It’s safe to call the 2012-13 high school sports year a wildly successful one, from an individual perspective and for teams throughout The Tribune-Democrat’s 31-school coverage area.
As the year kicked off, it became obvious Richland football and Bedford boys’ soccer were headed toward success. Both programs enjoyed historic success as the Rams and Bisons reached the PIAA semifinals in their respective sports for the first time. Central Cambria girls’ cross country also excelled. The Red Devils finished third at the PIAA Class A meet with Penn Cambria not far behind in seventh place.
Chestnut Ridge used superior depth to rise as high as No. 2 in the state wrestling rankings, Cody Law of Forest Hills completed a quest in reaching the top of the PIAA medals podium. From Shade to Northern Cambria and many parts in between, basketball reigned supreme during the winter months. Seven area teams advanced past the first round of the PIAA tournament.
A national championship was celebrated as well during the winter when Conemaugh Township’s Deanna Binnie made the USA Shooting National Junior Team after she won the Women’s 3P (three position) Rifle championship.
The spring sports season earned its share of headlines as Somerset’s Jayna Coyle set a District 6 Class AAA triple jump record and Bishop McCort came up short in its quest to repeat as PIAA Class A baseball champion, though the Crushers did hold a six-run lead on the leam – Johnsonburg – that eventually won the title. North Star won its first 21 games and Golden Eagles’ pitcher Ian Stiffler was the first Pennsylvania high school player selected in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft when the Atlanta Braves picked him in the seventh round.
As teams made postseason runs and individuals collected medals throughout the school year, two names – North Star’s Tony Strasiser and Ligonier Valley’s Maddy Grimm – frequently appeared in the sports section of The Tribune-Democrat. Both were three-sport standouts with Division-I interest in multiple sports. Strasiser considered college football, but will play baseball at West Virginia. Grimm will play softball at Kent State.
Together, they are The Tribune-Democrat athletes of the year.
They were also not the only student-athletes considered for the distinction.
Mack Behe, Penn Cambria.
Behe earned all-state honors at linebacker for a second-consecutive fall and his play at point guard helped the Panthers on their run to the District 6 Class AA championship.
Kyle Flick, Richland.
Flick played a key role as an all-state receiver on a high-flying offense that helped Richland to its best season. Flick proved equally productive on the basketball court as he topped the 1,000-point mark during his junior season.
Drew Glotfelty, Berlin.
Windber football coach Matt Grohal called Glotfelty, “the best player in District 5” during the 2012 season. Statistics back up Grohal’s statement as Glotfelty rushed for 2,012 yards and 24 touchdowns for the district champs. Glotfelty also shined for the basketball and baseball teams.
Cody Law, Forest Hills.
Fueled by a second-place finish at the 2012 PIAA wrestling championships, Law made it his mission to top the medals podium in 2013, and he did so in convincing fashion. The future Penn State wrestler completed a 34-0 season with a 5-3 decision over Kane’s Evan Delon in the 160-pound championship.
Johnny Sheesley, Blacklick Valley.
Sheesley enjoyed an award-winning senior year, which included his selection as the Wendy’s Pennsylvania High School Heisman winner shortly after he rushed for 1,168 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Vikings. Sheesley also topped 1,000 points as a senior and led the baseball team with a .444 batting average.
Alyssa Brandis, Central Cambria.
Brandis, who will run at Seton Hill, placed second at the PIAA Class A cross country championship and earned two medals at the state track meet. Brandis was part of a 3,200 relay that finished sixth and placed seventh in the 3,200 run.
Casey Gallaher, Forest Hills.
A knee injury suffered during the District 6 Class AAA girls’ basketball championship kept Gallaher from competing in track, but her fall and winter seasons could not have been more successful. An all-state selection in soccer, Gallaher scored 120 goals to go with 100 assists during her career with the Rangers and capped her senior year with a district title. The girls’ basketball team also won a district championship as Gallaher, who finished with 1,500 career points, earned all-state honors in a second sport. She will play soccer at St. Francis.
Kayla Stockenus, Shanksville-Stonycreek.
Stockenus averaged 31.0 points per game during her senior season and became the third girls’ player from The Tribune-Democrat coverage area to finish her scholastic career with more than 2,000 career points. The all-state basketball player was also a standout in volleyball and softball.