Counting down the top stories in WPIAL sports in 2023: Underdog role suits Beaver Falls

Tuesday, December 26, 2023 | 11:57 AM

The 2023 year in WPIAL sports saw a lot of excitement across three seasons.

There was domination on the hardwood and in the pool during the winter sports season and sensational action on the diamonds, hardcourts and tracks in the spring, concluding with greatness on the gridiron, the pitch and around the district hills and valleys.

Some records were broken while others were established. We honored some of the best coaches and said goodbye to some legends.

Join us all week as we look back at the moments that stood out in a thrilling high school sports ride in 2023.

In our year-end tradition, Trib HSSN winds down the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 23 WPIAL stories from 2023.

Today, we look at No. 23 through No. 20.

No. 23 – Another perfect 10

The Beaver Falls football program has had great success, winning two district titles in the last seven years and reaching the WPIAL finals in three straight seasons.

However, that run looked like it would end when the Tigers lost to Western Beaver on the final day of the regular season to finish in fourth place in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference.

Four upsets later, Beaver Falls was raising gold again. The Tigers followed in the footsteps of the 2022 Union Scotties and became the second straight No. 10 seed to win WPIAL gold.

No. 22 – Pay for playoffs

The WPIAL made headlines over the summer when it signed a new streaming contract with the National Federation of High Schools Network.

The decision ended an over two-decade relationship with former rights holder, the TribLive High School Sports Network, known previously as the MSA Sports Network.

The move was a big one in that it puts all of the WPIAL playoff and championship online video streaming behind a paywall for the first time.

Now fans have to pay a subscription to NFHS to watch online any district postseason contests.

No. 21 – Grappling girls

In recent years, the push for girls wrestling became more prominent. Finally, the PIAA made it official this spring.

Following plenty of requests and a commitment from over 100 schools across the state to sponsor a team, the PIAA sanctioned girls wrestling by unanimous vote in May and the inaugural season is underway this winter.

Pennsylvania is now the 38th state to officially sponsor girls wrestling.

The PIAA will host girls individual wrestling championships at the GIANT Center in Hershey in March.

No. 20 – Losing Win

The WPIAL and Sewickley Academy lost a great ambassador of high school sports in August with the passing of athletic director, boys basketball and golf coach Win Palmer.

He started his coaching career in Virginia and moved north to take over as AD at Sewickley Academy in 2001.

The teams he coached and so many of the Panthers sports teams had tremendous success in his two decades-plus on the job.

He won with class, and his death at the age of 65 was a painful blow to many who interacted with on a daily basis.

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