High School Notebook: North Allegheny takes 'triple crown' in WPIAL
June 2, 2013 12:00 PM
North Allegheny teammates celebrate after defeating Seneca Valley in the WPIAL class AAAA baseball championship at Consol Energy Park Wednesday night.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
North Allegheny's annual Kennywood day is June 12. But North Allegheny sports teams already have been on one great ride this spring.
North Allegheny has been highly successful in athletics over the past two decades or so. But what North Allegheny has done this spring is unheard of in the WPIAL. Three teams -- baseball, boys volleyball and boys track -- won WPIAL championships.
On top of that, four other North Allegheny teams -- boys lacrosse, boys tennis, softball and girls track -- made it to the WPIAL championships. Overall, North Allegheny competed in eight WPIAL sports this spring. The only team that didn't make it to a WPIAL championship was girls lacrosse.
"When you take a look at the entire year, it indeed has been very, very special," said Bob Bozzuto, North Allegheny's athletic director.
This spring is really just a continuation of a one-of-a-kind sports year for the school that is the largest in the WPIAL and referred to by some as The University of North Allegheny. It has been a year for the Tigers to make their own "Elite 8." Overall, eight teams won WPIAL championships or district titles (the WPIAL doesn't sponsor hockey). Besides the three this spring, the others to win titles are football, boys cross-country, boy swimming, girls swimming and hockey (PIHL).
Also, the WPIAL doesn't sponsor water polo, and although not many schools in the state have water polo teams, the North Allegheny boys did win a state title in that sport.
What North Allegheny has done seems unprecedented in the WPIAL. In 1990-91, North Allegheny had a memorable year with seven WPIAL titles. But this school year is even better. And get this: Besides the seven teams that won titles, 12 other North Allegheny teams made it to the WPIAL finals or semifinals.
"I think it goes back to success breeding success," Bozzuto said. "I think our teams look at what other teams are doing here, and they want the same thing."
Bozzuto a 'Wild Thing'
Besides being North Allegheny's athletic director, Bozzuto wears another hat -- one from the Washington Wild Things. Bozzuto is back as an assistant coach for the independent minor-league baseball team. He coached for six years, took a year off, but returned to the team this season.
Bozzuto was in Chicago with the Wild Things this weekend, but he will be back for North Allegheny's PIAA first-round baseball playoff game Monday.
Since he runs the athletic department at such a large school, you wonder how the heck he has time to coach with the Wild Things. On top of that, he lives in Greensburg, which isn't exactly a short drive to North Allegheny.
"I only sleep three to four hours a night," Bozzuto said. "I can do all my [North Allegheny] work on the road. I have my computer, my phone. I still can get everything done."
Baldwin's 'golden' class
The Baldwin High School class of 1988 can be known as the class that produced championship coaches.
North Allegheny football coach Art Walker won WPIAL and PIAA football titles last fall. South Park baseball coach Steve Bucci won a WPIAL baseball title Tuesday. Canon-McMillan coach Michelle Moeller won a WPIAL softball title Thursday. All three were 1988 graduates of Baldwin.
"I was hoping Michelle would get her gold medal," Bucci said. "If she didn't, I was going to ask Walker to bring one of his leftovers because neither of us win as many as The University of North Allegheny."
Winovich picks Michigan
The University of Michigan won the chase for Chase.
Thomas Jefferson linebacker Chase Winovich, one of the most heavily recruited defensive football players in the WPIAL class of 2014, decided Saturday night that he will attend Michigan. Pitt and Ohio State were Winovich's other top choices, but he also had scholarship offers from many schools across the country, including West Virginia, Florida State, Michigan State, Missouri and Stanford.
"It was after my third trip to Michigan a few weeks ago that I woke up the next morning, went out to breakfast, made a trip to my brothers' house [in Toledo] when it really hit me," Winovich said. "I said 'Michigan is the place where I belong.' I just got that feeling. It wasn't something that was forced, either."
Winovich, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior who led Thomas Jefferson in tackles last season, was recruited to play outside linebacker. He also was a key player on the Thomas Jefferson basketball team.
Winovich said it was hard to turn down Pitt. A number of Thomas Jefferson players have played at Pitt in the past decade or so. He said Pitt's coaches "were so genuine with their approach to everything.
"I think what might have helped sway Michigan was the fact that I think they have a legitimate shot at winning a national championship," Winovich said.