Westmoreland County high school notebook: Belle Vernon runner picks Robert Morris

Saturday, May 4, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Tessa Rodriguez was over the Moon when she visited Robert Morris.

The Belle Vernon senior signed to continue her track & field and cross country careers at RMU.

“What made me choose RMU was how close the relationship was between the girls on the team,” she said. “I immediately felt welcomed by everyone on the team and the coach.

“Coming from a high school with not a very big distance program, it made me excited to know what a special group of people I’d have the opportunity to train with the next four years.”

Rodriguez also had opportunities to run at St. Francis (Pa.) and George Mason.

Rodriguez, who finished 10th in the WPIAL 2A cross country race last season in 19 minutes, 43.9 seconds, said she is open to competing in various events in college.

“But most likely, I will primarily stick to distance,” she said.

That means the mile, two-mile and 5K and 6K races.

Crews offered

Belle Vernon junior football player Anthony Crews received his first Division I scholarship offer from Robert Morris.

Crews is a running back and cornerback.

Many will remember his dazzling start in the PIAA 3A championship last fall when he scored the first two touchdowns, including a 77-yard return on the opening kickoff, in a 38-7 win over Northwestern Lehigh.

Crews (5-foot-10, 165 pounds), a key playmaker for the back-to-back WPIAL and state champion Leopards, was third on the team last season with 987 all-purpose yards.

He rushed for 406 yards and six touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 363 yards and four scores.

He had an interception on defense.

Baseball playoffs

A few county baseball teams are on the WPIAL playoff bubble with less than a week to go in the regular season.

The top four teams and ties in each section qualify.

Starting Monday, Derry (5-8, 4-6) plays a two-game series against Shady Side Academy (8-6, 7-3) and could need to win both to clinch in Section 3-3A.

Derry is a game behind East Allegheny (8-5, 5-5) for fourth. If the Trojans and East Allegheny tie, will both qualify.

Greensburg Salem and Yough play Monday and Tuesday with heavy playoff implications. Greensburg Salem (7-7, 6-4) is tied for third, and Yough (6-10, 5-5) is fifth in Section 3-4A.

A loss by McGuffey (6-6, 6-4) also would help Derry’s cause.

And in Section 3-2A, fourth-place Jeannette (6-8, 4-6) will look to clinch when it faces fifth-place Ligonier Valley (5-9, 3-7) in a two-game set. One win will get the Jayhawks in. A Rams sweep gets them in.

The WPIAL will announce playoff brackets Friday.

New coach

Franklin Regional hired Brian Bearley to be its hockey coach.

Bearley, who a former varsity assistant, has been coaching high school and club hockey in the county since 2008.

He replaces John Winebrenner, who was not retained after five seasons.

The Panthers finished 11-8-0-1 last season after reaching the Class 2A Penguins Cup semifinals.

Net minders

Three county teams remained in the top 10 of the latest Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class 3A poll. Norwin (12-1) is No. 4, Penn-Trafford (11-2) No. 5 and Hempfield (7-5) No. 8.

In Class 2A, Latrobe (5-7) is No. 7, and Derry (6-6) checked in at No. 8.

Milestone goal

Ingrid Varley is only a junior, but she already has reached a career milestone for Franklin Regional girls lacrosse. Varley scored her 100th goal last week in a win over Winchester Thurston.

History made

The Hempfield boys lacrosse team posted the first shutout in program history April 24 when it blanked Baldwin, 14-0.

Spartans take tourney

Hempfield won its boys volleyball tournament last weekend, registering a 3-0 record.

The Spartans defeated North Hills in the quarterfinals 25-22, Obama Academy in the semis 25-22 and Seneca Valley in the championship 25-21.

Snider 5K

Registration is open for the second Steve Snider 5K Memorial Race, which will be at 8:30 a.m. May 27 near Offutt Field and the Sunset Cafe in Greensburg.

The event, named for the late Greensburg Salem championship cross country coach, drew more than 300 participants and generated nearly $25,000 for the Greensburg YMCA, a scholarship in Snider’s name and to help Greensburg Recreation programs.

Cash prizes will go to the top three male and female finishers: $499 for first place, $250 for second and $100 for third.

The race starts near the Sunset Cafe and circles back to Offutt Field. It takes runners and walkers through the Five Star Trail and on roads in Greensburg.

Cost is $30 per participant before May 14 and $40 after. Online registration can be done at greensburgymca.org.


• Belle Vernon football standout Adam LaCarte, a key two-way player for the Leopards in their run to back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA 3A championships, announced he will play at John Carroll. This season, the receiver and safety was second on the team with 74 tackles and had a team-best three interceptions.

• Seton Hill women’s basketball landed a prominent WPIAL standout in guard Shaye Bailey from Freedom. An all-state player, Bailey also excelled in three other sports: soccer, softball and track.

• Eli Teslovich, a basketball standout at Shady Side Academy who scored more than 1,700 career points, will play at Case Western Reserve. Teslovich is from Belle Vernon.

• Derry senior baseball player Colin Bush is headed to Penn State Altoona.

• Former Southmoreland football lineman Kory Ansell, who initially committed to Cal (Pa.), now is going to play at Waynesburg.

• Derry senior football player Jonathan Shumaker signed with Division III Westminster.

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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