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Softball: North Feature Athlete - Fox Chapel's Calle Zmenkowski

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Name: Calle Zmenkowski
School: Fox Chapel
Grade: 10
Sport: Softball
Position: Pitcher

Background: Calle Zmenkowski was thrust into the starting role as varsity pitcher last year as a freshman. With that year of experience under her belt, Zmenkowski entered this season with higher expectations and she has delivered. She is 7-2 through her first nine decisions and has the Foxes in playoff contention.

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Softball: Three-way tie atop Section 2-AAAA

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

There is no more section title closer than the one going on in Section 2-AAAA where Plum, Gateway and Fox Chapel are all tied with 9-2 section records. That three-way tie will be at least partly broken on Monday when Fox Chapel visits Plum at 4 p.m. and Gateway hosts Franklin Regional. The Foxes can guarantee at least a share of the section title with a win over the Mustangs and it can win an outright section title of the Gators were to fall. A section title would cap one of the best single-season turnarounds in the WPIAL this season.

Fox Chapel struggled through back-to-back 1-11 records in Section 3-AAAA over the last two seasons. It is playoff bound for the first time since 2010. The turnaround may come as a surprise to some but for fourth-year coach Tom Wamsley, the writing was on the wall that a turnaround was only a matter of time. Though their record was no indication, the Foxes were competitive in many section games last season. They were involved in three decided by two runs or less. They played at Shaler to a 2-0 loss. Shaler went on to win the WPIAL Class AAAA title last year. Every starter from last season would return and be joined by a strong incoming class of freshmen that features four players contributing this season.

"Last year we didn't win very much but everyone felt that we were better than what our record was," Wamsley said. "We played the WPIAL champion to a 2-0 game."

There were also promising signs this past fall in fall ball.

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Lacrosse: North Allegheny to battle solid Pine-Richland on Wednesday

Written by Joe Koch on .

 

Rivalry games are a tricky commodity to predict. Especially when so much is at stake for both teams.

That's the case facing the North Allegheny High boys lacrosse team as the Tigers -- the No. 1 team in Western Pennsylvania according to Laxpower.com -- faces border rival Pine-Richland at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Going into last week's games, the Rams were Laxpower.com's No. 2 team.

North Allegheny is 10-1 overall, with their only loss coming against Hudson, which currently is 9-0 overall and is the No. 3 ranked team in Ohio. North Alleghen y is 5-0 in Division 1, Section 2. The Rams are right behind the Tigers at 9-2 overall and are 3-1 in section play. The Rams' only section loss was a heartbreaking 10-9 triple-overtime loss to visiting Seneca Valley on April 2. The game will be the final section game for both teams, and it likely will go a long way to determining the WPIAL tournament seedings. And, unlike other lacrosse sections, this will be the only time the two rivals meet during the regular season.

The Tigers step out of section to play Sewickley Academy at the Panthers' Nichols Field at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Sewickley is a young team and is just 1-3 in Division 1, Section 1. But after meeting out-of-state foes Thomas Worthington and University of Detroit-Jesuit over the weekend, the Panthers play the Tigers on Monday and then travel to Oakland for what should be a meaningful game on Wednesday against Central Catholic. The Panthers are 3-8 overall and 1-3 against section rivals. Their 7-2 victory this past Wednesday against Bethel Park put them in a fourth-place tie with the Vikings. Both teams are 1-3. With the first three places in the section sewn up, Wednesday's game will determine which team makes the playoffs. On paper, the Vikings likely will be favored as they are 6-6 overall.

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Lacrosse: North Feature Athlete - Sewickley Academy's Kayla Guerin

Written by Joe Koch on .

Name: Kayla Guerin
School: Sewickley Academy
Grade: 12
Sport: Girls Lacrosse
Position: Center Midfield

Background: Kayla is a captain on this year's team, and is a three-year starter on the Panthers' varsity team. She has signed a letter-of-intent to play for Lafayette where she will study International Affairs. Kayla was a captain on the school's girls varsity basketball team where she started. She is an honor student and is a member of the Sewickley Academy "Girl Up" Club, an organization affiliated with the United Nations.

