Leader Times high school notebook: Football player with area ties picks Maryland
Kittanning football doesn't have a player joining a Division I program in the Class of 2014, but a player from Ohio with ties to the town is headed for the Big Ten.
Andrew Gray, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end for Chardon (Ohio) High School, signed with Big Ten newcomer Maryland after receiving offers from more than a half dozen schools, including Louisville, Ohio, Toledo and Ball State.
Gray's father, William, played for Kittanning in the mid-1980s under longtime Wildcats coach Harry Beckwith, and Gray's grandparents, Sandy and Bill Gray, still live in Kittanning.
Gray was recruited to Maryland by former Pitt assistant and Duquesne head coach Greg Gattuso, who recently left the Terrapins to take the head coaching job at Albany.
At Chardon, located about 20 miles west of Cleveland, Gray was primarily a blocking tight end in a run-first offense, but he still earned a spot on the AP's All-Ohio Division III second team and on the Northeast Lakes District Division III first team.
With one week until individual qualifiers for the WPIAL track and field championships May 6, a number of area athletes are entering the qualifiers among the best in their event according to the WPIAL Honor Rolls compiled online.
On the boys' side in Class AA, Freeport's Dylan Hochbein ranks in the top five of both hurdle events, and pole vaulter Jesse Hubert (12 feet, 6 inches) and javelin thrower Cole Hepler (157-10) also hold top-five marks.
Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton has the top long jump at 21-7, and is tied for the top high jump at 6 -2. Vikings sprinter Jesse Zelonka's time of 11.0 seconds in the 100 meters puts him among a large group of contenders in that event. The same can be said for the Vikings' 400 relay team's 44.6, which puts it within a second of the top time.
A-R's Reannah Martin, the defending WPIAL Class AA champ in the pole vault, has the second-best height this year at 9 -6. Freeport's Michaela Bowser also has the third-best high jump at 5-1.
The javelin list has Ford City's Blair Willyard and Freeport's Zoe Pawlak in fifth and sixth, respectively, and they are among seven in the WPIAL to surpass 120 feet this year. Ford City triple jumper Tyree Freeman also is in the triple jump top 10.
Freeport has a handful of runners in or just outside the top 10 in their events, with the highest ranking belonging to Grace Ward, who is sixth in the 300 hurdles in 49.06.
For the second straight year, it appears as though the final playoff spot in Section 3-AA baseball will come down to a race among Ford City, Apollo-Ridge and Burrell.
Burrell (8-5, 5-4), which got the last spot last year by virtue of a season sweep against Ford City, is third. Apollo-Ridge (4-6, 4-4) and Ford City (3-7, 3-4) are both within a game of the Bucs, and both won at Burrell in their only head-to-head meetings thus far. The Vikings also have a head-to-head win over the Sabers.
The teams likely will get to settle things on their own. Burrell is scheduled to travel to Ford City on Thursday and Apollo-Ridge on Monday, and the Bucs' other remaining section game is against first-place Freeport. Ford City's home game with Apollo-Ridge was postponed last Friday, and no make-up date has been confirmed.