High school notebook: Hopewell still wins despite distractions

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The Hopewell baseball team has its third coach in three years. Despite the changes, one thing remains constant.

Hopewell is still winning with regularity.

Hopewell is 11-1 and the Post-Gazette's No. 1 team in WPIAL Class AAA.

The Vikings have had to deal with some adversity the past few years but are still thriving under first-year coach Mike Shuleski.

In September 2011, Hopewell lost its longtime coach when 80-year-old Joe Colella died of a heart attack. Colella coached Hopewell for 48 years and was the winningest coach in WPIAL history with 650 wins and three WPIAL titles, the last of which came in 2010.

Longtime assistant Joe Rubino took over for 2012 and guided the Vikings to an 18-5 record and the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals. But Rubino was removed as coach after one season after being charged by police with having inappropriate contact with female students.

Shuleski, 32, was named coach in January. A math teacher at Hopewell, Shuleski was the Vikings' pitching coach last year and formerly the school's freshman coach.

"I had all these guys when they were in junior high, and I knew they were a fairly talented bunch," Shuleski said. "With this group of seniors, there has been great focus. With the distractions that could have been there, they've taken to focusing on the task at hand, whether it's that day's practice or a pitch in the game."

Shuleski's team has been offensive, averaging eight runs a game. But he said hitting has not been the key to this team.

"I would say it starts with pitching and defense," Shuleski said. "You hear about the home runs and couple-hit performance. But hitting and defense is what this program was built on for so long. It kind of was Coach Colella's staple."

Coaching news

• Gateway's search for a football coach might come to an end this week. The school hopes to announce a hiring Wednesday.

One of the strong possibilities for coach is Randy Rovesti, the athletic director at Norwin. Rovesti played on Gateway's WPIAL championship team of 1969. He plans to retire as Norwin's AD at the end of the school year and was Norwin's coach from 1984-93.

The Gateway job opened when Terry Smith left to become an assistant coach at Temple University.

• Elsewhere, Rob Niedeberger resigned as boys basketball coach at Burrell. Niedeberger guided the Bucs to the WPIAL Class AA championship game this past season.

Another to Yale

Jesse Root's hockey journey from the Pittsburgh area to Taft School in Watertown, Conn., to Yale had a happy ending when Yale won the NCAA championship last week. Another Pittsburgh area youngster is following the same path.

Andrew Gaus, a Wexford resident, attended Taft School and also is a Yale hockey recruit.

Scholar-athletes

The WPIAL awards four $5,000 scholarships every year to its scholar-athlete winners. This year's winners are Brendan Lynch of Freeport, Peter Gula of Penn Hills, Maggie Gruber of Mars and Alexis Hlzendeger of Ambridge.

Eight other boys and eight other girls received $500 scholarships.

Leechburg leaving

Leechburg High School will leave the WPIAL (District 7) and move to District 6, pending approval by the PIAA.

The WPIAL has approved Leechburg's exit, but Leechburg will stay in the WPIAL for the 2013-14 school year. Leechburg has been part of the WPIAL since the early 1900s.

Sister stuff

Bill Stanley, a 2012 South Park graduate, set a national javelin record last spring. Now his sister is making a mark in the WPIAL.

Sarah Stanley, a South Park sophomore, has the best javelin throw in WPIAL Class AAA at 137 feet, 4 inches. Her mark is also a school record.

Meanwhile, Bill Stanley is having quite an impact in his freshman year at Ohio State. He broke the school record earlier this spring and then surpassed his own mark last weekend with a throw of 237-3. The throw is No. 8 in NCAA Division I.

• Senior Jessica Slagus and her sister, Kaitlyn, a sophomore, led Belle Vernon to a successful basketball season as the Leopards finished 16-7. Now they've "thrown" themselves into the Belle Vernon track and field team. Jessica Slagus has the second-best javelin throw in WPIAL Class AAA at 131-9. Kaitlyn is seventh in the discus at 109-9.

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Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975. Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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