What a year! Sports in Greater Pittston turned up the heat in 2015


By Nick Wagner - [email protected]



Tara Johnson of Pittston Area finishes in first place in a girls high school cross country meet at Kirby Park. Johnson won the PIAA District 2 Class AAA Cross Country title.


Pete G. Wilcox File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Vanessa Shedlock sets a new Wyoming Area school record in the girls 400-meter dash with a winning time of 59.2 seconds against Lake-Lehman.


Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Wyoming Area’s Carrie Pozaic (7) celebrates with her team after the Warriors defeated Pittston Area to advance in the PIAA District 2 girls lacrosse tournament.


Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area’s Mia Nardone won a gold medal in the 100 breaststroke during the PIAA District 2 championships.


Fred Adams File Photo

Pittston Area’s Jake Vaxmonsky works against Ian Mallory of General McLane during Class 3A PIAA Wrestling Championships in Hershey Thursday.


Sunday Dispatch File Photo

Wyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski, right, controls the ball ahead of Crestwood’s Cara Jarmiolowski in a playoff game earlier this season. Bednarski finished the season with 67 goals.


Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area head coach Kathy Healey, right, and assistant coach Mark Casper celebrate the PIAA District 2 Class AAA girls basketball championship.


Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Editor’s note: The Sunday Dispatch sports staff compiled the best stories of the 2015 calendar year. The following are not in any particular order.

1,000 points and 300 wins

On the same night this past January, the Pittston Area girls basketball team celebrated a pair of milestones.

The Patriots turned in a 64-44 win over Dallas to give coach Kathy Healey her 300th career victory. She previously coached at Seton Catholic. In the same game, senior Liz Waleski scored her 1,000th career point, joining teammate Ali Barber with the same milestone.

Waleski finished with 17 points and scored her 1,000th point on a free throw in the third quarter.

Patriot girls win first D2 title

Pittston Area won its first PIAA District 2 girls basketball championship in school history. The Patriots fell to North Penn, 53-37, in the PIAA first round.

In the district title game, Liz Waleski scored 14 points while Allie Barber chipped in with 13, including the 1,000th point of her career, in a 50-40 win over Hazleton at Wilkes University. Waleski hit her 1,000th career point earlier in the season.

A young Wyoming Area team, under first-year head coach Chad Lojewski, surprised opponents and led the Warriors to an 11th-seed in the district playoffs. There, the Warriors fell to Abington Heights. Sophomore Katie Wolfgang and freshman Sarah Holweg led the team in scoring — both averaged more than 11.5 points per game.

Court dedicated to Gene Guarilia

In February, Pittston Area’s Thomas R. Kelly Gymnasium was dedicated to former Pittston Area coach and teacher Gene Guarilia. The court is now known as Gene Guarilia Court.

Guarilia is a native of Duryea and attended Holy Rosary High School. He went on to play for George Washington University and later the NBA champion Boston Celtics. Guarilia’s signature was painted on the floor with his number and a shamrock, signifying his time with the Celtics.

Zezza breaks WA scoring record

In February, Wyoming Area senior Jeremy Zezza scored 43 points in an overtime loss to Lake-Lehman. His 43 were the highest total – boys or girls – of any player in the history of Wyoming Area.

Zezza broke Nikki Conway’s record of 42 points, which has been in place since 2002. In the 1970s, Joe Vullo scored 40 points in a single game. Both Conway and Vullo played for Zezza’s grandfather, Jerry.

Nardone, Winters celebrate championships

Pittston Area’s Mia Nardone and Brandon Winters each won gold in the backstroke at the PIAA District 2 championships in February. Diver Sierra Williams took gold in AAA diving.

Pittston Area’s Arianna Boccardi, Addison Hazlet, Nardone, Abigail Norwillo, Erin Senese and Williams were all named Wyoming Valley Conference all-stars. The team of Nardone, Hazlet, Erin Senese and Boccardi broke the school’s 27-year record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:58.40, good enough for a bronze medal, at the district championships.

Vaxmonsky, Johnson claim D2 crowns

At the PIAA championships, Wyoming Area’s Charles Johnson, who won the District 2 Class AA title at 126 pounds, finished fifth.

Pittston Area’s Jake Vaxmonsky and Scranton Prep’s Thor Balavage, an Avoca resident, each won district titles earlier in the season and each fell one win short of a medal at the state championships. Vaxmonsky was the District 2 Class AAA champion at 220 pounds.

Fagotti leads PA past WA

Pittston Area’s John Fagotti was presented with the Andy Ashby Award, given to the Most Valuable Player of the annual Pittston Area-Wyoming Area baseball game in April.

Fagotti threw 72 of his 105 pitches for strikes in the 2-1 win over the Warriors at PNC Field in Moosic. This was the second straight year Fagotti was the starting and winning pitcher in the Ashby Game. In the win, the Patriots were able to manage just two hits off Wyoming Area pitching.

PA senior softball claims titles

The Pittston Area senior softball team claimed the District 16 championship with an 11-2 win over North Wilkes-Barre. The team would go on to beat Old Forge for the Section 5 championship and earned a trip to the state playoffs. Pittston Area eventually fell to Bristol Borough in the state semifinals.

With the loss, the team finished second in the state.

Warriors top Patriots in lacrosse

Wyoming Area, in its first season in school history, took down Pittston Area, 12-11, in the opening round of the PIAA District 2 championships. It was the first playoff game in the history of Wyoming Area lacrosse.

The Warriors fell to Wyoming Seminary in the quarterfinals. Pittston Area, which beat Wyoming Area earlier in the season, was in its third season as a program. Junior Haley Norwillo scored her 100th career goal during the season.

Pittston Area’s Haley Norwillo and Wyoming Area’s Jordan Kelly were each named first-team Wyoming Valley Conference Girls Lacrosse All-Stars.

Warriors won WVC softball crown

Wyoming Area’s softball team claimed the Wyoming Valley Conference championship with a win over Nanticoke in a playoff game. The Warriors cruised through their first two opponents in the District 2 championship.

In the semifinals, however, Wyoming Area fell to Berwick, 2-1, in nine innings. Freshman Gwen Glatz was a surprise newcomer. She pitched 141 innings for the Warriors and had just a 1.24 ERA, picking up 15 wins.

Pittston Area upset Abington Heights in the first round of districts, 3-2. In the quarterfinals, Pittston Area had a 1-0 lead on eventual champion Nanticoke before squandering the lead in the seventh inning.

Twice is nice for WA track and field

Wyoming Area’s boys and girls teams each won the Wyoming Valley Conference championship for the first time in school history.

It was the girls first championship since 1988. The 4×400 relay team of Jalen Rhodes, Jillian Spak, Vanessa Shedlock and Bree Bednarski set a school record of 49.21 and won district gold. Marcyssa Brown qualifed for the PIAA Championships in the triple jump.

Pittston Area’s 4×800 relay team of Liz Waleski, Tara Johnson, Samantha Mayers and Madison Mimnaugh won district gold. Olivia Giambra (triple jump), Mia Cain (high jump) and Taryn Ashby (javelin) each qualified for states.

Wharton does it again

It was a girl’s world for Pittston Area and Wyoming Area golfers this season.

After struggling through the regular season, Wyoming Area’s Maddie Wharton won her second straight Wyoming Valley Conference championship after firing an 81 at Fox Hill Country Club in late September. After winning last year’s district title, Wharton failed to make it out of districts by one stroke when she shot a 96 at Elmhurst Country Club.

Pittston Area’s Allie Craig was the team’s leader on the course all season and finished fourth at the District 2 tournament and missed going to the regional tournament by one stroke. She shot a 95.

Johnson races to district title

Pittston Area’s Tara Johnson continued her impressive career and capped it off with a District 2 championship.

Johnson ran the 3.1 mile course at Elk Lake in 19:21 Oct. 31 to win her first district championship in cross country. She won the race by a staggering 27 seconds. The Pittston Area senior is now a four-time state qualifier. At Hershey this year, Johnson finished 64th out of 226 runners. She finished 55 seconds faster and 77 spots higher than a year ago.

The Patriots, as a team, finished second behind Hazleton Area at the district championships. Freshman Bailey Loyack finished seventh, Arianna Boccardi finished ninth. Pittston Area’s Michael Felter finished 50th in the boys race.

For Wyoming Area, the boys team finished 15th out of 16 teams and did not enter a girls team. Ryan Marvin finished in the top half of the field, while Addison Orzel placed 41st.

