Westmoreland athletes of the week: P-T’s Alyssa Balest, Hempfield’s Dominic Falcon

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Saturday, January 28, 2023 | 10:07 PM


Alyssa Balest

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Bowling

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Balest last weekend won the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Championship for the second year in a row, rolling a 676 series to top the field at Hillview Lanes in Greensburg. A Mount St. Mary’s commit, she posted a 238 in her second game en route to a repeat. She leads the Warriors with a 204 average.

What was it like winning the WCCA championship?

It felt nice having my hard work pay off. It’s awesome that I can say I have won the first two years of this tournament.

What is your best score ever?

286.

When did you start bowling competitively and why?

I started bowling tournaments when I was around the age of 7. I was born into a bowling family, so it mostly came naturally. Both of my parents bowl, which is where my love for the game came from.

Do you prefer wood or synthetic lanes?

Synthetic.

Do you have a pre-shot routine?

Yes, I do. Before every shot, I wipe my shoe off and use my puff ball to ensure I am calm before I take my shot. I also journal every shot that I throw and what happened with my ball down lane. This helps me understand what I need to do in each frame.

Any inspirational stories to share?

Looking back on my game two years ago, I was averaging around 160 and didn’t have the best physical game. Just over one year, and my average had jumped all the way to a 204 last year, and now I have one of the most solid physical games. Working with several coaches helped clean everything up.

What do you like about Mount St. Mary’s program?

A few things … How nice Coach Degraaf was, how welcoming the girls are on the team were, how beautiful the campus was, and that the team is nationally ranked among some of the best.

Favorite subject in school?

It is a tie between American History and Computer Science. I have always loved history, but I will be majoring in computer science in college.

What other sports are you good at?

I have been on the high school cheer team since I was a freshman, and I used to be a competitive dancer.

Dominic Falcon

School: Hempfield

Sport: Swimming

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Falcon won the 50 freestyle and finished second in the 100 freestyle at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association swimming and diving championships Saturday. Falcon swam a 21.42 seconds in the 50 and a 48.20 in the 100.

What was the key to winning your title?

When you swim a good race, you don’t remember what it is. You dive in and do your own thing, and that’s what I did. I swam as hard as I could, and it paid off. So I’m really happy how I did.

How were your times?

They were pretty good. There are things I can improve on, but that’s what we have WPIALs and states for.

How old were you when you started swimming?

I was 7. I started with the Hempfield Aqua Club, and that’s where I met a lot of my friends who are on the team now and I stuck with it because it was fun.

What’s special about swimming or any life lessons you’ve learned from the sport?

One of the most special things about swimming is the team aspect of it. Because even though you are competing for yourself, you help the whole team by doing good, so it pushes you to do better each day and I’ve learned to push through any difficulties that I have and that’s helped me with my school work even, too. Just being able to know that you have to put in time to get what you want to happen.

What’s your favorite aspect about swimming?

The team. I love all my teammates, and there is no other team that I’d want to be on. It’s so much fun going into the pool and spending two hours straight with them.

What are you goals?

I want to beat my high school’s 50 freestyle record, which is a 20.6. I have work to do, but I think I can get it. I’ve qualified for WPIALs in the 100 free and 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, but I don’t know what I’m going to swim there yet, but definitely the 50. Last year I was second at WPIALs, and hopefully I can win. At states I want to swim my hardest.

What can you take away from competing in the state championship?

It’s a completely different atmosphere. You have to zone in and work your hardest.

Last movie you’ve watched?

I’m watching the Sopranos right now. It’s so entertaining, and it’s stuff you don’t think can happen in real life. It’s crazy.

Favorite place to go for a snack with friends or teammates after practice?

Definitely McDonald’s. We’ll go there and hang out for an hour or two and talk, talk about our goals and what we want to improve on. Things like that. I like the Egg McMuffin.

How about Sheetz or Get-Go?

Sheetz has these little cheese bites. Me and my friend (Henry Miller) will always go and split a large Wisconsin Cheese Bites.

Moe’s or Chipotle?

I think Chipotle because I’ve only been to Moe’s once to twice. Chipotle is near my high school.

Favorite vacation spot?

Is probably Siesta Key (Florida). It’s yearly nice.

Is there a vacation spot on our bucket list?

I’m not a big vacation guy. I just like relaxing and hanging with my friends. That’s like a vacation to me.

What type of music do you listen to?

I’m a classics guy. I like to listen to the music when I was little. Now I listen to modern-day rap.

What’s your favorite meal that your mother makes?

Her mac and cheese. When she makes it, it’s so creamy. It’s really good.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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