Westmoreland athletes of the week: Latrobe’s Gabe Willochell, Penn-Trafford’s Bella Long

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 | 2:33 PM

Gabe Willochell

School: Latrobe

Sport: Wrestling

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Willochell (15-0), an Edinboro recruit, defeated two-time PIAA champion Alejandro Herrera-Rondon of Seneca Valley by a 2-0 decision to capture the 132-pound title Saturday at the Powerade Tournament at Canon-McMillan.

“I thought I wrestled good. It was a tough road since I was the sixth seed. I had to wrestle a lot tough kids to get the finals,” Willochell said.

What made you commit to Edinboro?

I like the school, coaches and the team. It’s not too far away from home. I was looking at Pitt and went on a visit to VMI.

What was your mindset heading into the championship match?

My mindset going into the match was that I wanted to win.

How can you utilize this win as a springboard for the rest of the season?

It was a good win. It has added a boost to my confidence since I was able to defeat a two-time state champion.

What is your earliest memory of wrestling?

My first practice when I was 9 when I was wrestling for Derry.

What is your favorite regular-season tournament and why?

Powerade because it’s during the Christmas break. I would go up and watch my brother and others wrestle when I wasn’t participating. There are a lot of tough guys in the tournament.

Bella Long

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Basketball

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Long scored 29 points to lead Penn-Trafford (6-2) to a 75-62 win Saturday over McKeesport in the Penn-Trafford tournament Dec. 28. A day earlier, Long added 14 points in a 53-34 win over Franklin Regional.

“Our season has been going pretty well. After we lost to McKeesport earlier in the season, we really wanted that one, especially since it was on our court. It was one of our best games of the season, and we’re hoping to play like that the rest of the season,” Long said.

What are your college plans for next year and why?

I will be going to Slippery Rock to play basketball. I chose Slippery Rock because I want to be a (physician’s assistant). They have a great Exercise Science program. I like the coaches and how they run things up there.

How big was the win over McKeesport after losing to them earlier in the season?

It was a very important win. It would help with playoff seeding, and it’s a confidence booster with our big game against Oakland Catholic on Thursday.

What did the team learn from the losses to McKeesport and Penn Hills this season?

We were up and down in those games. We learned we have to play a full four quarters in order to win.

What does the team need to do to not have an early exit in the WPIAL playoffs this season?

We definitely need to play four quarters and stay focused through the whole game. If we do that, we will be hard to beat.

What’s one thing people might not know about you and why?

I’m pescatarian. I don’t eat meat. I will only eat seafood. I’ve been this way since 7 years old.

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