WPIAL track championships leaving Baldwin for Slippery Rock University

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | 2:09 PM


After three decades, Baldwin no longer will host the WPIAL track and field championships.

The WPIAL board voted Tuesday to move the individual track championships to Slippery Rock University, ending its extended stay at Baldwin’s stadium. The decision comes two months after Baldwin-Whitehall superintendent Randal Lutz questioned whether the district should continue to host WPIAL events.

Baldwin had hosted the Class AAA meet 30 out of 32 years since 1987 (excluding 1989-90), and the Class AA competition moved there in 2009.

“Baldwin was a great place for us,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. “We appreciated it, but it became problematic from their perspective.”

O’Malley noted Slippery Rock’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium has many of the amenities that made Baldwin an attractive site but also provides better parking.

“They have eight lanes (on the track), from a field standpoint they have two of everything, they have tremendous parking, it’s a college facility, it’s in Butler County — which is in our district — and they’re willing to host it,” O’Malley said. “We’re happy to be able to go.”

Lutz said Tuesday that Baldwin hadn’t heard from the WPIAL and his school district “absolutely” would have continued to host the track championships if asked.

“We were geared up as if we were moving forward,” said Lutz, adding that they already scheduled a half-day of classes for the championship date next May. “I think it’s unfortunate that no one (at the WPIAL) was able to have a conversation to say we’re considering something else.”

The WPIAL also moved the team track championships from Baldwin to Peters Township.

Lutz had said at a school board meeting in June that the WPIAL postseason events helped Baldwin booster groups raise money but considered them burdensome, since they don’t make money for the school district and cause wear and tear on facilities.

“Our intent was to have internal conversations to make sure that we’re protecting our interests, as well,” Lutz said Tuesday. “That doesn’t mean we weren’t interested (in hosting) at all. It’s contrary to that, for sure.”

The WPIAL board Tuesday finalized 2018-19 championship sites for all sports. The volleyball championships Baldwin had hosted also moved. North Hills will host the boys finals, and Fox Chapel was chosen to host the girls.

The softball championships will return to Cal (Pa.) next spring after one season at Seton Hill. The WPIAL needed an alternate site while Cal’s softball field was renovated.

The WPIAL field hockey championships are moving from North Allegheny to Fox Chapel, but moving track out of Baldwin was the most drastic switch. Slippery Rock will host the WPIAL track championships May 16, two days before District 10 holds its track championships there.

“Unfortunately, that’s what the WPIAL thought was in the best interest of the meet,” longtime Baldwin track coach Ed Helbig said. “I’ll go along with that decision. Slippery Rock has a good facility. It will be a good meet up there. I’m just sorry to see it leave Baldwin. It was something we took a lot of pride in.”

2018-19 WPIAL championships schedule

FALL SPORTS

Cross country: CalU, Oct. 25

Field hockey: Fox Chapel, Oct. 29-30

Football (A, 3A, 4A, 6A): Heinz Field, Nov. 17

Football (2A): Robert Morris, Nov. 24

Football (5A): Norwin, Nov. 23

Golf (boys and girls team): Cedarbrook GC, Oct. 11

Golf (boys 2A individual): Allegheny CC, Sept. 27

Golf (boys 3A individual): Oakmont CC, Oct. 2

Golf (girls 2A, 3A individual): Diamond Run GC, Oct. 3

Soccer (boys and girls): Highmark Stadium, Nov. 1-3

Tennis (girls singles finals): North Allegheny or Shady Side, Sept. 21

Tennis (doubles finals): North Allegheny or Shady Side, Oct. 4

Tennis (team): North Allegheny or Shady Side, TBD

WINTER SPORTS

Basketball (boys and girls): Petersen Events Center, Feb 28-March 2

Gymnastics (individual and team): Moon, Feb 15-16

Rifle (individual and team): Dormont Sportsmen’s Club, Feb 12-14

Spirit: Hempfield, Jan. 5

Swimming: Trees Pool, TBD (week of Feb. 25)

Diving (AA): South Park, Feb. 22

Diving (AAA): North Allegheny, Feb. 23

Wrestling (team): Canon-McMillan, Feb. 2

Wrestling (individual AA): Canon-McMillan, Feb. 15-16

Wrestling (individual AAA): Canon-McMillan, March 1-2

SPRING SPORTS

Baseball: Wild Things Park, May 28-29

Lacrosse (girls): Robert Morris, May 23

Lacrosse (boys): Robert Morris, May 24

Softball: CalU, May 29-30

Tennis (boys AA, AAA singles finals): North Allegheny or Shady Side, April 16

Tennis (boys AA, AAA doubles finals): North Allegheny or Shady Side, April 30

Tennis (team): North Allegheny or Shady Side, TBD

Track (team): Peters Township, May 6

Track (individual): Slippery Rock University, May 16

Volleyball (boys): North Hills, May 23

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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