WPIAL clears Laurel Highlands pole vaulter
A Laurel Highlands pole vaulter avoided losing her senior season of eligibility after violating PIAA rules by participating in a WPIAL track and field qualifying meet under the wrong name.
The WPIAL Board of Control cleared Jordan Brewer of any wrongdoing but placed the school’s track and field program on probation, censured girls coach Gerald Pegg and pole vault coach Nathaniel Hensh and required the school district to submit a plan of action to prevent another such mishap.
“The concern was that she may have jumped under an assumed name, but it was demonstrated that she did not,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said Monday. “She didn’t do anything wrong.”
Pegg inadvertently entered the name of Jordan Burns, a sophomore jumper, in the girls pole vault when completing the online registration form for the Class AAA meet. WPIAL guidelines state that “it is required and imperative that the entries be printed, reviewed for accuracy, initialled by the coach and carried to the qualifying meet” and that “there will be no changes permitted after the final deadline date.”
Pegg admitted to the board that, when he realized the mistake, he told Brewer that she couldn’t compete but left it to Hensh to see whether the problem could be rectified. Hensh spoke with Jackie Rodgers, who ran the pole vault at the meet, but neither coach told Laurel Highlands athletic director Mark Johns or contacted the WPIAL.
“I was very upset,” Pegg said. “I knew that the ramifications of my mistake could have implications on Jordan.”
Brewer cleared a personal-best 8 feet, 6 inches to finish fifth but was disqualified from the WPIAL final.
In other news, $5,000 scholarships were awarded to four recipients of the WPIAL Scholar-Athlete Award: Margo Malone of North Hills, Sarah Miller of Quaker Valley, Asa Equels of Beaver and Luke Hagy of Mt. Lebanon.
Malone, who will attend Syracuse, is the defending PIAA Class AAA champion in the 1,600-meter run and won the WPIAL title last week. Miller, the 2009 WPIAL Class AA cross country champion, starred on Quaker Valley’s three-time WPIAL championship team champions and will attend Air Force.
Equels was receiving Division-I interest after he finished third in the WPIAL and 22nd in the PIAA in cross country as a junior, but schools backed off after he was hampered by a hip/pelvis injury. He placed 27th in the WPIAL and 121st in the PIAA last fall.
“I got the best learning experience of my life,” said Equels, who will walk on at Duquesne. “I stopped worrying about what I could do for me and started worrying about what I could do for other people.”
Hagy, a Cornell recruit, set the career rushing record in football, was a four-year starter in basketball and the starting center fielder in baseball for the Blue Devils.
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7812.