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Committee selects Westmoreland scholar-athlete nominees

Westmoreland County Juvenile Court Judge John Driscoll is amazed by the achievements of the student-athletes nominated for the annual Excellence Award given to the top female and male from 18 county high schools.

Driscoll's committee, made up of the 18 athletic directors from the county, reviewed the 36 students — two from each school — nominated for this year's awards Tuesday and selected 11 finalists and the two winners, who will be announced at a banquet April 26 at Ferrante's Lakeview Lounge near Greensburg.

Last year's winners were Luke Graham (Penn-Trafford) and Samantha Pickens (Franklin Regional).

"I can't believe how these students find time to study and participate in athletics," Driscoll said. "Again, we had an outstanding group to pick from."

State championship wrestlers Travis McKillop of Burrell and Travis Shaffer of Derry are among the nominees, along with many athletes who will continue their athletic and academic careers at some of the top universities in the country.

Also honored at the banquet will be state champion wrestlers Nico Megaludis (Franklin Regional); Jim Gulibon (Derry Area); and track and field athletes Amber Valimont and Rachel Serafin of Hempfield Area.

This year's Michael and John Ferrante Memorial Award recipient for his contributions to promoting high school athletics is former Latrobe boys basketball coach Ray Zsolcsak. The guest speaker will be Brother Norman W. Hipps, who serves as St. Vincent College president.

Scholar athletes

Belle Vernon: Mary Elisabeth Spang and Nicholas Gruber

Burrell: David Yakopec and Travis McKillop

Derry: Caroline Niezelski and Travis Shaffer

Franklin Regional: Leah Schott and Dominic Venditti

Latrobe: Emily Friedline and Zach LaDuke

Greensburg C.C.: Faith Finoli and Anthony D'Onofrio

Greensburg Salem: Hannah Cawoski and Raevaan Mottley

Hempfield: Brooke Waugaman and Steven Schmitt

Jeannette: Chelsea Sommer and Matt Shrum

Kiski Area: Felicia Reid and Ryan Kennedy

Ligonier Valley: Christine Henderson and Clayton Nanassy

Monessen: Joseph Gigliotti and Jesse Tatsch

Mt. Pleasant: Nicole Malara and Luke Czerniak

Norwin: Jenna Gigliotti and Zachary Ligus

Penn-Trafford: Cassandra Barker and Michael Theys

Southmoreland: Erika Wisniewski and Ryan Byers

Valley: Allison Rayburn and Christopher Capo

Yough: Nicolle Sleith and Jeffrey Mitchell

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