WPIAL Captures 34 State Championships in 2022 Winter Slate

Monday, April 11, 2022

Pittsburgh, Pa. – The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) continued an impressive 2021-2022 academic year at the state level, earning 34 championships across eight sports.

The WPIAL collected 27 individual and seven team titles in the winter, netting nine of those in the sport of wrestling. Three of the WPIAL’s championships were in the sport of gymnastics, which the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) doesn’t sponsor a championship event in.

Below is a brief recap of the WPIAL’s performance in each state championship this past winter.

For the second time over the last three tournaments, the WPIAL produced multiple PIAA boys’ basketball champions as Our Lady of Sacred Heart (2A) and Bishop Canevin (1A) emerged victorious. PIAA District VII has now won multiple state titles on 17 occasions, previously doing so in 2019 with Moon (5A) and Lincoln Park (3A).

Our Lady of Sacred Heart became the 19th different WPIAL school to win a second PIAA championship, and the first since Blackhawk in 1996 to win consecutive titles. Bishop Canevin’s championship was its first in school history.

The Chargers were dominant in their run to a repeat, finishing it off with a victory over PIAA District XII champion Constitution, 92-71, on March 25. OLSH defeated United (75-50), Carlynton (74-43), Ridgway (54-27), and Kennedy Catholic (78-68) en route to the championship. Fort Cherry, Greensburg Central Catholic, and Carlynton all reached the second round in the 2A bracket, while Sto-Rox and Winchester Thurston were the other WPIAL qualifiers.

The Crusaders’ first PIAA trophy came thanks to five wins – four coming by double-digits – including a 64-47 triumph over District IV winner St. John Neumann in the final on March 24. Bishop Canevin reached the final with victories over Johnsonburg (73-40), DuBois Central (68-33), Imani Christian Academy (53-45), and Elk County (47-21). Union and Imani Christian Academy were quarterfinalists in 1A, and Geibel Catholic and Rochester also made the PIAA tournament.

New Castle was one of three WPIAL schools to claim silver, earning it in 5A after falling to Imhotep Charter in the championship game, 54-39. The Red Hurricane punched its ticket to Hershey with wins over Northeastern (63-50), Central Mountain (85-34), Penn Hills (43-35), and Gateway (59-39). Gateway qualified for the semifinals, while Laurel Highlands and Penn Hills were both quarterfinalists. Highlands and Hampton bowed out in the second and first rounds, respectively.

Quaker Valley was the PIAA runner-up for 4A following a 93-68 defeat to Neumann-Goretti in the title tilt. The Quakers reached the championship game with wins over Hickory (67-51), Belle Vernon (86-45), Fairview (54-48), and Archbishop Carroll (67-60). Montour, Lincoln Park, and Belle Vernon all earned at least one PIAA win in the 4A bracket, with the Spartans qualifying for the quarterfinals. Deer Lakes and Burrell both fell in the first round.

Aliquippa, the WPIAL’s third-seeded team in 3A, nearly completed a storybook run to the PIAA title before falling to Devon Prep in the final, 76-58. The Quips collected wins over Brookville (53-50), Neshannock (53-45), Avonworth (64-49), and South Allegheny (53-41) to book their trip to Hershey. South Allegheny was a semifinalist, and Avonworth reached the quarterfinals. Shady Side Academy, Ellwood City, and Neshannock all won one PIAA game, while Washington was the league’s seventh qualifier.

In 6A, Fox Chapel was the highest WPIAL finisher by reaching the semifinals, ultimately falling to Archbishop Wood, 56-54. North Hills made the quarterfinals, while Central Catholic and Mt. Lebanon saw their seasons come to an end in the first round.

Neshannock continued a streak of four consecutive PIAA girls’ basketball tournaments with a champion from the WPIAL, as it claimed the 2A crown. The Lancers are the 27th different school from PIAA District VII to earn a state championship, and the WPIAL’s fifth first-time winner since 2018.

Entering the bracket as the 2021 runner-up, Neshannock finished one spot better after topping PIAA District IV champion Southern Columbia, 62-56, on March 25. The Lancers defeated Penns Manor (46-23), Cambridge Springs (44-25), Shenango (51-17), and Bellwood-Antis (61-53) to reach the final. Shenango (quarterfinals), Serra Catholic (second round), and Seton LaSalle (second round) all won at least one game, while Our Lady of Sacred Heart, Apollo-Ridge, and Burgettstown were the other WPIAL qualifiers.

