Westmoreland County high school notebook: Former East Allegheny football coach joins Penn-Trafford staff

Saturday, February 10, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Dom Pecora, who served as the head football coach at East Allegheny for the past 11 seasons, is joining Penn-Trafford’s staff as a volunteer assistant.

Pecora resigned in January after guiding East Allegheny to eight consecutive playoff appearances.

He had a record of 67-48. The Wildcats went 9-3 this season and made the 3A semifinals before falling to champion Belle Vernon, 49-8.

McDonald takes over

Tracy McDonald is the new girls volleyball coach at Penn-Trafford.

A teacher in the district, she takes over for Jim Schall, who resigned in November after 26 years with the program.

Schall, who has 282 career wins with the girls, will continue to coach the Warriors’ boys volleyball team, which he started in 2002.

McDonald, who was Schall’s assistant, is a Penn-Trafford alum who played college volleyball at IUP.

The girls team went 12-4 last season and won the Section 3-4A title.

WPIAL realignment

The WPIAL is expected to reveal its fall sports alignment for the next two-year enrollment cycle (2024, ‘25) on Feb. 19.

Schedules will come out at a later date.

Big movers in local football are Norwin and Hempfield, who are returning to Class 6A after two years in 5A.

Two-time defending WPIAL and PIAA 3A champion Belle Vernon is going to 4A.

Winter and spring alignments will be announced later in the year, the WPIAL said.

The great indoors

It’s not unusual for Hempfield’s track and field athletes to turn in impressive performances during the indoor season. But the fact the Spartans do it so consistently is noteworthy.

At last week’s meet at Akron, senior Caleb Prola won the 60-meter dash and was second in the 200 (22.71 seconds), while senior Notre Dame commit Peyton Murray took first in the weight throw and shot put.

For the girls, senior Grace Iwig won the pole vault and high jump with personal-record marks of 12 feet, 5 inches and 5-3.

Sophomore Lauren Howard, a Division I softball prospect, won the 60-meter hurdles and helped the 1,600-meter relay to a victory, joining Peyton Heisler, Grace Semow and Chesnee Smith.

Head of state

MaxPreps recognized Hempfield as the best returning softball team in Pennsylvania for 2024.

The national high school sports website put out a list of the best teams for every state.

It pointed out that the Spartans have seven all-section picks back, including junior pitching ace Riley Miller, from a WPIAL Class 6A championship team that also took second in the state.

Mandatory spring practice doesn’t begin until March 4 but the Spartans have already been working out together, even running outdoors since there is no snow on the ground.


Some updates on local seniors who have made college commitments:

• Luke Bryer of Belle Vernon will play football at Case Western, where he will join his brother, Jack, on the team.

• Mikayla Smitley of Ligonier Valley will swim at Wheeling.

• Hempfield’s Hanna Uhrinek will swim at Chatham.

Mt. Pleasant’s Alivia Fallon will continue her cheerleading career at Thiel.

Mt. Pleasant football player Brady Poole will play at Westminster.

• Joe Kudla, a football player at Greensburg Central Catholic, will play at Muhlenberg, a Division III program in Allentown.

• Football players Riley McGraw of Penn-Trafford and Dante Giallonardo of Mt. Pleasant will play at Washington & Jefferson.

• Matt Schwenning of Penn-Trafford will play football at Saint Vincent.

• Sam Wolfe, a swimmer from Penn-Trafford, will continue her career at Clarion.

• Golfer Antolena Damico of Penn-Trafford will play golf at Washington & Jefferson.

• Penn-Trafford’s Devin Stowers will play baseball at La Roche.

• Gracie Sokol of Belle Vernon will play softball at Lackawanna.

• Belle Vernon’s Shyann Dongilli is headed to Pitt-Greensburg to play volleyball.

• Cam Ponko, a softball player at Penn-Trafford, picked up an offer to play for IUP.

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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