Knoch’s Geist, Upper St. Clair’s Hasco named Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Athletes of the Year
Knoch’s Jordan Geist and Upper St. Clair’s Emma Hasco have been named the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Athletes of the Year.
KNOCH · JUNIOR · TRACK AND FIELD
A month after breaking WPIAL and PIAA shot put records, Knoch junior Jordan Geist found himself Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
A home base for the nation’s best track and field athletes, the center sits on aptly named Olympic Parkway near San Diego.
For now, though, Geist was just there to visit. Already on the West Coast for the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in Clovis, Calif., he made the trek down the Pacific and toured the American training facility.
After his remarkable performances this spring, it’s not unrealistic to envision Geist chasing his own Olympic dream in a few years.
“It is definitely an awesome goal to have,” he said. “After visiting the Olympic Training Center, that adds more fuel to the fire.”
Already an elite thrower, Geist reached 72 feet, 7 inches to break Ron Semkiw’s 44-year-old WPIAL shot put record (70-1 3⁄4), and later set the PIAA championship mark at 74-3 1⁄2. He also won WPIAL and PIAA discus titles, making him the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Boys Athlete of the Year.
After breaking the PIAA record, where did you throw next?
After states I had a meet in Idaho that I threw against a lot of Olympians and the Olympic hopefuls that are throwing this weekend. I had a (personal record) of 74-4½ there. From there I went to (New Balance) Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., and I took second in shot put and third in discus.
How would you describe your past several months?
Tiring. Busy. Hectic. A lot of fun.
How did you handle the extra attention you drew at meets?
I really take it more as a challenge, especially at meets like Baldwin and Butler. Everybody expects me to PR. I think those expectations kind of serve as my competition because around us there aren’t many people who are throwing even 60 feet, let alone 70.
What were your thoughts just before your state-record throw?
I was just looking around at all the people who were there watching me. It was really cool. It was a lot of adrenaline going into the first throw. I was a little nervous having all the people watch me, but I think I handled it pretty well.
How soon did you know you broke the PIAA record?
As soon as it hit the grass.
What will be your motivation for your senior season?
My main motivation will be my not making the junior national team. The people I lost to (June 25 at the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships) were both juniors in high school, so I’ll be seeing them again next year. (At 64-3, Geist placed third in Clovis, Calif.) I really did not like the circle there, and it was very hot out, as well. I don’t mean to make excuses, but I just wasn’t at my best that day.
Was that tough to accept?
It was because that’s always been a dream of mine to represent the U.S. doing the sport I love. Not making the team this year was really rough on me. I took third and they take the top two to Poland.
What are your summer plans?
I’m going to take the next couple of months off and start picking up my golf game. I started a little bit last summer, and I wasn’t very good at it. This year, I’m going to take it a little more seriously.
How far can you hit a golf ball?
On a good drive, over 300 yards.
Upper St. Clair · Senior · Soccer
Emma Hasco finally had some time to look back and remember a special night in Hershey last November.
She scored two goals to lead Upper St. Clair to its first PIAA Class AAA girls soccer title with a 2-1 win over Central Bucks East.
Soon after that, she again headed east, enrolling early at Penn State where she began training with the NCAA champion Lions.
Now home for the summer, Hasco can recall how special a season it was, as she scored 19 goals and had 25 assists to earn all-state honors for the second time as well as being named the Pennsylvania Player of the Year.
“Everything kind of happened so fast in the fall,” Hasco said. “I didn’t have a lot of time to stop and look back. This summer, I was able to look back on the year and remember how incredible that night in Hershey was and how big that was for our school.
“It was a great group of girls. It was a great experience to be part of that.”
For her accomplishments, Hasco is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Girls Athlete of the Year.
How are you spending your summer?
I’m at home, working out here and doing my own thing. I go to preseason training Aug. 1.
Did you settle in at Penn State?
I have an advantage for this fall because I’m familiar with the campus and classes. It gave me a leg up.
