Early High School Sports Award leader shared plenty of success in fall

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 10:36 p.m.

As the fall sports season comes to an end, four teams in the various classifications throughout the WPIAL have climbed to the top of the ranks in the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award standings.

Peters Township (Class AAAA), Mars (Class AAA), Greensburg Central Catholic (Class AA) and Sewickley Academy (Class A) have outdone their rivals with outstanding team efforts to boost school spirit and gain some bragging rights.

Class AAAA

Peters Township reigns supreme in the WPIAL's largest classification thanks to section championships and deep postseason runs by all of its programs, including the girls soccer and tennis teams, which won state titles.

“It's a true testament to the commitment, coaches and kids to get those types of results,” athletic director Brian Geyer said. “I think it's great for the community and for the school.

“A lot of players put a lot of time and effort into their craft, and it shows from the win-loss standpoint as to how successful we really are.”

The Peters Township community is unique in that its feeder programs — recreational sports and middle school programs — are preparing their athletes for the expectations that come with performing at the high school level.

“The amount of athletes in the community is tremendous,” Geyer said. “I think the partnership that we have with the middle schools is great because by the time the kids come to us they're familiar with what they're expected to do. We put some pressure on our kids and they rise to the occasion with what they do. They want to leave a legacy at Peters Township.”

Class AAA

Mars teams reached the playoffs in all fall sports, captured WPIAL championships in volleyball and girls soccer, and sent two other programs to a championship game. AD Scott Heinauer said he's noticed the students throughout the school are taking note of the accomplishments and have shown a common goal of remaining atop the Trib's standings.

“Obviously, we're very proud of our program, our coaches and all of our athletes. … It's a great achievement at this point in the year,” said Heinauer, also the Planets' football coach. “It talks a lot of school spirit, and it's good for bringing people together and helping the program becoming more well-rounded.”

Heinauer said the different athletes on different teams have come together to support one another.

“This type of standings gives everybody something and someone to root for and take part in,” he said. “It gives everybody a chance to chip in and make the school's sports program known throughout the WPIAL.”

Class AA

Greensburg Central Catholic has shined on the field this season and as proud as AD Dan Mahoney is of the school's athletic accolades, the academic numbers the athletes have shown are just as impressive.

“It's a great feeling and a tribute to our teams and coaches from the fall sports season,” Mahoney said. “The overall outstanding quality of our student-athletes and especially the academic side is great to be recognized for.”

Mahoney credits the student-athletes for their willingness to put the time in both in the weight room and on the field, but also thinks a steady balance of classroom lectures and at-home studying contributes to the quality of student-athletes Greensburg C.C. has produced over the years. He is quick to credit the school's dedicated coaches for educating the players on the importance of good stats and good grade-point averages.

“I just think it shows a total commitment for being an overall student really stands out,” Mahoney said. “You take the different sports, I think the kids and how they manage their time in the classroom and on the field is why we're so solid across the board.”

Class A

Win Palmer estimated that 85 percent of the students at Sewickley Academy take part in athletics. He said the students have shown a will to perform to the highest levels on the field and courts and what's impressed him most has been the amount of class his student-athletes have shown.

“Our participation rate couldn't be any higher for our school,” said Palmer, the school's AD. “An incredible number of students played on our sports. We are so happy with how our athletes performed on the field, but we're also very happy with the sportsmanship.”

Palmer credits the passion of the school's coaches in setting the students up to succeed. He noted that performance is what earned the Panthers their spot in the standings, but it's what goes on in the background that goes unnoticed.

“The coaches are an integral part of success. … They really understand the value of sports education,” Palmer said. “We've been fortunate enough to hire some outstanding young coaches in recent years and have some veteran coaches.

“That combo makes all the difference in the world. Our students love playing for our coaches. They are teachers who love to coach.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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