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Baseball: Historic win for Greensburg C.C.

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Greensburg Central Catholic baseball team.

2015 0529 GreensburgCC Baseball(Photo: Greensburg Central Catholic's Collin Liberatore pitches against California in the WPIAL Class A baseball championship at Consol Energy Park Tuesday in Washington. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"A year ago in Class AA, Greensburg Central Catholic was a third-place finisher in its section and a one-and-done WPIAL playoff team.

What a difference one year and a PIAA-mandated biennial realignment can make.

Instead of wondering what winning a title could be like as they did a year ago, the Centurions took advantage of a move down to Class A, earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament and knocked off defending champion California Area, 6-4, Tuesday at Consol Energy Park in North Franklin to give Greensburg Central Catholic the first WPIAL baseball title in the school's 56-year history.

"I know when I was a player, I played at Greensburg Salem and played against some pretty good baseball players from [Greensburg] Central Catholic and I know it's certainly hard to win it all," Centurions coach Anthony Manley said. "To get here is one thing and to win it is another.""

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Boys Tennis: Latrobe senior a PIAA champ

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles Latrobe tennis player Chad Kissell.

"Chad Kissell found himself in a very rare position on Saturday when he took on District 1 champion Michael Dickson of Downingtown East in the PIAA Class AAA singles final.

He had to take the court at Hershey Racquet Club for a third set for the first time this season.

"I was actually in the second set looking to close it out and I have to give my opponent all the credit because he never backed down," Kissell said. "After I lost the second set, I just told myself that I had to stay calm and I think I just played a smart game in the third set."

He did just that as Kissell, a Valparaiso University recruit, closed out his high school career as he knocked off Dickson, 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 and became the first Greater Latrobe boys tennis player in 65 years to win a state title. Don Bossert was the last Wildcats singles player to win the boys singles title when he knocked off Lewis Landon of Williamsport, 8-6, 8-6, in 1950."

 

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Track: Trinity Christian junior wins school's first PIAA title

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Drew Karpen profiles Trinity Christian track standout Tyler Carter.

"The long wait for a state champion is finally over for the Trinity Christian School. After being in existence for over 50 years and a member of the WPIAL for 12, the school can finally hang a championship banner in their gymnasium thanks to junior Tyler Carter.

At last week's PIAA track and field meet at Shippensburg University, Carter captured the gold medal in the triple jump with a distance of 47⅓ feet.

"It was our first state champion in any sport," coach Dave Jones said. "We have been building for it but it shows how difficult it is. We are just really proud of him."

Carter was coming off a hip flexor strain this season that forced him out for a lengthy part of the season and cost him a chance at a WPIAL title. The injury occurred during the South Fayette Invitational."

 

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Track: Burrell's Scherer sprints to gold

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Drew Karpen profiles Burrell sprinter Nikki Scherer.

2015 0529 Burrell GTrack(Photo: Burrell's Nicole Scherer crosses the finish line to win the Class AA 100-meter dash at the PIAA track and field championships. Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

"The feeling exemplified by Burrell sophomore sprinter Nikki Scherer last Saturday after winning her first PIAA gold medal is the reason why she fought so hard to return from injury last year.

Scherer captured first place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.32, beating her opponent by one-hundredth of a second at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium. By no means was it her fastest time, but the only thing that mattered was it was the fastest that day out of all the qualified sprinters in the state.

"It is amazing," Scherer said. "It is a really good feeling. It still hasn't settled in. It wasn't close to my best but what happens at states is you aren't going to run your personal record because you run so much. I didn't think it was going to happen this year because I didn't get to run last year."

Scherer also won the WPIAL championship this year and competed in every meet and invitational to prepare herself mentally and physically for running the mandatory three times at the state championships."

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Wrestling: Hempfield's Park retires, gets honor

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles former Hempfield wrestling coach Ron Park, who was recently inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Read his story below.

It was a fitting end to a long and successful coaching career.

Ron Park ended his 44-year coaching career with an honor worthy of his dedication to the sport of wrestling.

On May 3, Park was inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a lifetime achievement award winner.

"The ceremony was held in Harrisburg," said Park, who spent more than half of his career at Hempfield High School. "There were a total of 275 people at the banquet. Most of my family was there. It was quite a thrill for me and my family."

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Boys Tennis: Latrobe's Kissell ends school's drought

Written by Keith Barnes on .

It took 65 years, but Latrobe finally has a boys state singles tennis champion again.

 

Wildcats senior Chad Kissell, the prohibitive favorite, ended the school’s drought despite losing his first set of the season with a 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, victory over sophomore Michael Dickson of Downingtown East, the District 1 champion, in the PIAA Class AAA final Saturday at Hershey Racquet Club.

