joe Phillips, Jeff-Morgan TE
86-Daniel Davis, Waynesburg TE
92-Rashad Craig, Albert Galatin OT

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All-State track

2012 Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association Outdoor T&F All-State Team
Girls
First team
100 - Jada Steward, West Catholic
100 hurdles - Eliana Yankelev, Lower Merion
200 - Deme'shia Davis, Central Dauphin East
300 hurdles - Dannah Hayward, Coughlin
400 - Kenya Woodall, Coatesville
800 - Emma Keenan, Gwynedd Mercy
1,600 - Angel Piccirillo, Homer-Center
3,200 - Tori Gerlach, Pennridge
Shot put - Rachel Fatherly, Williamsport
Discus - Taylor Woods, Hickory
Javelin - Jessie Merckle, Fort Cherry
Pole vault - Larissa Debich, Hempfield (WPIAL)
High jump - Taylor Morgan, Upper Dublin
Long jump - Marshay Ryan, Chambersburg
Triple jump - Lanae Newsome, Brookville
400 relay - Swenson
1,600 relay - Central Bucks West
3,200 relay - Strath Haven

Second team
100 - Kenya Woodall, Coatesville
100 hurdles - Kayla Coley, Cheltenham
200 - Imani Harris-Quillan, Swenson
300 hurdles - Mary Whitmer, Ephrata
400 - Sarah Helgeson, Hempfield (D3)
800 - Angel Piccirillo, Homer-Center
1,600 - Kennedy Weisner, Elk County Catholic
3,200 - Meghan McGovern, North Penn
Shot put - Jennifer Neider, Hickory
Discus - Lauren Lubarski, Hickory
Javelin - Christine Streisel, Tamaqua
Pole vault - Marissa Kalsey, Waynesburg
High jump - Megan McCloskey, Germantown Academy
Long jump - Ciara Andrews, Cheltenham
Triple jump - Paige Lumley, Richland
400 relay - Central Dauphin East
1,600 relay - Pennsbury
3,200 relay - Downingtown East

Third team
100 - Jody Ann Evans, Quakertown
100 hurdles - Emily Lelis, Springdale
200 - Jada Steward, West Catholic
300 hurdles - Emily Lelis, Springdale
400 - Jordan Matthews, Abington
800 - Cearia Brown, Overbrook
1,600 run - Sara Sargent, Pennsbury
3,200 run - Adair Gennocro, St. Mary's
Shot put - Tyra Roberts, Bensalem
Discus - Rachel Fatherly, Williamsport
Javelin - Lauren Lubarski, Hickory
Pole vault - Kasey Kemp, Norwin
High jump - Abby Jones, Franklin
Long jump - Lauren Ball, Bloomsburg and Anna Chodubski, Erie McDowell
Triple jump - Marshay Ryan, Chambersburg
400 relay - Pennridge
1,600 relay - Strath Haven
3,200 relay - West Chester Henderson

Girls Athlete of the Year: Angel Piccirillo, Homer-Center
Girls Coach of the Year: Barbara Dzuricsko, Hickory

Boys
First team
100 - Kalil Slaughter, Sheffield
110 hurdles - Chris Williams, Strath Haven
200 - Eric Futch, Penn Wood
300 hurdles - Eric Futch, Penn Wood
400 - Oliver Philogene, Seneca Valley
800 - Wil Bailey, Penn Hills
1,600 - Tom Coyle, LaSalle
3,200 - Sam Hibbs, Hatboro-Horsham
Shot put - Kyle Felpel, Cocalico
Discus - Kyle Long, Hempfield (D3)
Javelin - Billy Stanley, South Park
Pole vault - Chris Williams, Strath Haven
High jump - Ibn Short, Milton Hershey
Long jump - Tyrek Edwards, Archbishop Ryan
Triple jump - Wellington Zaza, Strath Haven
400 relay - Strath Haven
1,600 relay - Penn Wood
3,200 relay - Cumberland Valley

Second team
100 - Ryan Hynes, Central Bucks South
110 hurdles - Aaron Willet, Coatesville
200 dash - Kalil Slaughter, Sheffield
300 hurdles - Wellington Zaza, Strath Haven
400 - Malik Jones, Monsignor Bonner
800 - Drew Magaha, Upper Moreland
1,600 - Ryan Smathers, North East
3,200 - Dustin Wilson, Chestnut Hill Academy
Shot put - Matt Bell, Hickory
Discus - Bryan Pearson, Bangor
Javelin - Michael Shuey, Johnsonburg
Pole vault - Jared Allison, Dallastown
High jump - Jalen Ramsey, Norristown
Long jump - John Landis, Father Judge
Triple jump - Imani Brown, Reading
400 relay - Neshaminy
1,600 relay - Bensalem
3,200 relay - Chambersburg
Third team
100 - Andrew Adighibe, Milton Hershey
110 hurdles - Wellington Zaza, Strath Haven
200 - Ronnie Gillespie, Upper Perkiomen
300 hurdles - Dustin Fuller, Washington
400 - Haneef Hardy, Swenson
800 - Alec Kunzweiler, Cumberland Valley
1,600 - Drew Magaha, Upper Moreland
3,200 - Daniel Jaskowak, Grove City
Shot put - Kyle Long, Hempfield (D3)
Discus - John Yohman, Wilmington and Kyle Felpel, Cocalico
Javelin - Kyle Felpel, Cocalico
Pole vault - Patrick Anderson, Kane
High jump - Charles Wilson-Adams, Tyrone
Long jump - Harley LaCroix, Cheltenham
Triple jump - Shawn Johnson, Canon-McMillan
400 relay - Father Judge
1,600 relay - Swenson
3,200 relay - Pennridge

Boys Athlete of the Year: Billy Stanley, South Park
Boys Coach of the Year: Bob Jesson, Strath Haven

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Well-decorated

Waynesburg's Marissa Kalsey won the PIAA Class AA girls pole vault championship last month, and it capped a medal-filled high school career.

A four-time PIAA qualifier, Kalsey won gold, silver and bronze at the state meet in her final three appearances. She won multiple WPIAL championships and countless other competitions.

Every now and again, something interesting falls into the email box, like this photo sent by Richard Kalsey of Marissa with her medals.




APB, Where Are They Now?

It's back.
The Varsity Letters wants to track down the whereabouts of former standout high school athletes, so we're issuing a pair of All Points Bulletins for two softball pitchers who helped their respective teams to on-field success.
As Canon-McMillan prepares for the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals Monday against Bishop Shanahan at Carlisle High School at 4 p.m., an All Points Bulletin is being issued for Becca Petras.
As Chartiers-Houston readies for a third straight appearance in the PIAA Class A semifinals and a game against familiar foe Fannett-Metal Monday at St. Francis University at noon, an All Points Bulletin is being issued for Danielle Claassen.
Canon-McMillan softball was a regular contender for section championships during the four years Petras pitched for the Big Macs.
Petras went 13-5 with a 0.80 ERA and 198 strikeouts during her senior season in 2006. She finished her Big Macs career with 695 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA. Petras was headed to Allegheny College upon high school graduation and may have ended up at Duquesne.

Chartiers-Houston won three consecutive WPIAL Class A championships from 2005-2007. Claassen was the winning pitcher in the 2005 and 2006 championship games.

