Penn-Trafford athletes prepare for college
Six more Penn-Trafford seniors will continue their athletic careers next season at the Division I or Division II levels.
Seniors Mia Barchetti (golf), Haley Borkovich (golf), Matthew Loughner (swimming), Chelsia Poole (cross country/track), Miranda Wallace (soccer) and Ryan Winslow (wrestling) recently signed letters of intent.
Barchetti and Borkovich will continue their careers at the Division I level — at Youngstown State and St. Francis (Pa.), respectively — and the other four will pursue opportunities in Division II: Loughner at Gannon, Poole and Wallace at Seton Hill and Winslow at Wheeling Jesuit.
The two Division I recruits continue a successful season for the Penn-Trafford girls golf team, which won the WPIAL title and finished second in the state.
“I think it says that we all worked really hard to get to this point, and we did amazing things as a team,” Borkovich said. “It's kind of sad, actually, that we're all leaving.”
Borkovich, who placed sixth at the WPIAL individual championship this season and 13th at the PIAA individual championship, said she “randomly” found St. Francis one day when searching for schools with her mother. The Red Flash compete in the Northeast Conference and finished fifth of 11 teams at the NEC Championship this season.
Borkovich and her mother visited St. Francis' campus, which is located in Loretto, and met golf coach Mary Kate Williams. The interest became mutual, and Borkovich said she jumped on the scholarship offer when it came.
“I want to have a lot of competition while playing, (because) that will make me better,” said Borkovich, who plans to major in international studies with a minor in Spanish. “That's partly why I chose the school.”
The allure of Division I golf also attracted Barchetti, who placed 20th at the WPIAL individual championship this season.
Youngstown State competes in the Horizon League, and the Penguins placed second out of eight teams at the conference championships in April.
Barchetti said she had many Division II and Division III offers, but Youngstown State jumped to the top of her list when it offered.
“My main thing about college was I wanted to play at the highest level I could possibly, and it being Division I definitely played a large role in my decision,” Barchetti said. “As far as the program, they are very well-equipped. They have a great facility, they have a good team and the coach (Roseann Schwartz) is very determined in everything she does.”
Schwartz, who began the Youngstown State program in 1996, announced her retirement last week.
Barchetti, who plans to major in mathematics with a minor in international business, said she also was attracted to the campus.
“It's nice to go to a school where it's big, but it's still small enough to probably get to know a lot of people,” she said.
Loughner, who finished third in the 50-yard freestyle at the WPIAL championship this season, went the opposite direction as Barchetti and Borkovich, looking mostly at schools in the Division II level.
“I wasn't really into this big Division I schools, and I thought I'd swim more at a Division II level,” he said.
At Gannon, Loughner will pursue a major in physical therapy. The Erie-based university offers a full seven-year program for the major, which Loughner said was a major attraction because he might otherwise have to attend two colleges to get his degree.
Gannon competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and finished fourth of seven teams at this year's championships.
“They're a rising team,” Loughner said. “They did pretty good at PSACs. Although they're losing quite a few seniors this year, I'm excited to fill those spots and help them out as much as I can.”
Location played a big role in the decisions of Poole and Wallace, both of whom will attend Greensburg-based Seton Hill.
Poole, who finished 27th at the WPIAL cross country championships and runs distance races for the track and field team, said Seton Hill first approached her at a cross country invitational in the fall.
“At that point, I was not interested at all,” she said, laughing. “I did not want to go to Seton Hill, because it's so close, and at that time I was trying to get into the Air Force Academy. Then down the road, when I figured out that I don't want to go far away, Seton Hill started to play a bigger role in my decision.”
Seton Hill will move to the PSAC next season after previously competing in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Griffins placed second in the WVIAC last season.
Poole, Penn-Trafford's nominee for the WPIAL Scholar-Athlete and Judge John J. Driscoll awards, will major in accounting at Seton Hill. In addition to cross country and outdoor track, she will run indoor track for the first time.
“I like the outdoors,” Poole said of track. “People like (indoor), so I'm sure I will.”
Wallace led the Penn-Trafford girls to a Section 1-AAA soccer championship this season and said the closeness of Seton Hill set it apart from other schools.
She said she plans to live at home while attending the university.
“A lot of people say they want to have the whole dorm and college experience, but I'm afraid of dorms,” she said. “So I don't really mind living at home.”
Seton Hill's impending move to the PSAC also attracted Wallace, who plans to major in medical technology. The Griffins finished 10-7-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the WVIAC in 2012.
“There's at least 18 teams in the division, which (means) there'll be a lot more competition,” she said. “So I'm excited for that, as well.”
Winslow previously decided to attend Wheeling Jesuit, which is beginning its wrestling program next year.
“It's definitely exciting,” Winslow said of joining the first-year program. “It'll definitely go down in history. We'll be the first class to graduate for that wrestling program, (because) it's brand new.”
In addition to those six, nearly a dozen other P-T athletes have determined where they will play in college next season.
The list includes: Nicole Hyland (Geneva/basketball), Jake Marino (Grove City/swimming), Maddy Mossellem (Penn State Altoona/basketball), Brian Niemec (St. Vincent/tennis), Morgan Rector (Mount Union/golf), Sarah Rupchak (Carlow/tennis), Alexis Ryan (Allegheny College/softball), Isaac Shannon (Pitt Greensburg/hockey), Amanda Steffey (Washington & Jefferson/field hockey) and Alexa Williams (Case Western/soccer).
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.