Busy Latrobe seniors nominated for excellence awards

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Thursday, May 7, 2020 | 4:52 PM


Editor’s note: This is the fifth in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

It’s been almost 14 years since Latrobe was without a Harter runner, and senior Rachel Harter enjoyed being the last.

“Every single Harter child has been a runner from seventh grade until graduation,” said Harter, who has three older brothers. “So, I’m the last of a long line of them. I remember being in sixth grade and going to the Red, White and Blue Classic, and then this year I was the one running it. So it’s been really fun.”

Over the course of six years in the cross country program, two of which were spent on JV team, Harter excelled.

She qualified for the WPIAL and PIAA championships all four years. She was also a county medalist all four years and finished runner-up in 2019.

Harter followed the family legacy on the track, as well, where she was a three-year letterman and qualified for the WPIAL meet every year. She placed 10th in the 1,600-meter race at the WPIAL championship in 2019.

The Penn State-bound student hasn’t stopped running. She is using her downtime to train for a Pittsburgh Marathon virtual run.

“It’s really the highlight of my day,” Harter said. “I get to go out and run and be out in public and not stuck inside.”

On top of her athletic feats, Harter was a wiz in the classroom as well. She was ranked at the top of her class with a 4.39 cumulative QPA and was the president of the National Honor Society and recently decided to follow the Harter family tradition by going to college at Penn State.

After everything that she managed to balance in high school, she feels like she’s more than ready to achieve success in college.

“I think it’s honestly easier to balance more things than to take on a few because it keeps you managing your time well and focused on getting everything done,” Harter said. “I think as long as you enjoy stuff it’s not as much work as it is an activity with your friends.”

Between playing multiple sports and holding a job in the pro shop at Arnold Palmer’s Latrobe Country Club, senior Colten McCutcheon also believes his time in high school prepared him for college.

“I know in college you have a lot more time on your hands. There’s not as much in-class time but there’s a lot more homework,” McCutcheon said. “So, I think in a way it’s kind of helped me figure out how to manage time and figure out what you need to do on which days.”

McCutcheon played four years of hockey, where he helped the Wildcats capture section championships in 2018 and ’20. He also helped his team to the 2017 PIHL Penguins Cup championship.

While most athletes had their hopes for a winter championship tournament or spring sports season dashed, McCutcheon still is hoping that the Wildcats get a chance to capture the 2020 PIHL Penguins Cup, which hasn’t officially been canceled yet.

After defeating Hempfield, 3-2, in the semifinals March 11, the Wildcats are set to face Baldwin if the season resumes.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll get to play it again,” McCutcheon said. “It will probably be one of my favorite memories.”

McCutcheon also played golf for the Wildcats, where he was the overall low medalist in 2018 and was a team captain in ’19. He also helped the Wildcats capture section titles in ’18 and ’19 and qualified for the individual WPIAL championship last fall.

“With golf and playing all of the golf courses to hockey and getting to play in the Penguins Cup twice, it has probably been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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