High school notebook: WCCA meet a tough ‘life lesson’ for Hempfield

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Saturday, February 3, 2018 | 10:33 PM


A scoring error at last weekend's Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming and Diving Championships changed the standings and flipped the final outcome for Franklin Regional and Hempfield in the Class AAA girls standings.

In short, Hempfield's championship was taken away less than 24 hours after it was won; sunken to the bottom of the pool.

But Hempfield coach Kevin Clougherty didn't fret too much. He is using the incident to teach life lessons.

The error, discovered a day after Hempfield was awarded the team trophy, instead gave the championship to Franklin Regional.

“It was a simple error inputting data,” Clougherty said. “We've all made this kind of mistake in life.

“My only real concern was how to tell the girls. They looked at the win at the county meet as their ‘coming out party,' their moment to tell the swimming community that they've arrived. The kids were so excited with the win … hugging each other, tears of joy, lots of selfies with the trophy. All kinds of happy kid moments.”

The swimmers were saddened by the news they hadn't won, but Clougherty said they quickly recovered.

“Getting angry or sad doesn't change anything,” Clougherty said. “We talk to the kids about how the lessons of the sport will teach them how to handle the challenges that life is going to throw at you. Have a crazy, demanding boss? Well, you handled having a crazy demanding coach that makes you come in to practice at 5 a.m. The boss throws a project at you at the last minute and wants it finished, yesterday? Well, the sport has taught you how to have a work ethic to get things accomplished.”

So how did the error happen?

A new scoring format was used this year, awarding points down to 16th place for each event, like the scoring at the WPIAL and PIAA championships. But the scorers used the old format for Friday's diving finals, perhaps a force of habit, and Hempfield was awarded the win, 344-343.5, over Franklin Regional.

Recalculated results, however, changed the score to 351.5-348, with Franklin Regional in front.

“We want our kids to handle themselves with class and dignity, regardless if they win or lose,” Clougherty said. “This will not be the worst thing that happens in their life.”

Hempfield's girls delivered the trophy to Franklin Regional.

“I'm very proud of how the girls have dealt with the situation,” Clougherty said. “They faced their disappointment, dealt with it and decided to move on in a positive manner.”

Signing day

Wednesday is national signing day for NCAA-bound athletes in football and soccer, which means fax machines at county schools will be buzzing bright and early.

A number of area football players, including Jeannette's Robert Kennedy, are mulling low Division I and Division II offers.

Girls soccer will dominate signing day locally. Norwin and Penn-Trafford will have a combined seven Division I signees. Both schools also have boys soccer players signing with Division I schools.

Package deal

Belle Vernon senior football players Logan Pfrogner and Derek Thomas, both pass-catching threats and run-stoppers for the Leopards, made verbal commitments to Walsh, a Division II schools in North Canton, Ohio.

Pfrogner caught 21 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns last season, and made 22 tackles and grabbed four interceptions on defense. He also had offers from West Liberty, Cal (Pa.) and Wheeling Jesuit.

Thomas had 20 receptions for 329 yards and seven touchdowns, and posted 31 tackles.

Etienne to Clarion

Latrobe running back and defensive back Iven Etienne committed to play at Clarion. The speedy Etienne transferred from a school in Iowa and had a strong senior season, rushing for a team-best 729 yards and seven touchdowns as the Wildcats went 4-6.

He added 20 receptions for 200 yards and a score, and had 22 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

More recruiting

Jeannette senior two-way lineman Jalen Jones committed to play at Cal U. Jones, who also picked up a Division I preferred walk-on offer from St. Francis (Pa.), had 82 12 tackles and 10 12 sacks last season for the WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion Jayhawks.

• Franklin Regional senior Nate Leopold received an offer from Division II Mercyhurst.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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