Mt. Lebanon was one of three WPIAL teams to finish in the runner-up position, falling to Plymouth-Whitemarsh in the 6A championship game, 60-40. The Blue Devils reached Hershey with wins over Red Lion (50-19), Bethel Park (50-41), Easton (46-31), and Central Dauphin (41-35). Bethel Park made the second round, and Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny bowed out on the opening night.

In a rematch of the 2021 PIAA 5A girls’ basketball final, Chartiers Valley fell to District XII champion Cardinal O’Hara, 42-19. The Colts rebounded from a WPIAL title tilt defeat to punch its ticket to Hershey, winning games over Harbor Creek (65-16), Hollidaysburg (70-47), Gettysburg (39-35), and McKeesport (59-50). McKeesport qualified for the semifinals, Moon reached the quarterfinals, and South Fayette and Oakland Catholic both won their first-round contests. Greater Latrobe and Trinity fell in the opening round.

Freedom Area earned a silver medal in the 3A classification following a 55-49 defeat to Neumann-Goretti in the championship game. The Bulldogs collected victories over Westmont Hilltop (44-31), Greenville (56-28), and River Valley (56-50) before avenging their WPIAL title game loss to North Catholic with a 45-39 triumph. North Catholic (semifinals) and Laurel (second round) both picked up a win in their state playoff runs, with Waynesburg Central, Avonworth, and Keystone Oaks serving as District VII’s other qualifiers.

In 4A, Blackhawk was the highest finishing WPIAL team by reaching the quarterfinals, ultimately bowing out with a 54-27 defeat to Villa Maria Academy. Knoch and Southmoreland made the second round, while Elizabeth Forward, Quaker Valley, and Montour all saw their seasons end in the first round.

Union was the top WPIAL team in 1A, falling in the quarterfinals to Portage, 32-27. Bishop Canevin picked up a first-round victory, while Aquinas Academy, Saint Joseph, West Greene, and Monessen all dropped their opening game.

For the first time in school history, Seneca Valley captured the PIAA boys’ swimming & diving championship as its 188 points topped runner-up La Salle College by 14. The Raiders are the ninth different WPIAL school to win the state crown, and PIAA District VII’s ninth team champion since 2009.

Individually, the WPIAL took home gold in nine events across the 2A and 3A classifications.

The two wins in 3A came during the 200 Individual Medley and 400 Freestyle Relay. Seneca Valley’s Daniel Simoes posted a time of 1:48.87, edging Wilson’s Takoda Heckman by 0.86 seconds, and he swam anchor leg of the 400 Free Relay, teaming up with Kevin Donaldson, Gavin Blazer, and Zach Lozowski to touch the wall in 3:05.37 – 0.16 seconds better than runner-up North Penn.

Indiana’s Preston Kessler won a pair of 2A gold medals, capturing the top spot in the 100 and 200 Freestyles. Kessler topped Susquehannock’s Jacob Wade in the former, clocking in at 44.96 seconds, then finished the 200 Free in 1:40.39 to beat Sharon’s Matt Cattron.

The Riverside quartet of Joseph Roth, Ryan Turner, Sam Kline, and Alexander Roth were victorious in the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays. In the 200, they posted a time of 1:25.86 – beating Blue Mountain to the wall by 1.60 seconds. The gap was 1.38 seconds in the 400 Free Relay, as the Panthers clocked in at 3:09.95 to defeat Springfield Township.

Joseph Roth added a third 2A gold medal in the 100 Backstroke, posting a new PIAA record time of 48.44 seconds to top Cathedral Prep’s Mitchell Bradford by 1.67 seconds.

Northgate’s Matthew Purcell captured the 2A title in the 500 Freestyle, touching the wall in 4:35.14 to edge MMI Prep’s Woobie Kupsky.

It was a three-way sprint in the 100 Butterfly, but Southmoreland’s Henry Miller took home the crown with a time of 49.83 seconds – beating a pair of runners-up by 0.55 seconds.

