Fisher’s Files: Quaker Valley’s Bruce Anderchak, Jack Kazalas among WPIAL’s best wrestlers early on

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Sunday, January 7, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Notebook items from Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy athletics:

Quaker Valley’s Bruce Anderchak (107 pounds) and Jack Kazalas (139 pounds) were ranked first in their weight divisions in the WPIAL 2A individual wrestling rankings for the week of Dec. 25.

Anderchak, a sophomore, ended the month with a 15-1 record; Kazalas, a senior, was 16-1 with nine falls.

Five other QV grapplers having good seasons but not ranked were juniors Marcus Richey, 17-3 at 160 (10 falls), and Jack Diemert, 16-5 at 152 (9 falls), sophomore Matthew Danna, 15-3 at 145 (11 falls), freshman Arias Haniotes, 11-5 at 215, and senior Isaac Maccaglia, 11-5 at 114.

Others with winning records included QV senior Chase Kretzler (285), junior Grant Castaldo (121) and sophomore Kris Brown (189).

• Quaker Valley was rated third-best in 2A behind Burgettstown and Burrell in the WPIAL wrestling team rankings.

The Quakers captured the top spot at the Governor Mifflin holiday tournament Dec. 29-30.

QV finished with eight medalists, led by individual championship performances by Anderchak and Kazalas at 107 and 133. Danna and Richey ended up third at 145 and 160, while Maccaglia placed fourth at 114.

Three other medalists were Diemert and sophomore Kris Brown, who finished fifth at 152 and 189, and Castaldo, eighth at 121.

QV edged runner-up Upper Perkiomen, 170-163.5, in the final team standings. Souderton (151.5), Cape Henlopen (148) and Governor Mifflin (146.5) rounded out the top five.

• Two years ago, the second-longest team championship streak in the WPIAL ended when Burrell wrestling lost to Quaker Valley, ending the Bucs’ 15-year run as Class 2A team wrestling champion.

The run was topped only by the 20-year title run of the Bethel Park boys swimming teams between 1981-2000.

• Quaker Valley won its first section title in school history in girls volleyball in 2023, and it may not take long for a second banner to be raised in the high school gym.

There were only five seniors — all integral team members — on the 2023 squad, along with seven juniors.

“I expect us to continue to work hard and improve daily in 2024,” QV coach Mike Vavrek said. “We will graduate five seniors, all of whom helped make the culture in the gym competitive and fun.

“We have some key pieces back from last year’s team, and a core group that has been a part of the success of Quaker Valley volleyball these past two years. We have a lot of upperclassmen and younger girls that are working hard, and we will look to them to fill in and contribute next year as well.”

The Quakers’ starting lineup in 2023 included juniors Molly MacDonald, a 5-11 outside hitter; Nora Hammond, a 5-6 outside hitter; and Vanessa Pickett, a 5-8 setter. Pickett was chosen to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association all-state team in Class 2A. She also was named All-WPIAL, as was MacDonald.

MacDonald, Hammond and Pickett give Vavrek ample building blocks to success for next season.

QV’s top reserves in 2023 included juniors Carmen Forsythe (DS), Keira Sanner (OH/DS) and Lauren Krause (DS/S). Another junior who will be vying for playing time in 2024 is Eden Palladini (OH/DS).

Also back next season will be sophomores Mia Gartley, a 5-8 starter who can play any of the hitter positions, and Isabella Jarrett, a 5-9 setter/right-side hitter; along with DS Ella Palmer, OH/DS Grace Carver, OH/RS Leah Weisser, Donika Keo and MH/RS Gabby Frank and DS Donika Keo.

Among the up-and-coming freshman prospects is Nola Ebberts, a 5-9 outside/middle/right-side hitter.

MacDonald, Hammond, Pickett, Forsythe and Gartley were chosen to the all-section team.

QV finished 14-0 in Section 4-2A, 14-2 in the regular season and 16-2 against WPIAL opponents. The Quakers defeated Avonworth, Central Valley, Freedom, Hopewell, New Brighton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Sto-Rox in league play.

“The landscape of 2A volleyball will be a little different next year as the reclassification will take place. So, we do not know what the section will look like,” Vavrek said. “There could be some similar teams, but we also could have some different teams in our section. Some teams could move up from A, or down from 3A. And some 2A teams will move up to 3A.”

• Former Quaker Valley hoops star Adou Thiero is listed as a 6-8, 222-pound sophomore guard on the Kentucky men’s basketball team.

Thiero started eight of the first nine games he played this year and scored a season-high 16 points Nov. 14 against Kansas.

Thiero saw action in 20 games in his first collegiate season in 2022-23.

“He doesn’t score 20 points (for Kentucky) but he projects to do so many other things well,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said.

Thiero had a legendary high school basketball career. As a senior, he averaged 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.9 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, leading the Quakers to a 27-1 record, 14-0 mark in section play, WPIAL championship and PIAA runner-up finish.

He was named the 4A Player of the Year, WPIAL Player of the Year and 2022 TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Thiero racked up a 44 points against Hopewell in 2021-22, which broke the school’s single-game scoring record. He also netted 40 points against Highlands in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Showcase.

He finished with 1,624 career points, the third-most in team history.

Sewickley Academy’s girls basketball team, under coach Jill Capozzi, posted a 3-3 record in the first month of the 2023-24 season.

The Panthers’ early season starting lineup consisted of senior G/F and the team’s leading scorer, Libby Eannarino, freshman G Emma Eannarino, sophomore G Bella Yakich, junior G/F Skylar Nocito and freshman G/F Grace Jardini.

Leading reserves include Josie Whitcraft, a junior guard; Layla Miller, a freshman forward; Marie Bigi, a junior forward; and freshman guards Emily Milanovich and Nalani Brayley.

• There are four players 5-foot-10 or taller on the Quaker Valley girls basketball roster.

The Quakers are led by sophomore Oumou “Mimi” Thiero, a 6-4 guard/forward and one of the top players in the WPIAL.

Three forwards, juniors Lily Tarkin and Shy Cameron and sophomore Lily Millet, are listed at 5-10.

• Quaker Valley boys soccer teams have won 28 consecutive section titles and advanced to the WPIAL playoffs 42 times in a row.

• Zach Washington, a 6-0 sophomore guard, poured in a career-high 34 points and drained eight 3-pointers to lead Quaker Valley past East Allegheny, 73-47, on Jan. 2 in the Quakers’ first game in Section 4-4A.

Joe Coyle, a 6-1 senior guard, added 18 points for QV, and Sam Chapman, a 6-2 freshman guard, finished with 10. The Quakers improved to 6-3.

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