Westmoreland high school notebook: Norwin pair headed for kicking academy

Sunday, December 12, 2021 | 5:20 PM

Xander Smith and Joey Castle were a one-two special teams punch for Norwin this season. Smith centered long snaps to Castle, who boomed punts into orbit.

Castle also made good on extra points and field goals and aimed for touchbacks as the Knights’ kicker.

The junior pair continues to follow a similar trajectory to college recruiting through the showcase circuit.

Smith and Castle were invited to the eighth annual Hammer Kicking Academy Top 40 event set for June 22-26 in Orlando, Fla.

They both went to the National Kicking Rankings Top 20 Invitational last May in New Orleans.

There is more for Smith.

He has been invited to the National Underclassmen Challenge Jan. 8-9 at Somerset Academy Canyons in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Their exploits stem from strong grade-outs at Kohl’s kicking and showcase camps.

Smith was the top-rated long snapper at the Eastern Showcase to earn an automatic invite to the NUC.

“It’s really cool to be asked to compete with the best specialists in the country,” said Smith, who also made an impact as a wide receiver for the Knights. “It shows that I am working hard and getting better. I keep improving my rankings, so that’s good. I just hope in the end I can play football at the next level.”

Castle called the Hammer invite an honor.

“It gives me the chance to compete with the best in the country,” he said. “I have made many great friendships with guys that are very talented specialists from all over. This keeps me motivated to continue to improve. The intense camp competitions help us see how we do under pressure and hopefully one day turns into a chance to compete for a spot on a college roster.”

DiFalco in all-star game

The only WPIAL soccer player picked for the High School All-American Game, Franklin Regional senior Anthony DiFalco suited up for the East boys team Friday at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn.

DiFalco, who scored 118 career goals, was a high school All-American, all-region, all-state and all-WPIAL player this season.

He was the WPIAL Class 3A and Trib Westmoreland player of the year.

He remains uncommitted to a college program but said he has plenty of local interest from Division I programs.

Tragesser to ODU

Franklin Regional senior Caroline Tragesser will play golf at the Division II level.

Tragesser recently signed a letter of intent to attend Ohio Domincan of the Great Midwest Conference.


Ligonier Valley senior golfer Logan Smith will continue his playing career at Carlow.

Norwin football player Nate Kadosh-Harris is gaining steam on the recruiting trail. He has opportunities to play at Marietta, Bethany and Grove City.

Harris, a senior running back/linebacker, rushed for 316 yards and made 43 tackles, with six sacks, last season.

Mt. Pleasant senior Ashlyn Hornick will continue her swimming career at Cal (Pa.).

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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