High School Athletes of the Week: Ryan Mincher of Shaler; Larisa Debich of Hempfield

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Ryan Mincher, Shaler

This week: Mincher was 1 for 3 Monday in a 9-4 victory against Seneca Valley, the No. 1-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team at the time. He followed with a 2-for-3 performance Wednesday against North Hills.

Check this out: Mincher, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior shortstop, is considered one of the top players in the WPIAL. A starter since his freshman year, Mincher is batting .424 (14 for 33) with 6 RBIs, 4 doubles and 9 walks. He also was Shaler's starting quarterback the past two seasons and a starting guard in basketball. He will finish his career with nine varsity letters.

College talk: Mincher will play baseball next season at the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. He has a 4.0 grade point average.

Because you went deep into the basketball playoffs this year, how did that affect you in baseball? I didn't get as much work as I'm used to. I only had two actual practices before our first scrimmage and four practices before our first game.

You guys have so many good teams in your section. Do you ever wish Shaler played in a different section? I always see Norwin and some of these other teams that are undefeated and you wonder. But I love playing in this section because it's competitive every game.

What is the biggest thing you need to be a three-sport athlete at a big school? You have to tell yourself that not one sport is more important than the other. I know I'm going to play baseball in college, but I put as much time into basketball and football as I did in baseball.

You'd like to throw something at ... Peyton Manning. He's one of my favorite players, but come on, the Broncos?

People might be surprised to know ... I know the words to almost every single song on the radio. I'm a terrible singer, but I do know almost every lyric.

-- By Mike White

Larisa Debich, Hempfield

Last week: Debich, a senior, cleared 12 feet, 8 inches in the pole vault at the Lady Spartan Invitational. That is the highest mark recorded at a WPIAL event.

Check this out: A 5-foot-4 Auburn University recruit, Debich won the pole vault title at the WPIAL Class AAA championships last season and finished second at the PIAA meet. She cleared 12 feet at the WPIAL championships, 7 inches shy of the meet record.

What was your immediate reaction to going over the bar at 12-8 at a meet? I cried. I've been trying that now for two years since [the Westmoreland County meet] of 2010, and so to finally make it, I just cried.

What's the highest you've cleared in practice or in training? At unofficial non-high school meets, I jumped 13 over the summer.

Is 13 feet something of a 'magical' number female pole vaulters point to? In Pennsylvania, it's kind of like that 'Oh my gosh' mark.

What are your goals for the rest of the season? For the Baldwin Invitational, at least 13, and at WPIALs, I just want to jump 12-8, and whatever else is a bonus.

How did you get involved in pole vaulting? In Middle School, we didn't have any pole vaulters on our team. Our head coach knew I was a gymnast, so he asked me, 'Why don't you try it?' I said, 'OK, whatever.' And I ended up really liking it.

Any theories on what happened to the Penguins? I love hockey. I really don't know. They started off well ... but it just went downhill.

-- By Chris Adamski

Athlete of the Week


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