East Xtra: Valley senior a guy for 3 seasons

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Cody Schrecongost started his tennis career much later than most of the top high school players in the area, picking up a racket for the first time his freshman season at Valley.

But his hard work and natural athletic ability have made him one of the top Class AA players in the WPIAL.

Schrecongost won his third consecutive Class AA Section 4 singles title last week by beating Indiana's John Appolonia, 6-2, 6-1, in the title match.

"The No. 1 reason [he's been able to catch on quickly] is his God-given athleticism," Valley coach Rachael Link said.

"He's a tri-athlete and he excels in all three sports. And I think he fell in love with tennis.

"He first came out for the sport, and he just worked at it and worked at it to get to where he is now."

Schrecongost also excels in soccer and swimming. On the pitch, he was an all-section defender for the Vikings this past season. In the pool, he is a PIAA qualifier who holds school records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle.

He said he decided to add a third sport to his schedule because of Link.

"Coach Link encouraged me," Schrecongost said. "She's the only reason I started playing and she's really helped me."

Link understands the demands on Schrecongost, as she herself played three sports -- tennis, basketball and softball -- at Valley.

She also understands the benefits.

"You learn how to achieve victory no matter who your teammates are," Link said. "You learn to adapt to any situation no matter the sport and no matter the opponent.

"Cody has achieved the level at which he is at because of his focus and 100 percent dedication."

Schrecongost said that during soccer season, he mostly focuses on soccer. But during swimming season, he often plays tennis on the weekends so he can be ready to jump right into the matches when he finishes his season in the pool.

He's also been able to remain near the top of the class ranks academically, too, according to Link.

"I just really love having a busy schedule," Schrecongost said.

Schrencongost is still deciding on whether to attend Bowling Green or Slippery Rock in the fall, and likely will be a walk-on in soccer or tennis at the next level.

But first he has some unfinished business on the court. Despite his success and the team's success, he's never made it to Hershey for tennis.

He missed his chance in singles, losing in the WPIAL quarterfinals Monday. But he'll have another chance in doubles later this month -- he and senior Adam Barone are the two-time defending section doubles champions -- and Valley will have a shot in the team tournament in early May.

But no matter how the season plays out, Valley will be losing a top student-athlete when Schrecongost leaves.

"I take great joy in watching Cody play sports," Link said. "He's so well-rounded; he's just a true student-athlete."

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