East Archives

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Football: WPIAL grads expected to anchor Michigan State secondary

Written by Brad Everett on .

Michigan State has boasted one of college football's top defenses in recent years.

This season, two of the key players on that unit hail from Western Pennsylvania.

When Michigan State released its preseason depth chart Thursday, two WPIAL alums were listed as starters in the secondary: Jeannette grad Demetrious Cox at cornerback, and Gateway grad Montae Nicholson at free safety.

Cox, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt junior, played in all of Michigan State's 13 games last season and made a career-high 26 tackles. Nicholson, a 6-2, 220-pound sophomore, also played in all 13 games last season, leading all first-year players with 31 tackles. Nicholson is also a track standout who placed sixth at the 2015 Big Ten Indoor Championships.

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Wrestling: Derry wrestler has fun in the sun

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Derry wrestler George Phillippi. Read his story below.

George Phillippi made a second trip to Florida this week, but this time it's for a well deserved vacation.

Phillippi's first visit to the Sunshine State was for the AAU Scholastic National Duals, which were held June 27-July 2 in Kissimmee, Fla. The tournament, more commonly referred to as the Disney Duals, was held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.

"It was my second trip to the Disney Duals with the Young Guns Wrestling Club," said Phillippi, who recently completed his junior year at Derry Area High School.

Young Guns fielded three teams in the District Division: Black, White and Gold. Young Guns Black claimed its third consecutive title with a 10-0 record.

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Football: Penn Hills grad emerging as elite receiver at Toledo

Written by Joe Bendel on .

Joe Bendel profiles Penn Hills graduate Corey Jones, who is now a standout football player at Toledo.

"Corey Jones is a need-for-speed guy, a blistering fast wideout for the University of Toledo who won't take slow for an answer.

"In my first season, I ran the 40 in 4.41 or 4.42 seconds," he said. "Then last year, I ran a 4.4 flat. Now, I'm trying to get it down to 4.39 or 4.38."

A Penn Hills High graduate, Jones is immersed in an arduous summer regimen aimed at improving his explosiveness, strength and footwork. It is all part of a master plan to "put the heat on" – his words – unsuspecting cornerbacks in the fall.

"No one's been able to track me down," he said. "And I don't want them to.""

 

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Boys Volleyball: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Obama Academy's Cinderella season came to an end in the PIAA Class AA boys volleyball semifinals.

The Eagles had a season to remember in their WPIAL debut, but came up two wins short of reaching the ultimate goal of winning a PIAA title.

"We played a very good team that has been ranked No. 2 in the state all season," said Obama Academy coach Pete Vitti, after watching Saegertown dominate his Eagles in the PIAA semfinals. "The 19 serving errors we had didn't help things."

Saegertown, the District 10 champion, flexed its muscles in a 3-0 semifinal match held at Slippery Rock High School. It will be the second PIAA title appearance in five years for Saegertown.

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Boys Volleyball: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys volleyball teams from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 BeaverCountyChristian BVolleyball(Photo: Beaver County Christian's Matthew Knab, a sophomore setter, spikes a shot as teammate Quinn McCracken (7), a junior middle hitter, watches during a match against Upper St. Clair earlier this season. Marilyn Schwilm/Tri-State Sports & News Service)

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Wrestling: Norwin standout in search of elusive title

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Norwin wrestler Drew Phipps. Read his story below.

Drew Phipps has reached all but one goal during his scholastic wrestling career at Norwin High School.

Phipps has won three Class AAA Section 1 titles, advanced to the WPIAL finals twice and claimed one title, and earned All-State honors twice by finishing among the top four in his weight class at Hershey.

The only goal Phipps has yet to reach is winning a PIAA title.

"I thought I would win the state title this year," said Phipps, who placed third in the PIAA Class AAA 195-pound bracket. "I just didn't wrestle my best."

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Boys Lacrosse: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

In recent years, Greensburg Central Catholic coach Mike Evans has fielded very competitive teams that have lacked the depth beyond the starting lineup.

Despite that competitive disadvantage, Evans turned in one of his best coaching performances of his career, and his fellow coaches recognized his efforts by naming him the WPIAL Boys Lacrosse Division II coach of the year.

Fueled by a 5-0 record in Division II, Section I, Evans' Centurions were the No. 4 seed heading into the tournament. But Greensburg Central came up against a very solid Mars team in the first round. Mars shared conference honors with Quaker Valley in Division 2, Section 4 with respective records of 5-1. The Planets went on to a 16-5 victory over Greensburg Central, ending the Centurions' season with an overall record of 9-5.

It was the second time the two teams played in 2015, and the Planets won both games by the same score.

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Girls Lacrosse: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

The season didn't end the way they had hoped, but the Latrobe Wildcats had a very solid season that earned them the No. 1 seeding entering the WPIAL Division II tournament.

Latrobe swept through Division II, Section I with an unblemished record of 12-0, and that mark stayed perfect through the first round of the WPIAL tournament when the Wildcats topped Baldwin 13-8 in a first-round game. But Latrobe had to settle for an overall record of 16-1 when the Wildcats lost to Blackhawk 10-6 in the WPIAL semifinals.

During the season, Latrobe won four games by double-digit margins. The Wildcats had several close calls, starting with a 9-7 victory over Fairmont, W.Va., Senior in the season opener. They also edged Butler, 9-6, Ellis, 16-12 and Hempfield, 10-6. But until they Blackhawk, Latrobe did not taste defeat.

Section rivals Hempfield and Ellis also qualified for the WPIAL tournament. Both teams lost in the first round. Hempfield fell to Blackhawk, 14-4, and eventual WPIAL champion ousted Ellis, 18-2.

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Boys Tennis: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Keith Barnes on .