Bednarski rewrites history

Not only did Bree Bednarski break several Wyoming Area records this season, she was recognized nationally for her prowess during this year’s field hockey season.

A senior from Wyoming Area, Bednarski broke the Pennsylvania single-season scoring record with 67 goals, according to TopOfTheCircle.com. She was second in the country in goals scored this season.

Patriots get second chance

Pittston Area’s field hockey team went from the outside looking in to being in. Following the season, the Patriots were told they did not qualify for the PIAA District 2 Class AAA playoffs. However, just 26 hours before a potential game, Pittston Area was told it was in the playoffs.

The Patriots’ opportunity came to an end with a 2-1 double overtime loss to Delaware Valley Oct. 26. They finished the season at 3-7-3.

Miles named Falcone MVP

Wyoming Area’s Brian Miles was named the Carmello Falcone Most Valuable Player following Wyoming Area’s 42-10 win over Pittston Area in the annual game.

Miles had 167 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Wyoming Area finished with three wins on the season, while Pittston Area was the only team in District 2 to not win a football game this season.

Musinski named to Tribe Hall of Fame

Former Wyoming Area standout Rich Musinski was elected to the William and Mary Hall of Fame during a ceremony April 11.

A 2000 graduate of Wyoming Area, Musinski finished his Tribe career with 224 catches for 4,168 yards and 31 touchdowns. He holds the school record for 100-yard receiving games with 21. His 224 catches is also a school record.

Degnan wins national championship

Wyoming Area graduate Serra Degnan and the Syracuse University field hockey team captured the NCAA National Field Hockey Championship with a 4-2 win over North Carolina in November.

The junior forward finished the season with three goals and four assists. She became the fourth Wyoming Area graduate to win a national championship.

Tara Johnson of Pittston Area finishes in first place in a girls high school cross country meet at Kirby Park. Johnson won the PIAA District 2 Class AAA Cross Country title.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_hsxcountry01-1-.jpgTara Johnson of Pittston Area finishes in first place in a girls high school cross country meet at Kirby Park. Johnson won the PIAA District 2 Class AAA Cross Country title. Pete G. Wilcox File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Vanessa Shedlock sets a new Wyoming Area school record in the girls 400-meter dash with a winning time of 59.2 seconds against Lake-Lehman.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_SD_WA-Lehman-Track_4.jpgVanessa Shedlock sets a new Wyoming Area school record in the girls 400-meter dash with a winning time of 59.2 seconds against Lake-Lehman. Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Wyoming Area’s Carrie Pozaic (7) celebrates with her team after the Warriors defeated Pittston Area to advance in the PIAA District 2 girls lacrosse tournament.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_SD_PA-WA-GLAX_5-1-.jpgWyoming Area’s Carrie Pozaic (7) celebrates with her team after the Warriors defeated Pittston Area to advance in the PIAA District 2 girls lacrosse tournament. Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area’s Mia Nardone won a gold medal in the 100 breaststroke during the PIAA District 2 championships.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_aaa_swim2_faa-1-.jpgPittston Area’s Mia Nardone won a gold medal in the 100 breaststroke during the PIAA District 2 championships. Fred Adams File Photo

Pittston Area’s Jake Vaxmonsky works against Ian Mallory of General McLane during Class 3A PIAA Wrestling Championships in Hershey Thursday.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_SDvaxmonsky3-1-.jpgPittston Area’s Jake Vaxmonsky works against Ian Mallory of General McLane during Class 3A PIAA Wrestling Championships in Hershey Thursday. Sunday Dispatch File Photo

Wyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski, right, controls the ball ahead of Crestwood’s Cara Jarmiolowski in a playoff game earlier this season. Bednarski finished the season with 67 goals.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_PSD110115WA-CrestFH_2-1-.jpgWyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski, right, controls the ball ahead of Crestwood’s Cara Jarmiolowski in a playoff game earlier this season. Bednarski finished the season with 67 goals. Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area head coach Kathy Healey, right, and assistant coach Mark Casper celebrate the PIAA District 2 Class AAA girls basketball championship.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_SD_PA-Hazleton-GBB_4.jpgPittston Area head coach Kathy Healey, right, and assistant coach Mark Casper celebrate the PIAA District 2 Class AAA girls basketball championship. Bill Tarutis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch

By Nick Wagner

[email protected]

Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

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