What classes are you taking?
Math, business calculus, Spanish, English, economics. I’m a business marketing major.
What will be your role with the defending national champions?
It’s an exciting time to come in. They tried me out in some new positions to see where I’d fit in — center back, which I never played before. I’ve always been a midfielder. My likely position will be holding mid, which I played in high school.
Did you take your state championship medal with you? Is it on display somewhere?
It’s at home, when you walk in the front foyer.
What do you expect the biggest adjustment to be at the college level?
I think it’s just the speed of play. Everything happens so much quicker. If you have the ball for more than 3 seconds, you’ll get nailed by a huge D-I player. In high school, you had to think a pass ahead. Now, you have to play three passes ahead. You have to know where you’re going much faster. You have to be on your game a lot more.
What type of goals have you set for yourself?
I want to be a contributor. That’s a big goal coming in as a freshman. Playing against 20- and 21-year olds is a lot, just getting my body in the shape it needs to be, contribute and have a role on the defending national championship team. Small goals are like getting more confidence with team, using my communication, coming in as a small freshman it’s hard to want to use your voice.
What class you are looking forward to?
I’m taking an accounting class, but I really loved my English class I took in the spring. Some of the classes are a lot bigger, but my English class only had 11 kids in it and it was more discussion-based.
What advice would you have for high school student-athletes?
My high school season always went so fast and I was always looking forward to the next game and playoffs. You have to take a second and embrace it all and enjoy playing with your friends and in front of your family. Embrace your teammates and make it about playing for your school and the girls you grew up with for so long. That’s something special.
The top tales told by the Tribune-Review during the 2015-16 school year:
Jeannette football, led by coach Roy Hall, joined the 700-win club with a 42-7 victory over Serra Catholic. The Jayhawks were the sixth school in Pennsylvania to reach the milestone, and they joined New Castle as the second from the WPIAL.
The PIAA Board of Directors voted to expand classifications in football, basketball and most other team sports, a decision the WPIAL and City League opposed. The move drastically altered the WPIAL landscape with teams shuffled into new sections, and will force the 2016 WPIAL football finals to be divided between Heinz Field and Robert Morris’ Joe Walton Stadium.
Vincentian Academy junior Marianne Abdalah won the PIAA Class A cross country title for the third consecutive year. Then in May, she became a two-time winner in the 3,200 meters at the PIAA track championships.
In the state football championships, Central Catholic defeated Parkland, 21-18, and matched Central Bucks West with four PIAA Class AAAA titles.
Canon-McMillan’s Luke Blanock, who has a rare bone cancer, received a courage honor from the Pittsburgh Basketball Club in January and later the WPIAL Hall of Fame. His inspirational battle allowed him to marry in February and graduate this spring.
Imani Christian’s Cali Konek, who averaged 45.9 points last season, became the first girl in WPIAL basketball history to score 1,000 points as a freshman. She finished with 1,045 and drew national attention.
Senior night was a sellout at Allderdice. And with their home gym full, the Dragons dominated then-undefeated New Castle, 75-49, in a non-section matchup unlike any the City League had seen in years. Allderdice’s memorable season reached Hershey a month later, ending with a runner-up finish to Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic in the Class AAAA state final.
Franklin Regional junior Spencer Lee returned from injury to win his third PIAA wrestling title, Jefferson-Morgan sophomore Gavin Teasdale won his second with a record 96 points in four wins, and the two WPIAL standouts remained undefeated for their careers. In April, Lee (109-0) and Teasdale (82-0) committed to Iowa.
Aliquippa became just the 33rd undefeated boys basketball state champion in PIAA history. The Quips’ record reached 30-0 with a 68-49 victory over Philadelphia’s Mastery Charter North in the PIAA Class AA final. It was the Quips’ third trip to Hershey in a 13-month span after runner-up finishes in football and basketball.