Two Peters Township products drafted


As far as senior seasons go, it's tough to top Jimmy Rider's year as a member of the Kent State University baseball team.
Rider recently became the Golden Flashes' all-time hits leader, and has 346 for his career. Kent State is a baseball program which has produced former New York Yankees Thurman Munson and Gene Michael, and former Pirates first-round draft pick John VanBenschoten.
Then, Kent State won the Mid-American Conference, again, and clinched a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. With significant contributions from Rider, the Golden Flashes' starting shortstop the past four years, Kent State has advanced to the Eugene Super Regional. If Kent State wins a three-game series against Oregon, it advances to the College World Series.
Rider's best graduation gift likely came Wednesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the 26th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The Pirates pan on moving Rider to second base.
"I went to a lot of Pirates games growing up and I've always followed them," Rider said. "I watch them on TV any time I get a chance. ... I've always been a huge Pirates fan."
Jordan Jankowski, Rider's former high school teammate, likely took an interest in the Houston Astros when the organization selected him in the 34th round of the 2008 draft. The Astros certainly remembered Jankowski as his college career took him from Miami (Ohio) to Division II Catawba (N.C.).
They drafted Jankowski with the first pick of the 34th round.
Jankowski led Division II with 126 strikeouts during the regular season. He did not pitch for Catawba in the Division II tournament.s
Rider and Jankowski are the seventh and eighth players from Peters Township drafted since Joe Maize became head coach.
Last year, Justin Bianco was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jim Gallagher was a seventh round pick of the Chicago White Sox and still with the organization. Joe Kail, Jason DiAngelo, Brian Simmons and Chris Peters were the others. Simmons and Peters each played in the major leagues. Peters was a pitcher for the Pirates.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Diddy's son lands scholarship to UCLA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Combs, the 18-year-old son of hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, will attend UCLA on a $54,000 football scholarship.
It is one of 285 athletic scholarships the university hands out every year.
It comes at a time when student fees are rising and a year after the university had to use more than $2 million in student fees to cover an athletic department funding gap.
Money for Combs’ scholarship will not affect need-based scholarships awarded by the university, UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez told the Los Angeles Times.
“There is a big separation between financial aid based on need and how that’s funded and how athletic scholarships are funded and awarded to students,” he said, noting that athletic scholarships come from athletic department ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations.
The newspaper said Justin Combs defended taking the scholarship on Twitter: “Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!! ... PERIOD.”
The senior Combs is worth an estimated $475 million and gave his son a $360,000 Maybach car for his 16th birthday, the Times said.
Justin Combs, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound defensive back, graduated from New Rochelle Iona Prep in New York with a 3.75 grade point average. He also had scholarship offers from Illinois, Virginia and Wyoming.
If needy students are unaffected, there is no problem, said Emily Resnick, outgoing president of UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association. “If his athletic abilities deserve it, then more power to him.”
Joelle Gamble, who will graduate from the university in a few weeks, said the scholarship could be considered an investment since UCLA would probably benefit by the celebrity Combs could bring to the school.
“It’s how college athletics works. This is how we’re going to get money,” she said.
A few years ago, former Southern California basketball coach Tim Floyd said fame was a factor when he offered a scholarship to rapper Master P’s son, Romeo, for the 2008-2009 season. But Romeo left the team in 2010 after playing just 19 minutes in two seasons as a Trojan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

California's Conway, Hartman honored by WPIAL baseball coaches

California High School annually puts out a competitive baseball team, and the Trojans frequently compete for section and district championships.

California has won three WPIAL titles and played for a PIAA championship in 1984 when there were only two classifications in the sport.

This season, California is 19-0 for the first time in a long time (possibly ever) and the Trojans play Neshannock Wednesday afternoon in the WPIAL Class A championship game at Consol Energy Park at 5:30 p.m.

"Coming in, our goal was to be competitive," California coach Don Hartman said. "This group came together and the chemistry is outstanding. To say it was the least expected of the teams we've had make it this far, it was."

At this point, it may seem difficult to believe that California didn't enter the season with such lofty expectations. That may be one small reason why Hartman was honored by the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association as the Class A Coach of the Year. Senior pitcher T.D. Conway, who is 13-0 with 120 strikeouts, is the Class A Pitcher of the Year.

Former Canon-McMillan coach Steve Bucci was the Class AAA Coach of the Year for his work at South Park.

Player of the Year
AAAA - J.J. Matijevic, Norwin
AAA - Zarley Zalewski, Valley
AA - Ben Hartz, Shady Side Academy
A - John Sansone, Neshannock

Pitcher of the Year
AAAA - Anthony Garofalo, Plum
AAA - Greg Schneider, Thomas Jefferson
AA - Anthony Carusone, Ellwood City
A - T.D. Conway, California

Coach of the Year
AAAA - Mike Liebdzinski, Norwin
AAA - Steve Bucci, South Park
AA - Skooter Roebuck, Brownsville
A - Don Hartman, California

Michigan football recruit faces backlash for posted picture

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Logan Tuley-Tillman insisted he didn’t think it was a big deal when he posted a picture on his Twitter account of him burning an envelope from Ohio State.
The Michigan football recruit found out otherwise.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Tuley-Tillman said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
The highly touted offensive tackle from Peoria, Ill., has committed to the Wolverines’ 2013 recruiting class, and posted the photo Saturday.
“I wanted to do it and send a message because people kept saying I was going to flip to Ohio,” Tuley-Tillman said. “I don’t know why they sent me that letter when they know I’m committed to Michigan. I don’t like the state of Ohio or that school. I can’t wait to play them.”
Tuley-Tilman was picking up on Brady Hoke’s penchant of referring to the rival as Ohio, not Ohio State, since taking over college football’s winningest program in 2011.
NCAA rules prohibit Hoke commenting on recruits until they sign a letter of intent.
Hoke, though, has said he isn’t a big fan of social media when it is used for sharing personal thoughts and pictures for all to see.
Wolverines offensive line coach Darrell Funk, according to Tuley-Tillman, has been in touch since the inflammatory picture heated up one of the best rivalries in sports.
“He told me to be careful,” Tuley-Tillman said.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

PIAA track medal recap

Phew! The PIAA Track & Field Championships were a scorcher, from the soaring temperatures to the results.

The 2012 meet goes down as one of the best in recent memory for local competitors. It's been some time since the area produced three local champions and a second-place team at the same meet.

Individual medals
1st place - Dustin Fuller, Washington (AA, 300 hurdles), Marissa Kalsey, Waynesburg (AA, pole vault), Jessie Merckle, Fort Cherry (AA, javelin)

2nd place - Dustin Fuller, Washington (AA, 400 dash), Mira Carrozza, Canon-McMillan (AAA, javelin), Kailyn Clancy, California (AA, shot put)

3rd place - Shawn Johnson, Canon-McMillan (AAA, high jump and triple jump), Alyssa Wise (AA, 100 dash and 200 dash), Peyton Hampson, Waynesburg (AA, 800 run)

4th place - Darius Spinks, Washington (AA, long jump)

5th place - Josh Wise, Washington (AA, high jump), Washington 1,600 relay team of Mykhael Kelley, Darius Spinks, Mijerean Witcher and Dustin Fuller, Margo Darragh, Fort Cherry (AA, 800 run)

6th place - Jenna Lucas, Fort Cherry (AA, javelin)

7th place - Dustin Fuller, Washington (AA 110 high hurdles)

Team
2nd place - Washington, 33 points


Of note: Merckle became the first individual state champion (any sport) in Fort Cherry history. She also qualified for the NFHS honor roll. ... Fuller established school records in the 300 hurdles and 400 dash. ... Kalsey is the second Waynesburg girl to win PIAA gold in the pole vault. Jocelyn Lindsay is the other. ... Carrozza's finish in the javelin may be the highest placement at the state meet in C-M history. ... Clancy is the first California athlete to medal at the state meet. ... Johnson qualified for the NFHS honor roll in the triple jump (49-5 1/4). ... Hampson's 800 ranks 5th in WPIAL history and qualified for the NFHS honor roll.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Live blog, PIAA Track Day 2

12:44 p.m. - A lot to catch up on.

