High school notebook: Highlands shelves wrestling for a year
Dwindling interest has forced Highlands to suspend its varsity wrestling program for a year.
The program was down to just five wrestlers, all juniors. Those wrestlers still will be allowed to compete in tournaments and the WPIAL individual postseason.
“We have five kids, and one has a broken wrist,” Highlands athletic director Matt Bonislawski said. “Before we get back into the WPIAL, we have to show we can fill out an exhibition schedule. You have to go into a season with at least 12 kids.”
Highlands second-year coach Logan Downes said the team is scrambling to add more tournaments to the now-depleted schedule.
“My biggest concern was that the kids we do have wouldn't be able to go to sections or anything,” Downes said. “At least they can compete for individual titles.”
Downes said he can't pinpoint the reason for the program's decline.
“Who knows? Maybe the kids don't want to put in the time,” he said. “Maybe it's us as coaches. Maybe the kids are used to things being a certain way. Times have changed.”
Bonislawski said participation has trended downward across the last few school years.
“We had 22 kids in 2009-10, then 15 the next year, then nine, “ Bonislawski said. “Now, we have four. You can't justify paying officials and for bus trips when you only have a few kids. It doesn't make sense, at least for us.”
Official WPIAL practice began Friday, and the regular season opens Dec. 7.
Highlands' junior high program, also plagued by low numbers, also has been suspended for one year.
Eleven local players were selected to play in the Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association's all-star games, set for Saturday at Moon Area High School.
In the Class A game at 10 a.m., Springdale's Jared Cole (MF) and Joey Wysocki (GK) will play on one team, while the other squad will include Riverview's Dom DiDomenico (MF) and Cole Quinio (MF), and St. Joseph's Domenico Schiano DiCola (F).
In the Class AA game at noon, Deer Lakes' Zach Urbanek (F) and Knoch's Andy Fritz (GK) and Alex Slomer (MF) will be on one team, and Burrell's Pete Spagnolo (F) will compete for the other.
Plum's Matt Baleno (F) and Shane Rings (MF) were picked for the Class AAA game, set for 2 p.m.
Paul Kogut and Bill Beckner Jr. are staff writers for Trib Total Media. They can be reached at 724-224-2696.