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Boys Track & Field: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

Elizabeth Forward senior Matt Bernadowski capped an incredible year with a second-place finish at the PIAA meet in the 100 hurdles.

Bernadowski, also a standout in football and basketball, lost to Gateway's Montae Nicholson, who he beat in the WPIAL final a week earlier. Bernadowski beat Nicholson's WPIAL meet record in his win.

Bernadowski was one of four South runners to win gold at the WPIAL Class AAA boys meet. Baldwin's Luke Smorey won the district javelin for the second straight year; Mt. Lebanon's Troy Apke took first in the 100 meters; and Upper St. Clair's James Smith won the 800 meters.

Smorey ended up finishing second at the PIAA meet, while Apke tied for fourth.

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Girls Track & Field: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

Kailyn Clancy finished her career with another state title.

The California senior won the PIAA Class AA shot put title for the second consecutive season and added a sixth-place discus finish. She won the WPIAL discus and shot put titles.

Unfortunately, an injury prevented Alyssa Wise from winning another state title this season. Wise won the 100 and 200 meters at the PIAA Class AA meet in 2013, but she injured her hamstring this season. She did still win the 100 meters at WPIALs.

Also in Class AA, South Fayette won the WPIAL team title for the second consecutive season.

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Boys Track & Field: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys track and field athletes from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2014 season.

2014 0424 USC BTrack(Photo: Upper St. Clair's James Smith finishes first in the 1,600 meter run at the South Hills Classic at Baldwin High School. He also finished first in the 800 meter run. Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

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Girls Track & Field: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature girls track and field athletes from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2014 season.

2014 0410 Washington GTrack(Photo: Washington's Alyssa Wise competes in the 100 meter dash at the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University last May. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

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Softball: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Thomas Jefferson stole the headlines in the WPIAL postseason this season. In a year filled of upsets and surprise stories, no story was more surprising than the Jaguars, winners of three games last season, making the playoffs as a No. 13 seed, marching to the WPIAL championship game and leaving with gold medals. Thomas Jefferson (16-7, 7-5) surprised Knoch, Trinity and defending WPIAL champion Greensburg Salem to reach the WPIAL finals where it beat Mars 5-3. It was the first WPIAL title in program history and Thomas Jefferson took it one step further by reaching the PIAA quarterfinals.

"I am most proud of how the girls regrouped after last year's season," Thomas Jefferson second-year head coach Heidi Karcher said. "They were resilient to fight back after having such a bad season and managed to stay driven after we met every goal. The goals kept getting better and bigger and the girls kept meeting them. I don't think it came very quickly. We had a very long season. We never really knew what was going to happen until the last week of the season. We had to continually work every week."

Canon-McMillan (18-5, 12-2) was denied a piece of WPIAL Class AAAA history when its bid for a first-ever third consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA title came up shirt after a 9-5 loss to Shaler in the WPIAL final. The Big Macs did win the Section 4-AAAA title and reach a third consecutive WPIAL final. Bethel Park (11-5, 10-4) had a strong season, posting a regular-season win over Canon-McMillan and reaching the WPIAL quarterfinals after a first round win over Norwin.

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Softball: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature softball teams from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2014 season.

2014 0501 WestMifflin Softball(Photo: Paige Flore has put up some very impressive numbers pitching for the West Mifflin Titans softball team this season. Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

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Baseball: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Brad Everett on .

For the first time in school history, the Steel Valley Ironmen can call themselves WPIAL baseball champions. That was the verdict after the Ironmen earned their first title by edging Seton-LaSalle, 6-5, in a thrilling Class AA final. Jesse Cantley was the hero, as he singled in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Pitchers Brandon Donovan and Derek Morrison were instrumental in a season that saw Steel Valley go 18-3. Donovan went 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA and drove in 37 runs. Morrison went 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA and added 25 RBIs. The Ironmen lost to Bedford, 10-4, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

Baldwin was one of the biggest surprises of the 2014 season. A year after going just 5-12, the Highlanders went 16-4 and advanced to the WPIAL title game for the first time in school history. A championship was not in Baldwin's immediate future, however, as the Highlanders were defeated by Seneca Valley, 5-2, in the final. The Highlanders saw their season end after a 10-3 loss to DuBois in a PIAA first-round game. Tom McCarthy and Alex Pantuso both had huge seasons for Baldwin. McCarthy batted .515 with 23 RBIs. Pantuso went 5-2 with 75 strikeouts, and hit six home runs.

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Baseball: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature baseball teams from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2014 season.

2014 0417 WestMifflin Baseball(Photo: West Mifflin's starting pitcher Zachary Salmon delivers during their game against Belle Vernon. Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

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Wrestling: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

The Canon-McMillan wrestling team had a small but potent contingent at the PIAA Class AAA tournament this past weekend at the Giant Center.

After combining for 15 qualifiers in the past two seasons, the Big Macs had only two entries in this year's tournament, which concluded Saturday, but both came home with a gold medal.

Solomon Chishko claimed his second PIAA title, while Dalton Macri collected his first.

"It's an incredible feeling to finally step to the top of the winners platform," Macri said. "It's something I've always dreamed of."

Macri opened the tournament with a pair of technical falls. He won, 25-10, in the first round against Wilson's Connor Moyer, then posted a 26-11 victory in the quarterfinals against Easton's Evan Fidelibus.

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Wrestling: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature wrestlers from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2013-14 season.

2013 1205 Montour Wrestling(Photo: Montour's Cole Macek, left, competed against West Mifflin's James Keys during the 220-pound championship match at the Eastern Area Invitational Tournament at Gateway High School last year. Ken Wunderley/Tri-State Sports & News Service)

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Hockey: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

The South had the Class AAA Penguins Cup, Class AAA Pennsylvania Cup, Class AA Penguins Cup, Open Cup and national champions in 2014.