Washington's Dustin Fuller finished seventh in the 110 high hurdles at 15.1.

Wash High's Alyssa Wise was third in the 100 dash at 12.40. According to Wash High coaches, Wise is so sick, they were worried she'd have to scratch out of the event. She has the 200 later. When interviewing Wise, she did not mention being sick. You've got to respect an athlete doesn't divulge such info.

Canon-Mac's Shawn Johnson tied for third in the high jump, and Johnson tied his PR in the event at 6-8. If Johnson medals in the long jump, he may be the first C-M athlete to win three medals at states. No C-M track athlete has ever won a first-place state medal, and Mira Carrozza's second-place finish in yesterday's javelin may be the highest placement in school history.


11:42 a.m. - Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle is the PIAA Class AA javelin champion and the first state champion in Fort Cherry history. Merckle won the competition with a throw of 154-11.

10:41 a.m. - Washington junior Darius Spinks gets Prexies' first medal - a fourth place finish in the Class AA long jump. Spinks' best jump was 21-8 3/4. After his six jumps, Spinks ran in the 100 dash semifinals.

9:25 a.m. - Shawn Johnson just cleared first height in high jump. Time to go watch Jessie Merckle and Jenna Lucas in Class AA javelin.

9:05 a.m. - Great start to day. A photographer from Penn Track XC.com told me to "Suck it up, Buttercup." It was hilarious. You had to be here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Live blog from PIAA track

The Varsity Letters is coming to you live from Seth Grove City at Shippensburg University.

4:27 p.m. - Fort Cherry's Margo Darragh set a school record of 2:15.8 in the 800 run and is the top seed in tomorrow's finals. Homer-Center's Angel Piccirillo, a Villanova recruit, ran a time of 2:12.48 at the District 6 meet and is also in the finals.


4:05 p.m. - Canon-Mac's Shawn Johnson finished third in triple jump with PR of 49-5 1/4. ... Dustin Fuller easily wins heat in 300 hurdles. Says he's feeling good despite the heat.

2:45 p.m. - Canon-Mac's Mira Carrozza finished second in Class AAA javelin at 132-3. She was disappointed with distance, pleased with placement.

Shawn Johnson leads the triple jump at 49-5. In good shape to win event.

1:33 p.m. - Fort Cherry's Sean Darragh - WPIAL Class AA javelin champ - finished at 141-3. Wash High's Chase Caldwell had a best throw of 154-9.

West Greene senior Mikayla Sonneborn posted the sixth-best time in the 1,600 prelims at 5:15.44.]

Canon-Mac's Shawn Johnson has yet to compete in the triple jump, which started at 12:30 p.m. Johnson is in the third flight.

It's freaking hot people!


1:26 p.m.. - Dustin Fuller bounced back in 400 dash prelim as he wins his heat with a PR of 49.55.

12:20 p.m. - Waynesburg seniro Marissa Kalsey is the PIAA Class AA girls pole vault champion. Kalsey cleared 12-6 on her first attempt, and missed three attempts at 12-8, which would have established a PIAA meet record. Kalsey finished second last year.

11:59 a.m. - Kalsey clears 12-6 on 1st attempt. PIAA meet record is 12-7.



11:56 a.m. - Kalsey easily clears 12-0 on first attempt. Looks like three competitors remain in Class AA pole vault.



11:50 a.m. - Kalsey clears 11-6 easily. Has assured herself a medal. ... Wash High's Darius Spinks finished third in 100 dash prelim (11.34) to advance. Nice kick in final 10 meters by Spinks.

11:40 a.m. - Burgettstown's Ryan Dupain (15.51) and Wash High's Dustin Fuller (15.59) advanced in 110 high hurdles. Fuller caught a couple hurdles and didn't run his best race, still good enough to move ob.

11:27 a.m. - Kalsey easily clears her first height (11-0) in pole vault. Wash High sophomore Alyssa Wise wins her heat in the 100 dash. Her time of 12.36 is second best of prelims behind West Catholic's Jada Stewart (12.25).

10:38 a.m. - Merckle's best long jump was 15-8 3/4. Time for her to rest for tomorrow's Class AA javelin. She is the top seed, by five feet.

10:25 a.m. - Waynesburg seniro Marissa Kalsey has not vaulted yet. ... Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle no longer at the long jump pit. Wash High's Mijerean Witcher has left the triple jump pit. Witcher was WPIAL champion.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Twitter Thursday All-Stars

Twitter Thursday started as a lark, and a not very popular one with some of the older readers of The Varsity Letters. It turned into a popular feature, one read by athletes, coaches and parents alike. Some athletes even changed their Twitter handles to something less vulgar in hopes on landing a tweet on Twitter Thursday. Honestly, the response to something I never thought would catch on was surprising, to say the least.

Eventually, Twitter Thursday became too much of a task. Sifting through all those comments took far too much time and the language used in many of them were inappropriate subject matter for this blog.

No biggie. I still enjoyed reading the posts of many athletes, coaches and parents. It's become a great tool to communicate, and a great tool in terms of contacting athletes for stories.

Not sure what future Twitter Thursday holds, but it's been an interesting year following many of you. And you can still follow me @TheMikeKovak.

So here it is, the Twitter Thursday All-Stars. The only qualifications are you must be a high school athlete to qualify. No coaches, assistant coaches, fellow scribes or journalists were considered.

Twitter Thursday Most Valuable Tweeter
Corey Garry
@coreygarry
May 23
"#FCShoutOut to beating charteirs 5 years in a row. Greatest rivalry I've been a part of"
May 23
"#FCShoutOut to the football field being named after my pap. I'm so proud of that."
May 18
"Verlander just gets stronger as he goes on. He's an alien from planet Tralfamadore"
May 16
"Last high school sporting event in the books. It's been a hell of a ride and I love these guys to death. #Beautiful Ride"

The Almost Twitter Thursday Most Valuable Tweeter
Doug Wilson
@dougie_fresh055
May 24
"Mr Krabs lives in bikini bottom..think about it"
May 22
"Where's my scholarship for being da best? #imdabest"
May 20
"Who had Danny Green being a better pro than '08 UNC teammates Ed Davis, Tyler Hansbrough, and Wayne Ellington?"
May 18
"I was soooooooo close to winning peters prom king #imdabest"


The rest of the Twitter Thursday All-Stars ...

