Senior Spotlight: 4-sport Avonworth athlete racked up 13 varsity letters in decorated career
Thursday, April 30, 2020 | 12:15 PM
Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Four-sport athletes don’t have much free time on their hands to begin with, so the shelter-in-place order has wreaked havoc on their daily schedules and preparation.
But the down time has revealed hidden benefits for even the most active year-round seniors.
Take Luke Wagner. The senior from Avonworth normally would be in full-on track mode by the beginning of May, ready to challenge for WPIAL title in the 400-meter dash.
Instead, while still training rigorously, Wagner was able to finish a project.
“I’ve used a lot of my free time to work on earning my Eagle Scout rank,” he said. “I’ve been a Boy Scout since sixth grade and this time during quarantine has allowed me to complete all the paperwork to officially become an Eagle Scout.”
Wagner was a WPIAL and PIAA qualifier in track last season and also earned a spot in the USA Track and Field national championship qualifier last summer in the 400.
He also has been a WPIAL-finals qualifier in swimming, cross country and soccer. He would have earned an eyebrow-raising 14 varsity letters had track season not been canceled because of the coronavirus.
While he stands out individually, Wagner has won WPIAL team titles with the Antelopes in swimming and soccer. Some might remember his shot-stopping efforts as the goalkeeper in the WPIAL Class A soccer title game against Greensburg Central Catholic in 2018. Avonworth won in a shootout at Highmark Stadium.
He also was unable to compete in the PIAA swimming postseason as that competition also fell victim to coronavirus restrictions.
How have you been training during the quarantine?
Before facilities closed down, I would use our school’s track to get in a few workouts a week. Recently, I really just try to take advantage of the days with good weather and get out of the house for a run or workout.
Have you gotten creative to stay busy while stuck at home?
With the amount of time on my hands, I definitely try to find ways to stay busy and active. My siblings and I like to get out into the yard for spikeball tournaments or stay inside with board games and puzzles when the Pittsburgh weather takes a turn.
This shutdown must be particularly frustrating for a four-spot athlete?
I definitely got used to living with a busy schedule, year-round. Balancing school, sports and extracurriculars was part of my routine and it is strange to have so much time on my hands. I’m not sure I would describe it as frustration, but it had been difficult to build a new routine without the extracurriculars that I’m used to.
Any unique hobbies?
For the past several years, I have played guitar and I’ve used some of this time to get back into playing. My three siblings all play piano, so I’ve also tried to teach myself a few songs on that instrument as well.
What movie could you watch every day?
After everyone in my family finishes their work for the day, there always seems to be a movie playing somewhere in the house. We’ve always been Marvel movie fans and I can see myself watching those movies any day of the week.
Have you done a TikTok video yet?
While I did cave in and join the TikTok community, I have yet to make my own videos. So far, I’ve kept myself entertained with other people’s content and haven’t felt the need to make my own.
Is there a sport you wish you’d tried but never did?
When I was younger, I tried a lot of different sports, but one that I never got around to was football. With soccer and cross country in the fall, there was never a chance for me to give it a try, but with my speed on the track, I feel like I would’ve made for a pretty decent kickoff or punt returner.
Will you compete in a sport in college?
I will be attending Arizona State University (Barrett Honors College) with a focus on academics. I will definitely continue to be active with my sports as they’re such a big aspect of my life. I have been considering trying out for a walk-on spot for their varsity track team. I will definitely be a part of the club or intramural sports throughout the year if I decide otherwise.
How do you hope Avonworth fans will remember you?
I hope that my Avonworth community remembers my dedication to every sport I played and all the teammates I played with. I tried my best to be a leader on and off the soccer field and track, or in and out of the pool. In particular, I hope they remember the successes I contributed to at the WPIAL championships for the soccer team and the leadership I provided as captain of the swim team this year even as the end of our season got taken away.
Anything else interesting or quirky about you?
Anyone that I got the chance to compete with throughout high school would probably be able to tell you that I like to have fun with my sports. In the middle of the most stressful or important part of the season, I’m sure that I could be found lightening the mood with jokes or just having a good time with teammates and competitors alike. I’m not sure if that’s particularly interesting or quirky, but I like to make the best out of the situations I find myself. I’ve always thought that high school sports should be fun and enjoyable, especially during championship season when everyone is taking things very seriously.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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