North Xtra: North Allegheny athlete mulls choice -- which sport in college?

WRESTLING/FOOTBALL


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Alex DeCiantis has two big decisions to make in the next several months.

DeCiantis recently completed his junior year at North Allegheny High School and has begun his all-important college search.

But before DeCiantis can choose a college, he must also pick a sport in which he will compete.

"I would like to continue my athletic career in college, but I haven't chosen a sport yet," said DeCiantis, who excels in both wrestling and football. "I want to keep my options open for as long as possible."

DeCiantis, a three-year starter for the Tigers wrestling team, is one of the top returning wrestlers in the WPIAL in the heavier weight classes. He's a two-time third-place finisher in the WPIAL Class AAA Tournament and two-time PIAA qualifier. He enters his senior year with an impressive 80-32 career record.

"Alex enjoys both sports, but still has a wrestling mindset," North Allegheny wrestling coach Jamie Kyriazis said. "It's tough to get away from it when you've been involved in wrestling as long as Alex has. Wrestling is still his top sport, but he's keeping his options open."

DeCiantis is also North Allegheny's top returning running back. He led the Tigers with 806 yards rushing on 151 carries last season while sharing backfield duties with Vinnie Congedo (133 carries, 775 yards) and Nick Passodelis (86 carries, 563 yards) as North Allegheny marched to a 14-1 season that included a WPIAL title and a trip to the PIAA semifinals.

Congedo and Passodelis have graduated, which leaves DeCiantis as the Tigers feature back.

DeCiantis will be joined in North Allegheny's backfield by senior quarterback Mack Leftwich, who threw for 2,149 yards and rushed for 715 on 122 carries.

"We should be pretty good this year," said DeCiantis, who has collected a pair of WPIAL titles and a PIAA title in 2010 while playing for the Tigers football team. "Our goal is to win a third consecutive WPIAL title."

DeCiantis also experienced great team success in wrestling. The Tigers placed second in the WPIAL and tied for fifth place in the PIAA.

"We were the first wrestling team in North Allegheny history to qualify for the PIAA Team Tournament," DeCiantis said. "Nobody dreamed we would go that far. It was a fun ride."

DeCiantis has been doing a lot of wrestling since the high school season ended. He participated in FILA Junior Nationals, which took place in Akron, Ohio.

"This was my second trip to FILA Cadet Nationals," DeCiantis said.

DeCiantis placed fifth in the 85-kilogram weight class, which converts to 187.25 pounds.

"I fell one win short of placing last year," DeCiantis said. "The experience I picked up last year really helped. I knew what to expect this time around."

DeCiantis is making another trip this week, as he was invited to wrestle in the Disney Duals.

"I will be wrestling for the Keystone Brawlers, a team coached by Deron Shank, who is from the Carlisle area," DeCiantis said. "Zach Smith [a North Allegheny teammate] was also invited. It's the first time to wrestle in the Disney Duals for both of us. I'm really looking forward to the trip."

DeCiantis is also considering a third trip to Fargo, N.D., for the USA Wrestling Championships.

"I've been there twice before, but I'm not sure if I can make it this year," DeCiantis said. "I'll decide when I get back from the Disney Duals."

North Allegheny teammate Dom Forys will be making the trip to Fargo. He qualified for Junior Nationals in freestyle in the 120-pound weight class.

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