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Lacrosse: Aquinas to battle Hampton for section title

Written by Joe Koch on .

Heading into the final week of regular-season play, the Aquinas Academy Crusaders have much to play for heading into Tuesday's game with Hampton.

Following a two-year stint in Division 1, the Talbots rejoined Division 2 this season and have had a successful season with an overall record of 8-4 and a section mark of 4-0.

Right with the Talbots, though, are the Crusaders. They are 6-4 overall, and they also are 4-0 in section play. Both teams have at least a two-game advantage over Gateway (3-2), Vincentian (2-2) and Winchester Thurston (1-2).

This game will be the only regular-season meeting between the two teams.

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Softball: Fox Chapel tries to go from 'worst to first'

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Nicholas Tolomeo profiles the Fox Chapel softball team.

"Fox Chapel Area is performing one of the best single-season turnarounds in WPIAL softball this season.

After back-to-back 1-11 records in Section 3-AAAA over the past two seasons, Fox Chapel was 9-1 in Section 2-AAAA through Tuesday and only two section victories away from completing the worst-to-first turnaround.

Fox Chapel, 10-3 overall, has already surpassed its combined season win total of four from the previous two seasons. It has clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2010.

Before a key section game against Gateway Wednesday, it had won four consecutive section contests including a pivotal 5-4 win against third-place Gateway last Friday."

 

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Girls Basketball: For North Allegheny coach, family is first

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles former North Allegheny girls basketball coach Sherri McConnell.

"Sherri McConnell took a long look at her life after the North Allegheny girls basketball team lost to Norwin in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals.

For the most part, her gaze fell onto her children, 9-year-old Kellie and her year-and-a-half-old son, Kendall. And the longer she stared, the clearer the vision of her future became.

It's also why McConnell stepped down last week after eight seasons at the helm of the Tigers girls program.

"I just want to spend more time with my kids because I'm never going to get those years back. I can always go back to the gym, but this is an important time in their lives when they need their mother around," McConnell said. "Basketball is obviously a big-time commitment and, in order to do my best and to be the best mom I can be, I had to give it up.""

 

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Track: Pine-Richland grad is soaring

Written by Joe Bendel on .

Joe Bendel profiles Pine-Richland graduate Ashley West, who is now a track standout at Slippery Rock.

"In the eighth grade, Ashley West was advised to give the high jump a try. So up and away she went, clearing the bar with relative ease.

Each time the bar was raised, West soared above. She instantly went from novice to natural.

"A teacher who I was close with suggested that I go for it," West said. "I joined track in the seventh grade just because my friends were doing it. But he saw something in me that made him think that I would do pretty well in that event."

Today, the Slippery Rock University women's track and field program is reaping the benefits."

 

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Track: Quaker Valley junior setting records

Written by Brad Everett on .

Brad Everett profiles Quaker Valley track star Hannah Bablak.

"When a track athlete breaks a school record, it's a big accomplishment.

When that athlete does it at a traditional power such as Quaker Valley, it's a really big deal.

And when they do it twice in less than two weeks, well, it's nothing less than exceptional.

Meet Hannah Bablak. One of the WPIAL's best middle-distance runners, a WPIAL title contender, and now the holder of two school records."

 

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Boys Volleyball: North Allegheny is playoff bound

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles the North Allegheny boys volleyball team. Read his story below.

With eight consecutive WPIAL Class AAA titles, the North Allegheny boys volleyball team tied the WPIAL record for the most consecutive boys titles last season.

The Tigers share the record with Penn Hills, who won eight WPIAL titles from 1970-77.

But with one week remaining in the regular season, it looks as though North Allegheny's streak might come to an end.

North Allegheny began the week in third place in Class AAA Section 2 with a 5-4 record. The Tigers had three matches scheduled for this week, but two were non-section matches. The only section match was Thursday at Pine-Richland. The Tigers won a non-section match against Norwin, 3-0, Monday and play at home against Class AA power Derry Area tonight.