West Jones, @RealWestJones
May 20
"It's scary sitting in my sunroom at night!! I feel like someone is watching me 😰"
May 19
"The best way to make someone remember you is to borrow money from them."
May 17
"I'm not gonna lie I don't really get nervous or hype for meets. I was listening to Justin Bieber and Rihanna on the way up here haha"

Katie Denning, @kdenning24
May 21
"That's what you get for beating us on senior rec night, lebo. WE'RE GOING TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!! #ptlaxordie"
May 3
"I can't believe four years went by so fast! Let's make tonight's game one to remember #seniorrec #ptlaxordie #beatlebo"
Apr 24
"Can't spell suck without USC. Leggo #ptgl #gameday"

Carolena Gasbarro, @cmgcare42
May 23
"The entire senior class all tearing up with the video .... great job to the people who made it ...."
May 22
"When you get an 85% in gym&you play 3 sports all year round&gym is your worst grade on your fourth nine week report card"
May 20
"Think I'm going to sit in the gym tomorrow and just look in that corner expecting you to be looking right back at me! #MissYouYellingAtMe"

Josh Wise, @jlwise_whs11
May 23
"Just wana take care of business and have fun up at states need time relax and be stress free this is going to be just what I needed!"
May 22
"I just wana put my helmet on and look through that visor as I go under center #FootballTweet #CantWait"
May 18
"Woke up this morning and looked over to my bed stand and what the first thing I see a wpial gold medal =) I still can't believe it"

Graham Lescallette, @BigSauce_85
May 11
"I just can't fathom the sadness circulating throughout the area. My condolences go out to the Alouise and Herriot families. #RIP"
May 4
"I don't know if I'm getting stronger or if I'm getting injured. #SoSore #LiftingProblems"
Apr 29
"I love that the song Superfly is on the commercial for the new Johnny Depp movie. #CurtisMayfield"

Ryan Dupain, @RyanDupain
May 23
"Being in the NFL does not lead to suicide. Neither do concussions. Other factors, not football."
May 17
"I will rep #BTown and the #WPIAL at the PIAA Track and Field championships running high hurdles. #HurdleGangOrDie #StateBound"
May 10
"Congrats to the boys Wash High track team on their WPIAL championship. Those dudes are for real. Rep the #WPIAL."

Chavas Rawlins, @SiiiTreyy
May 23
"Still can't believe how my life is going. I enjoy everyday of it!!!! Never thought I'd be this far and this happy!!"
May 23
"Committing to #WVU had to be the best decision I ever made!!!!"
May 21
"RIP former WVU coach Bill Stewert. Only talked to you once and still thought very highly of you!!! #RIP"

Quad Law, @TheRealQuad_Law
May 13
"in da movies wit my shirt off!"
May 9
"feels so good to be back in the weight room! 💪"
May 3
"lol you better than me cuz your goin "D1"??? ####"

Joe Graziani, @JoeGrizz52
May 24
"I'm glad my mommy loves me and let's me get early dismissals whenever I want them. #LoveYouMammaGraz"
May 21
"Bible in one hand, Shotgun in the other. #AlwaysReppin"
May 15
"You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life.#OLine #AlwaysAndForever"

Andrew Erenberg, @andrew_erenberg
May 15
"What if the North American hairless log bear mated with the North American Bukovich?"
May 9
"Today is my brothers birthday... Therefore if you see him I am giving you permission to impose your will on his right arm."
April 24
"When you hear Aspen and the first thing you think of isn't California... Your not my friend"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cal's Conway, Bentworth's Delval put on pitching showcase

It’s become an annual criticism concerning the WPIAL baseball playoffs. Teams which receive a first-round bye can throw their top pitcher throughout the postseason tournament, assuming weather cooperates and games remain on schedule.
Two aces – California’s T.D. Conway and Bentworth’s Tyler Delval – displayed their considerable talents and swing-stopping curveballs during the Trojans’ 2-1 win in the Class A semifinals late Monday night at Washington & Jefferson College’s Ross Memorial Park.
It’s doubtful anyone in the overflow crowd complained after Conway and Delval each turned in masterful nine-inning performances as California defeated Bentworth’s for the third consecutive year in the playoffs.
“A lot of people out there say this No. 1 pitcher versus No. 1 pitcher isn’t a good thing,” California head coach Don Hartman said following the game. “If you’re a fan who loves baseball, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Conway and Delval, who both took advantage of a wide strike zone by throwing nearly as many off-speed pitches as fastballs, were nothing short of brilliant.
Delval allowed one baserunner on a Sean Cotton single with one out in the fifth through seven innings. He allowed just three hits, struck out 13 and walked one.
I feel very badly for him because he obviously did an outstanding job and he’s taking it hard,” Bentworth coach Dion Jansante said. “Without him, we wouldn’t have been in this game. I hope he realizes that.”
For at least seven innings, Delval might have outdueled Conway, if that’s actually possible. Then again, the Trojans’ ace deserves a little slack. Just hours before California arrived, Conway was leaving Mon Valley Hospital following an overnight stay for a 24-hour flu bug.
“I came straight from the hospital to the game,” said Conway, who struck out 14 and allowed five hits. “I made it habit to want to pitch in this game. I couldn’t let the team down.”
He responded with the finest performance of his season, which is saying something considering Conway upped his record to 13-0.
Conway now gets a week to recuperate before California (19-0) plays top-seeded Neshannock (20-2) in the WPIAL Class A championship, May 30 at Consol Energy Park. The game is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
But even a chance to help win California’s first WPIAL title since 2006 and Hartman’s third as a head coach, didn’t dampen appreciation for Bentworth (17-2).
“(Delval) pitched an outstanding team. Bentworth is a very, very good team. Look at how long that game was 0-0. That doesn’t happen very often,” Conway said. “I feel like we were the two best teams played each other.”
The Bearcats can qualify for their first trip to the PIAA playoffs by beating OLSH (16-6) in the third-place consolation game, which will be played May 30 at 4 p.m. at Ross Memorial Park.
And, naturally, Delval will pitch for Bentworth.
“Playing in the state playoffs is one of our goals we set before the season,” Jansante said. “I’ve never had a chance to play a June game and I asked the team if they wouldn’t mind helping me out. This is a talented group, and they don’t want to see it end.”

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Trinity hires Miles as girls basketball coach

A flurry of high school football coaching hires drew the ire of local fan bases, but the rumblings at Trinity considering the girls basketball program have quieted since the hiring of Bob Miles as head coach.

As far as hires go, it's difficult to find a better one.

A teacher at Trinity for more than two decades, Miles spent the past 15 years as head coach at Fort Cherry. He took a program with little tradition or success and molded into an annual playoff contender. In recent years, Fort Cherry was a Class A powerhouse and Miles was awarded the 2011 PIAA Class A Girls Coach of the Year for his work. He's also a three-time winner of the Tri-CADA Girls Basketball Coach of the Year Award.

Miles guided a group which included Beka Bellhy, Carolena Gasbarro and Jessie Merckle to the 2011 WPIAL Class A championship game, and the PIAA quarterfinals in each of the past two seasons. Fort Cherry stood toe-to-toe with private schools, though three of Fort Cherry last five losses came against North Catholic.

Fort Cherry won 49 games the past two seasons. Miles won 237 games in 15 years, and, as his teams improved over time, the Rangers drew praise from opposing coaches and even college coaches for their style of play. Fort Cherry played disciplined, unselfish and physical basketball.

Basically, the Fort Cherry girls played like a well-coached boys team.

Miles is charged with the task of building Trinity back into a consistent winner. Jackie Kotchman, one of the all-time great players in Hillers' girls basketball history, coached Trinity the past three years and the Hillers did qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs in 2012, albeit with a losing record.

Miles, who was given a three-year contract, is a proven winner, but establishing a solid program at Trinity won't be instant. Still, the Hillers made the right choice, and the obvious one.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Monessen's Rawlins commits to WVU

Monessen junior Chavas Rawlins doesn't see himself playing any place other than quarterback in college, and when it comes to producing quality players at the position with record-setting numbers, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen has the market cornered.

And Holgorsen will have Rawlins as a student starting in 2013.

