Maddie Holmberg, Hempfield Area
Last week: Holmberg captured two gold medals (long jump and 400-meter relay) and two silvers (100 hurdles and 1,600 relay) at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field individual championships Friday.
Check this out: Holmberg has had an outstanding freshman season. In addition to her effort at the individual championships, Holmberg played a big role as Hempfield claimed the WPIAL team championship, and her long jump of 18 feet, 11 inches at a meet last month is the third best in WPIAL history. Holmberg is also an excellent volleyball player. Her father, Rob, was a standout football player at Mount Pleasant High School and Penn State and played eight seasons in the NFL.
• Being a freshman, did you expect to do as well as you did at the individual championships?
I've been working hard, and the coaches kept saying I had the potential, but I was pleasantly surprised. When I compete, I don't think about being a freshman.
• Athlete from another school you enjoyed watching?
I watched [Washington's] Dustin Fuller a lot. He was really good. [Latrobe's] Jeff Elam, too.
• Track and field event you would least want to compete in?
Long distance. I have a lot of appreciation for the people who do that.
• Any superstitions?
No superstitions, just routines. I always try to eat a good breakfast and I normally say a little prayer [before I compete].
• Your dad played linebacker, and linebackers are generally known as being tough guys. Is your dad?
(Laughs) Yes. Extremely.
• You were very young when he played in the NFL. Do you remember watching him?
I just remember when they called his name at the very beginning of the game.
-- By Brad Everett
Brendan McKay, Blackhawk
This week: Blackhawk defeated Thomas Jefferson, 1-0, in nine innings in a WPIAL Class AAA baseball semifinal Monday, and McKay won a classic pitchers duel against Greg Schneider. McKay pitched all nine innings, allowed two hits and struck out 15. Schneider allowed one hit.
Check this out: MaxPreps.com ranked McKay, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-handed pitcher, among the top 50 sophomores in the country before the season. He hasn't disappointed. McKay is 7-1 with three saves and an ERA of 0.52. He has allowed seven runs (five earned) in 67 innings, struck out 75 and walked 10. Division I colleges already are showing interest in McKay, who also was a starter on Blackhawk's basketball team.
• Was that Thomas Jefferson game one of the best you ever played in?
That was probably my best game ever, considering I threw all nine innings and only gave up two hits against a tremendous team.
• What did you think of Schneider as a pitcher?
He's a beast. He throws in the upper 80s [mph] to lower 90s, and his off-speed stuff is ridiculous.
• What did you think when you were named one of the top 50 sophomores in the country? I was pretty excited and also stunned that I would be recognized like that.
• Is your curveball your best pitch, and who taught it to you?
It is my best pitch, and a kid on my travel team showed me the grip one time. I just tweaked it and worked with it and got it to where it is now.
• Do you watch the NBA playoffs?
Yeah, I try to follow it. They're fun to watch.
• The NHL playoffs?
I watched some of the Penguins series. After they lost, I let it go because I don't really care any more.
• People might be surprised to know ...
I can flip my eyelids inside out.
-- By Mike White