Riverside boys, Mohawk girls claim WPIAL Class AA team track titles

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 8:42 PM

It takes a complete team effort to win a track and field meet. Every point is important.

That’s what occurred Wednesday in the WPIAL Class AA Championship at Peters Township.

The Riverside boys reversed an earlier defeat to Shenango to capture their fourth consecutive team title and eighth in school history.

Meanwhile, the Mohawk girls won its first WPIAL team title in 32 years. It’s also the third WPIAL championship this school year for a Mohawk girls team, joining the cross country and basketball teams.

Riverside and Mohawk won exciting meets.

Riverside defeated Greensburg Central Catholic (84-64), South Park (95-55) and Shenango (77-73), while Mohawk defeated Quaker Valley (75-75) on a tiebreaker, Shenango (90-60) and South Park (96-54).

Shenango finished second in both events. The boys defeated Greensburg Central Catholic (85-65) and South Park (89-61) and the girls defeated Quaker Valley (82-68) and South Park (88-62).

Early in the season, Shenango snapped Riverside’s section streak of 116 consecutive wins with a 78-72 victory.

“We didn’t know much about Shenango early in the season,” veteran Riverside coach Chuck Kotuby said. “We switched a few things around, and we got some great efforts this time around. We worked hard, and the kids wanted to win this title.”

The meet was decided in the final running event: the 1,600-meter relay.

When Riverside’s Colby Belczyk took the baton on the final lap, he was behind the Shenango anchor runner by 10 meters. But Belczyk turned in a 49-second leg and won by 10 meters.

“That was an absolutely an amazing run by Colby,” Kotuby said. “What do you say about a guy like that? He ran one of the best times in the state. That’s what won the meet.”

Kotuby praised his distance runners of Ty Fluharty, Noah Zilch and Sam Klein, 400 runner Aiden Wetzel, hurdlers Graham Kalik and Brody Barton, triple jumper Ted McHale and pole vaulters Trevor McNeil and McHale for coming through big.

“We have a tremendous group of athletes,” Kotuby said. “They buy into our program. I have an outstanding coaching staff. I can’t say enough: they worked hard all year. Coming off the Covid-19 year we didn’t know what to expect, but everyone came around and did an amazing job.”

Greensburg Central Catholic finished third by defeating South Park (94-56).

GCC coach Mike Brewer said he was proud of the effort, especially from his sprinters Joe Blahovec, Christian McGowan, Carlo Dennis and Danny Dlugos.

“Riverside and Shenango had more middle-distance depth than we did,” Brewer said. “But we had a handful of personal records. It was a good season. This was a step in the right direction for the program.”

The GCC boys hadn’t reached the WPIAL championship in more than 22 years.

Mohawk girls had a reason to celebrate their first title in 32 years.

They were led by senior Nadia Lape and Hannah McDanel, each winning four events. Natalie Lape also scored points in four events.

“They all had huge wins,” Mohawk coach Cameron Schirmer said. “They scored big points for us to help defeat Quaker Valley and Shenango.”

Nadia Lape won the long jump, triple jump and was on the 400 and 1,600 relay teams. McDanel won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and was on the 400 and 1,600 relays.

“It’s very special. I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Schirmer said.

Quaker Valley finished third by defeating South Park (91-59).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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