One of the WPIAL's most sought-after prospects, Rawlins committed to West Virginia Friday - one day after a visit from Mountaineers quarterback coach Jake Spavital.

"He told me I'm their No. 1 quarterback target," Rawlins said. "As soon as I heard that, I thought, 'Man, I'm taking that.'"


Rawlins received 20 scholarship offers - the first two from Akron and Pitt; the last from Nebraska. Some schools originally recruited Rawlins, a strong-armed, mobile quarterback with a 6-4 frame, as a quarterback only to ask him to change positions after receiving other commitments.

West Virginia told Rawlins he was their top quarterback target for the Class of 2013, and he jumped at the opportunity to play in an offense which established a bowl game record 70 points scored against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Rawlins also likes the prospect of competing in the Big 12 Conference, which West Virginia joins in the coming athletic year.

"(Texas and Oklahoma) are schools as kid you want to play against," Rawlins said.

West Virginia is also interested in Rawlins' brother, Justice, a sophomore linebacker. Justice Rawlins already has offers from Pitt and Rutgers, and believes West Virginia will offer after he gets a couple games in this fall.

"Him playing at West Virginia would mean the world to me," Chavas said. "If he's with me down there, that will motivate me even more. I'm sure they will offer him pretty soon. He passes the eyeball test and he's a great player."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Varsity notebook

Two intriguing names have emerged as Trinity searches for its next girls basketball coach - Bob Miles and Laura Montecalvo.
At least two sources have indicated Miles is interested and the feeling should be mutual. It makes sense. Miles teaches at Trinity and he built Fort Cherry into a program which contended for WPIAL and PIAA titles. Plus, his work has earned respect at a state-wide level as evidenced by his selection as the Class A Coach of the Year in 2011. Miles is a three-time winner of the Tri-County Athletic Director Coaches Association Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. His teams are known for unselfish, disciplined and physical play.
Fort Cherry is moving to Class AA for at least the next two seasons and was placed in a section with Seton-La Salle and Bishop Canevin. The Rangers will still be a solid team the next two years, but there is a reported drop-off in talent after the sophomore class graduates.
If Miles, who lives in the Fort Cherry district, remains interested, consider him the top candidate.
Montecalvo was a standout athlete while at Wash High and has strong interest in becoming a head coach. She is also certified as a guidance counselor, and Trinity may have an opening in guidance for the upcoming school year.
* It's late May and, finally, every local high school has a varsity football coach. Bentworth, Burgettstown, Charleroi, Jefferson-Morgan, McGuffey, Trinity and Waynesburg all enter the 2012 with new coaches.
Bentworth and Charleroi moved quickly with their hires. McGuffey and Waynesburg made splash hires. Trinity conducted an extensive search. Burgettstown moved extremely quick with an in-house candidate in Terry Havelka, also the Blue Devils wrestling coach, following Matt Taylor's departure to Keystone Oaks. Jefferson-Morgan's search was extraordinarily long, the longest I can remember at the high school level.
* The WPIAL individual track championships are today, and the Washington-Greene region should produce a strong share of gold medalists. It's been a strong year for track.
* Speaking of track, the Washington boys team has a legitimate chance to win the Class AA team title at the state meet next weekend.
The Prexies, who turned in one of the most dominant dual meet seasons in WPIAL history, have everything needed to win a state title.
Dustin Fuller has the ability to win multiple individual championships. The 400 and 1,600 relay teams should medal. Other individual medals could come from a long list of athletes including Josh Wise, Darius Spinks, Shai McKenzie, West Jones, Austin Fuller and Joe Phillips. It's a special group.
* McKenzie's showing this track season is solidifying his status as a Division I football prospect. Only a sophomore, McKenzie is running sub-11 seconds in the 100-meter dash and is hearing from a host of Division I football programs from the Big Ten, Big East and ACC.
McKenzie and Monessen's Justice Rawlins are already two of the WPIAL's most sought-after prospects in the Class of 2014. Rawlins already has offers from Pitt and Rutgers, with WVU showing significant interest.
* Got to agree with Mike White from the Post-Gazette, who stated the WPIAL baseball playoffs need tweaked on his blog, Varsity Blog.
The brackets are set so teams with first-round byes can pitch their ace throughout the remainder of the playoffs beginning in the quarterfinals. It takes a lot of intrigue away from the postseason. And cramming the quarterfinals games one day after the first-round games pretty much eliminated any chance for upsets.
* That stated, the WPIAL Class A baseball semifinal between undefeated California and one-loss Bentworth has to be the most anticipated postseason game between a pair of local teams since Peters Township and Canon-McMillan met in the 2008 PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals.
The two teams play Monday night at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
* Chartiers-Houston baseball was woefully underseeded. The Bucs were far better than No. 9 in Class A.
* Peters Township junior Olivia Roberson is already a two-time PIAA champion as a key member of the Indians' girls soccer team. An all-state player her junior year, Roberson recently accepted a scholarship offer from Duquesne University.

Monday, May 14, 2012

WPIAL baseball all-stars

The WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association all-star games take place Sunday, June 10 at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township. Class A plays Class AA at 1 p.m. The Class AAA vs. Class AAAA game begins at 4 p.m.
With California and Bentworth among the top three seeds in the WPIAL Class A playoffs, it's not surprising the Class A roster features nine players from Washington-Greene Counties.

Two of the areas top senior players - Peters Township's Mike Bittel and California's T.D. Conway - are not participating.
Class AAAA
Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
Anthony Cinello, Bethel Park
Russell Clark, Pine-Richland
Eddie Dutkewycz, Albert Gallatin
Jack Elliott, Upper St Clair
Anthony Fanelli, Hempfield
Mick Fennell, Butler
Anthony Garofalo, Plum
Ian Happ, Mt Lebanon
Luke Koshinksy, Plum
Zach Krivda, McKeesport
Max McDowell, Norwin
Ryan Mincher, Shaler
Ben Nolan, Bethel Park
Cam Onderko, Norwin
Nick Opferman, Baldwin
Troy Schoeppner, Upper St Clair
Matt Smith, Seneca Valley
Mike Wilcox, Upper St Clair
Matt Wolczko, Kiski Area
Coaches
Andy Maddix North Allegheny; Rick Satcho McKeesport; Todd Schiffhauer North Allegheny; Eric Semega Seneca Valley

Class AAA
Hunter Bigler, Trinity
Tyler Drusbasky, Ringgold

Cory Callan, Hampton
Tyler Craig, Blackhawk
Zac Heide, Mount Pleasant
Christian Herstine, Beaver
Shane Hertzog, Mount Pleasant
Dan Jena, South Park
Everett Lesko, West Mifflin
Anthony Marks, Montour
Mac Megahan, Knoch
Mike Megahan, Moon
Mike Nowicki, Greensburg-Salem
Ryan Ruffing, Thomas Jefferson
Greg Schneider, Thomas Jefferson
Nate Steel, Hopewell
John Szmed, Greensburg-Salem
C J Weigand, Mars
Trevor Williams, West Allegheny
Zarley Zalewski,Valley
Coaches
George Bradley Knoch; Bruce Herstine Beaver; Rich Krivanek Thomas Jefferson; Jeff Kuzma West Mifflin

Class AA
Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
Joe Monica, Waynesburg
Alex Swauger, Waynesburg

