Westmoreland athletes of the week: Greensburg Salem’s James Gillis, Norwin’s Sam Wexell

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 | 4:18 PM

James Gillis

School: Greensburg Salem

Sport: Hockey

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Gillis, who has six goals and four assists this season, recorded a hat trick and an assist to lead Greensburg Salem (1-7) to an 8-2 win over Beaver on Nov. 16.

“The beginning of the season has been rough. But the game against Beaver was just a great team win,” Gillis said.

What are your college plans for next year?

I want to go to college to study business and play hockey. I'm looking at Pitt-Greensburg or I will go to community college and not play hockey.

What has been the key to your success this season?

Working out in the offseason. I have been just training and practicing. My parents push me to do the best I can in school and on the ice.

How would you explain your style of play?

I'm quick. I like to get into the play. I like to go hard for the puck and go hard to the net. I like to look to put away the rebound. Speed is a big part of my game.

With a small roster, what is the biggest key for the team in order to be successful?

I would have to say being a team all together and playing together. The coaching staff does a good job with that. We are all friends off the ice.

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

I like the food, spending time with family and watching football. I love mashed potatoes with gravy.

Sam Wexell

School: Norwin

Sport: Soccer

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Wexell, who finished with 53 career shutouts, made five saves to lead Norwin (21-2-1) to a 1-0 win over Neshaminy in the PIAA Class 4A championship Nov. 17 at Hersheypark Stadium. Wexell posted shutouts in all four games during the PIAA playoffs.

“The four PIAA shutouts and all the shutouts throughout my career are pretty good, but so much is the defense,” she said. “It's not just the defense I had this year, but all the defenders I had through my four years had a big part of it. I always say they don't get enough credit, but that's really an understatement.”

What does it feel like to win Norwin's first state title since 1996?

It feels great. I can't even explain it. The community and school have been supporting us so much. It's nice to pay them back in some sense to be able to say we represented Norwin well. All the girls I played with on the field I'm so close with. It just makes it so much more rewarding that we can share it together.

What was the difference with this year's run compared to previous runs?

I honestly think being a senior is a big difference. When you know it's your last year, it's almost a chip on your shoulder. There is that little bit extra you want to play for. Our core of the team was seniors, and we wanted it so bad. I think that gave us an edge this year.

Outside of the state title, what was your favorite memory with team?

I think breaking the record on my birthday was pretty cool. I was more focused on winning that day then getting the shutout and breaking the record.

What was your favorite save against Neshaminy?

The pictures from the jumping one were pretty cool and the timing of that because it was crunch time of the game and we were defending the lead. The one I did a split is the one I liked. I joke around with my friends that I can do a split, and it finally paid off, I guess.

What made you commit to Ohio?

I have been going back and forth with my major. I originally thought special education, but I'm thinking now of human services, politics or counseling. It was a lot of things. It seemed like I had seen a lot of schools and I had been through a lot of the process that I could really make a decision. The biggest thing is how I felt on campus. When I took my visit, I felt right there. I really liked the coaching staff and the players that I met. It was a good distance for me, and it's a good school.

— Andrew John

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