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VND high school notebook: Worthing building another profile in rugby

| Saturday, June 7, 2014, 7:54 p.m.

Tyler Worthing said his wrestling coaches harbor fears.

Fears that he could suffer an injury while playing rugby. Fears that he's getting a little too close to his new sport, that — near-fall points don't count here — he's “falling in love” with the rough-and-tumble game.

“Too late, I already have,” said Worthing, a Kiski Area junior-to-be who took Kiski Valley's rugby program by storm this season.

All of the sudden, Worthing, one of Kiski Area's top returning wrestlers, could be carving a different path to college athletics.

While he said wrestling remains his main sport — “I still have goals in wrestling; I never really left wrestling mode,” — rugby is fast becoming 1B.

Worthing had some head-turning games in leading Kiski Valley to the Division II state playoffs. The Titans, just a second-year program, made the semifinals before losing to eventual-champion West Allegheny.

They also were the first team to post a win at the recent National Rugby 7s Tournament in Philadelphia.

A natural battering-ram at the prop position, Worthing had a number of multi-try games. Tries are touchdowns in rugby. He scored five of them in one game during the competition in Philadelphia.

Coaches from some of the country's top Division I rugby programs either lined up to watch him or inquired about him later. UCLA, Penn State, Michigan, Navy, Ohio State and Kutztown were among them.

“It was the first time they saw me,” Worthing said. “Some of them said they would put me at the top of their list.”

His skills are raw and approach brash. Worthing's style is harum-scarum at times, but effective. He gives hits and takes them with equal fervor and has quiet speed.

“It's still weird that I like rugby so much,” said Worthing, who finished 33-3 wrestling at 220 pounds last season and won a WPIAL Class AAA title. “I'm still a wrestler. It's about your attitude. I feel like no one can stop me. No one gets past me (in rugby). In 7s, if a guy is on a breakaway, the game's so fast-paced, you just let him go. Not me. I can't ever let that happen.”

Naturally, Worthing also has been recruited — by Kiski Area coaches — to play football too. That decision remains in limbo for now.

“Every time I see the coaches they ask me when I'm playing,” he said. “It would be fun, but between wrestling and rugby, I don't know if I'd have the time.”

Worthing, along with teammates Ty Travaglia, Dean Urbanski and Luke Poydence were picked for the PA state all-star team.

He's scheduled to wrestle in the Disney Duals later this month at Walt Disney World.

Lacrosse all-stars

Two local girls were named to the All-WPIAL lacrosse teams, which came out last week. Fox Chapel's Megan McCrady was picked in Division I, while Knoch's Kayla Smith earned the honor in Division II.

Knoch's Emily Zilka was an All-Division II, Section 3 selection, along with Smith. McCracy made all-section as well, in Division I, Section 2.

Future teammates

It might have been a glimpse into the future of Gannon University golf. A pair of A-K golfers teamed up and nearly won the Westmoreland County Better Ball Championship last week at Hannastown Golf Club. Leechburg standout Matt Barto, a Gannon recruit, and current Gannon freshman Bill Clark (Valley), fired a 5-under-par 65 to tie David and Ronald DeNunzio for second place.

“There may be quite a bit of best-ball stuff during practices at Gannon, just for fun,” said Barto, who was Leechburg's valedictorian at graduation.

Extra, extra

Central Catholic senior-to-be Johnny Petrishen, from Lower Burrell, added three additional scholarship offers to his growing list with Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Buffalo chiming in. That gives the receiver/safety 20 Division I offers. He attended Pitt's prospect camp. ... Riverview is getting closer to hiring a boys basketball coach. The coach could be named at Monday's meeting.

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

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