Brent Williams, Fort Cherry
Brad Appleby, Greensburg CC
Shane Conley, Carlynton
Ryan Dunn, Freeport
Todd Fennick, Laurel
Brandon Galley, Southmoreland
Joey Giles, Sto-Rox
Phil Gnus, Brownsville
Rob Hardy, Riverside
Kevin Hart, Seton LaSalle
Ben Hartz, Shady Side Academy
Rick Jones, Laurel
Christian Kerns, Ellwood City
Fran O'Connor, Freedom
Jordan Price, Freedom
C J Testarella, Riverview
Coty Villinger, Southmoreland
Coaches
Dan O'Leary Freedom, Skooter Roebuck Brownsville, Jason Sharp Carlynton, Mark Suckfiel South Allegheny,Eric Verdi Laurel

Class A
Matt Bakewell California
Nick Clarke Carmichaels
Sean Cotton California
Tyler Delval Bentworth
Mike Knox Beth-Center
Brandon Lesko Jefferson-Morgan
Tyler Sabatula Beth-Center
John Shaw Avella

Nick Smydo Bentworth
Coby Croft Avonworth
Brandon Duerr, Our Lady of Sacred Heart
Alain Girman Serra Catholic
Evan Gourley Vincentian Academy
Joe Killian Springdale
Chris Koryak Vincentian Academy
Jake Miller North Catholic
Zach Miller North Catholic
John Sansone Neshannock
Alex Strittmatter, Neshannock
Tyler Swarmer Leechburg
Coaches
Phil Coffin Avonworth, Brian Dzurenda Serra Catholic, Mike Kirkwood Neshannock
Randy Miller North Catholic

Friday, May 11, 2012

WPIAL baseball pairings

No Peters Township in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. No Trinity for a second consecutive season. It's a bit odd not seeing either team in the postseason. The last time that happened was 1998.

Class AA
No. 4 South Fayette vs. No. 13 Steel Valley, Monday at Upper St. Clair, 4:30 p.m.
No. 7 Fort Cherry vs. No. 10 Bishop Canevin, Monday at Burkett Complex (Robinson Twp.), 2 p.m.
No. 15 Waynesburg vs. No. 2 Shady Side Academy, Monday at Upper St. Clair, 2 p.m.

Class A
No. 2 California, bye
No. 3 Bentworth, bye
No. 9 Chartiers-Houston vs. No. 8 Avonworth, Monday at Burkett Complex, 4:30 p.m.
No. 12 Carmichaels vs. No. 5 Serra Catholic, Monday at Charleroi, 2 p.m.
No. 13 Beth-Center vs. No. 4 OLSH, Monday, at CCAC Boyce (Monroeville), 2 p.m.s

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WPIAL softball playoffs

Seeding the postseason can never be easy, and this year, WPIAL Class AAAA softball was muddled at and near the top. Basically, every team in the top five had quality wins and a head-scratching loss or two.

Makes it tough to seed.

Saying such, it seemed a bit unusual seeing Peters Township with a first-round bye and Canon-McMillan playing a first-round game. Not saying the Indians aren't worthy of the bye, they had a fantastic regular season. So did Canon-McMillan, and the Big Macs shut out Peters Township the last time the two played.

Here are the matchups involving local teams (for complete postseason pairings, click here):

Class AAAA
No. 3 Peters Township, bye
No. 5 Canon-McMillan vs. No. 12 McKeesport, Tuesday at California University, 4 p.m.

Class AAA
No. 6 McGuffey vs. No. 11 Thomas Jefferson, Wednesday at California University, 2 p.m.

Class AA
No. 5 Burgettstown vs. No. 12 Mohawk, Wednesday at North Allegheny, 4 p.m.
No. 14 Waynesburg vs. No. 3 Mt. Pleasant, Wednesday at California University, 4 p.m.
No. 15 South Fayette vs. No. 2 Seton-La Salle, Monday at Baldwin, 2 p.m.

Class A
(Preliminary round)
No. 16 California vs. No. 17 Riveview, Tuesday at Hempfield, 2 p.m.
(First round)
No. 1 Chartiers-Houston vs. California-Riverview winner, Thursday at California University, 2 p.m.
No. 3 Carmichaels vs. No. 14 Serra Catholic, Tuesday at California University, 2 p.m.
No. 9 Jefferson-Morgan vs. No. 8 Elderton, Tuesday at Gateway, 2 p.m.
No. 13 West Greene vs. No. 4 South Side Beaver, Tuesday at Burgettstown, 2 p.m.
No. 15 Avella vs. No. 2 Sto-Rox, Tuesday at Fairhaven Park, 2 p.m.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Observer-Reporter WPIAL baseball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Norwin 15-0
2. Seneca Valley 14-3
3. Bethel Park 16-2
4. Plum 14-3
5. Hempfield 15-4

Class AAA
1. Blackhawk 16-2
2. Hopewell 16-3
3. South Park 15-4
4. Mars 14-3
5. Thomoas Jefferson 13-4

Class AA
1. Shady Side Academy 14-2
2. Riverside 15-4
3. Ellwood City 17-2
4. South Fayette 12-6
5. Laurel 14-5

Class A
1. California 16-0
2. Neshannock 17-2
3. Bentworth 14-1
4. Vincentian Academy 10-5
5. Serra Catholic 11-4

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sex offender costs Ohio State football recruit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio State recruit has told the Buckeyes he will not attend the university, according to several published reports, amid concern that a convicted sex offender had interactions with players and recruits associated with the program.
Alex Anzalone, one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits, committed to Ohio State last month in what was turning out to be a stellar class for new coach Urban Meyer.
But Anzalone, of Wyomissing will reopen his recruiting process, after being contacted by Charles Eric Waugh, 31, of Ashland, Ky. In 2008, Waugh pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of underage sexual content. And this year, across Twitter, he contacted several Ohio State coaches athletes, and even recruits, including Anzalone. He also posed for photos with some of them.
Dr. Sal Anzalone, Alex’s father, told the Reading Eagle late Friday that “something is just not right at Ohio State. It’s not for him.”
As news spread of Anzalone’s decision, and of Waugh’s past, the school put out a statement on Friday night.
“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures — taken in public places — with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person,” the statement said.
“The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes.”
Anzalone visited Columbus last month during spring game weekend. While there, he and other potential recruits posed for a photo with Waugh, who later posted it on Twitter.
“You don’t want your son to go to a place where there’s a potential issue,” Sal Anzalone told the Eagle. “You expect the staff to have some sort of control on how things are handled with recruits when they visit. This is ridiculous.”

Observer-Reporter WPIAL softball rankings

How nice has the weather been this spring? Well, Chartiers-Houston and Carmichaels, two of the top three teams in Class A, have already played the maximum 20 games. The Bucs and Mikes won't play a meaningful again until the WPIAL playoffs and both teams are candidates for first-round byes. Once the pairing are released by the WPIAL, C-H and Carmichaels are permitted to scrimmage other playoff teams.