Peters Township, which had lost three consecutive Penguins Cup title games, won this year's championship, beating Bethel Park in the final. The Indians then beat La Salle College, 2-1, to win the Class AAA state championship.

Peters Township senior goaltender Brian Baker stopped 41 shots in the 4-2 victory against Bethel Park and followed it with a 30-save performance against La Salle.

But it was Bethel Park that won the title as the nation's best high school hockey team, going 5-0-1 to win the USA Hockey High School Hockey National Championships in Omaha, Neb.

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Hockey: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature hockey players from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2013-14 season.

2014 0103 Serra Hockey(Photo: Despite facing a barrage of shots this season, including this one against Quaker Valley Nov. 18, Serra Catholic goalie Ian Ritchie has been strong in net for the Eagles. John Heller/Post-Gazette)

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Wrestling: South Park junior keeps on working

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles South Park wrestler Jake Wentzel. Read his story below.

Jake Wentzel has made trips to Virginia Beach and Kissammee, Fla., in the past two months, but neither was for a family vacation — he was participating in two national dual wrestling tournaments.

Wentzel, who recently completed his sophomore year at South Park High School, wrestled for Team Griffin's "B" squad at the National High School Coaches Association Duals, which took place May 23-26 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Although a "business trip," Wentzel enjoyed the experience: "We had a hotel right on the beach and we had great weather."

He posted a 6-2 record for the tournament.

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Boys Swimming & Diving: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Upper St. Clair's Ryan Dudzinski, a swimmer from a strong swimming program and from a strong swimming family, etched his name in the state record book with a record-breaking performance in the 100 butterfly at the PIAA Class AAA championships. Dudzinski swam a 47.44 to win gold and break the three-year old state record.

"That was the goal," Dudzinski said afterward. "I haven't had great state meets in the past, but this year I have my whole team behind me, and that's given me a lot of encouragement."

Dudzinski also won a PIAA silver in the 100 backstroke. Dudzinski and teammates Alex Hardwick, Patrick Lersch and Fynn Minuth formed one of the fast relay foursomes in WPIAL history. In their specialty, the 400 freestyle, the group won gold at the PIAA championships with a blistering time of 3:03.04, 0.28 seconds ahead of La Salle College and 0.45 seconds ahead of North Allegheny.

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Girls Swimming & Diving: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Mt. Lebanon launched itself into second place in the WPIAL Class AAA team standings. An impressive jump for a program that finished last in the WPIAL just a few years ago. Coach Tom Donati has led the transformation of the Blue Devils program into a top-tier WPIAL program. Mt. Lebanon totaled 189 points at WPIALs to finish behind only North Allegheny.

Mt. Lebanon senior Katie Ford capped off her decorated career with one of her best swims yet, swimming the 50 freestyle in WPIAL record-time of 23.21 to win WPIAL gold and hold off her rival, Franklin Regional senior Alyssa Ruffing (23.77). Ford doubled her gold medal count this year with another WPIAL record in the 100 freestyle (50.63).

Peters Township senior Saoirse Palu-Benson won WPIAL silver in the 500 freestyle, swimming just a tad above the five-minute market (5:00.16).

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Football: Canon-McMillan's Hull on Butkus watch list

Written by Brad Everett on .

Mike Hull had a terrific high school career at Canon-McMillan.

His success hasn't skipped a beat in college.

Hull, a senior at Penn State, was named to the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award Monday. The honor is given annually to the nation's top linebacker. Hull is one of 51 players on the watch list.

As a junior, Hull (6-foot, 232 pounds) was Penn State's second-leading tackler (78 total, 44 solo), despite missing two games and being limited in two others because of a knee injury. Hull ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 9.1 tackles per game.

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Boys Basketball: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Brad Everett on .

Seton-LaSalle began the 2013-14 season with an experienced group of players who had plenty of talent and lofty expectations bestowed upon them. The Rebels ended the season having lived up to just about all of the hype.

No South team and only a few WPIAL teams had as much success as Seton-LaSalle during a season that saw the Rebels finish 29-2. First came the Class AA Section 5 title. Then came the 52-51 win against Greensburg Central Catholic to capture a second WPIAL title and first in 25 years. The Rebels then advanced all the way to Hershey for the PIAA title game, only to fall one last-second 3-pointer short of winning a state title. The Rebels fell to Philadelphia Constitution, 61-59. A group of seniors that included Dale Clancy, Levi Masua and Malik White were instrumental in the group's success.

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Boys Basketball: 2014 South Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys basketball players from the area's South zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2013-14 season.

2013 1207 Peters BBasketball(Photo: Seton-LaSalle's Andrew Rodgers, left, guards Peters Township's Tim Swoope, right Friday at the Peters Township's tip-off tournament. John Heller/Post-Gazette)

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Girls Basketball: 2014 South Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

Stefko delighted with first year at Seton-LaSalle

In the seven years he was the girls basketball coach at Chartiers Valley High, Spencer Stefko had many happy moments in his tenure.

But when the opportunity came to become the head girls basketball coach at Seton-LaSalle, Stefko didn't hesitate to make the move. With an appearance in the Class AA state championship game on March 21, things couldn't have gone much better for the Brighton Heights native.

Even as the season wound down, though, Stefko said he was still adjusting to his new team.

"I started to feel comfortable with (the team) around New Year's," he said. "There's always going to be adjustments. I was at a place I loved for seven years. I miss (my former players), and I still feel invested in them. When they won, I felt great for them, and when they lost, I felt sad for them."