Westmoreland high school notebook: Jim Nesser to coach against former Jeannette squad

Sunday, January 14, 2018 | 1:55 PM

When Jim Nesser returned to coaching, he knew he would run into some old friends.

And when he took the job at Greensburg Central Catholic, his alma mater, he knew he would be sitting squarely on the other side of a rivalry — against the team he used to coach.

Nesser will go against his former Jeannette Jayhawks on Tuesday night when the Centurions make the short road trip down Route 30.

While at Jeannette, Nesser went 72-14 in three seasons and guided the Terrelle Pryor-powered Jayhawks to WPIAL and PIAA Class AA championships in 2008.

He is eager to make his return.

“Jeannette fans are the absolute best,” Nesser said. “I have so many great memories from coaching there, and those memories will never go away. That town loves its sports. Once you're a part of it, you're part of a family.”

Nesser, who teaches at Yough, also has coached at Elizabeth Forward, Yough, Hempfield, Penn State Greater Allegheny and Seton Hill.

Gardner points

Mt. Pleasant swimmer Heather Gardner broke a 28-year-old school record last week. A sophomore, Gardner took down the 200-yard individual medley mark with a time of 2 minutes, 12.6 seconds.

Pulling rank

Four Westmoreland boys teams and one girls team are among this week's Tribune-Review top-5 basketball rankings.

Franklin Regional (9-2) is holding strong at No. 3 in Class 5A, Belle Vernon (8-3) checks in at No. 5 in 4A, Jeannette (7-1) is No. 3 in Class 2A, and Monessen (6-5) goes from No. 5 to No. 3 in Class A.

The Latrobe girls (9-2), meanwhile, stay at No. 4 in 6A.

Baseball showcases

Five county baseball players were selected for high-level showcases.

Jeannette senior infielders Tyler Elliott and Tre Cunningham and Hempfield senior infielder Justin Wright were invited to the 2018 Under Armour All-American Pre-Season tournament at Sloan Park, the Chicago Cubs' training facility in Mesa, Ariz. They are in Arizona on Friday through Sunday playing three games for the East team.

Greensburg Central Catholic sophomore catcher Paul Rice was picked for the six-day Omaha National World Series, hosted by Baseball Factory, in June in Iowa.

His teammate, Bruce Kurpiel, qualified for future showcases at Pirate City (Fla.) and for the Omaha World Series but is deciding where to go.

The Under Armour tournament brings handpicked players, more than 435, from across the country, to compete and train. The players qualified at the Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tryout, which was held at Cool Springs Sports Complex in Pittsburgh.

Teams will compete in three days of intense competition in front of college coaches and scouts. Last year, all 30 MLB teams had a scouting representative at the event along with the MLB Scouting Bureau.

The players were put through numerous drills including fielding ability, hitting, the 60- and 30-yard dashes, shuttle runs, a broad jump, throwing and bat speed.

The Omaha World Series features more than 100 of the top high school prospects in the country in a tournament-style format.

Elliott and Cunningham helped Jeannette capture its first WPIAL Class A baseball title last season. Wright is a St. John's commit.

Recruiting buzz

Hempfield senior football standout Braden Brose has a Division I scholarship offer. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end and linebacker was offered last week by Youngstown State.

Brose had 57 receptions for 812 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

• Penn-Trafford senior John Gay IV visited Air Force earlier this month. The academy gave him an opportunity to play there. The running back/defensive back rushed for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns for the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up Warriors.

• Jeannette junior receiver Marcus Barnes picked up a local offer from Division II Seton Hill.

Paul Schofield contributed. Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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