Westmoreland high school notes: Teams will shift classifications next season

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Saturday, December 2, 2023 | 3:46 PM


Student totals came out last week, but the next two-year enrollment cycle for high school teams will kick in next fall.

A number of local programs will be in new classifications.

In football, Norwin and Hempfield are moving back to Class 6A after two years in 5A. Latrobe and Kiski Area are going from 4A to 5A, and two-time defending 3A champion Belle Vernon will go up to 4A.

Derry, Burrell and Yough are going from 2A to 3A.

Ligonier Valley will not join them, although the Rams came close: They have the highest total in 2A.

Area teams also will be affected in soccer. On the boys side, Belle Vernon is primed to go from 3A to 4A, and Burrell is moving up to 2A.

Valley also will field a team and play in 2A.

Jeannette has Class A numbers but could play up in 2A again like it has the last two years.

Latrobe and Penn-Trafford are set to move up from 3A to 4A in girls soccer, and Belle Vernon is going down one class to 2A.

There are also several changes in baseball. Latrobe and Kiski Area will move from 4A to 5A, Derry and Greensburg Salem bump up a class to 4A and Ligonier Valley goes up to 3A.

Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette have Class A numbers but played in 2A previously.

In softball, Derry goes from 3A to 4A.

Greensburg Central Catholic is a Class A school but played in 2A last year.

These moves are not set in stone. Teams had until Dec. 1 to choose to play up in class. The PIAA competitive balance formula, which factors in championships and transfers, also needs to be applied.

All-star weekend

There was a strong Norwin presence at the Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-Star Game between the Class 4A and 3A teams.

Knights coach Scott Schuchert and his staff led the 4A all-stars to a 5-1 win.

Norwin seniors Owen Christopher and Anthony Scalise were part of the 4A team.

Cole Kamarec of Seneca Valley had a hat trick in the victory, and Ryan Galicic of Canon-McMillan and Blake Gabelhart of Peters Township had one goal apiece Nov. 25 at Pine-Richland.

“It was an amazing experience and honor,” Schuchert said. “Hearing about their experiences and learning about the specifics of their schools was truly fascinating. It was a joy to witness these elite players perform without the immense pressure they typically face. Coaching Anthony and Owen one last time was the best part.”

Denny drawing offers

After a highlight-filled senior football season, Norwin’s Luke Denny is beginning to attract college attention from Division II programs.

Denny, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound wide receiver and safety, has five offers, with most of them coming from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Mercyhurst, West Liberty, IUP, Clarion and Lock Haven have offered Denny, who set a school record this year with 1,060 receiving yards. He had 45 receptions and 12 touchdowns.

He had 60 tackles and an interception on defense.

Finish line

The Norwin cross country teams capped the fall season at the Nike Cross Country Regionals at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Freshman Emily Dansak finished 15th in 21 minutes, 40.1 seconds in the Open Division, and sophomore Anna Czajkowski was 39th.

The boys finished 11th in the team standings of the Open Northeast Race, and the girls took 12th.

Recruiting

Two more Greensburg Salem girls basketball players signed to play at the next level.

Mackenzie Span will play at Pitt-Greensburg, and Gia Rosensteel is headed to Carlow.

• Latrobe junior football standout Alex Tatsch picked up another Division I offer, from Kentucky.

• Mercyhurst offered Hempfield lineman Joe Dolinski (6-4, 288).

• Football lineman Max Leven (6-8, 285), a Franklin Regional alum who played this season at Bridgton Academy, received an offer to play at Independence Community College, an NJCAA program in Kansas.

• Corinne Wright, a softball player at Latrobe, signed to continue her playing career at Gannon. Wright is a middle infielder.

Penn-Trafford’s Emma Stovar signed to play soccer at Edinboro.

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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