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Southmoreland star headed to Roundball Classic

Tommy Szatkowski is one busy young man.

The Southmoreland senior always has been active in sports and, this spring, he has been a key member of the track team. But next week, he`ll take a small break from track to take part in a celebration of his favorite sport — basketball.

Szatkowski is one of 14 WPIAL Class AAA seniors to be selected for the 2012 Roundball Classic, to be played April 21 at Geneva College.

'It`s definitely an honor,' he said. 'It`s a big-time game, and I`m definitely honored and blessed to play in the game with these great athletes and players.'

Szatkowski, a 5-9 guard, admitted to being more than a little surprised by his selection to the Class AAA team, which includes Highlands guard Micah Mason, Greensburg Salem forward Julian Thompson and Uniontown forward Marcus Thomas.

'I was shocked when I first found out,' Szatkowski said.

Szatkowski has been the workhorse of the track team this spring, regularly competing in the 400, 1,600 and 3,200 relays as well as the long jump. He and his relay mates have won the majority of their races and, not coincidentally, the Scotties are 6-0.

'(Coach Bill Schrecengost) has me running, but I told him I would do whatever it takes to help the team win,' Szatkowski said.

In his Southmoreland career, Szatkowski has always been a standout athlete, but what has made him successful are the times when things haven`t gone his way.

'The way I look at it is that I always want to be the best, but I always think of the failures,' Szatkowski said, citing the 2010 football season when the Scotties lost to Mt. Pleasant in the regular-season finale, a result that kept them from the playoffs. 'Failures are what drives us to get better, and I use them to make myself better.'

Szatkowski`s drive isn`t limited to athletics.

'I have been my class president for all four of my years,' he said. 'I like it because I get to interact with my classmates, and people realize I`m not just an athlete.'

Basketball coach Frank Muccino said Szatkowski`s leadership qualities are always on display.

'He always goes above and beyond, and he shows what it is like to be a real leader,' Muccino said. 'It`s quite an honor that he will be representing our school in the Roundball Classic next week.'

The event may be the last time Szatkowski represents the Scotties on the court, but he hopes to play in college. He said he has received interest from Division II Slippery Rock as well as D-III schools Bethany (W.Va.) College and Capital University of Columbus, Ohio.

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