Westmoreland H.S. athletes of the week: Belle Vernon’s Tessa Rodriguez, Latrobe’s Peyton Myers

Saturday, October 8, 2022 | 4:51 PM

Tessa Rodriguez

School: Belle Vernon

Sport: Cross country

Class: Junior

Claim to fame: The 40-plus-runner field was trying to catch Rodriguez at the Bald Eagle Invitational but did not succeed. Rodriguez ran to a first-place finish in a time of 20 minutes, 18.86 seconds. She also took fifth at the P3R River Trail Invitational and has posted a top finish in every WPIAL dual meet this season for the Leopards, who went unbeaten and won their third straight section title.

A hip injury kept her from qualifying for the PIAA meet as a sophomore.

Rodriguez is a standout point guard in basketball and also competes for the track and field team.

Soccer players Farrah Reader of Belle Vernon, Eva Bulava of Latrobe and Aris Lamanna of Franklin Regional also were considered for athlete of the week.

Did you surprise yourself by winning the Bald Eagle Invitational?

Yes and no. My coach and I knew my ranking was pretty high, and I knew I wanted to go for it. So I would say I was surprised, but in a good way.

What did it take to win that race?

It took a lot of mental strength for me to get through the race. It felt odd being in the front the entire time and not having someone to push me. The rain and the mud was definitely a factor. I had to convince myself to just keep going and push myself as best I could.

What is your best time this season?

My best time this year was 19:50 in a section meet. I was hoping to run around that time at the Bald Eagle invite, but with the weather conditions I just knew I wanted to win.

How long have you been running cross country?

I’ve only been running cross country since my freshman year.

What or whom got you started in running?

Coach (Chris) Stasicha recruited me from our local color (5K) run when I was in middle school. I was in eighth grade, and I placed top-three for the girls side. He convinced me my freshman year to come to a practice, and I haven’t looked back since.

How does cross country help you in basketball?

I like to think being a runner gives me an advantage over a lot of people I play in basketball. I know no one will be able to outrun me on the court, that’s for sure.

What events do you do in track & field?

I bounced around in many different events this past year. Our team doesn’t have many distance runners so a lot of the time I’d have to do the 800, 1,600, 4×8 and 3,200. I’d also occasionally get thrown in the 4×1 or 4×4 (relays). So it honestly depends on the day.

Has your grandfather, Tom, Belle Vernon’s softball coach, tried to turn you into a softball player?

Most definitely. Softball was actually a huge part of my childhood, and I played up until seventh grade. I tell him all the time if he ever needs a pinch runner he knows who to call.

What is your favorite cross country course?

The Red White and Blue course at White Oak. I know many other athletes agree with me as well. The course is really kind to my body.

Have you ever seen a deer or another animal run across the course?

I’ve definitely seen a few raccoons here and there. I’ve never seen a deer personally, but I hear of many runners who have.

What sport are you secretly good at?

This is a hard question. I like to think I’d secretly be good at soccer. Although I did play soccer in middle school for only two years and was beyond average at it.

Best school lunch? Worst school lunch?

Definitely nachos. I’d say the worst is this weird pasta they give us. I do love our lunch ladies, though, they are always the sweetest.

Best concert you have ever been to?

Probably Kid Laroi this past summer.

What is your can’t-miss TV show?

Definitely Big Brother. My sisters and I have been watching it over the summers since we were kids.

What rule would you most like to change in cross country?

Having section meets early in the morning. Which I’m not sure if we technically can’t do that. If anyone knows an answer to that, let me know.

You could attend any sports event in the world, past or present. Where are you going?

I’d definitely choose to go to one of my dad’s basketball games. He always tells me how good he was in high school. I want to see all the amazing things he tells me I need to start doing.

I spend too much money on _____?

Clothes. Lulu Lemon and PacSun are my weaknesses.

Peyton Myers

School: Latrobe

Sport: Hockey

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Myers scored two goals and had two assists Thursday as Latrobe opened the PIHL season by defeating Franklin Regional, 8-2. Myers, a forward, is a four-year starter for the Wildcats. He is a team leader and was a captain his junior season.

Latrobe coach Josh Werner has not named a captain yet this season. Myers also plays for the Westmoreland Eagles. Myers scored one goal and had two assists as a freshman, nine goals and 24 assists as a sophomore and had eight goals and 13 assists as a junior.

What was the key to defeating the two-time Pens Cup finalists on Thursday?

We knew we had to come out strong, and we did that. Things didn’t go well as we hoped in 2022, and we missed the playoffs. Our hard work in the offseason paid off.

What motivated the team?

We saw a preseason poll that had Franklin Regional ranked No. 3 and didn’t mention us. We went out determined to make a name for ourselves. Beating them was a morale boost.

Who or what got you started playing hockey?

My dad (Sean) built an ice rink in my backyard, and that’s where I developed a love of the game. I was also introduced to the Penguins and Sidney Crosby at a young age.

Who is your favorite player?

It’s definitely Sidney Crosby. I model much of my game after him.

Who is your favorite hockey not named Sidney Crosby?

I love watching Connor McDavid. I actually met him when he played in Erie before he got drafted. That was pretty cool. He has great speed and determination.

What’s your favorite hockey team?

The Penguins are my favorite because of my upbringing. My dad got me interested in the team because he played for Latrobe in high school.

What are your goals this season?

I want to lead Latrobe to Pens Cup and State titles. I believe we have a chance if we play together.

What is your most memorable moment in hockey?

It hasn’t happened yet. If I had to pick, probably Thursday’s game so far.

Do you play for any other team?

I play for the Westmoreland Eagles. We play a lot during the weekend. Some of my Eagles teammates are from Hempfield and Penn-Trafford.

What stick to you use?

I use a CCM Ribcor 76K model.

Who is the best player you’ve played against?

My sophomore season, Montour’s Michael Felsing is really good. Franklin Regional’s Chase Williams, who was my teammate when I played for the Allegheny Badgers, was really good.

What is your favorite arena to play in?

I really like Kirk S. Nevin. My other favorite place is RMU. There is a great atmosphere there.

What piece of equipment smells the most that you own?

My gloves smell the most. My mom hates to smell my hands.

Where is your favorite pizza in Latrobe?

I love the flaky crust at Jioio’s. Some people don’t like it, but I do.

Where is your favorite place to get wings?

Dino’s is my favorite place for wings.

What is your favorite meal that your mom makes?

I love my mom’s wings. She has a special sauce and home fries.

Is there a pregame ritual that you do?

I stretch the same way before every game. It helps get my body and mind right before a game.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

I’d like to have dinner with Kobe Bryant so we could talk about his work ethic. He was a hard worker and always trying to get better.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

I liked Myrtle Beach, but last year I went on a trip to Colorado and loved it.

Where is a vacation spot you’d like to visit?

I like to travel to Hawaii. That’s on my bucket list.

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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