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South Allegheny freshman shows grit, guile on mat, court

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By Alex Oltmanns
Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

South Allegheny freshman Alyssa Kennedy is making a name for herself as a multi-sport athlete.

Not only has she worked her way into the starting lineup at point guard for the Gladiators on the basketball court, but she also has been impressive on the wrestling mat.

A rare two-sport combination, Kennedy has started the wrestling season in impressive fashion for South Allegheny.

Wrestling up a weight class at 113 pounds, Kennedy recorded a first-round pin against Carrick in her season debut before collecting another pin in South Allegheny's second match against Riverview.

“She was losing in the third period,” South Allegheny wrestling coach Anthony DiGiorgio said. “She was getting pinned. She flipped him over and actually pinned him, I couldn't believe it.

“I was so proud. I don't think I've been that proud as a coach.”

For Kennedy, who attends wrestling practice three times a week after the day's basketball workouts are over, being overlooked by her wrestling opponents has made her victories all the more sweet.

“They always underestimate me,” Kennedy said. “Sometimes they'll come onto the mat and start laughing. It kind of makes me laugh.”

While almost always competing against bigger opponents, Kennedy makes up for it with textbook technique.

“At this stage, guys are tougher and stronger than girls,” she said. “You just have to put your technique and speed into it.”

Describing herself as a pass-first point guard, Kennedy's Gladiators have struggled somewhat through the early stages of the basketball season with an 0-4 (0-1 section 3-AA) record.

Despite their early season woes, Kennedy has been a bright spot for South Allegheny, bringing her aggressive tendencies from wrestling to the hardwood.

“She is very aggressive and always attacks the ball,” South Allegheny girls basketball coach Ashleigh Hays said. “She gets on the floor, goes for the loose balls. I really think that's carried over for her.”

“Wrestling definitely makes me more aggressive in basketball,” Kennedy said. “Basketball helps me be fast in wrestling because we do a lot of running.”

Kennedy, who also plays softball in the spring, could easily ask for practice time off. But she has shown the type of determination in each sport that is a coach's dream.

“She doesn't complain or say, ‘Hey, can I take it lightly?' She's always flying down the court and then straps on her stuff for wrestling and then does that also,” Hays said.

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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