There weren't many WPIAL boys tennis players who came into a season with the kind of expectations laden on the shoulders of Latrobe senior Chad Kissell.

Not only was the Valparaiso recruit the top-ranked Class AAA senior in the state, the WPIAL had not had a singles player win a state title since Shady Side Academy's Chris Mengel in 2010 and Latrobe had not held a PIAA crown since Don Bossert knocked off Lewis Landon of Williamsport, 8-6, 8-6, in 1950.

Of course, at the end of the day, his last name is Kissell, which meant there was no way he wasn't walking off the court at Hershey Racquet Club without a first place medal around his neck. And that's exactly what he did.

Kissell brought home his family's sixth state championship – and fifth in singles – as he joined his sister Joelle by finishing his career by winning a PIAA Class AAA in his final match with a 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 victory over Michael Dickson of Downingtown East. Joelle also won a doubles title in 2006, while his sister Michaela won three state singles championships from 2003-05.

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Boys Tennis: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys tennis players from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 0409 Latrobe BTennis(Photo: (Photo: Latrobe's Chad Kissell backhands the ball against Canon-McMillan's Chris Gladden during the 2015 WPIAL AAA Boys Singles Tennis Championship at the Racquet Club in Monroeville. Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

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Boys Track & Field: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

It's no surprise that Jordan Geist stole the show yet again. The Knoch sophomore won a Class AAA PIAA title in the shot put with a throw of 65-09.75. Lawson Monta of Greensburg Salem took fourth place in the same event.

Geist also won WPIAL titles in the shot put and discus.

Isaiah Brooks of Woodland Hills handled the field competition taking second in the long jump at the PIAA meet. He also won several WPIAL titles, including the triple jump, 200-meter dash and long jump.

Jeff Van Kooten had a record-breaking race in the 1,600-meter run. His time of 4:10.27 also earned him the WPIAL title. The Central Catholic senior advanced to states where he took silver.

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Girls Track & Field: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Hempfield won its fourth consecutive WPIAL title, and the Spartans had to do most of it without superstar Maddie Holmberg, who missed most of the season due to injury.

Holmberg's younger sister, Gabby, stepped up, anchoring the 1,600-meter relay and pulling the Spartans past Mt. Lebanon for the team title.

Gabby went on to the PIAA championships, where she took second in the 400-meter dash.

Several other Spartans took medals at the PIAA qualifying meet: Morgan DeFloria (second, javelin), Lauren George (third, long jump) and Molly DeBone (first, pole vault).

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Boys Track & Field: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys track & field athletes from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 0515 ApolloRidge BTrack(Photo: Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton is headed to Pitt for football, but was just as impressive at the WPIAL track championships Thursday at Baldwin. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

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Girls Track & Field: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature girls track & field athletes from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 0508 Connellsville GTrack(Photo: Sophomore Madison Wiltrout of Connellsville continues to make history in girls javelin. John Heller/Post-Gazette)

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Softball: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Hempfield made up for missing the playoffs for the first time in three decades last season by having one of the best seasons in program history. Hempfield captured the WPIAL Class AAAA title and reached the PIAA semifinals. The Spartans won the school's first WPIAL Class AAAA title since 2009. Instead of struggling out of the gate, Hempfield opened the year with six consecutive victories and won its first outright Section 1 title since 2011.

It helped that sophomore pitcher Morgan Ryan had another year of experience and improved from nine wins to 19 this season and dropped her earned run average from 2.60 to less than 1.00 to earn a spot on the all-state team. Hempfield also had an outstanding outfield comprising juniors Taylor Hoffman and Taylor Blevins and senior Taylor Bartlow and decreased its total errors from 28 in 18 games in 2014 to 16 errors in 23 games this season, which is why the team was much better than the 12-6 showing it had a year ago.

Yough road the right arm of junior pitcher Macy Mularski to the WPIAL Class AAA final. Mularski was 14-2 with a 0.949 ERA. She struck out 177 on the season. Her catcher was junior Allie Harvey. She committed no errors all season and had a .557 on-base percentage. Yough was another team who did not even make the playoffs last season.

Greensburg Salem made the playoffs thanks to an incredible season by senior shortstop Claire Oberdorf. The Marist recruit batted .775 with 10 home runs. Penn-Trafford won 14 games and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals behind all-section pitcher, senior Nicole Smith and junior outfielder Megan Little (.604 batting average).

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Softball: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature softball teams from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 0529 Hempfield Softball(Photo: Hempfield pitcher Morgan Ryan is congratulated after getting the last out to defeat North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAAA softball championship at California University Thursday. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

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Baseball: 2015 East Season Recap

Written by Brad Everett on .

There are two Central Catholic's in the WPIAL -- Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

Both reside in the East area.

And both won their first WPIAL baseball titles this past season.

It was a banner year for Central Catholic and Greensburg Central Catholic. The Vikings won the Class AAAA championship, while Greensburg Central Catholic claimed the Class A title.

Central Catholic didn't enter the WPIAL playoffs with a ton of hype. After all, the Vikings were just 8-7 and given the No. 6 seed in the playoffs after tying Fox Chapel for the Section 3 title. But the Vikings turned it on in the postseason, using a dramatic comeback to beat Franklin Regional in the first round, then rallying to defeat defending champion Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals and then Shaler in the semifinals. Playing in their first WPIAL title game since 1979, the Vikings made the most of it by defeating Norwin, 2-0. The Vikings were then defeated by Shaler, 3-1, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

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Baseball: 2015 East Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature baseball teams from the area's East zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2015 season.

2015 0528 CentralCatholic Baseball(Photo: Central Catholic players celebrate the school's first WPIAL baseball title Wednesday at Consol Energy Park in Washington. The Vikings defeated Norwin, 2-0, for the Class AAAA championship. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)