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Leechburg votes to leave WPIAL for Heritage Conference

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By Brian C. Rittmeyer and George Guido
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 1:11 a.m.
 

Leechburg Area School District sports teams could leave the WPIAL as early as the 2014-15 school year.

The district's teams would switch to the Heritage Conference.

The school board Wednesday voted 8-0 to authorize district administrators to “take any and all necessary actions” to begin removing the district's teams from the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) and provide notification to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association of the district's interest in joining District 6 and the Heritage Conference. The PIAA is the state's governing body for high school sports.

Leechburg Area officials have previously discussed moving from the WPIAL to Heritage.

The Heritage Conference is made up of schools in District 6 of the PIAA.

Leechburg Area Board President Terry Knepshield said the WPIAL would have to vote to let Leechburg Area leave, and the Heritage Conference would have to vote to accept the district.

Knepshield said the Heritage Conference consists of schools similar in size to Leechburg Area, and does not have private schools that can recruit players.

The Heritage Conference consists of small schools in rural Indiana and Cambria counties. They include Saltsburg, Blairsville, Ligonier Valley, Northern Cambria, Penns Manor, Purchase Line, Marion Center, United and Homer Center.

The conference has been looking for a 10th member since Ligonier and Laurel Valley merged into one school.

Ligonier, Saltsburg and Blairsville were WPIAL members until 1970.

The conference sponsors most interscholastic sports, along with competitive cheer and debate.

That Heritage offers competitions in academics and cheerleading are factors in Leechburg Area's decision, according to Knepshield.

Knepshield said the district's coaches favor the move.

Leechburg's membership in the WPIAL began in 1919. The sports rivalries with Springdale, Riverview, St. Joseph and other schools would end, though the schools can still schedule non-conference engagements if common open dates are available.

Longtime teacher to retire

The school board accepted the retirement of Denise Cechvala, secondary English teacher, at the end of the school year. Cechvala served as co-sponsor of the student newspaper, the “Trotty Veck.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com. George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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