Class AAAA
1. Shaler 15-2
2. Canon-McMillan 11-5
3. Franklin Regional 16-2
4. Peters Township 13-4
5. Norwin 14-2

Class AAA
1. Ambridge 15-2
2. Greensburg-Salem 13-2
3. Belle Vernon 15-5
4. Blackhawk 9-4
5. Montour 13-5

Class AA
1. Neshannock 17-0
2. Seton-La Salle 13-0
3. Deer Lakes 14-1
4. Burgettstown 16-2
5. Riverside 13-2

Class A
1. Chartiers-Houston 19-1
2. Sto-Rox 16-0
3. Carmichaels 19-1
4. Leechburg 14-4
5. South Side Beaver 16-3

Friday, April 27, 2012

Observer-Reporter WPIAL baseball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Norwin 12-0
2. Bethel Park 12-1
3. Upper St. Clair 13-2
4. Shaler 11-3
5. Plum 10-3

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 15-1
2. Blackhawk 13-2
3. Chartiers Valley 12-3
4. Mars 11-3
5. Thomas Jefferson 10-4

Class AA
1. Shady Side Academy 11-2
2. Riverside 12-4
3. Ellwood City 14-2
4. Laurel 12-4
5. Waynesburg 10-3

Class A
1. California 13-0
2. Neshannock 13-2
3. Bentworth 11-0
4. Serra Catholic 10-3
5. Chartiers-Houston 9-4

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Observer-Reporter WPIAL softball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Hempfield 8-3
2. Shaler 11-2
3. Peters Township 10-3
4. Canon-McMillan 9-4
5. Baldwin 10-3

Class AAA
1. Blackhawk 8-2
2. West Allegheny 8-1
3. Ambridge 11-2
4. Knoch 9-1
5. Greensburg-Salem 9-2

Class AA
1. Deer Lakes 11-0
2. Neshannock 12-0
3. Burgettstown 13-1
4. Seton-La Salle 8-0
5. Riverside 10-1

Class A
1. Chartiers-Houston 15-1
2. Sto-Rox 12-0
3. Carmichaels 15-1
4. Leechburg 13-4
5. Jefferson-Morgan 12-1

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Charleroi's all-time team

WPIAL soccer was in its infancy, and played during the spring, back in 1963. Charleroi was one of the district's original programs.

The 2012 season marks the 50th in Cougars history, and to commemorate one of the WPIAL's oldest programs, the school had compiled a half-century team (a story on the team will appear in the Observer-Reporter at a later date).

The selection committee was comprised of former Charleroi coaches and headed by current coach Tom Villella. Plans to honor the All Half-Century Team are in progress with a selected date of Sept. 8.

Members of the team are:
Mike Borelli, forward, 1965;
Joe Bosley, midfielder, 1994;
Chuck Bruce, goalie, 1988;
Keith Conte, defender, 1982;
Lewis DiBernardi, forward, 1972;
Josh Gray, forward, 1996;
Jack Jacobs, forward, 1967;
Dennis Laskey, midfielder, 1968;
Darrin Lupori, forward, 1988;
Ron Lupori, forward, 1984;
Rob Maglicic, forward, 2000;
Cal Montgomery, forward, 1996;
Luke Paglia, midfielder, 1989;
Robin Rossi, forward, 1972;
Chad Roule, forward, 1994;
Vince Russell, forward, 1991;
Jeff Soles, midfielder, 1994;
George Watkins, goalie, 1991.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ones to watch at County Invitational

The Washington-Greene County Track Coaches Invitational takes place Saturday at Canon-McMillan High School starting at 9:30 a.m.

Girls javelin is the premier event at the meet as several of the nation's top throwers will be in attendance led by Fort Cherry senior and Wake Forest signee Jesse Merckle.

According to milesplit.com, Merckle has the third-ranked girls high school javelin throw of the outdoor season at 151-0, which ranks 12th on the WPIAL's all-time list. Canon-McMillan's Mira Carrozza, a South Florida signee, has the second-best throw in Class AAA of 138-10 according to the WPIAL girls track honor roll compiled by Jim Faiella. Carrozza's throw would rank 16th on the milesplit.com list.

Big Macs teammate Anna Lombardo (124-0) ranks seventh in Class AAA. Fort Cherry's Jenna Lucas has the second-best throw (131-1) of any sophomore in the nation. Waynesburg's Richelle Tharp (122-5) and Fort Cherry's Beka Bellhy (118-8) also rank among the WPIAL's best.

* With the emergence of Canon-McMillan senior Shawn Johnson, the boys triple jump will likely draw a wall of spectators around the outside of the fence near the jumping pit.

Johnson has posted the top long jump and triple jump marks of the WPIAL season, and some of the nation's best marks too.

During a meet at Canon-McMillan Tuesday, Johnson triple jumped a school record 48-10 3/4, the eighth best mark in the nation and second best in Pennsylvania to Reading's Imani Brown (49-3 1/4). Johnson's best long jump of 23-5 is the top mark in the state and ranks 40th nationally.

Big Macs teammate Kelvin Parnell should push Johnson in the long jump and Washington's West Jones and Mijerean Witcher are among the top distances in Class AA. Jones jumped 44-5 earlier this season.

* As always, the boys 100 will draw attention, and the field looks particularly crowded. Wash High boasts four of the top 10 times in Class AA in Matt Brower (10.9), Shai McKenzie (10.93), Darius Spinks (11.0) and Chivar Brown (11.1). Trinity's John Lachinsky has run an 11.2 and Canon-McMillan, which hasn't submitted times and distances to the boys honor roll always contends in the event.

Ringgold's outstanding crop of sprinters (Demetrius Louis, Quad Law, Joey Wall and Alfon Cook) are all struggling with injuries. If two or three run, the Rams might be able to push Washington in the 400 relay.

In the girls sprints, Washington sophomore Alyssa Wise is one to watch as is Ringgold's Christina Wills. Wise has the top Class AA time in the 100 (12.1) and 200 (25.4). Wills ranks third in Class AAA at 12.2.

* Dustin Fuller ran his first open 400 dash recently and posted a 49.83, which leads Class AA runners. He'll be pushed by Trinity's Josh Urso, who ranks second in Class AAA at 50.3.

Fuller owns the top times in the 110 high hurdles (14.83) and 300 hurdles (39.8).

* The boys high jump features three of the WPIAL's premier jumpers in Washington's Josh Wise and Jones in addition to Johnson. Wise has cleared 6-6 already this season.

* Prexies senior Joe Phillips had a 49-8 in the shot put Thursday against Waynesburg. The mark ranks second in Class AA.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Observer-Reporter WPIAL baseball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Norwin 9-0
2. Bethel Park 10-1
3. Shaler 9-2
4. Seneca Valley 8-2
5. Upper St. Clair 9-2

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 11-1
2. Blackhawk 10-1
3. Chartiers Valley 9-3
4. Thomas Jefferson 7-3
5. South Park 9-3

Class AA
1. Shady Side Academy 9-1
2. Ellwood City 12-0
3. Riverside 8-4
4. Waynesburg 7-2
5. Laurel 9-3

Class A
1. Serra Catholic 8-1
2. California 10-0
3. Neshannock 10-2
4. Bentworth 8-0
5. Springdale 8-2

Observer-Reporter WPIAL softball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Hempfield 7-3
2. Shaler 9-2
3. Peters Township 9-3
4. Canon-McMillan 7-4
5. Baldwin 9-3

Class AAA
1. Blackhawk 6-2
2. West Allegheny 7-1
3. Ambridge 10-2
4. Knoch 8-1
5. Belle Vernon 11-3

Class AA
1. Deer Lakes 9-0
2. Neshannock 9-0
3. Mt. Pleasant 10-1
4. Burgettstown 10-1
5. Seton-La Salle 6-0

Class A
1. Chartiers-Houston 14-1
2. Sto-Rox 11-0
3. Carmichaels 13-1
4. Elderton 8-1
5. Shenango 6-3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Four WPIAL players on ESPN 150

Central Valley's Robert Foster is considered the WPIAL's top prospect and the No. 23 recruit in the country from the Class of 2013 according to the ESPN150. Belle Vernon's Dorian Johnson not far behind at No. 26.