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Boys Tennis: Indians start off with win

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

Shady Side Academy started its WPIAL title defense Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over Penn-Trafford.

The Indians are looking to win their fourth consecutive WPIAL Class AAA team championship, and fifth in sixth years. Shady Side has played in the WPIAL final seven of the past eight seasons.

The Indians are also the defending PIAA Class AAA champions, and have made it to the PIAA final each of the past three seasons.

Shady Side Academy will face Pine-Richland in the WPIAL quarterfinals. 

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Boys Tennis: Tigers advance to quarterfinals

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

North Allegheny didn’t lose a set in a sweep of Franklin Regional Wednesday.

The Tigers’ doubles teams of Andrew Xu/Eric Huang and Andrew Chuirazzi/Ryan Marczak both won their matches, 6-0, 6-0 in the first-round WPIAL Class AAA tournament match.

In singles, junior Jared Isaacs had the toughest match of the day at No. 1 singles, getting past a fellow WPIAL qualifier, Rochan Ramesh, 6-3, 6-4. Freshmen Richard Hoffman and Ivan Voinov each only lost two games in their straight set wins at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively.

The Tigers will face Mt. Lebanon in the quarterfinals. 

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Boys Tennis: North Feature Athlete – North Allegheny’s Richard Hoffman

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

Name: Richard Hoffman
School: North Allegheny
Grade: 9
Sport: Tennis

Background: Hoffman is playing No. 2 singles for the Tigers and won his match, 6-1, 6-1, Wednesday against Sean Vannatta in North Allegheny’s 5-0 win over Franklin Regional in the first round of the WPIAL tournament. Hoffman also teamed with the Tigers’ top singles player, Jared Isaacs, to win the section doubles title and finish second in the WPIAL doubles tournament, qualifying the duo for states. 

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Track: Seneca Valley's Kolor shines at Mars Invitational

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Seneca Valley's Mike Kolor landed on the top of state leader board after his performance at the Mars Invitational on Friday, April 24.

The junior won the 1,600-meter run and set the state leading time in 4 minutes, 16.16 seconds. Kolor also took gold in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:58.25.

Creamon Fraizer won the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 3 1/2 inches.

Nate Kouns landed in eighth place in the javelin with a throw of 132-11. Ryan DeBoer took eighth in the discus with a distance of 126 feet, 7 inches.

As a team, the Raiders took silver (48 points) behind Hickory with 52 points.

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Track: North Feature Athlete - Eden Christian's Lauren Gronbeck

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Name: Lauren Gronbeck
School: Eden Christian
Grade: 11
Sport: Track
Events: 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs

Background: Gronbeck has been in cross country and track while in high school. She has also been a valuable member of the school's mock trial team. Gronbeck took second in the 3,200 at the Mars Invitational. She finished fourth in the 3,200 at the state meet last year. She also finished third in the state cross country meet.

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Track: Freeport boys dominate section championships

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Freeport hosted the first-ever Section 7-AA individual track and field championships on Friday, a day after claiming the team titles.

The Yellowjackets claimed 14 of 36 medals. Bobby Jendrewski started the rally, winning titles in both the shot put and discus.

Brandon Hochbein won the 300-meter hurdles, second in the high jump and third in the long jump. His twin brother, Dylan, won the 110-meter hurdles and took second in the 300-meter hurdles.

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Baseball: Fox Chapel bound for postseason play

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

If there's one team in Class AAAA that truly benefited from the WPIAL's recent re-alignment, it was Fox Chapel. Last season, the Foxes missed the playoffs and finished toward the bottom of the Section 1 standings. This year, however, they already have clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoff tournament and entered the final week of the regular season as the frontrunner in Section 3.

Fox Chapel (9-5, 6-1) was riding a seven-game winning streak before losing a 9-4 non-section decision April 25 against Plum. The Foxes picked up three key wins last week against North Hills, Shaler and Penn Hills, respectively. They clinched their playoff berth after slipping past Penn Hills, 8-7. Senior Greg Yaksich went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs.