The past two days have been a time for WPIAL coaches and individuals to get some national attention.
On Monday, Mt. Lebanon's girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker was named the coach of the USA Basketball Under 16 National Team. It is quite an honor for Oldaker, who will coach some of the top girls high school players in the country. Oldaker (picture from USA Basketball) has won five PIAA titles in her years as coach at Blackhawk and Mt. Lebanon, but she has experience coaching USA Basketball. She coached the USA to a gold medal in the 2014 U.S. Youth Olympic Games Women's Three on Three Tournament.
Then today, Franklin Regional wrestling coach Eric Mausser was named the all-USA Coach of the Year by USA Today. Mausser had one of the best teams in WPIAL history this past season. The Panthers won a second consecutive PIAA team championship and also repeated as dual meet state champion. Four Franklin Regional wrestlers won state championships this year.
Two of Franklin Regional's wrestlers were named to the all-USA first team - sophomore Spencer Lee and senior Michael Kemerer. Devin Brown was named second-team all-USA and Josh Shields third team.
The WPIAL had its spring meeting with all of its athletic directors today. As part of the meeting, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi addressed the athletic directors about some subjects, some of them interesting.
First, one of the hot subjects in Pennsylvania athletics these days is the possibility of the PIAA going to six classifications for football. It is questionable whether it will happen. But in May, the PIAA board of directors will further discuss the idea and could possibly vote for the first time on one of the proposals. A new rule must pass three readings (votes) before it goes into effect for the 2016-17 school year.
Basically, there are four proposals: One is to go with the current four proposals, where the classes are split evenly, depending on school enrollments. In other words, the top 25 percent of schools, in terms of enrollment, are Class AAAA, the next 25 percent AAA and so on.
A second proposal is for six classes, split evenly in terms of enrollment. In other words, the top 16.6 percent of teams in terms of enrollment would be 6A, the next 16.6 percent 5A, and so on.
Two other proposals are interesting and both would be for six classes. They are called the Super 700 and Super 800 proposals. Under the Super 700 proposal, those schools that have 700 or more boys in the top three grades would be placed in 6A. The rest of the schools in the state would be divided up evenly in the remaining five classes, based on enrollment.
In the Super 800 proposal, those schools with more than 800 boys in the top three grades would be in 6A. The remaining schools in the state would be divided up evenly in the remaining five classes, based on enrollment. How would the Super 700 and Super 800 proposals affect the WPIAL? Well, if you go by the most recent enrollment figures made available to the PIAA, only three schools would play 6A football in either proposal - Seneca Valley, North Allegheny and Butler. They all have more than 900 boys in the top three grades. No other WPIAL school has more than 700 boys in the top three grades.
One other thing the PIAA will consider in May is how charter school, cyber charter and home school students are counted. Currently, schools must count all of these students in their enrollment figures. The PIAA will consider a proposal where schools will have to only count 10 percent of charter, cyber charter and home school students.
The 6A idea will certainly be debated at the PIAA level. The WPIAL is against it, and one of the main reasons is because the league probably will not be able to play all of its football title games at Heinz Field like it does with four classes. But the other main reason is because the WPIAL believes if the PIAA wants to change the number of classifications, it should do so in all sports. It's a good point. If the PIAA goes to six classes in football, why not in basketball and baseball? Why not change volleyball to more classifications?
Who knows what will happen with the 6A idea. But what is a little baffling is that while the 6A subject is debated, the PIAA still ignores what is really a hot-button topic for many schools these days - and that is public vs. non-public schools and also the proliferation of student-athlete transfers in the Philadelphia area. The more success that private, parochial and charter schools have in sports - especially basketball - the more the public vs. non-public becomes an issue.
And the loads of transfers in the Philadelphia area has many teams crying foul. Yet, the transfers continue to occur and Philadelphia athletic committees don't seem bothered by them.
Heat acclimatization rule
The PIAA changed its heat acclimatization rule this year for football. The official start of football practice in full pads with contact is Aug. 17. But all teams must go through five heat acclimatization practices before they can start contact practices in full pads.
However, there is an exception to the rule and a few athletic directors questioned Lombardi about it today. The exception does create a little confusion. Although the PIAA says teams must go through five days of heat acclimatization practices, there can be exceptions made where a player or players have to go through only three consecutive days of heat acclimatization practices.
Confused? Join the club.
WPIAL scholar athletes
The WPIAL today announced its 20 scholar-athlete winners. Each will receive a $1,000 check for college. Every school in the WPIAL can nominate a boy and a girl. A committee then picks the winners.
The girls winners are: Mohawk's Maria Fleck, Hempfield's Madeline Holmberg, Montour's Victoria Kocsuta, Ringgold's Kirsten McMichael, Yough's Theresa Merlino, Shaler's Brianna Schwartz, Penn-Trafford's Isabel Siergiej, Blackhawk's Courtney Vannoy, Freeport's Grace Ward and Quaker Valley's Caroline Westwood.
Boys winners were Jeannette's Zachary Allen, Ringgold's Jacob Gerard, West Allegheny's Sean Orsini, Seneca Valley's Tanner Quiggle, Quaker Valley's John Regueiro, Franklin Regional's Jacob Roberge, Freeport's Andrew Romanchak, Chartiers Valley's Joshua Rosato, Indiana's Cole Rosenberger and Upper St. Clair's Brooks Wilding.