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Guido: WPIAL title sweep as tough as ever

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Brandon Bergstrom (left) avoids the slide of Seneca Valley's Donald Valentine at second base while trying to turn a double play during a PIAA Class AAAA baseball quarterfinal game Friday, June 7, 2013, at Pullman Park in Butler.

The WPIAL trifecta remains elusive.

Once again, an academic sports year has passed, and no school has won football, basketball and baseball titles in the same year.

A number of schools have won two titles in the aforementioned sports.

For instance, North Allegheny won in football and baseball this past year, becoming the eighth school to accomplish that feat. The Tigers, however, lost in the Class AAAA basketball semifinals to neighboring Hampton.

Three schools have won football and basketball titles, only to be eliminated in baseball semifinal action — Clairton (1988-89 academic year), Shady Side Academy (1998-99) and Serra Catholic (2007-08).

In the 1954-55 school year, McKeesport won in basketball, then beat Ken High for WPIAL baseball honors. But Clairton was the WPIAL football champion in the fall of 1954 because it had the most Gardner Points and didn't have to play in a championship game.

This year marked the second time North Allegheny pulled off winning football and baseball in the same sports year. The Tigers also achieved the feat 1990-91.

The only other school to win in both of those sports in the same academic year is Penn Hills, which did it in back-to-back years, winning football and baseball in 1977-78 and 1978-79.

The WPIAL has crowned champions in all three sports for 101 years.

Reconsidering Heritage

Is the Leechburg Area School District getting cold feet regarding the move from the WPIAL to the District 6 Heritage Conference?

The school board will revisit the issue at its meeting Wednesday night at the Parker D. Baker building.

Leechburg already has been given approval for the move by the WPIAL and District 6. But the PIAA — the avenue of final approval — tabled the vote May 22, citing newspaper reports regarding discontent over the move by district parents and students.

The school board decided to revisit the issue after a meeting between district officials and parents several weeks ago.

Coaches also have been invited to Wednesday's meeting to offer input.

The biggest issue among residents and students who have spoken at previous board meetings concerned classroom time missed and travel times between the schools.

For example, if a baseball or softball game is scheduled at Northern Cambria or United high schools, students might need a 1 p.m. or 1:15 p.m. dismissal for a 4 p.m. game.

One Leechburg school board member suggested a study group be formed to look at travel times to each school.

Another board member said she was basing her earlier decision on what she now considers incorrect information.

One thing is certain: If Leechburg leaves the WPIAL, it will be the first time that a school surrounded geographically by other WPIAL schools has left the organization.

Schools that previously have left the WPIAL, such as Saltsburg, Ligonier, Farrell, Sharon, Wilmington and Slippery Rock, all had at least part of their borders consisting of a school district outside WPIAL membership.

Leechburg is bordered by the Armstrong and Kiski Area school districts and, if you want to count the Allegheny River as a political border, the Freeport Area School District.

While covering the WPIAL Board of Control meeting April 17, I asked several veteran league officials if any school surrounded by WPIAL schools ever left the league, and the answer was “no.”

George Guido is a freelance writer. His scholastic column appears Wednesdays.

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