Westmoreland high school notebook: Belle Vernon’s Macheska goes for PIHL gold with Ringgold

Sunday, March 19, 2023 | 4:00 PM

A ring and gold.

Steve Macheska already has both as a member of the Belle Vernon football team.

Put the two together, and you have the name of the hockey team he will try to lead to yet another championship.

The Ringgold hockey team will play for a PIHL Division II title Tuesday night. The Rams have six Belle Vernon players on their roster as part a co-op, including Macheska, a senior defenseman.

Macheska has 10 assists in addition to being an enforcer on the ice. He could pull off a rare feat by winning WPIAL and PIAA football championships and a Penguins Cup title in the same school year.

In football, Macheska is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound two-way lineman. He was the Class 3A finalist for the Bill Fralic Memorial Award for the WPIAL’s best lineman of 2022.

Ringgold (15-4) will play Bishop Canevin (19-1) at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

The Leopards’ other crossovers are sophomore forwards Josh Levander and PJ Black, senior forward Noah Levander, senior defenseman LJ Crouch and freshman goaltender Cydney Mathers.

Crouch was third on the team in points during the regular season with 25 (13 goals, 12 assists). Noah Levander had 20 (9 goals, 11 assists).

East-West football

Several local players and a coach were selected to participate in the East-West all-star games May 21 at Bishop McDevitt’s Rocco Ortenzio Stadium.

Franklin Regional 6-foot-9 offensive lineman Max Leven was selected to play in the Big School game for the West.

The Small School game’s West team will include Greensburg Central Catholic’s Ryan Kimmel (DE), Nate Dlugos (CB) and Amari Mack (DB); Belle Vernon’s Steve Macheska (DT) and Parker Jewell (ILB); and Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas.

The Small School game (Class A-3A) will be played at noon, with the Big School game (Class 4A-6A) to follow at 5 p.m.

Jilted Panthers

The Franklin Regional softball team was set to play its season opener Friday in Florida against Sebastian River (Fla.) when it was caught off guard.

The Panthers took infield and warmed up accordingly. But coach Jim Armstrong said Sebastian River pleaded that the outfield was too wet and dangerous to play on and requested the game be canceled.

The game already had been moved from one field to another because of field conditions, which Armstrong believed were playable.

Franklin Regional is claiming a forfeit win.

All-state track

Hempfield senior Liz Tapper was rewarded for another strong indoor track and field season.

The Michigan commit was named to the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association All-State First Team in the shot put.

Norwin senior Ashley Laukus was a second-team selection in the high jump.

Seeking champions

The Westmoreland County Coaches Association will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its track and field championships April 27 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.

The association is calling on past champions to hand out medals at this year’s meet.

Those interested should email the WCCA at westmorelandcountycoaches@gmail.com.

Y not us?

Four members of the Greensburg Y Stingray swim team qualified for the YMCA state championship meet March 24-26 at Mylan Park Aquatic Center at WVU.

They advanced from the Western Pennsylvania Championship last weekend at The Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, where 18 Stingray swimmers competed.

The state event leads into the National YMCA Championships on April 3-7 in Greensboro, N.C.

The top three finishers in each event advanced to the state meet.

The local state qualifiers are: Penn-Trafford junior Patton Graziano (50-yard freestyle, 100 free, 100 back, 200 back, 100 fly); Mt. Pleasant senior Reegan Brown (100 free, 50 free, 100 fly); Hempfield sixth-grader Kaitlyn Stetchock (200 breast, 100 breast, 50 free); and Owen Busch, a seventh grader at Hempfield (100 IM, 200 free, 200 back, 50 fly, 100 back)

Stetchock set a team and meet record in the 200 breast of 2 minutes, 38.53 seconds and a team record in the 100 breast (1:12.17).

Busch set a team record in the 100 IM of 1:07.16.


Yough senior basketball player Laney Gerdich committed to play at Juniata. The 6-foot center led the Cougars with a 14-point average. Yough made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in 13 years.

Penn-Trafford junior football lineman Zach Tomosovich has another Division I offer, from New Hampshire. His others are from Fordham, Penn, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Dartmouth, Kent State and Bowling Green.

• Army made an offer to Norwin junior wide receiver/defensive back Jackson Pons.

• Hempfield senior Lindsay Simmons will continue her track and field career at Point Park. Simmons competes in sprints and hurdles for the Spartans.

Stately presence

Norwin (Class 6A) and Greensburg Central Catholic (2A) advanced to the PIAA basketball semifinals. That makes this the first time two Westmoreland County girls basketball teams made it this far in the same season.

The last time two county teams played in the state final four was 1997 when the GCC girls and Franklin Regional boys played in the semis. Both made the finals: GCC beat District 3 Trinity, 48-45, for the AA championship, and Franklin Regional fell to Plymouth Whitemarsh, 50-45, in AAAA.

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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