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Trib Cup: Spring sports leaders sparked by title runs

| Thursday, June 12, 2014, 10:15 p.m.

Another school year has concluded and as usual WPIAL athletes impressed high school sports fans with superior individual and team performances.

North Allegheny (Class AAAA), Beaver (Class AAA), Shady Side Academy (Class AA) and Sewickley Academy (Class A) soared to their top of their respective classifications with deep playoff runs and championships in the bunches. These four schools closed out the spring's Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports standings tops in their classifications.

Class AAAA

There are no “jocks” at North Allegheny. Athletic director Bob Bozzuto will be sure to pound that point across.

“Jocks are stereotyped as being stupid,” Bozzuto said. “We prefer the term “scholar-athletes” and at North Allegheny they are just that.”

North Allegheny has proven throughout the 2013-14 school year that they can get it done in the classroom and in their respective athletic fields. As a whole, the student body of academic athletes have boasted a 3.5 grade-point average. Bozzuto gushes when describing the dedication the student body shows throughout the year.

“Everybody did a tremendous job,” he said. “Historically, we've been very good in the spring.

“Again, it's nice to see our young people work very, very hard and stay focused in representing their school and community with dignity and class.”

Class AAA

Beaver athletic director Pat Mcdanel was pleased to fill the school's trophy case this spring. He said the hard work was felt each day walking through the school's hallways.

“I'm very proud with our boys track team and our softball team both winning WPIAL championships,” he said. “It was definitely a great honor for both to do that.

“They, along with all of our sports teams worked hard this year.”

Mcdanel is in his first year as the school's AD, but he's a graduate of the program and understands its rich tradition. He attributes much of the success to the bond and trust that the athletes have with their coaches.

“Our baseball and softball teams are great programs with a rich tradition as well as our track program,” he said. “I think our coaches do a great job preparing them in the offseason to get them ready for competition.

“The kids just bought into the coach's philosophies and stood by them the whole way and it paid off for them this year.”

Class AA

Shady Side Academy proved it's talent on the field, as well this spring. The Indians featured a WPIAL and PIAA champion boys tennis team, a WPIAL champion boys lacrosse team and a WPIAL semifinalist girls lacrosse team, among other talented spring programs.

“It's a great victory for this team,” Shady Side tennis coach Thomas Mercer said after his team defeated Conestoga in the PIAA championship match. “We lost to these guys the last two years here. Coming back, we knew we had a good team. Nearly everybody was the same. So we felt we had a good chance.”

The boys lacrosse team, led by Dan Marous' third quarter hat trick, knocked off defending champion Mt. Lebanon, 7-2, to claim its first ever Division I title.

“Dan's our senior captain and it filtered down from there,” Shady Side coach Michael Williams said. “Once Dan started getting going, everyone started going. We got loose, had fun and played our kind of game.”

Class A

Recognition of any kind is welcomed by Sewickley Academy athletic director Win Palmer. He could not show praise for one individual group, rather he said it's a district-wide effort by athletes, coaches and administrators that helps his small school excel.

“I am so proud of what our student-athletes and coaches have done and of the support our administration has given them,” Palmer said. “I think the spirit and attitude of our students is incredible. We're a top tier academic school and kids are putting in great work in academics, but also in the arts and athletics.”

Palmer said the coaching staffs are a dedicated group that follow three principles that allow them to have success.

“No. 1, our coaches appreciate the mission of our school and support it to the same extent that teachers do,” he said. “Second, the coaches are knowledgeable, and No. 3, they are tremendous in the ways they motivate, teach, guide and discipline our students.

“If you talk to 99 percent of students, they'd say our coaches are so fair in their evaluation of our students. If kids know coaches are fair, you have a great chance of having a successful team.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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