Westmoreland notebook: Southmoreland duo could become IUP teammates

Sunday, July 18, 2021 | 3:23 PM

IUP has an eye on two Southmoreland basketball standouts. The Crimson Hawks landed one and hope to get the other.

Rising senior forward Gracie Spadaro gave IUP a verbal commitment Saturday, only days after receiving an offer.

Junior point guard Olivia Cernuto, meantime, might mull over her offer a little longer as her high school career continues to take shape.

A top-tier NCAA Division II program, IUP knows Spadaro and Cernuto have one and two years left at the prep level but would love to get a package deal. The pair has been a mainstay the past two seasons as the Scotties have emerged as WPIAL contenders in Class 4A.

Spadaro averaged 13 points and seven rebounds, while Cernuto produced 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and five steals per game as the Scotties made a second straight run to the WPIAL 4A semifinals.

Spadaro, the Trib Westmoreland Player of the Year as a sophomore, also had an offer from Seton Hill, which competes against IUP in the PSAC.

Cernuto could draw high-end interest from soccer, as well. She will be one of the top returning goal scorers in the WPIAL this fall. She also is a talented jumper in track and field.

Cernuto was recently named the Trib Westmoreland Female Athlete of the Year.

Kuhns commits

Another area player also plans to play in the PSAC.

Incoming Greensburg Central Catholic basketball senior Bailey Kuhns committed to play at Mercyhurst in Erie.

The 5-foot-11 guard/forward also had offers from IUP, Alderson Broaddus and Saginaw Valley State.

Kuhns averaged 17 points and 8.3 rebounds, and shot 50% from the field for Centurions last season. She transferred in from Southmoreland during her sophomore season.

Wnek takes lead of WCCA

Andy Wnek was honored when his colleagues suggested he take over the lead role in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association at the start of 2021.

The vice president of the organization when president Larry Sellitto died in December, Wnek accepted the promotion to help the WCCA continue to flourish and to carry on Sellitto’s vision.

“Big shoes to fill,” said Wnek, 70, the longtime track and field coach at Latrobe. “Larry had such enthusiasm and was a go-getter. He was the kind of guy who could influence people just by what he said.”

The first first six months or so on the job have been taxing for Wnek, but he has had plenty of help.

He said county events often are a by-committee effort, with numerous volunteers working behind the scenes to run events in wrestling, football (7-on-7), basketball, golf, track and field, cross country and swimming/diving.

“You come in thinking it’s going to be a cushy job,” Wnek said. “You realize how much Larry did. But we have so many good people who help us run events. To do the things we do, we need cooperation from host schools and we need to finance things like paying referees. People ask why we charge admission; that is why. It takes a lot of people to make things work.”

The WCCA added Sellitto’s name to its 7-on-7 championships.

Wnek, a retired biology teacher, said there also is a scholarship named after Sellitto. Tatum Hoffman of Ligonier Valley was the inaugural winner for 2020-21. Another scholarship is in the works for ‘22.

The association has been awarding $1,000-plus scholarships since 2019, with others in the name of the WCCA, Nick Pecoraro and Bob Van Atta.

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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