It’s a wide world of sports for busy Greensburg Salem senior Jake Smith
Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 9:01 AM
When Jake Smith isn’t throwing strikes, he’s rolling them.
When he isn’t scoring runs, he’s going on them through the woods.
It isn’t all that rare that he plays four sports at Greensburg Salem. What is unique is the sports he chose.
“They’re split up nicely,” Smith said. “Fall, winter and spring. So it works out. But I do a lot.”
He is a cross-country runner in the fall, a hockey forward and all-tournament bowler in the winter and a utility man on the baseball diamond in the spring.
It all adds up to 13 varsity letters.
Cross country became his route to college. He initially received a walk-on offer from Fairmont State (W.Va.) but was offered a scholarship after meeting a cross country coach while on a campus visit.
“Jake is a great kid who is extremely busy,” Greensburg Salem baseball coach Bill Wisniewski said. “He is involved with many things and must manage his time. Being a four-sport kid is quite an accomplishment. It also can limit the amount of offseason preparations you can do. So, he must get up to speed quickly once the next season starts.”
Smith, who plays shortstop or an outfield spot, was leading the Golden Lions with a .500 batting average through nine games (15 for 30 and had eight runs, a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
On the mound, he was 2-3 with a 2.41 ERA in six appearances.
He was the winner Wednesday in a 4-2 victory over Laurel Highlands. He struck out nine as the Golden Lions earned a key section split.
“Baseball was the first sport I got into,” Smith said. “I think I was like 3. My father was in charge of the local recreation league. Then I got into hockey. I was at Lynch (Field) all the time.”
His dad, Doug, also was a bowler and, “He won a raffle and won a bowling ball. I started using it. I fell in love with the game.”
Doug Smith also played hockey.
Running long distances with friends when he was a sophomore led to his competitiveness in cross country. Joining the team was an extension of those runs.
“I saw some older guys run and I wanted to be as good as them,” Smith said. “I just want to play every sport the best I can.”
Smith won the 2021 Westmoreland County Coaches Association Cross Country Championship.
The bowling team will compete in a national competition after winning a regional title in March. The Golden Lions edged out rival Hempfield, 2-1. Smith rolled a 670 series.
“We’re pretty good in bowling and our cross country program has a great history. We won a state title when I was a freshman,” Smith said. “It was pretty cool to see the team get a parade.”
Offseason training can get interesting for Smith, especially when it comes to managing his weight.
“You want to be strong for hockey and baseball, but you don’t want a lot of muscle mass for cross country,” he said. “I gained 15 pounds one summer, eating like crazy. You run like, five miles a day in cross country.”
While Smith says hockey is his for-fun sport of the bunch, he bowls sporadically throughout the year — he left a baseball game this week and headed to Main Bowling Center in Greensburg.
“I have won close to $700 in scholarship money (in the WPIBL offseason),” Smith said.
His highlights range from a 290 game in bowling to several hat tricks in hockey — he ranks 12th on the Greensburg Salem scoring list with 62 points.
Last baseball season, he singled and tripled to help the Golden Lions rally against Belle Vernon in the last game of the season.
“I was hitting like .230,” he said. “We were down 6-0 and came back. We didn’t win, but it as a nice rally for us.”
Smith was the winning pitcher earlier this season when the Golden Lions defeated Ringgold, 2-1.
“He has pitched well for us this season, and last,” Wisniewski said. “He is hitting the ball extremely well this season and leads the team in several categories. I am happy for him. He is having a spectacular senior year and he will be successful in the future because of these experiences.”
Family support, Smith said, is a key to making his eventful sports cycle work.
“My parents support me,” he said. “They don’t push me to do one sport. My brother (Nick) didn’t play sports. He goes to Pitt-Johnstown. I like to say he got the academic genes and I got the athletic ones.”
Smith also was a recipient of a WPIAL/James Collins Scholar-Athlete award.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Greensburg Salem
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