Where do I start? The 2015-16 Greater Pittston scholastic sports season was certainly one to remember. We had individual district champions and first-time district appearances. There were also individual performances no one in Greater Pittston has ever seen.
This past year, I saw an incredible individual performance on the basketball court, and a once-in-a-lifetime athlete from Wyoming Area who seems to excel in whatever she does. Teams won championships and lost championships throughout the season.
In all, Greater Pittston athletes won eight district gold medals and several more pieces of hardware along the way in the 2015-16 scholastic sports season. Here are some of the highlights of the year, in no particular order:
Johnson wins district XC crown
Pittston Area’s Tara Johnson continued her impressive cross country career and capped it off with a District 2 championship. Johnson ran the 3.1 mile course at Elk Lake in 19:21 on Oct. 31 to win her first district championship in cross country.
She won the race by a staggering 27 seconds. The Pittston Area senior finished as a four-time state qualifier. At Hershey this past year, Johnson finished 64th out of 226 runners. She finished 55 seconds faster and 77 spots higher than a year ago. Earlier in the season, Johnson took third in the WVC meet.
Warriors upend Patriots on gridiron
Brian Miles rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns as the Warriors beat the Patriots, 42-10, in the 51st meeting between the two schools. Wyoming Area finished the season 3-7, while Pittston Area fell to 0-10 and remained the only team in District 2 with out a win in 2015.
The Warriors improved to 27-24 in the all-time series. The scoring margin of 32 points was eclipsed just three other times in the 51 meetings. Miles was named the Carmello Falcone Most Valuable Player.
O’Brien gets 200th kill for PA
Pittston Area’s Marley O’Brien earned her 200th kill of the season in a loss to Delaware Valley and was one of just three Wyoming Valley Conference players to reach the milestone this past season. She finished her career with 400 career kills.
In October, Wyoming Area Rachael Solano picked up her 500th career assist.
Wharton wins second WVC crown
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 girls championship after firing an 81 at Fox Hill Country Club in late September.
Wharton, after winning last year’s district title, 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.
Bednarski scores at will for WA
In September of this past year, Bednarski scored six goals in a win over Hanover Area to surpass Serra Degnan as Wyoming Area’s all-time leading scorer.
She led the Warriors to the best season in school history at 14-3. Her final goal put her at 67 for the season, which is second in the nation and an unofficial state record, according to TopOfTheCircle.com. She led the WVC in goals for the second time in as many years.
Bednarski committed to the University of Michigan in November. The Warriors fell short of reaching the district title game by losing to Crestwood in the semifinals.
Patriots win McGrane Tournament
The Patriots held Holy Redeemer to 11 points in the second half while pulling away for a 44-28 victory, giving Pittston Area the championship of the 50th annual CYC McGrane Holiday Basketball Tournament and a three-game winning streak.
Pittston Area won the McGrane Tournament for the second time in three years. It held Holy Redeemer to two points and no field goals for a span of more than nine minutes, including the first 7:26 of the second half. Alex McAndrew was named the MVP of the tournament, while Jordan Black and Naseem Guillaume
Warriors win district wrestling titles
Wyoming Area’s Kendrick Beyer and Zach Briggs, along with Scranton Prep’s Thor Balavage, an Avoca resident, all won district wrestling championships in February.
With a 4-1 decision over Western Wayne’s James Maloy, Beyer won the 126-pound title. Briggs claimed the 170-pound title with a 7-2 decision over Scranton Prep’s Bruce Parola. Balavage picked up his 220-pound championship with a 2-1 win over Mike Slivinski of Lake-Lehman.
Holweg sets WA scoring record
Wyoming Area’s Sarah Holweg scored a career-high 44 points and set the single-game scoring record at Wyoming Area in a 67-48 win over Dallas in the PIAA District 2 Class AAA quarterfinals. The win marked Wyoming Area’s 16th of the season.
Holweg broke Nikki Conway’s 2002 scoring record of 42 points. Holweg, just a sophomore, would be named the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 co-Player of the Year. The Warriors would fall to Abington Heights in their next contest, and lose a heart breaker against Nanticoke for a chance to reach the state playoffs.
Lady Patriots race to D2 silver
The Pittston Area girls basketball team would not be able to repeat on a district title. However, the girls won a silver medal with a 70-32 loss to Hazleton Area at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Patriots finished the season 18-7 and send off a group of seniors who had a 40-11 mark over the past two years.
Osticco wins D2 diving gold
Pittston Area diver Madi Osticco won gold at the District 2 Class AAA Diving Championships held at the Wyoming Valley CYC. Osticco finished second overall to Williamsport’s Katie Cassidy in the District 2/4 subregional. Because she was second overall, Osticco did not advance to the state championships.
Wyoming Area diver Joe Earl advanced to the state championships by earning a silver medal in the Class AAA boys competition.
WA baseball claims another title
For the second straight season, Wyoming Area’s baseball team were kings of the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2.
On the strength of a two-hit shutout by Josh Kopcza, Wyoming Area earned its second straight WVC Division 2 title by blanking Tunkhannock 4-0 at Atlas Field. The Warriors went on to beat Abington Heights in the quarterfinals of the district championships before falling to North Pocono, 2-1, in the semifinals.
Norwillo takes 5th in state
Pittston Area pole vaulter Abby Norwillo broke her own school record by clearing 12 feet at the PIAA Championships held at Shippensburg University in May. Norwillo cleared her 12 feet and finished fifth in the state in Class 3A.
She went on to win tiebreakers with two other girls to secure her medal. Her vault of 12 feet broke her previous record of 11 feet, 6 inches. Norwillo was seeded 18th going into the state championships.
Also competing for Pittston Area were Marley O’Brien and Taryn Ashby, who 17th and ninth respectively.
Bednarski shines at D2 track and field
Wyoming Area senior Bree Bednarski walking away from the District 2 Class 3A girls track and field championships with three gold medals and a silver in the most dominant performance in a star-studded field.
Bednarski won gold in the 100, 200, and as anchor of the 400 relay team, and took second in the javelin. Members of the 400 relay team were Jalen Rhodes, Jillian Spak and Vanessa Shedlock. At states, Bednarski finished 12th in the 200 and 12th in the javelin.
PA softball makes run to D2 silver
The Pittston Area softball team made it to the district championship game for just the second time in the school’s history. The run came to an end with a 5-0 loss to Abington Heights.
The Patriots were the surprising team in the WVC and went into the district championships as the sixth seed. They easily beat West Scranton, 10-0, to advance to the quarterfinals. Against North Pocono, the Patriots won 3-0. In the semifinals, the Patriots knocked off WVC champion Tunkhannock, 8-7 in eight innings.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick