2011 WPIAL Year in Review – Top 25 Stories: #15 – #11

Thursday, December 29, 2011 | 12:41 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 #15 through #11.


Joe Colella, who was the head coach at Hopewell High School for nearly five decades, passed away on September 11th at the age of 80. The cause of death has not been released. Colella finished his 48th year as head coach of the Vikings this past spring. He had 662 career wins at Hopewell and led the Vikings to WPIAL championships in 1979, 2000 and in 2010. He also guided Hopewell to a PIAA state championship in 1986. Hopewell won 16 section championships under the veteran coach who never shared his age with the media. Colella also coached Hopewell’s American Legion team for 48 years and has more than 950 wins on that level. Several years ago, Hopewell High School named their baseball field after the veteran coach, who also was a member of the WPIAL Class of 2011 Hall-of-Fame, with induction ceremonies held this past July.


The 2011 WPIAL Cross-Country championships were run under horrible condition at Coopers Lake course in Butler this past October with wind, rain and plenty of mud. But for one family, it turned out to be a golden day with silver linings. In the Girls Class AAA race, senior Margo Malone of North Hills won her second consecutive championship, besting her sister Shannon by ONE second. In the Tri-State meet a week earlier, Shannon, a junior,  beat Margo by less than a second. A third sister, Mary Malone, just a sophomore, finished fourth. Both sisters said it is a friendly competition, and they liked the challenge of the weather. The 1-2-4 finish by the Malone’s helped North Hills to the Girls AAA Team championship, with just 46 points.


A couple of seniors captured their third WPIAL tennis crowns this past September at the Glen Creek Tennis Club in Library. Making her fourth consecutive title match trip, Plum's Ronit Yurovsky captured a third straight Class AAA championship with a straight set victory over Taylor Perz of Pine-Richland. Yurovsky didn't lose a set and dropped only 9 games in her diistrict postseason Three-Peat. Meanwhile Sarah Shashura of Brownsville went a different route for her third tennis gold. Shashura won the girls title as a freshman in 2008, then won the boys AA crown as a sophomore in April of 2010. Friday, she beat top-seed Eva Sung in the match of the day 1-6, 6-4 and 6-2. While Shashura was upset in the opening round of the PIAA Girls Singles, Yurovsky continued to shine as she went on to win her second consecutive state AAA championship in October.


While the 2011 WPIAL Class AA Individual Wrestling tournament had a bit of a 'been there-done that' feel to it with many wrestlers duplicating previous gold medal victories, the story of that February night was the fourth WPIAL championship for Shady Side Academy's Geoff Alexander. With the title, Alexander became the 20th wrestler in WPIAL history to win gold in all four years of his high school career. Alexander won the title with a fall in 1:09 over Sean LaVella of Jeannette in the 125-pound weight division. Alexander joins former Indians teammates Dane Johnson (06-09) and Matthew Cunningham (07-10) in the elite club and was recognized by the coaches for his efforts, as he received the outstanding wrestler award.


Many folks think grand slams are reserved for baseball only. Others think more along the lines of professional tennis and golf. Maybe you think a grand slam is for breakfast. North Allegheny senior Connor Kuremsky defined his own version of the grand slam at Pine-Richland High School in late February when he not only captured the WPIAL Class AAA gold medal for the fourth consecutive year, but also broke his own WPIAL diving record for the fourth time with another tremendous showing. Kuremsky, who set the WPIAL record last year with a mark of 591.50, came into his 11th and final dive needing 50.2 points to set the record for the fourth time. The Stanford bound senior earned 66 points on his final dive to finish with an overall score of 607.30, 15.8 points better than his previous high. 


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