Westmoreland County high school notebook: Franklin Regional’s Bunker commits to Villanova

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Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 9:44 PM


At first, Aiden Bunker exchanged emails with Villanova to gauge the school’s interest in his swimming talents.

Then, he visited the campus, saw the pool and knew it was the backdrop for his future.

Bunker, a senior at Franklin Regional, will continue his career with the Wildcats, swimming individual medleys and relays in the Big East.

“I sent out a mass email to coaches after my junior year,” Bunker said. “Then, after states, I heard from (Villanova). I went on a visit a few weeks ago, and I said, ‘I want to go here.’ They called me back and said they had a spot for me.”

And just like that, Bunker was on the path to a Division I college career.

“To swim D-I is crazy,” he said. “I am stoked to do it.”

Bunker placed third in the WPIAL Class 3A 200 IM last year, and also swam with thee relays, winning the 200 medley relay and finishing third with the 400 freestyle relay.

He went to the PIAA meet in three events.

Bunker, who plans to major in mechanical engineering, also talked to Bucknell and Case Western.

His family owns RJ Lee Group, a scientific consulting firm in Monroeville.

Hempfield pulls upset

Hempfield’s girls volleyball team pulled the stunner of the night Tuesday when the Spartans edged No. 4 Shaler, 3-2, in a back-and-forth Section 3-4A match.

Hempfield won the first set 26-24, dropped the second (25-20), won the third (25-22), lost the fourth (25-17) and powered past the Titans in the fifth (15-6) for the thrilling win.

Liz Tapper and Ella Bringe had 14 kills apiece.d Gianna Giachetti had 25 assists, and Zoey Hopkins added 24.

Ashley Hosni had 13 digs and 10 kills, and Sarah Podkul contributed 13 digs.

Company fit for a King

Penn-Trafford senior Nick Turowski will go for a WPIAL repeat Thursday in the Class 3A golf championship at Allegheny Country Club. Turowski is tied for second place (2-over-par 73) heading to the final round after shooting a 73 at Champion Lakes.

The WPIAL is using a 36-hole, cumulative format this season, with two rounds played at two courses.

Turowski could join elite company if he wins.

The last golfer from Westmoreland County to repeat as boys champion was someone you might have heard of: the late, great Arnold Palmer of Latrobe won in 1946 and ‘47.

Other WPIAL champions from the county are Bo Lustig of Belle Vernon (2010), Ben Gjebre of Latrobe (‘09), Tim Moynihan of Franklin Regional (‘02), Nate Speer of Burrell (1998), Brian Tutich of Greensburg Central Catholic (‘93), Kevin Reisenweaver of Latrobe (‘86), Seth Pevarnik of Greensburg Central Catholic (‘85), Paul Balest of Greensburg Salem (‘83), Bob Bradley of Hempfield (‘79), Ray Nelson of Ligonier (‘77), Scott Yard of Greensburg (‘63) and Tom Denny of Greensburg Salem (‘45).

Volleyball ranks

Latrobe moved up a spot in the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Class 3A poll, to the No. 5 spot.

Penn-Trafford is No. 7, and Norwin No. 8 in Class 4A, while Southmoreland remained No. 9 in Class 2A, and Greensburg Central Catholic is No. 7 in Class A.

Kaylee Doppelheuer, a junior outside hitter for Southmoreland, was named a Class 3A player of the week.

Gaiardo stepping down

Al Gaiardo is set to resign as boys golf coach at Ligonier Valley after 16 years.

Gaiardo, a former head football coach at Derry and former assistant football coach at Saint Vincent, is retiring from teaching and will begin working as a financial advisor.

Ligonier Valley finished 8-4 this season, and senior Josh Harbert advanced to the final round of the WPIAL Class 2A championship Tuesday at Oakmont Country Club.

D-II offer for Kobus

Norwin junior basketball player Ava Kobus received a scholarship offer to play at Division II Mansfield of the Pennsylvania State Athletic conference.

A 5-foot-11 small forward, Kobus saw substantial playing time last season as a sophomore.

She also is a key volleyball player for the Knights.

McCoy offered

Brooke McCoy, one of the top scorers for the Hempfield girls basketball team the last two years, picked up a Division III offer from Grove City.

A guard-forward, McCoy is a versatile scorer who can score off the dribble and shoot 3-pointers.

On the run

Two local cross country records fell last week.

Southmoreland’s Lexi Ohler broker her own school mark with a time of 20 minutes, 57 seconds.

Penn-Trafford’s Amelia Barilla, meanwhile, broke the course record at Latrobe with a time of 19:41.

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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