North Allegheny's Patrick Kugler and Clairton's Tyler Boyd also made the list.

For the complete ESPN150, click here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Week (or last two weeks) in Twitter

Follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak.

Joe Silko, @Silk2Smoove
April 13
"Come on Bucs, this is getting embarrassing"

Quad Law, @TheRealQuad_Law
April 13
"everyone take your last breath, drink your last drink, eat your last meal! Clairton jus won a baseball game!!!!🎉🎁🎉🎁"

Jaylin Kelly, @j_kelly21
April 13
"Some little girl asked for my autograph... Im glad someone appreciates me ha"

Josh Wise, @jlwise_whs11
April 13
"Wow first observer then pittsburgh post damn stay cheating me out of awards how ppl make it who I had better numbers than?"

Marques Parks, @marques_j_parks
April 2
"Folks this is what we call a #saltyOSUfan RT @adam8hatton: Baseball Tonight > National Championship"

Stephen McCaw, @BucktownHero
April 11
"No I don't want to lose weight fast or hear bad rumors about me. #spam #fixyourtwitter"

Doug Wilson, @dougie_fresh055
April 12
"I think I've decided where I wanna play college bball next year. Don't ask where,not saying until I tell the coach first."

Joe Phillips, @JCPhillips2012
April 11
"@TheMikeKovak I see some articles about wash high runners, where's the throwers articles? #norespect haha"

(Blogger's note: Track coverage will increase drastically with the invitational season beginning.)

Corey Garry, @coreygarry
April 13
"You couldn't beat dust out of a rug! #Sawisms"

Jason Van Kirk, @VanKirk13
April 11
"As much as I love my letterman jacket I'm ticked that I am wearing it in April. #snow"

Joe Graziani, @JoeGrizz52
April 10
"Chocolate Milk. #loveinaglass"

John Laschinsky, @John12Las
April 12
"just drove past cameron stadium and the #presidents were out there practicing. college football is so close. #cantwait"

Tom Nettles, @TomNettles
April 9
"Late evening putting session. No days off"

Anna Cree, @annnnaaa_
April 2
"3rd team all district for basketball.. I'll care when I make first hahahha"

Observer-Reporter WPIAL baseball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Seneca Valley 6-1
2. Norwin 6-0
3. Bethel Park 7-1
4. Upper St. Clair 7-1
5. Shaler 6-2

Class AAA
1. Blackhawk 8-0
2. South Park 8-1
3. Chartiers Valley 7-2
4. Hopewell 9-1
5. Thomas Jefferson 5-2

Class AA
1. Shady Side Academy 6-1
2. Ellwood City 9-0
3. Riverside 6-3
4. Waynesburg 5-1
5. Brownsville 6-2

Class A
1. Serra Catholic 6-1
2. California 7-0
3. Neshannock 6-2
4. Bentworth 6-0
5. Monessen 7-2

WPIAL softball rankings

Most years, teams have only played four or five games at this point. Chartiers-Houston has already played 13.

Class AAAA
1. Baldwin 7-2
2. Canon-McMillan 6-2
3. Hempfield 5-3
4. Shaler 6-2
5. Peters Township 7-3

Class AAA
1. Ambridge 9-1
2. Belle Vernon 7-1
3. Knoch 6-0
4. West Allegheny 6-1
5. McGuffey 6-2

Class AA
1. Deer Lakes 7-0
2. Riverside 7-0
3. Mt. Pleasant 7-1
4. Burgettstown 8-1
5. Seton-La Salle 5-0

Class A
1. Chartiers-Houston 12-1
2. Sto-Rox 6-0
3. Carmichaels 10-1
4. Jefferson-Morgan 9-0
5. Elderton 6-1

Bochna, Worrell part of WPIAL Hall of Fame class

The list of local entrants in the WPIAL Hall of Fame grew by two Thursday when Derek Bochna and Robert "Red" Worrell were announced as part of the incoming class. The induction banquet will be June 1 at the Green Tree Doubletree by Marriott.

Bochna (Mapletown) and the deceased Worrell (Centerville) join Aaron Gatten (Washington), Manuel "Buns" Pihakis (Canonsburg), Bill Christy (officiating), Jimmy Montecalvo (Courage Award), Brian Davis (Washington), Stan Musial (Donora), Cary Kolat (Jefferson-Morgan) and the 1945 Donora football team as honorees.

The following are short bios on the incoming class.

Derek Bochna - Graduated from McGuffey as WPIAL's all-time rushing leader with 4.793 yards and 74 touchdowns. Played football and baseball at Penn State, and started as a freshman defensive back. Bochna was a freshman All-American, intercepted 12 passes and finished with nearly 200 tackles. He graduated from Penn State as the school's all-time home run leader with 28.

Robert "Red" Worrell - A 16-time letterwinner at Centerville (now Beth-Center), Worrell was considered one of the top WPIAL football players of his time. He was the starting tailback for Penn State's freshman team in 1957 but died before his sophomore year. Every spring, Penn State honors a "Red Worrell Award" winner.

Sean Miller - The head basketball coach at Arizona (and formerly Xavier) was a standout point guard at Pitt and Blackhawk.

Neil Walker - The starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Walker batted .504 with 32 home runs and 102 RBI in four years at Pine-Richland and was the first WPIAL selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in 26 years. Walker was also an all-state football player.

Jess Strom - Strom scored 2,840 points at Steel Valley and a WPIAL-record 205 goals in soccer. Strom played basketball at Penn Strate and is coaching the women's team at Cal U.

Ron Sepic - One of 12 WPIAL players to make the Parade All-America basketball team, Sepic of Uniontown was drafted by teams in the NFL and NBA.

Frank Fuhrer III - Fuhrer, a Fox Chapel grad, was a three-time WPIAL golf champion, an All-American at North Carolina and won of the top amateur golfers of his time.

Kelly Kovach - Kovach pitched Baldwin to three consecutive WPIAL championships and part of volleyball teams that won back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA titles. She went on to an All-American career at Michigan and is the head coach at Miami (Ohio).

Mel Nash - In 1972, Gateway's Nash was named "national high school swimmer of the year" by Swimming World Magazine. He never lost a race after his freshman year and won a gold medal in the Pan-Am Games at the age of 16.

John Miller - Legendary Blackhawk basketball coach won eight WPIAL and four PIAA titles. Miller's all-time record is 657-280.

Chuck Wagner - Wagner coached football for three years, including 47 as a head coach in the WPIAL before retiring following the 2011 season at Springdale. Wagner won the 2003 WPIAL title and 270 games.

Andy Urbanic - Urbanic's teams at Penn Hills went 84-8-1 from 1973 through 1980 with four consecutive WPIAL championships.

Bob Bleggi - A long-time cross country coach and chairman of cross country committee.

Zigmund "Red" Mihalik - A former pro basketball player from Ford City, Mihalik worked six NCAA finals as an official.

1989 Upper St. Clair football - The first WPIAL team to go 15-0 and win a PIAA Class AAAA title. USC, coached by Jim Render, finished No. 4 in the USA Today Top 25.

1960 Farrell basketball - The Steelers had Willie Somerset, Brian Generalovich and Jack Marin. All three were drafted by the NBA teams. Farrell won WPIAL and state titles.

Sara and Mark Pilarski - Student-athletes from Hampton with GPAs above 4.0. Mark battles Stephen Johnson Syndrome and Sara has a brain tumor.