 

Kissell became the first Latrobe victor since Don Bossert in 1950 and the first from the WPIAL in either classification to bring home a singles title since Shady Side Academy’s Chris Mengel in 2010.

 

It is the sixth and final title won by the Kissell siblings as the oldest sister Michaela, won three PIAA Class AAA singles titles from 2003-05, while Joelle won a state doubles championship as a freshman in 2006 and, like Chad, capped her high school career with a state singles crown in 2009.

 

Kissell will play next season at Valparaiso.

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Alumni Update - Carly Meholic (Saint Vincent)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Saint Vincent College's Carly Meholic and Zach Ligus were honored as part of the Second Annual Presidents'Meholic SVC Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Banquet on Tuesday night.

The evening of celebration was held at LeMont Restaurant, situated in Pittsburgh's historic Mount Washington neighborhood.

The invitation-only event also served as the concluding affair of the PAC's year-long 60th anniversary celebration. Both past and present PAC members were in attendance to commend the conference's 60 years of competition.

Meholic, a Greater Latrobe graduate, was selected as a recipient of the Kristen Zawacki Award at Saint Vincent's Senior Athlete Awards Banquet in April. The award, presented annually by the athletic department to excellent student-athletes who demonstrate service to the Saint Vincent community, is named in memory of the late Saint Vincent women's basketball and softball coach, Kristen Zawacki. She was also honored as the YWCA Westmoreland County Sports Woman of the Year (Individual Excellence) this spring.

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Alumni Update - Cayla Ray (Pitt-Greensburg)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

GREENSBURG, Pa:  The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference has announced Pitt-Greensburg senior women's tennis player CaylaRay PGU Ray as its 2015 AMCC Woman of the Year.

Ray, a four-year letter winner, was a 2014 first team All-AMCC selection in singles and named to the second team in doubles. She is also a two-time recipient of the Pitt-Greensburg Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, a four year member of the AMCC Academic All-Conference Team, and was twice named to the AMCC Sportsmanship Team.

Ray, a Derry graduate, has participated in numerous service projects, such as, The End Hunger Cafe for low income families, Into the Streets (a program working with local dog shelters), and also volunteered her time with veterans luncheons and local food pantries.

She is the President of Beta Beta Beta, the biological sciences honor society, is the Co-Founder of the Pitt-Greensburg Pre-Health Committe, where she educates UPG students on how to apply to professional programs, and she also served as a campus commuter mentor and was part of the commuter task force.

Ray graduated from Pitt-Greensburg in December with a 3.99 GPA in Biological Sciences and served as a student speaker at the 2015 commencement.

 

(photo courtesy of University of Pitt-Greensburg)

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Alumni Update - Cory Podvasnik (La Roche)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Tanner Wilt, Cory Podvasnik and John Watson were named All-Mideast Region Third Team.Podvasnik La Roche

Podvasnik, a Plum graduate, broke the school's single season home run record with 11 dingers this season.

He belted 5 home runs in the season's final two weeks including three in the AMCC Conference Tournament and another in the NCAA Mideast Regional. Podvasnik ranked 4th in the nation in slugging percentage, 8th in on-base percentage, and 17th in home runs while also leading the AMCC in home runs, batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

He ranked second in the AMCC in hit by pitches, third in runs and RBI, and in the top ten in total bases, walks and stolen bases.

 

(photo courtesy of La Roche graduate)

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Alumni Update – Kianna Hedjazi (Chatham University)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –Chatham University has selected senior women's soccer player Liz Sawyer and senior women's swimming and diving performer Kianna Hedjazi as its PAC Scholar-Athletes of the year, for the 2014-15 academic year.

 

Sawyer and Hadjazi received their awards Tuesday evening at Le Mont Restaurant in Pittsburgh.

 

Hedjazi, a Gateway graduate, was a NCAA Division III Regional Championships qualifier in 2014 and 2015 on both the one-meter and three-meter boards, was a four-time All-PAC performer, earning First Team honors from 2013 to 2015.


Chatham's record holder for the 11-dive, three-meter program, Hedjazi claimed the conference's one-meter title in 2013. She has also served as a junior varsity cheerleading coach at Gateway High School.

 

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Alumni Update - Sam Taylor (Slippery Rock)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

ALLENDALE, Mich.Sam Taylor closed the 2014-15 athletic calendar for Slippery Rock University by earning her second straight firstTaylor SRU team All-America honor in the javelin at the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships Saturday at Grand Valley State University.

Taylor, a Gateway graduate, was competing in the national meet for the third consecutive year and picked up her second straight All-America finish with a sixth place showing Saturday.

