North Allegheny to honor Hall of Fame inductees
Over the years, North Allegheny has emerged as one of the premier schools in western Pennsylvania and the state when it comes to athletic achievement.
That point was driven home with the announcement of this year's North Allegheny Hall of Fame honorees, an evolutionary chain of success that begins with high school standouts and coaching legends and leads to Olympic athletes and diplomatic heavy hitters.
“I owe everything to North Allegheny,” said Jake Herbert, a Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association wrestling champion who went on to become a two-time NCAA champion and silver medalist at the world championships. “It's where I started out and where I really grew and changed and found myself. I was always a pretty good wrestler, but I didn't explode on the scene until college. NA game me all the tools I needed for that path.”
He and the other inductees will be honored at the 17th annual North Allegheny dinner at 5 p.m. Oct. 3 at The Chadwick, 1 Wexford Square, McCandless.
Herbert, 27, who graduated from North Allegheny in 2003, represented the United States in wrestling in the 2012 Olympics. He now lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., and runs his own start-up sports-apparel company, Double Leg Ninja.
Along with Herbert, this year's inductees are:
• Mieke Weissert, Class of 1990, an all-American gymnast with multiple WPIAL and PIAA championship medals.
• Jenny Mackay, Class of 1993, a four-time WPIAL champion as a member of the swimming team. She was a perennial top finisher in both the WPIAL and PIAA for the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle.
• Scott Kofmehl, Class of 1999, an all-WPIAL, all-PIAA and academic all-American volleyball player. He currently is the chief of staff for the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan.
• Andy Dobies, Class of 2001, a southpaw pitcher who led the Tigers to the 2000 state championship. After a stellar career at the University of Virginia, he became a third-round pick of the Boston Red Sox.
• Jake Jopling, Class of 2001, a WPIAL tennis singles champion who was runner-up at the PIAA tournament his senior year. He is only the second four-year singles No. 1 in Tigers history.
• Jill Dorsch, Class of 2003, a softball catcher who played for two WPIAL and one PIAA championship teams. She had a career batting average of .408 and allowed only five errors spread over four years as a starter.
• Molly Friel, Class of 2004, a three-sport letter winner who competed in cross country, basketball and track. She was a member of multiple WPIAL gold-winning relay teams and also was an all-section hoops player.
• Rachel Divosevic, Class of 2006, an all-section basketball player who netted more than 1,000 career points.
• Recently retired NA swimming coach Kirk “Corky” Semler, who led the Tigers to 26 WPIAL and nine state titles. More than 150 of his swimmers achieved all-American status.
“It's a tremendous honor,” said Semler, 60, of McCandless. “North Allegheny is a special place. To be in the hall of fame of a school of that caliber is humbling.”
State championship teams and individuals will be honored as well, including the 2013 football squad; 2013 boys water polo team; 2013-14 hockey team; swimmer Zach Buerger, a 200 IM and 500 freestyle winner; and the 1982 football team.
Other awards go to:
• Maureen Grosheider, a longtime school board member and supporter of athletic programs, who will receive the Joseph Drazenovich Award for Legendary Service.
• Former Unified Booster Organization President Jill Guthrie, who will be recognized with the Bob Miller Award for outstanding support of North Allegheny athletics.
• Jim LeDonne, who has coached cross country, wrestling and track and will receive the Distinguished Coaching Service Award.
“All these people go through an extensive evaluation process through the hall committee,” said NA Hall of Fame chairman Bob Buzzuto, also NA's athletic director. “Looking at their contribution to athletics, they are proven to be a fantastic group.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.