A week after breaking a 44-year-old WPIAL shot put record, Knoch junior Jordan Geist set the state record with a then-personal-best 74 feet, 3 1⁄2 inches at the PIAA track and field championships.
Beaver Falls senior Domenic Perretta became a three-time Class AA state champion in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, setting a PIAA meet record in the 800. That same day, Connellsville junior Madison Wiltrout, the state record-holder in javelin, defended her PIAA Class AAA title after battling back from elbow surgery.
The Minnesota Twins drafted Plum senior Alex Kirilloff with the 15th-overall pick in the MLB draft, making the outfielder the first WPIAL first-rounder since the Pirates chose Pine-Richland’s Neil Walker in 2004.
In the emotional weeks after losing her father to cancer, Hempfield pitcher Morgan Ryan led her softball team to WPIAL and PIAA championships. The Notre Dame recruit threw eight shutout innings in the Class AAAA state final to win 1-0.
Parade of champions
State winners from the WPIAL during the 2015-16 school year.
Vincentian Academy (Class A)
Aliquippa (Class AA)
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (Class A)
Butler (Small squad)
Boys cross country
Griffin Mackey, Sewickley Academy (Class A)
Girls cross country
Marianne Abdalah, Vincentian Academy (Class A)
Central Catholic (Class AAAA)
Connor Schmidt, Peters Township (Class AAA)
Jason Li, Sewickley Academy (Class AA)
North Allegheny (Class AAA)
Marissa Balish, Hampton (Class AAA)
Marissa Kirkwood, Neshannock (Class AA)
Moon (Gold division)
West Allegheny (Silver division)
Jordan Frasier, West Allegheny (Diamond division)
Hope Magusiak, South Side Beaver (Gold division)
Sewickley Academy (Class A)
Upper St. Clair (Class AAA)
Hempfield (Class AAAA)
Yough (Class AAA)
Joe Ference, Penn-Trafford (AAA, diving)
Logan Palochak, Hopewell (AA, 100 butterfly)
Bailey Bonnett, Highlands (AA, 500 freestyle)
Taylor Hockenberry, Mars (AA, diving)
Emily Zimcosky, Geibel (AA, 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle)
Sewickley Academy (Class AA)
Luke Ross, Sewickley Academy (AA, singles)
North Allegheny (Class AAA)
Ananya Dua, Shady Side Academy (AAA, singles)
Laurel Shymansky/Amanda Nord, Fox Chapel (AAA, doubles)
Boys track and field
Jordan Geist, Knoch (AAA, shot put, discus)
Anthony Milliner, New Brighton (AA, triple jump)
Ayden Owens, North Allegheny (AAA, 300 hurdles)
Domenic Perretta, Beaver Falls (AA, 800, 1,600)
Jace Roundtree, Kiski Area (AAA, 110 hurdles)
Jake Wilson, Laurel (AA, javelin)
Girls track and field
Marianne Abdalah, Vincentian (AA, 3,200)
Hannah Bablak, Quaker Valley (AA, 800)
Kory Jozwiakowski, Fort Cherry (AA, triple jump)
Hunter Robinson, Avonworth (AA, 400)
Summer Thorpe, Sewickley Academy (AA, 100 hurdles)
Madison Wiltrout, Connellsville (AAA, javelin)
Bishop Canevin (Class A)
Jake Beistel, Southmoreland (AA, 285)
Greg Bulsak, South Park (AA, 182)
Mike Carr, South Fayette (AA, 145)
Cameron Coy, Penn-Trafford (AAA, 145)
Damon Greenwald, Burrell (AA, 152)
Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional (AAA, 120)
Micky Phillippi, Derry (AA, 138)
Luke Pletcher, Latrobe (AAA, 138)
Jacob Robb, Armstrong (AAA, 220)
Gavin Teasdale, Jefferson-Morgan (AA, 113)
Jake Wentzel, South Park (AA, 160)
Jake Woodley, North Allegheny (AAA, 182)