She uncorked a season-best throw of 48.80 meters on her third throw of the opening round that moved her up to fifth and advanced her to the finals. Her first two throws of the finals were well below that mark until she stepped up and delivered an all-time personal best effort of 49.04 meters (160' 11") on her sixth and final attempt of the day.

Taylor, who finished fourth at nationals last year with a lesser throw, is recognized as a first team All-American by the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for placing in the top eight.

 

(photo courtesy of Slippery Rock University)

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Alumni Update: Zach Ligus (Saint Vincent)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Saint Vincent College's Carly Meholic and Zach Ligus were honored as part of the Second Annual Presidents'Ligus SVC Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Banquet on Tuesday night.

The evening of celebration was held at LeMont Restaurant, situated in Pittsburgh's historic Mount Washington neighborhood.

In April, Ligus won the 41st Annual President's Award, Saint Vincent's highest student honor, which is presented to the member of the graduating class who best embodies what the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college values in its students – outstanding academic achievement, student leadership and community service.

The same day, he was selected as a recipient of the William Rafferty Award at Saint Vincent's Senior Athlete Awards Banquet. The Rafferty Award is presented annually by the athletic department to outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in both athletics and academics.

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Alumni Update - Savon Salter (California University of Pennsylvania)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

ALLENDALE, Mich. – California University of Pennsylvania sophomore Savon Salter competed in theSalter CalU preliminaries of the 400-meter hurdles during the first day of the NCAA Championships on Thursday evening.

 

Salter crossed the finish line in 54.35 seconds to place fifth in his heat and 17th overall. The finals of the event, which will feature only the top-nine overall finishers, is scheduled for Saturday, May 23.

 

Junior Elijha Ownes of Ashland posted the top time during the preliminaries by over two-tenths of a second by registering a time of 52.11 seconds.


A product of Penn Hills, Salter entered the race seeded sixth in the country after resetting his own school record during the finals of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships with a time of 52.14 seconds. 

 

(photo courtesy of California University of Pennsylvania)

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Track: Burrell sprinter wins first state title

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Nikki Scherer claimed the 100-meter PIAA Class AA title last Saturday.

The Burrell sophomore won her first state title by running the event in 12.32. Athens Area's Breana Gambrell proved to be tough competition, but Scherer had a stronger kick.

Scherer was also the WPIAL champion in the 100.

She also competed in the 200 at Shippensburg University, where she finished third in 25.02.

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Track: East Feature Athlete - Zack Casagrande, Yough

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Name: Zack Casagrande
High School: Yough
Grade: 11
Sport: Track and Field
Event: Javelin

Background: Casagrande is a track team captain who set a school record for the javelin at WPIAL qualifiers on May 7. His throw of 175 feet won the Class AAA Central Section qualifier and brought him in to AAA finals seeded fourth. He threw 171 feet, 5 inches at the finals to take fourth place and advance to the state championship meet. Casagrande, along with teammate Brendon O'Brien (high jump), are the first Yough athletes in nine years to make states.

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Track: Woodland Hills standout places in two events at PIAA meet

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Isaiah Brooks placed in two events at the PIAA Class AAA championships last weekend.

The Woodland Hills senior began the meet by taking fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 46 feet, 0.5 inches. The mark ranked as his best this season despite his Class AAA WPIAL title. He also holds WPIAL titles in the 200-meter dash and triple jump.

Brooks went on to take silver in the long jump during Saturday's events at Shippensburg University. He leaped a mark of 24 feet, 5 1/2 inches.

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Baseball: Pitching dominance fuels Norwin's run to WPIAL title game

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles the Norwin baseball team.

"Chances are Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski never saw a WPIAL championship appearance in his baseball team's future.

It was a late April game against Hempfield, and Norwin's pitchers walked eight batters, hit five as the Knights were pummeled, 16-5.

"In my 12 years, we haven't had many games like that, where we got embarrassed," Liebdzinski said. "I remember it was at that point that I looked at my assistant coaches and said, 'We don't have a chance in the playoffs if we pitch like this and play like this.'"

But come Wednesday night, Norwin has a chance to win the first baseball title at the school in 55 years. Go figure."

 

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Baseball: Central Catholic has many ties to its 1979 team

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles the Central Catholic baseball team.

"The Central Catholic baseball team will play in a WPIAL championship game Wednesday night for the first time since 1979. That team of 36 years ago should be remembered not so much for what it accomplished, but for what the players went on to do.

The 1979 Central Catholic team produced a Pro Football Hall of Famer and two general managers for Major League Baseball teams.

Central Catholic's star pitcher-shortstop of 1979 was Dan Marino. A future Hall of Fame quarterback, Marino was 12-0 as a pitcher before being selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft."