Joe Toscano | Observer Reporter
Cody Wiercioch had as close to a perfect season as a wrestler can get. The senior from Canon-McMillan compiled a 46-0 record, won his second PIAA gold medal in three seasons and helped the Big Macs win both PIAA team titles.Wiercioch leads a remarkable group of Special Recognition honorees at the Tri-County Athletic Directors’ Association Coach of the Year Banquet, which will be held at 5 p.m. tonight at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Meadow Lands.
Veronica Latsko, Peters Township soccer
Already one of the most prolific scorers in Peters Township history, Latsko helped the Indians to consecutive state titles. She scored 45 goals and had nine assists last season. Latsko had the only goal in a 1-0 triumph over Pennridge in the PIAA championship. Latsko, only a sophomore, was named first team all-state by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association. She also was on the Almanac’s Girls Soccer All-Star Team.
Liana Leja, South Fayette soccer
Leja, a talented junior, scored 36 goals and had five assists in helping South Fayette to an 11-8-1 record and a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. The Lions downed Hopewell, 3-2, in the first round, then fell to South Park, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. Leja was named first team all-state by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association. She also was on the Almanac’s Girls Soccer All-Star Team.
Quad Law, Ringgold football
When Law moved from slot receiver to quarterback before his junior season, Ringgold football took off. With Law at quarterback, the Rams went 17-4 the past two seasons. One of those victories was Ringgold’s first in the postseason since 1999. Law, the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year who signed with Division II Gannon, earned first-team Class AAA All-State honors as a defensive specialist. He rushed for 1,341 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 11.2 yards per carry, and passed for 637 yards and three scores.
Megan Manack, Frazier volleyball
Manack helped Frazier to an undefeated regular season, 12-0, that produced a Section 5-A championship and a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. The Commodores were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Bentworth. Manack was named first team all-state by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association.
Steve McCaw, Waynesburg baseball
McCaw, who accepted a scholarship off from Division II Mercyhurst after his junior season, batted .463 with seven home runs and 42 RBI during with Waynesburg. The Raiders were WPIAL Class AA runners-up and qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2000. McCaw was selected to the 2011 Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association Small School (AA-A) All-State first team.
Nicole McHugh, Fort Cherry softball
When McHugh became the Rangers’ full-time pitcher, they began their run to the WPIAL Class A title game. McHugh also provided a big bat with nine hits in the district playoffs. The Rangers finished with a 9-9 record after an 0-4 start. McHugh was named to the first team on the Observer-Reporter All-District Softball Team and a first team all-state selection by the Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association.
Colby Miller, Chartiers-Houston softball
Miller led the Bucs to a WPIAL championship and a spot in the PIAA Class A playoffs. Miller batted an even .500 (40-for-80) with some impressive power numbers – six home runs, eight triples, six doubles and 38 RBI in the season. Miller was named Player of the Year on the Observer-Reporter All-District Softball Team and a first team all-state selection by the Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association.
Francis Mizia, Bentworth wrestling
Mizia became the first PIAA individual champion at Bentworth since C.J. Wonsettler won the 2002 heavyweight title in the last event held at Hersheypark Arena. Mizia defeated Cody Law of Forest Hills to win the state title and cap a 44-3 season. Mizia was named to the first team of the O-R’s All-District Wrestling Team and competed in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic for the WPIAL team.
Joe Monica, Waynesburg baseball
Monica, who will play college baseball at Division II Concord University, was selected to the 2011 Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches All-State Team. Following his junior season, the shortstop-pitcher batted .457 with a team-high nine doubles for the Raiders and went 9-2 with both losses coming by one run. He’s been a part of all-star games in Florida and Arizona, and participated in showcases from Buffalo, N.Y. to Southern Virginia.
Breanna Morris, Waynesburg softball
Now part of California University’s softball team, Morris batted .519 with a .684 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, 24 runs, 23 RBI and only two errors. Morris was selected to the first team of the Observer-Reporter All-District Team, and was a first-team selection on the Class AA All-State Team. She helped Waynesburg to a 10-6 record and a spot in the first round of the playoffs, which ended in a loss to Bishop Canevin.
Katie O’Rourke, Fort Cherry softball
An all-section outfielder, O’Rourke provided key innings pitched late in the postseason as Fort Cherry reached the state playoffs for the first time. She scored seven runs in the WPIAL playoffs. O’Rourke was named to the second team of the Observer-Reporter All-District Team, and was a first-team selection by the Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association.
Olivia Roberson, Peters Township soccer
The junior forward had 30 goals and seven assists to help the Indians become the first WPIAL girls’ team to win back-to-back state championships. Roberson was selected first team all-state by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.
Stephanie Smith, Peters Township tennis
Stephanie Smith and Sara Komer combined to capture the PIAA title in girls’ tennis doubles in Hershey. In the semifinals, Smith and Komer defeated Conestoga’s Jackie Ciotti and Lauren Banner, 6-0, 7-6 (2) while Baich and Frey defeated Sona Hussain and Katie Reilly from Pennsbury, 6-1, 6-3. Those victories set up a rematch of the WPIAL final.
Rachel Spridik, Bentworth volleyball
Spridik played a key role in helping Bentworth reach the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs and the WPIAL semifinals. She also helped the Bearcats reach the semifinals of the WPIAL playoffs, where they fell to Avonworth. Spridik had 44 assists in that game.
Matt Venanzi, Peters Township soccer
The senior forward scored 12 goals and assisted on seven others in a season in which the Indians finished in second place in Section 5-AAA and qualified again for the WPIAL playoffs. Peters Township won three matches by identical 2-1 scores before falling to Upper St. Clair by a – what else? – 2-1 score. The Indians fell to Erie Cathedral Prep in the state playoffs. Venanzi was an all-state selection and will attend the University of Pittsburgh next fall to continue his career.
Mariah Ward, Monessen basketball
One of the cogs in the offensive juggernaut was Ward, a fast-moving, accurate-shooting guard, who also played small forward. The junior averaged 20.7 points per game for the Greyhounds, who averaged 61.1 points per game, good enough for third of the WPIAL’s Class A teams.
Cody Wiercioch, Canon-McMillan wrestling
Wiercioch captured his second PIAA gold medal in the past three seasons and helped the Big Macs to one of the best team performances in WPIAL history. CM won both PIAA team titles and a third consecutive WPIAL Team Tournament championship. Wiercioch won the 170-pound Class AAA title in Hershey, finished the season with a 46-0 record and went through the season without allowing a takedown.