High School Athletes of the Week: Maddie Holmberg of Hempfield Area, Brendan McKay of Blackhawk

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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

Athlete of the Week


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