Norwin high school sports notebook: Knights named county award finalists

Saturday, April 16, 2022 | 10:01 AM

A pair of Norwin student-athletes are finalists for the 66th annual Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete awards. The banquet is set for May 3 at Ferrante’s Lakeview.

It will honor 36 candidates, two each from the 18 high schools in the county.

Athletic directors and school officials from each high school nominate two senior students who have excelled as athletes while maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.5 or have a standing in the top 20% of their class.

Norwin’s senior nominees are Paloma Swankler and Michael Fleming.

The banquet is presented by Judge John J. Driscoll, who is stepping down after the banquet and will be replaced by Judge Michael Stewart II. Other sponsors include Dr. Geof and Dr. Greg Bisignani, Excela Health and Ferrante’s Lakeview.

The 2021 winners were Mt. Pleasant’s Haylie Brunson and Burrell’s Ian Oswalt.

Swankler is a soccer player. Fleming plays basketball and volleyball.

The guest speaker will Mt. Lebanon football coach Bob Palko, the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year, who began his coaching career as an assistant coach on the staff of the late Joe Mucci at Jeannette.

Palko led the Blue Devils to WPIAL and PIAA Class 6A titles last season.

Roy Hall will be awarded the Michael and John Ferrante Memorial Award for his contributions promoting high school athletics. Hempfield track coach Ron Colland and Kiski Area wrestling coach Chuck Tursky were the Ferrante winners in 2021 and 2020.

Right on track

Norwin senior Aaron Schmook won a javelin title at the Lady Spartan/Wildcat Track & Field Invitational at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium.

Schmook, who was the top seed in the WPIAL Class AAA championships last season, threw 170 feet, 3 inches to edge past teammate Cody Scherle (163-2).

The Knights also had two individual champions in the girls competition with Nataiah Robertson-Dutrieuille winning the long jump with a mark of 17 feet, 2.75 inches and Layla Robertson finishing first in the 300-meter hurdles (48.81 seconds).

Bouncing back

The Norwin baseball team rebounded from an 0-2 start with three straight wins to move into first place in Section 2-6A.

The Knights, who were 3-2 overall and 2-0 in section, defeated Central Catholic, 8-0, and Baldwin, 17-14 and 8-2, before inclement weather hindered the schedule.

The Knights also jumped back into the TribLive HSSN rankings, going from unranked to occupying the No. 4 spot in 6A.

Lady Knights drop

Norwin softball fell to Seneca Valley, 2-1, in a tight Section 2-6A game to move to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in Section 2-6A.

Norwin also dropped two spots in the TribLive HSSN 6A rankings, from No. 3 to 5.

Hall of famer

A former Norwin wrestling coach received a call to the hall.

Bill Closson, who guided the Norwin program from 2014-16, was inducted into the Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony took place during the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic on March 25 at Peters Township.

Closson was a standout at Plum, where he was a four-year starter and a Mustangs hall of famer.

He compiled a record of 117-21 and won a WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A title before moving on to wrestle at Lehigh.

While in college, Closson won 105 times and was a two-time All-American.

Closson also made his mark on the freestyle circuit, winning two national titles.

In 1996, he was sixth at the Olympic Trials.

He also coached at Miami of Ohio, Kutztown, Richmond-Burton High School (Ill.), and Burlington-Central High School.

Closson works as a teacher of the visually impaired and is a certified orientation and mobility specialist at Norwin.

Section singles

A pair of Norwin tennis players competed in the Section 1-3A singles championships at Franklin Regional but saw early exits.

Senior Luke Snyder lost 10-0 to senior Jakob Greer of Connellsville in the first round, and junior Brady Johnson was dealt an 11-9 setback against Latrobe junior Josh Havrilla.

The top four finishers advanced to the WPIAL championships.

Fleming to SVC

Norwin senior guard Michael Fleming will play his college basketball at Saint Vincent.

Fleming, known as “Waldo” around family and friends, was the second-leading scorer this season for Norwin at 15.1 points a game to go with 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

He was one of the team’s top 3-point threats.

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


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