Alle-Kiski Valley high school notes: Football teams learn new homes

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | 6:14 PM


Plum football coach Matt Morgan felt that when he saw which teams moved up, moved down, or remained in WPIAL Class 5A, his Mustangs would most likely be on the move out of the Big East Conference that was their home the past two seasons.

“Most likely” became reality Monday as Plum was on the move with the WPIAL releasing its fall alignments for football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball and field hockey.

Plum will be in with northern foes Fox Chapel, North Hills, Pine-Richland and Shaler and also with longtime rival Penn Hills. The Mustangs also will play 2023 WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A champion Aliquippa, which the PIAA forced up into Class 5A under its controversial competitive balance rule.

Kiski Area bumps back up to Class 5A and will play Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Latrobe, Penn-Trafford and Woodland Hills.

Local rivalries abound in the former Allegheny 6 conference in Class 3A. Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Freeport, and Valley remain, Burrell moves up from Class 2A and Highlands comes down from Class 4A.

Imani, a conference foe of Burrell the past two years, also joins the conference.

Apollo-Ridge will make long bus rides over the next two years as it will play at the likes of OLSH, South Allegheny and South Park.

The only change in the Class A Eastern Conference, where Riverview, Leechburg, and Springdale reside, is the exit of Summit Academy and the arrival of Brentwood from Class 2A.

PA indoor track championships set

Several Alle-Kiski Valley athletes fared well at last Saturday’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association Indoor Championships at Edinboro University.

Now, some of them will be going after state laurels this weekend at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association meet at Penn State.

Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m. with the jumps and throws. The track events, starting with the 3,200-meter relay for both boys and girls, get going at 10:30.

Limits were set on the number of qualifiers for each event, some with 20 and others with 24. Longer events such as the 3,000 and the distance medley relay were capped at 12 entries.

The entry lists for each event on the meet page are subject to change.

Fox Chapel senior Rowan Gwin is set to run the boys one mile and 3,000, and fellow Foxes seniors Mason Miles (boys shot put) and Anna Troutman (girls high jump) are also scheduled to compete.

Troutman led Fox Chapel at the TSTCA meet with a first in the high jump with a top successful attempt of 5 feet, 3 1/4 inches. Miles was second in the shot put (53-6).

Freeport freshman standout Mackenzie Magness is entered in the pole vault competition.

PIHL hockey playoffs

The PIHL schedule across all four classifications — Class AAA, Class AA, Class A and Division 2 — continues Thursday with 13 games.

Fox Chapel and Plum are among those in action with matchups against Armstrong and Wheeling Park, respectively.

The PIHL season concludes next week with key games finalizing the playoff field for the Penguins Cup tournaments.

The top eight teams in Class AA will qualify. Fox Chapel (9-8-0-1 Class AA) sits in sixth place with 19 points with two games to go. The Foxes are in as they are five points clear of ninth-place Armstrong with two games left.

The top six teams in both Class A divisions earn playoff berths, and Plum (11-6-0-1Class A) sits in the fourth playoff position in Varsity A Blue and has clinched a playoff spot. The Mustangs are one point ahead of Moon and three ahead of Beaver Area with a game in hand on both.

The top four teams in each D2 division qualify. Burrell (14-3-0-0) and Deer Lakes (11-6-0-1) have clinched as both are seven points clear of No. 5 Central Valley in Varsity D2 Gold.

PIAA Western Regional girls wrestling brackets released

In a season of firsts for girls wrestling in Pennsylvania, another will happen March 1-2 as the PIAA Western Regional championships, one step closer to states in Hershey, will be at Canon-McMillan.

Eleven from the A-K Valley will be in action.

The brackets for all 13 weight classes were released Tuesday afternoon at WPIAL.com.

WPIAL 124-pound champ Saphia Davis (26-2), a sophomore from Plum, is the top seed in her bracket and will begin her day in the quarterfinals.

Kiski Area sophomore Ava Golding (24-4) is the top seed at 136 after winning WPIAL gold at North Allegheny.

Plum sophomore Alaina Claassen, 17-2 at 235, hopes to add a regional title to her WPIAL crown. She is also seeded first.

Knoch junior Miranda Lajevic (23-10 at 100), Fox Chapel sophomore Atia DiCioia (11-9 at 106), Plum freshman Addison Claassen (22-11 at 130), Burrell freshman Ella Campbell (10-6 at 112), Fox Chapel senior Ava McCaffrey (6-13 at 118), Valley freshman Zainaya Jones (11-5 at 106), Plum freshman Caroline Perez (5-7 at 190) and Fox Chapel junior Vie Filar (9-7 at 235) have also been positioned for competition.

The top four finishers in each weight class move to states March 7-9 in Hershey.

Swimming and diving psych sheets released

The WPIAL on Wednesday afternoon released the psych sheet lists of all the swimming and diving qualifiers for the championship meets this weekend at North Allegheny (diving) and next week at Pitt’s Trees Pool (swimming).

The Class AAA diving championships are Saturday, and Fox Chapel junior Ainsley Anderson is seeded fourth overall on the girls side with fellow Foxes juniors Noelle Dick (seventh seed) and Ellie Dering (23rd) also in the mix.

North Allegheny and Seneca Valley are the only other schools to have three female divers entered in the Class AAA meet.

Anderson hopes to improve on her 20th-place finish from last year. Dering was 22nd.

There will be a new WPIAL girls champ in Class AAA as last year’s champ, North Allegheny’s Christina Shi, graduated.

On the boys side, Fox Chapel junior Jackson Hagler is the No. 2 seed. He and Seneca Valley senior Isaiah Clerkley, the defending champ, are the only two Class AAA boys divers to score 300 or more points in a six-dive meet this year. Hagler finished fourth at WPIALs last year.

Foxes freshman Finn Kress will make his WPIAL debut.

The top four finishers in both WPIAL Class AAA diving events advance to the PIAA meet at Bucknell .

Montgomery fares well at states

Freeport freshman Paige Montgomery placed first on bars in the bronze division at the PA Classic Gymnastics Championships last Saturday at Moon High School.

She scored an 8.1 on her routine to take the top spot out of 18 in the competition.

Awards were presented to the top eight in each bronze discipline including beam, floor, vault and all-around.

It was a continuation of the success Montgomery had in taking first in the bronze division at the Judges Cup at Monaca Turners Gymnastics the night before WPIALs.

Montgomery solidified her qualification to both the Judges Cup and the PA Classic by meeting a qualifying standard during a meet earlier in the season.

St. Joseph freshman Isabella Thomas earned three top-10 awards at the PA Classic, taking sixth on vault, eighth on bars, and ninth in the all-around.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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