Ashley Azzarello, Lindsey Grune and company led the way for Shady Side Academy in a 97-79 dual meet win over South Fayette. Azzarello and Grune swept their two individual events and contributed on strong relays. Grune won the 100 freestyle (55.07) and 200 IM (2:18.12), while Azzarello won the 100 butterfly (1:03.18) and 200 freestyle (2:03.74). The Indians did not need either one of their standouts to win the 200 medley relay, where Jeanne Lauer, Maya Groff, Meredith Cummings and Heather Grune took first place. Lauer also went on to win the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:39.13. In the winning 200 freestyle relay, it was Cummings, the Grune sisters and Azzarello taking first place. Cummings came through with a first-place individual finish of her own in the 100 backstroke (1:07.04). Heather Grune won the last individual event of the meet with a 1:16.06 in the 100 breaststroke. The Indians capped the meet off by sweeping the relays as Azzarello, Sasha Arefyev, Lauer and Lindsey Grune won the 400 freestyle relay (3:51.08).
Name: Lindsey Grune
School: Shady Side Academy
Background: Shady Side Academy's Lindsey Grune has established herself as one of the premier freestylers in WPIAL Class AA. Last year as a sophomore she won a pair of WPIAL golds on a 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay. She took a WPIAL bronze in the 200 IM and a fourth-place finish in the 100 freestyle.
This season, she had one of the her strongest dual meet performances when her team stepped up in class to travel to their Class AAA neighbors, Fox Chapel. Grune swam the 200 freestyle in 2:00.96 to win the event, finishing nearly four seconds ahead of Fox Chapel senior Megan Wiese. Grune also led off the 200 freestyle relay that took first place along with Heather Grune, Jeanne Lauer and Meredith Cummings.
Etai Groff's handle on Twitter is Big_Rain_22.
Well, "Big Rain" is making it rain for Shady Side Academy.
Groff, a 6-foot-3 senior guard-forward, has the hot hand for a team that has been among the best in Class 3A in the early going. Groff is averaging 24.3 points per game for Shady Side Academy, which is 5-1 and ranked No. 4 in the class.
Groff has scored at least 21 points in all but one game. He poured in 32 against Deer Lakes and tallied 29 against Serra Catholic. His numbers have helped Shady Side Academy average 68 points per game, the third-highest mark in the class.
Sports Town previews Friday's PIAA Class 1A championship between Shady Side Academy and Fairfield.
The game: Shady Side Academy (19-3) vs. Fairfield (24-1) at Hersheypark Stadium, 11 a.m.
History: This will be the first PIAA championship appearance for both teams. Shady Side Academy participated in the PIAA playoffs the previous six seasons, but never advanced past the semifinals. The Indians advanced to that round in both 2012 and 2013. Greensburg Central Catholic eliminated them both seasons. Since the PIAA added Class 1A in 2010, a WPIAL team has now made it to the final in six of the sevens. The exception came last season when District 3 Camp Hill Trinity defeated District 4 Loyalsock in the title match.
Coaches: Mary Lynch, Shady Side Academy. Phomma Phanhthy, Fairfield.
Shady Side Academy scored one goal in the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals and it was enough to knock off top-seeded South Park and send the Indians to the WPIAL championship game. One goal there wasn't enough, though, as second-seeded Quaker Valley captured the title with a 2-1 win.
The Indians, who were seeded sixth in the WPIAL playoffs, will now take on District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep today at the Prep/Villa Events Center in Erie. The Lakers are a perennial PIAA power who had a home-and-home series with Sewickley Academy that ended when the teams ended up meeting again in the playoffs anyway.
Shady Side Academy comes into the game with a record of 14-3-1 and has limited opponents to one goal or less in 15 of 18 games, so offense hasn't been a primary need. Ben Ream led the Indians in the regular season with 18 goals and Eric Zhang scored the lone goal against Quaker Valley.