2011 WPIAL Year in Review – Top 25 Stories: #10 – #6
By: Bruce Markey
Friday, December 30, 2011 | 4:47 PM
2011 has been a tremendous year in high school sports in the WPIAL. It was a year where some familiar champions wore the golden crown again while some new faces surfaced in the championship picture. It was a year when there was plenty of streaking (not like the 70’s) in both the good direction and the not so good direction. It was a year in which we welcomed some while sadly saying so long to others. Over the final few days of 2011, we here at the MSA Sports Network (who once again were there for it all) count down the Top 25 stories from around the WPIAL sports scene starting with #10 through #6.
#10 – EIGHT IS GREAT FOR SEWICKLEY ACADEMY BOYS TENNIS
In WPIAL Class AA boys tennis, you could say the Sewickley Academy Panthers tennis team is great, now that they've won eight consecutive district crowns. The Panthers beat Hampton in the finals back in May to win another WPIAL Boys Class AA Team Tennis Championship. SA has won every year since 2004, and they have tied the WPIAL record of consecutive team tennis titles set by the Upper St Clair girls team from 1994 to 2001. The Panthers came up short however in trying to defend their 2010 PIAA Class AA boys team tennis title as they lost to eventual runner-up Wyomissing 3-2 in the Semifinals.
#9 – BURRELL's ONE FOR THE THUMB
After giving Chartiers-Houston a 6 point head start, Burrell never looked back in the 2011 WPIAL Class AA Team Wrestling Championships in February. The Bucs rattled off 6 straight victories after giving up a forfeit at 103 pounds, four of those wins by fall for as Burrell won the battle of the Bucs 54-20 for a FIFTH consecutive WPIAL Class AA gold crown. Freshman Zac Kelly and seniors Dave Makara, Jeremy Landowski, and Cole Harkins all picked up pins, giving Burrell a commanding 30-6 lead after the first 7 weight classes.Chartiers-Houston would try to catch up, picking up a pair of wins at 145 and 152, but Burrell continued their domination. They picked up 4 straight falls by seniors Travis McKillop, Jay Taylor and Brian Beattie and sophomore Dakota Deslauriers. That pushed the lead to 54-14. Chartiers-Houston would win the final bout of the night at 285 (a fall by junior Nate Grandelis), but they weren’t able to keep up with the powerhouse Burrell, falling by a score of 54-20. Overall it was Burrell’s 7th WPIAL championship in school history and their 5th consecutive WPIAL title. While the results show a great performance, it is not surprising to head coach Ryan Yates, who said, “every guy that steps out on the mat knows I have high expectations. ” What does that entail? Yates said simply, “I expect these guys to perform at an elite level.” Burrell would lose in the PIAA Team Semifinals to eventual state runner-up Fort LeBoeuf.
#8 – OAKLAND CATHOLIC AND SHADY SIDE ACADEMY's POOL DOMINANCE ENDS
The Indiana boys swim team held a slim 9 point advantage over perennial power Shady Side Academy heading into the final event – the Boys 400 yd. Freestyle Relay. They needed at least a 3rd place finish to guarantee their first-ever swimming title and that's exactly where they finished, winning the title by one point over Shady Side Academy back in March. Leading by nine points coming into day 2, Indiana got strong performances by Matt Rochna who got Silver in the Boys 100 yd. Backstroke. They also benefited from 4th and 5th place finishes in the Boys 100 yd. Breaststroke by Jon Haycock and Daniel Peng respectively. The Little Indians title victory snaps the Shady Side Academy boys AA championship streak at NINE years in a row. The title is sweet justice for Indiana, which had finished second to SSA the last four years. In the Girls Class AA Swimming Championships, a new champion was guaranteed after ELEVEN-TIME defending champ Oakland Catholic moved up to Class AAA. It was last years runner-up, the West Allegheny Indians who ran away with the title, winning their first swimming championship by a 314-287 margin over 2nd place Shady Side Academy. The North Allegheny Tigers won the Girls Team championship by a whopping score of over 100 points. They finished strong with a total of 393 points, easily outdistancing Oakland Catholic who had 292.5.
#7 – THE 'OTHER' STREAK
While all eyes were on the Clairton Bears this season in their pursuit of the all-time winning streak in WPIAL history, another streak fell this year as well. West Shamokin broke the record for longest losing streak in WPIAL history. The Geibel Gators lost 39 consecutive games from 1996 through 2000, however that record was broken and is being built upon. The Wolves finished 0-10 again this season and have dropped 44 games in a row. West Shamokin's last victory was a 20-8 non-conference triumph over Allegheny-Clarion Valley on September 21st, 2007. Since joining the WPIAL from District 9 in 2004, the Wolves have only four wins over WPIAL teams in eight years. They were outscored 410-58 in their ten losses this past fall, which isn't as bad as in recent years. There was word that West Shamokin was looking to move into District 6 starting next year, however now that they are no longer in a co-op with Elderton, they will be a Class A school over the next two years and remain part of the WPIAL, giving them a chance to snap that nightmarish streak.
#6 – CITY LEAGUE JOINS WPIAL FOR MOST SPORTS
Four Pittsburgh City League schools have been accepted into the WPIAL as associate members and will compete in the WPIAL in some sports, but NOT football or basketball. Just last week, the WPIAL accepted Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick and Obama Academy into the league in various sports, starting in the 2012-13 season. Allderdice joins the WPIAL in 11 sports – boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls cross country, baseball, golf and softball. Brashear and Carrick join the WPIAL in boys and girls soccer, softball and baseball. Obama joins the WPIAL in boys and girls swimming and boys and girls soccer. Essentially, there will no longer be City League championships in the aforementioned sports. The City League will continue to have championships in football, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls volleyball, boys and girls track and field, and wrestling. Langley and Oliver are two City League schools that will be closing at the end of the school year. Next year, Langley students will go to Brashear, and Oliver students will go to Perry. That will leave only six schools in the City League – Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick, Perry, Westinghouse and University Prep/Obama Academy (University Prep is football only). "In the sports of football, basketball, volleyball, track and field and wrestling, there were a solid six schools that still had teams in place," said City League athletic director Mike Gavlik. "That still allowed us to have qualifiers in the state tournament in those sports. For the most part, the schools remaining, there was enough competitive balance that it wasn’t thought to go out and participate in the WPIAL."