Hampton’s Will Retsch made it a clean sweep for the WPIAL in the 200 Individual Medley, winning in the 2A classification with a time of 1:50.59 – besting Boiling Springs’ Braelen Mowe by 1.91 seconds.

The WPIAL saw four student-athletes and a relay team bring home gold medals at the PIAA Girls’ Swimming & Diving Championships on March 16-19, as PIAA District VII won six events in all.

Mt. Pleasant’s Lily King put on a performance to remember in her PIAA debut, capturing the win in the 50 and 100 Freestyles and swimming the anchor leg of the winning 400 Freestyle Relay effort. Her time of 22.66 seconds in the 50 Free broke a nine-year PIAA record of 22.91, and she outlasted fellow WPIAL student-athlete Elise Nardozzi of Northgate in the 100 Free with a time of 49.78 seconds.

Nardozzi earned the win in the 200 Freestyle, touching the wall in 1:49.09 to defeat Warren’s Katie Beyer by 1.82 seconds.

Mapletown’s Ella Menear took home the 200 Individual Medley title in 2A, posting a time of 2:00.50 to edge Lewisburg’s Kimberly Shannon by 0.30 seconds.

In the final event of the 2A classification, the team of Reegan Brown, Trinity Graft, SaraJo Gardner, and King won the 400 Freestyle Relay for Mt. Pleasant with a time of 3:30.64 – topping runner-up Schuylkill Valley by 2.84 seconds.

There was one PIAA champion from the WPIAL in the 3A classification, as North Allegheny’s Christina Shi repeated in the 1-Meter Dive with a score of 428.45 – 4.30 points higher than runner-up Gabby Filzen of Perkiomen Valley.

The WPIAL again showcased its reputation as one of the best PIAA districts in wrestling, winning a state-best nine PIAA titles between the 2A and 3A classifications at the PIAA Wrestling Individual Championships on March 10-12. PIAA District VII captured seven of a possible 13 gold medals in 3A, and saw a pair of repeat champions in 2A.

Greater Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary used a 12-3 major decision over Dover’s Mason Leiphart to take home the gold at 120, which was his second PIAA title. Kilkeary, previously the 2020 3A champion at 106, won his first match with a 1:46 pinfall, then topped his quarterfinal and semifinal opponents by scores of 7-2 and 12-6.

Mac Church was one of two Waynesburg Central student-athletes to win their weight class, earning the top spot on the 132 podium with a 3-1 decision over Central Dauphin’s Matt Repos. Church’s second PIAA title – previously winning at 120 last year – started with a 13-2 major decision before two more highly-contested matches of 2-0 and 3-1.

West Allegheny’s Ty Watters captured the gold at 145, thanks to a 7-4 win over Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon in an all-WPIAL matchup. Watters began his march to the title with a pinfall in 1:32, then scored wins of 7-3 and 12-5 to set up a showdown with Solomon.

Chartiers Valley’s Dylan Evans brought home the win at 152, edging Cathedral Prep’s Kaemen Smith by a 3-2 decision. Evans started his tournament with a 4-2 first-round win, then added triumphs of 10-3 and 8-1 to reach the final.

Connellsville’s Jared Keslar was victorious at 160, claiming the gold medal with a 7-5 decision over Central Dauphin’s Ryan Garvick. Keslar opened the bracket with a 12-3 major decision before winning by scores of 5-3 and 7-1 to advance to the gold medal match.

Waynesburg Central’s Rocco Welsh put together the most dominant run of the 3A championships at 172, winning his championship match over Interboro’s Dom D’Agostino with a 24-8 technical fall in 5:00. Welsh started with a 23-8 technical fall in 3:46, then posted a quarterfinal pinfall in 2:00 before adding another technical fall of 20-5 in just 2:40.

Thomas Jefferson’s Brian Finnerty earned the title at 215, topping Belle Vernon’s Cole Weightman by a narrow 6-5 decision in a rematch of the WPIAL 3A final. Each of Finnerty’s PIAA matches were decided by two points or less, as he compiled decisions of 3-1, 4-2, and 2-0 to set up a final bout with Weightman.

Frazier’s Rune Lawrence repeated as the 2A champion at 172, completing his successful reign with a pinfall of Saucon Valley’s Jake Jones in 4:43. Lawrence ultimately pinned three of his four opponents, doing so in 1:38 in the first round and 3:43 in the semifinals, with a 7-0 quarterfinal decision sandwiched in between.

Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer won his second straight 2A title at 215 and his third PIAA gold medal overall, doing so in dominant fashion with a pin of West Perry’s Brad Morrison in 1:07. Pitzer, the 2019 2A champion at 189, pinned all four of his opponents, doing so in 0:45, 0:58, and 1:23 to reach the final.

The WPIAL sent seven teams to the WPIAL Wrestling Team Championships on Feb. 7-12, with Waynesburg Central claiming a top finish of third in the 3A classification. The Raiders earned bronze with a 31-30 triumph over Williamsport, and also defeated Dallastown (45-21), Mifflin County (31-24), and Greater Latrobe (36-30) over the weekend.

Connellsville and Greater Latrobe both bowed out in the fourth round of the consolations, and Canon-McMillian fell in the second consolation round.

Burrell, Quaker Valley, and Burgettstown all competed in the 2A bracket, with the Buccaneers reaching the second consolation round as the top WPIAL finisher.

McGuffey’s Riley Dunn finished fourth overall at the Pennsylvania High School 3P Smallbore Championship on Feb. 18-20, posting a score of 562-17 to finish just behind Emmaus’ Griffin Lake, Bishop Carroll’s Emily Bennett, and Everett’s Joey Kovach. Dunn, the WPIAL individual champion, registered a 190-5 in prone, 183-3 in standing, and 189-9 in kneeling to place just outside the top three.

Upper St. Clair competed as a team and placed 11th overall with a total score of 1675-25. The Panthers were represented by John Walsh (539-12), Larissa Hobba (410-7), Logan Wells (383-3), and Cole Super (343-3), with Walsh’s individual finish of 24th being the highest on the team.

Moon’s Harrison Readshaw finished 30th overall with a score of 531-8.

Both the team and all-around gymnastics state champions were from the WPIAL, as Moon and Abby Rexrode of Baldwin captured gold at the PA Classic Gymnastic State Championships on Feb. 18-19.

Moon brought home the team title with a total score of 147.867, edging Baldwin by 2.658 points. The Tigers posted the highest scores in the vault (38.067), balance beam (37.100), and floor exercise (37.450) competitions, and finished second behind Altoona in the uneven bars (35.250). Central Valley (143.042) and Thomas Jefferson (142.700) finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

Baldwin’s Abby Rexrode topped Moon’s Lauren Hoff by 0.167 for the all-around gold medal, finishing with a score of 37.767. Rexrode won the balance beam competition with a tally of 9.650, ahead of runner-up Ashlynn Ealy of Hopewell at 9.500, and finished second in the floor exercise (9.550), and fourth in the vault (9.517) and uneven bars (9.050).

In the Silver division of the team competition, West Allegheny took home the win with a score of 139.951, with Montour’s 134.476 good for third.

Plum’s Sarah Kvortek earned the all-around title in the Gold individual division with a score of 36.500, thanks in part to a win in the vault (9.500). Montour’s Dailyn Hopkins posted the top balance beam score at 9.275, and Hopewell’s Meghan Kelly finished first in the floor exercise (9.275).

In the Bronze individual division, Central Valley’s Kaitlyn Sullivan won the vault with a score of 8.767.

For the second time in WPIAL history, PIAA District VII produced multiple winners at the PIAA Competitive Spirit Championships on Jan. 28-29 as Hempfield Area and Neshannock brought home the gold.

Hempfield Area was crowned the 3A Large Varsity champions with a score of 94.20, topping Cumberland Valley by 1.30 points. South Fayette and Penn-Trafford also reached the final round in the classification, finishing third and sixth, respectively.

Neshannock brought home the 2A Large Varsity championship, posting a score of 84.90 to top Elk County Catholic by 0.27 points. Laurel also made the final out of the WPIAL, placing fourth.

WPIAL schools also reached the final round of the 3A Small Varsity, 2A Small Varsity, and Co-Ed Varsity classifications. Butler placed runner-up in the Co-Ed Varsity final, and Ringgold finished 10th in the 2A Small Varsity competition. North Hills and Thomas Jefferson finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3A Small Varsity final.

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