Trib HSSN Top 21 Stories of 2021: Spring sports make long-awaited return

Saturday, December 25, 2021 | 10:10 PM

The year 2021 wasn’t one giant leap for mankind, but it was one big step back toward “normalcy” for all of us, especially the high school athletes from around the WPIAL.

They were able to do what they love to do: compete on area fields, courts, mats and pools. They did so in front of fans again as the return of the loud and raucous student bodies to various events was like hot cocoa on a frigid night.

As has become a year-end tradition, Trib HSSN winds down the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 21 WPIAL stories from the year 2021.

No. 21 – Play ball!

The actual calendar year began with all sports suspended due to a Gov. Tom Wolf-mandated shutdown that began on the first day of the winter sports season and went through the first week of January.

The real excitement came in late March when for the first time since June of 2019, athletes who participate in spring sports were able to return to “work.”

Baseball, softball, boys tennis, boys volleyball, boys and girls lacrosse and boys and girls track and field athletes took to the diamonds, courts, fields and tracks to play varsity sports after all 2020 spring sports were shut down because of the covid-19 outbreak.

Spring was never more welcomed than it was in 2021.

No. 20 – Swimming streak continues

The North Allegheny girls swimming team’s run of WPIAL championships continued while another streak came to an end.

The Tigers dominated in the district girls team finals, scoring 425 points to finish 176 points ahead of runner-up Seneca Valley to with the 2021 WPIAL 3A girls swimming championship.

The crown was the 13th in a row for the North Allegheny girls swimmers, tying them for the longest team championship run in WPIAL girls sports history with the Norwin girls volleyball program. The Knights won 13 straight from 1973-1985.

The one streak that end in March was the North Allegheny boys and girls swimming sweeps.

Upper St. Clair won the WPIAL boys 3A team swimming championships, ending the Tigers’ runs of three straight years of boys and girls pool dominance.

No. 19 – Diamond Dandies

WPIAL baseball and softball teams returned in a big way this past season.

They proved they were the best in the west when it came to the 2021 PIAA baseball and softball playoffs in June.

The WPIAL sent 10 of a possible 12 champions to Penn State, the site of both the PIAA baseball and softball state championships.

The 10 District 7 teams in the state finals set a new record. Both in 2017 and 2018, the WPIAL sent a combined seven baseball and softball teams to Penn State and the state titles games.

The terrific 10 were North Allegheny (6A), Bethel Park (5A), New Castle (4A), Shenango (2A) and Eden Christian (A) in baseball and Armstrong (5A), Beaver (4A), Mt. Pleasant (3A), Ligonier Valley (2A) and West Greene (A) in softball.

Only four of the 10 returned to Southwestern Pa. with state gold.

Bethel Park and New Castle in baseball and Beaver and Mt. Pleasant in softball capped off their dream seasons with a state championship.

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