Franklin Regional notebook: Panthers to move into new-look basketball section

Sunday, June 30, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The WPIAL announced its winter sports realignment for the next two-year enrollment cycle.

In basketball, the returning WPIAL runner-up Franklin Regional boys will be in a new-look Section 1-5A along with Albert Gallatin, Gateway, Latrobe, Laurel Highlands, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford and Uniontown.

The Panthers’ girls team will compete in Section 1-5A with some new opponents. The section has Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Gateway, Penn Hills, Plum and Shaler.

The wrestling team is in Section 9-3A alongside Gateway, Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Plum. The Panthers will compete in the Eastern Sectional when the individual postseason rolls around.

Franklin Regional’s swimming teams will be in Section 1-3A with Armstrong, Connellsville, Latrobe, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Norwin and Penn-Trafford.

History for Rehak

Major League Baseball umpire Jeremie Rehak was part of a crew that made history.

Rehak, a Franklin Regional graduate who was promoted full time to the majors in 2020, worked a game with an all-Black officiating crew last month.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, that had never happened before in the American League or National League.

The St. Louis Cardinals played the San Francisco Giants at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala.

The game, played at America’s oldest baseball park as a tribute to the Negro Leagues, featured Rehak, 36, along with crew chief Adrian Johnson, 49; home plate umpire Alan Porter, 46; C.B. Bucknor, 61; and Malachi Moore, 34.

Rehak, who wears No. 35, played three years of college baseball at Ohio University as a walk on. He umpired youth baseball before he enrolled at Wendelstedt Umpire School and began working games in the minor leagues.

According to, there are currently five Black umpires in the league, and there have been 11 full-time Black umpires in the history of the AL/NL since 1966.

The umpires for the tribute game wore patches commemorting Emmett Ashford, the first Black MLB ump.

Rehak made his MLB umpiring debut in 2018.

Special guests

Franklin Regional wrestling coach Matt Lebe brought in a star-studded lineup for its annual summer camp.

Opening day featured Arizona State head coach Zeke Jones, while Franklin Regional alum and Bucknell assistant Tyler Smith spoke to campers on the second day.

Day 3 saw Michael Kemerer, a Panthers alum, talk to the group, while the final guest speaker was Pitt head coach Keith Gavin.

Volleyball camp

The new Franklin Regional boys volleyball team is hosting open gyms every Monday and Wednesday this summer — except July 3 — from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, contact coach Mike Feorene at

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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