Westmoreland notebook: Mt. Pleasant to honor Giallonardo

Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 5:16 PM

The Mt. Pleasant baseball team will honor the memory of former teammate Dom Giallonardo by wearing his No. 2 on the side of their new caps.

“We let our seniors design our hats each year,” coach Chris Firmstone said. “They wanted to do something to remember Dom.”

Giallonardo, who graduated last year, died in November after a lengthy battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a recurring disease that he beat twice before his third encounter.

His best friend, Jared Wagner, also is honoring the former Vikings baseball and basketball player. Wagner is a pitcher at Westmoreland County Community College and is wearing No. 2.

“Dom was definitely one of a kind,” Wagner said. “And a brother gone too soon.”

Fresh talent

Say what you want about 7-on-7 football competitions and their merit. College coaches are tuned in to them and use them to gauge young talent.

Players might be in T-shirts and shorts but they can still display hands and speed.

Freshmen players are among those getting noticed, including a few from Westmoreland County.

Jackson Pons, a Central Catholic freshman who transferred from Norwin, is on the radar because of recent success with the 412 Elite 7s team.

Gardner-Webb, a FCS program in Boiling Springs, N.C., extended a scholarship offer to Pons, a wide receiver and defensive back.

The 6-foot-1, 155-pound Pons had some highlight plays in recent tournaments, pulling in throws from Jeannette freshman quarterback Brad Birch.

“A new world of opportunities,” Pons said. “Ever since I was young I’ve always wanted a chance to play college ball at a D-1 program, and Gardner-Webb saw that I have the potential to play at the next level. I’m very grateful for that.”

Birch (6-0, 180) also is seeing a surge of attention. Oregon offered him already, and Penn State has taken a liking to his game.

A third area freshman, Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin, is considering entering the 7-on-7 circuit. Although he is doing quite well without it.

He looks to be on the fast track to Power-5 football.

The versatile Martin (6-3, 180), who played running back, receiver and defensive back last season, added an offer from Rutgers to a list that includes Pitt, West Virginia and Virginia Tech.

“The 7-on-7 helped me gain exposure by competing against some of the top 2023 and 2024 corners in the country — a few with D-1 offers,” Pons said. “I was able to perform well against them and, with my varsity film, helped me get interest.”

High hopes

A number of baseball and softball teams in Westmoreland are being held in high regard in the preseason rankings.

Norwin baseball is No. 1 in Class 6A. Hempfield (6A), Penn-Trafford (5A) and Mt. Pleasant (3A) are top-ranked teams in softball.

Solid start

Greensburg Central Catholic softball opened the season with an impressive victory.

Sophomore Emma Henry tossed a one-hit shutout and delivered a pair of hits, and junior Natalie Ward had two RBIs as the Centurions blanked visiting Seton LaSalle, 5-0, on Saturday.

Seton LaSalle was an 11-win team in 2019.

Henry struck out 12 for GCC, which hadn’t won a season opener since 2017.

Line judge

Greensburg Central Catholic might have the most intimidating No. 2 singles player in WPIAL tennis. Matt Metrosky, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound football lineman, is playing tennis for the Centurions. He isn’t bad, either. He won, 6-0, 6-0, in a recent match against Springdale.

Metrosky, who accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play football at Pitt, also is throwing the shot put and discus for the GCC track team.

He said tennis has actually helped his lateral movement in football. Who knew?

“I’ve been playing (tennis) since freshman year at (Greensburg) Salem and I think it helps with my footwork,” Metrosky said. “I try and do it all just to work on everything, plus I’m also weightlifting between the two (sports).”

Sickenberger commits

Latrobe’s Mr. Clutch has a college destination.

Senior point guard Ryan Sickenberger, who had a series of game-winning shots this season, announced he will continue his basketbal career at Division III Allegheny. There, he will join former teammate Michael Noonan, a freshman for the Gators.

All cheers

Mt. Pleasant senior cheerleader Ashley Marne is headed to Delaware to continue her competitive cheering career. Marne was selected as an Inside Cheer All-American.

WCCA events

A couple of Westmoreland County Coaches Association events appear to be headed for a green light.

With the schedule still fluid because of the pandemic, the WCAA will host its track and field championships April 29 at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium.

Also, the 7-on-7 football championship is set to return July 15 at Latrobe High School’s Rossi Field.

Both events were canceled last year.

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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