A-K Valley athletes of the week: Kiski Area’s Ava Golding, Highlands’ Kooper Price

Saturday, March 16, 2024 | 4:31 PM

Ava Golding

Class: Sophomore

School: Kiski Area

Sport: Wrestling

Report card: Kiski Area sophomore Ava Golding finished third at the first PIAA girls wrestling championships March 9 after beating Western Wayne’s Sara Shook, 19-2, in the bronze medal match. The 136-pound grappler also won WPIAL and West Regional titles and finished 35-5 this season.

How did it feel to finish third at the state tournament?

I was really happy with how I wrestled. My goal was to place top four at states. I was really excited I placed top three. I think the girls that placed 1-2, I have to work to do better, but I think that was the best I could have done.

What was the experience like in Hershey?

It was so weird. I’ve been there to watch the boys wrestle, but I never thought I would get the chance to wrestle there against girls. It was really nerve-wracking with all the people there.

What was the atmosphere like for Friday’s semifinals with that huge crowd?

I didn’t expect that many people until the finals. I didn’t even notice until I was about to go out. It definitely scared me a bit, but I had to focus on my match.

What did it take to win the WPIAL and regional titles?

That was really exciting, too. I definitely put in a lot of work for that. I wrestled the same girl (Connellsville’s Janayah Nobles) in the finals for both of those. I’ve seen her many times this season. I just try to wrestle my best every match. I was really excited I was able to place first at both of those.

How do you feel about your season overall?

I felt like I did good only losing to the girls who placed in the top two at states. I think I did really well.

How did you get started in wrestling?

My brother (Luke) wrestled and my parents own a wrestling club, Battleground Training Center.

What are your strengths on the mat?

I feel like I definitely have really good technique, and I’m fast with my shots. I’ve gotten a lot better on my feet. My best position is probably on top.

What was the feeling like when girls wrestling became an official PIAA sport?

I didn’t expect it to get sanctioned while I was in high school. I’d check the numbers like very week how many schools were getting sanctioned. The year before It got sanctioned it was like five new schools a week. It was super exciting. Once it got sanctioned it was hard to believe.

What are your plans for the offseason?

I’ve already started training freestyle. Just Fargo, Tulsa nationals, freestyle states and freestyle duals, I’m already on a bunch of teams for those, just focused on freestyle.

What do you do in your downtime?

I work at Sweetie’s Ice Cream shop. I go to the gym and spend time with friends and family.

Do you listen to music before matches?

I listen to mostly rap music and upbeat music.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

Probably steak.

Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Ianni’s Pizzeria.

What celebrity would you like to meet?


What is something people might not know about you?

I have a Pomeranian, Bailey.

Kooper Price

Class: Junior

School: Highlands

Sport: Hockey

Report card: Kooper Price made 30 saves to help Burrell’s ice hockey team secure a 5-2 victory over Deer Lakes in the PIHL Division 2 semifinals Thursday at RMU Island Sports Center. Price, who attends Highlands but plays for Burrell as part of a co-op, went 16-3 during the regular season with a 2.58 goals-against average and .873 save percentage. The Bucs will play Neshannock at 8:45 p.m. Monday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for the PIHL Division 2 title.

How did it feel to beat Deer Lakes in the semifinals?

It felt really amazing. (There was) cooperation with the team, they were playing hard and doing their job. I did my part.

What did you do well in goal?

Giving them call outs where the other team is at, letting them know to pass the puck or hold the puck and just playing my position.

What will it take to beat Neshannock in the championship?

A lot of communication, making sure they’re keeping their head up, knowing where they are passing and backchecking.

How have you done against Neshannock so far this season?

We are 1-1 vs. them. The first game we were a little bit rusty, not a lot of the team was comfortable with each other. By the second time, everyone as fine with each other, who they played with, and did pretty well with it.

What is the team doing well at this point in the season?

We’re doing well with our passing, communication with kids on the bench and supportiveness to one another.

How did you get started in hockey?

I started at floor hockey in the YMCA. It went from floor hockey to roller hockey for a couple years. My parents felt like it was time to move to ice hockey. I played developmental at Highlands when we had a team.

Were you always a goalie?

I started in dek hockey and played as a player. When they needed a goalie I felt like sticking with it.

What do you like most about being a goalie?

The first time was for dek hockey. I got a shutout so I was like ‘I like this spot.’

Is it hard to get used to having pucks fly at you all the time?

Once I put trust in my gear, I know I’ll be protected and I’m fine with it.

Is hockey going to be in your future at the next level?

I hope so.

What do you do in your downtime?

Play video games.

Do you listen to music before games?

I listen to a variety of music before games.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?


Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Praha (Hotel in Tarentum).

What celebrity would you like to meet?

Tom Barrasso.

What did you think of Penguins trading Jake Guentzel?

I wasn’t really a fan of it.

What is something people might not know about you?

The correct way to spell my name. Sometimes it’s spelled with a C and sometimes with two Ps.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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