MP’s Brunson, Burrell’s Oswalt are Westmoreland County Scholar/Athlete winners

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 9:58 PM

It was quite a day for Mt. Pleasant senior Haylie Brunson.

Earlier in the day, she helped the Vikings softball team defeat Avonworth, 8-0, and reach the WPIAL Class 3A championship game.

Then, Tuesday night, she was the female winner of the 65th annual Westmoreland County Scholar/Athlete Award at the banquet hosted by Judge John J. Driscoll at Ferrante’s Lakeview Lounge, Hempfield.

The boys winner was Burrell senior Ian Oswalt, a four-time WPIAL Class AA wrestling champion.

Brunson’s facial expressions were priceless when master of ceremonies Dr. Geof Bisignani announced her name.

“I was shocked because there were so many great people with a lot of great accomplishments,” Brunson said. “I honestly didn’t think I’d be the one to win.”

Brunson was still in her softball uniform after coming straight to the banquet after the game.

“It was a great day,” Brunson said. “Winning this is a big deal. I’m so excited.”

Brunson said she feels her hard work paid off and must have impressed the voters. She plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh and will play softball. Her grade point average was 4.037.

Oswalt was equally shocked he won.

“When they announced the 12 finalists, I was pleased I made that,” Oswalt said. “I’m pretty happy. It’s a little overwhelming. I’m just happy.”

Oswalt plans to attend Brown University. He had a 4.2 grade point average.

“Winning a state title was always my goal,” Oswalt said. “That didn’t occur, but winning a national is much bigger. That’s my goal now.”

Oswalt said winning four WPIAL titles and his overall hard work in the classroom and on the mat were among reasons he won.

The other finalists were: Belle Vernon’s Grace Henderson, Derry’s Leah Perry and Ty Cymmerman, Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert, Latrobe’s Lauren Bisignani, Hempfield’s Emma Hoffner and Christian Zilli, Penn-Trafford’s Chase Vecchio and Emma Little and Yough’s Kaylyn Mae Odelli.

Also honored were the past two Michael and John Ferrante Memorial Award winners.

Because of the coronavirus and restrictions, 2020 winner, Hempfield track coach Ron Colland, wasn’t able to attend until this season.

Colland has been involved in track and field for more than 60 years, the past 39 as a track coach at Hempfield.

Colland, 73, has retired as a social studies and world cultures teacher, and he spends of his retired time with his family near Phoenix. But in late February, he returns home as he remains the coach.

Hempfield has won 13 team titles: the girls have six (1984, 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15 and ’16) and the boys seven (1975, ’83, ’87, ’88, 2011, ’12 and ’19). The girls won state team titles in 2013 and ’14.

The 2021 winner was former Kiski Area and Burrell wrestling coach Chuck Tursky.

The award is given to the person who promotes athletes and their sport. Tursky is the all-time winningest WPIAL wrestling coach, compiling a 505-143-2 record and two WPIAL titles.

He also has been inducted in six halls of fame: Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame, Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame, the WPIAL, PIAA and Slippery Rock halls of fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The 2003 Kiski Area team also finished as PIAA runner-up.

The guest speaker was Saint Vincent College executive vice president Jeff Mallory, whose message challenged the student-athletes to do their best.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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