Alle-Kiski notebook: Ex-Burrell champion Makara inducted into wrestling hall of fame
By Bill West
Published: Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 12:24 a.m.
Rarely during the past decade did 2003 Burrell graduate Joe Makara stop and consider the rarity of his accomplishments on the wrestling mat for the Bucs.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame now has given Makara a reason to revisit that part of his past.
Makara is one of four members of the 2014 induction class. A two-time PIAA Class AA champion who also won four PIAA Southwest Regional titles and four WPIAL crowns, he is the first inductee from Burrell.
The hall of fame will recognize Makara and the other three new inductees — Derry Area alum and three-time PIAA champ Troy Dolan, former Hempfield Area coach Ron Park and longtime Observer-Reporter wrestling writer Joe Tuscano — during the weekend of the Dapper Dan Classic, which is March 16 at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.
“It kind of opened my eyes up to what I did and that I had a special four years there,” said Makara, who finished with a career record of 140-19. “(The achievements) are something you never really think about until somebody else wants to recognize it. It kind of makes you want to pull your old tapes out and revisit everything.”
Four other members of the hall of fame have Alle-Kiski Valley ties, though Makara is the first to join because of his merits as a wrestler. Stan Mousetis, a 1997 inductee, made several stops during his 40-year coaching career, including a span from 1979-85 at Plum. Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky, the WPIAL's all-time win leader, entered the hall in 2005. Longtime Fox Chapel coach Ron Frank entered in 2010, and former Kittanning coach Rich Boggs, who spent 23 years in charge of the team, entered in 2012.
Makara, a former Burrell assistant, is in his first year as wrestling coach at Penn State New Kensington.
After almost a month away from his wrestling team, Tursky returned to lead the Cavaliers on Friday during their nonsection win over Kittanning. Tursky stepped away from the team Dec. 19 to recover from major surgery and trusted longtime assistant Chris Heater to handle coaching duties. Kiski Area went 4-1 in dual meets and placed second in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament with Heater in charge.
Enough hockey stars from the Alle-Kiski Valley exist to put together a small galaxy.
Almost two dozen local players will represent their teams the PIHL all-star games Feb. 9 at RMU's Island Sports Center. The PIHL released selections Wednesday.
An area-high five Deer Lakes players made the Class A Northeast team roster: forwards Thomas Lisowski, Zach Luniewski, Mitchell Rupprecht and Vince Casale as well as defenseman Jonathan Merlo. Also, goalie Jonathan Lang is an alternate.
Freeport will have at least four skaters on the Class A Northeast squad — forwards Cole Hepler and Hunter Kepple and defensemen Brendon Zack and Jared Kapustik. Forwards Mickey Frazetta and Nick Rusak are alternates. Freeport coach Dave Hepler will serve as a Northeast team assistant.
In Class AA, the Northeast team will feature Armstrong forwards Hunter Grafton, Christian Miller and Luke Gross as well as defenseman John Phelps. It will also include Plum forwards Joe Randazzo and David Stonebraker as well as defenseman Zach Kuhn and goalie James Borriello.
Armstrong defenseman Nate Grafton is an alternate, and Riverhawks coaches Doug Anthony and Glenn Kilgore will lead the team.
Fox Chapel brothers Anthony and Chad Veltri received nods for the Class AAA Northeast team. Anthony is a senior forward, while Chad is a sophomore goalie.
No rust on this Dynamo
Springdale senior Emily Lelis' supremacy in Pennsylvania outdoor hurdling is well-documented, thanks to her back-to-back PIAA Class AA titles in the 300-meter event and her gold and silver medals in the 100-meter race.
Lelis now has decided to dominate the indoor track scene, too.
In her first indoor competition of the season, Lelis won the 60-meter hurdles at Youngstown State on Jan. 12 with a meet-record time of 8.83 seconds.
Lelis attended just one indoor meet last winter. She said she intends to attend several this season in preparation for her final outdoor campaign.
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