Westmoreland County Girls Athlete of the Year: Olivia Cernuto, Southmoreland

Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 8:09 PM

Unless she takes a summer vacation or a few random days off, Olivia Cernuto gets little rest during the sports year.

“A few days here and there,” the rising junior at Southmoreland said.

When you play three sports to the level at which Cernuto does, rest is immaterial.

Cernuto had her finest prep year competing in basketball, soccer and track and field, making her mark in all three. For her efforts, she is the Trib Westmoreland Female Athlete of the Year.

Emma Hoffner of Hempfield, Allie Prady of Penn-Trafford and Emma Blair of Latrobe also were considered.

“Changing from one season right into the next is hard because there is never time for a break, but I feel because I’m so active in each sport and constantly moving, it helps me be in pretty good shape for the next season coming up,” Cernuto said. “Once (one) season is over, I try to get whatever break I can just to have a tiny rest whether that be one or two days before I rush right into the next long season.”

A head-turning goal scorer in soccer, Cernuto led the Scotties to their first section title since 2011 and the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in eight years. The crafty midfielder scored 37 goals and dished nine assists as Southmoreland reached the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals.

Basketball season stretched into the playoffs again for the Scotties, with Cernuto running the point. She helped guide her team to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals for the second straight season, averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5.3 steals.

And don’t forget track and field where she also shined on a big stage after her would-be debut season was canceled last spring because of the pandemic.

She brought home fifth-place medals in the long and triple jumps at the PIAA meet in Shippensburg after finishing second in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump in the WPIAL.

“What makes Olivia so good at each sport is she has a tremendous amount of natural athleticism,” Scotties soccer coach Josh Pajak said. “If Olivia decided to play golf, she would be good.

“She also has a high work rate. She is working hard at an offseason workout for soccer in the morning and then heading to a summer league game for basketball. Sometimes, I have to tell her to take it easy.”

Amber Cernuto, who coached her first season with the Southmoreland girls basketball team, said her daughter enjoys the change in scenery moving from season to season.

“Olivia has always been very active, and we have been on the go since she was little,” Amber Cernuto said. “Whether she was going back and forth from (her brother) Zach’s different practices or her own. There would be days when we would go from soccer to basketball, or vice versa. She never stopped until it was time for bed.”

Pajak said Cernuto’s instincts can translate from sport to sport.

“She has strengths in each sport,” he said. “Regarding soccer, I have had some pretty consistent responses to what sets her apart. I don’t think people realize how incredibly strong on the ball she is, and she has a knack for finishing but also doesn’t force the issue.

“She uses that point guard mentality and will turn to her teammates when teams try to shut her down.”

Asked what she would change about her year in sports, Cernuto rests like a satisfied jury.

“Overall, it was a great year,” she said. “There’s small things after every game or meet I wish I could’ve done better, but looking back, I’m happy with my sophomore year.”

The summer will continue to wring out Cernuto’s schedule. She is playing AAU basketball while also attending open gyms and soccer workouts at Southmoreland.

As for a favorite or top sport, again, she is pleading the fifth.

“I feel satisfied with my performance in all of them,” she said. “There is no top one.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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