Scholastic Notebook – 04/08/2017
By: Likitha Janga
Saturday, April 8, 2017 | 8:52 AM
A star hurdler is emerging in girls track and field at Oakland Catholic, but the last time we heard much of her, she was at Penn Hills.
Jayla Ellis is a sophomore at Oakland Catholic who has run the 100-meter hurdles in 14.1 seconds this spring. According to WPIAL girls track and field historian Jim Faiella, that is the second-fastest time in the history of the WPIAL. Lindsay Dolan of Center ran 14.1 in 2006.
Ellis burst onto the WPIAL track scene a year ago, winning the 100 hurdles as a freshman and finishing fourth in the state. But Ellis attended Penn Hills last year. She transferred to Oakland Catholic for her sophomore year.
Ellis’ time this year is eye opening. It is more than a second faster than the No. 2 time in WPIAL Class 3A this spring of 15.28. But Ellis also has the No. 1 Class 3A time in the 300 hurdles at 46.8.
There is no doubt another WPIAL title could be in the works for Ellis next month. Maybe she can win the event for four years. You would think Ellis might be able to contend for a PIAA title this spring. But she might have to beat someone who will probably go down as one of the best high school hurdlers all time in U.S. high school track history.
Chanel Brissett attends Cheltenham High School near Philadelphia and won the PIAA 3A title last year with a championship meet record time of 13.19. Brissett was only a junior at the time and is back for her senior year. Less than two months after winning the PIAA title last May, Brissett made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, which is extremely unusual for a 16-year-old. In one of the races at the Olympic Trials, Brissett ran 12.95 seconds, the third-fastest ever by a U.S. high schooler.
Top Meet at West Mifflin
One of the top WPIAL track and field meets of the early season will be tomorrow when the Tri-State Track Coaches Association championship is held at West Mifflin. The meet will include some of the top athletes in the WPIAL.
One of the most interesting events is the girls 1,600 run. Oakland Catholic’s Lauren Finkiotis and Vincentian’s Marianne Abdalah will go against each other. They have been two of the premier distance runners in the WPIAL the past few years, but don’t go against each other at the WPIAL championships because they are in different classifications.
Resignations, Departures at The Falls
It is just a series of events that might not have to do with one another, but there have been some rather notable sports departures at Beaver Falls the past few months. The Tigers’ highly successful boys basketball coach retired. The football coach resigned. And reportedly a football standout might transfer to Aliquippa.
It all started in January when Doug Biega announced that he would retire as boys basketball coach at the end of the season. He was a big winner, with a few WPIAL titles and two PIAA championships. Then last week Ryan Matsook resigned as football coach. Matsook won WPIAL and PIAA titles last season.
Then earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that talented quarterback-running back-defensive back Malik Shepherd had withdrawn from Beaver Falls. There have been rumors over the past week that Shepherd was going to transfer to Aliquippa. Shepherd was a running quarterback who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. He also has a handful of Division I scholarship offers.
So, next school year Beaver Falls will have a new football coach, new basketball coach and will be without one of its best football players.
Nothing against Parshall
Belle Vernon’s Bailey Parshall has been one of the WPIAL’s top pitchers the past few years, and she is certainly off to a fast start in her final season of high school. Parshall has a 7-0 record and she has not allowed a run in five consecutive games.
Giving ‘em Heck
Andrew Heck is the new baseball coach at North Allegheny and things have been just perfect for him so far.
North Allegheny is off to a 6-0 start. The most recent win was 11-0 in a five-inning game against Penn Hills Thursday. Kevin Janosko threw a no-hitter in the game.
Heck came to North Allegheny after some years as Sewickley Academy’s coach. The Tigers also have impressive wins against Latrobe and Canon-McMillan.
Recruiting Butler’s Big Man
Butler football hasn’t had much to boast about in the past decade or so. But Butler has a junior lineman who is turning out to be one of the most heavily-recruited players at the school in a long time.
Jake Kradel is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound offensive lineman who now has around 20 college scholarship offers. If you want to know what level Kradel can play, consider that Ohio State just offered a scholarship this week.
Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse, Rutgers and Virginia are among the other colleges that have offered Kradel scholarships.