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Alle-Kiski Valley high school notebook: Highlands named most positive school

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:15 p.m.
Theresa Martin | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum senior Matt Gunsallus is the John Challis Memorial Award winner for 2014.

Four local student-athletes and one Alle-Kiski school will be honored at the third annual Western Pennsylvania Positive High School Athlete Awards Saturday afternoon at the Heinz History Center.

Positive Athlete Award winners include Plum's Matt Gunsallus (baseball) and Erin Shepard (swimming), Springdale's Matt Mikus (tennis) and Freeport's Alexis Roenigk (softball).

Guidelines say nominees are required to “show characteristics such as an optimistic attitude, teammate encouragement ... ability to admit imperfections ... and realizing the team is more important than the individual.”

Gunsallus was the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association's recipient of the John Challis Award. Gunsallus has battled bacterial meningitis since 2012.

Highlands, meantime, will be recognized as the Highmark Most Positive High School, in light of the way the district handled the tragic death last summer of two-sport athlete Ryan Richards.

In addition, the first Jeff Boynton Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $2,200. Boynton, a former Plum football star who died in January from injuries suffered in a vehicle accident, wore No. 22. Boynton was paralyzed following a spinal cord injury in a 1978 all-star game and never got to fulfill his scholarship at West Virginia.

The awards will be presented by former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

Position opened

Riverview is advertising its varsity boys basketball position, which could mean the program is looking to replace current coach Kevin Krajca, who has led the Raiders for 12 years.

Athletic director Bob Kariotis said the district wants to “explore other options” but that Krajca can reapply.

Track moved

Continued rain and storms forced the WPIAL to move Wednesday's first round of the track and field team playoffs to May 8 at the same times and locations. The WPIAL team finals will now be May 12 at Baldwin.

Knoch and Freeport have their boys and girls teams competing, while the Apollo-Ridge boys and Riverview girls also are in the postseason.

The schedule change means the WPIAL individual qualifiers will come before the team playoffs start, a rarity.

Semi-sweet?

Valley's boys tennis team will host Keystone Oaks Monday in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. The Vikings (14-0) will be seeking their first appearance in the semifinals since 2009, coach Rachael Link's second year with the team.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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