If you step back and take a look at the past four years of high school sports in the Tri-County Area, you’ll find its been a great run for local athletes and teams — who enjoyed success at both the local and state level.
Unfortunately for a lot of seniors in the Class of 2020, their high school careers unceremoniously came to end this spring when all sports, and in-school learning, were both halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All those seniors in spring sports missed out on their final chance to compete in their final high school sport and try to win another District 9 title, make another magical posteason run with their teammates or add more PIAA hardware (individual or team) for those athletes who had enjoyed success at the state level in previous years.
Instead of getting the chance to create those memories, athletes — along with all students and people in general — were stuck inside most of the spring and were left to ponder the what-ifs. Meaning, for the first time since 1994 in baseball and softball and 1997 in track and field no spring TCS/CE All-Stars named for those high school sports.
As a way to honor the senior athletes in the Class of 2020 who missed out on a lot of their “lasts” in sports and in high school in general, we have created our newest set of awards — the Tri-County Weekend/Courier Express Fantastic 14 — which is the first set of “All-Star” honors to be handed out under the TCW/CE name. The old Tri-County Sunday was rebranded as the Tri-County Weekend earlier this year.
The TCW/CE Fantastic 14 features the best 14 senior athletes — seven boys and seven girls — as determined by the sports department. However, unlike the individual sports All-Stars where statistics and accomplishments for only that current season are used to make selections, everything an athlete did at the varsity level throughout high school in all sports was taken into consideration.
And, like all our All-Star teams that we select that feature a Player of the Year, we have chosen who we believe to be the Most Oustanding Senior Boy and Senior Girl from the Class of 2020.
There was a host of candidates for that top award on both sides.
The battle to be the Outstanding Senior Girl had a clear front runner in Elk County Catholic’s Taylor Newton, who proved throughout her high school career to be the best all-around female athlete in the Class of 2020. And, her performance backed that, as Newton earned All-State honors in all three of her sports.
The race for the Outstanding Senior Boy honor was a much tighter one and came down to a trio of athletes in DuBois’ Ed Scott and Brookville’s duo of Ian Thrush and Colby Whitehill. All three were multi-sport athletes during high school, but each excelled as highly decorated competitors in one — Scott and Whitehill in wrestling and Thrush in track and field.
All three boast accolades that could have earned them the honor without the presence of the other two. However, in the end, Scott’s wrestling resume trumped Whitehill’s, and coupled with his four-year domination on the mat at the local and state level, edged him past Thrush’s collective resume between track and football. Had Thrush not missed his senior year of track because of COVID-19, the scale easily could have tipped in his favor.
Here is a closer look at the inaugural TCW/CE Fantastic 14:
Ed Scott, DuBois — Scott, who also ran cross country at DuBois, put together one of the best wrestling careers not only in Tri-County Area but District 9 history.
He was already a known commodity by the time he reached the varsity level and didn’t disappoint despite the high expectations he had for himself and as well as the ones placed on him by people in the wrestling community.
Scott amassed a career record of 151-6 (most wins in school history) and was a four-time Class AAA state qualifier who won three PIAA medals, including gold medals his junior and senior year. Along the way, he captured four District 4/9 Class AAA titles, as well four Northwest Region crowns.
He became DuBois’ first two-time state champ while also collecting a bronze medal his freshman year in Hershey — making him the first Beaver to win three state medals.
Scott, who is headed to N.C. State to wrestle, is one of five D-9 wrestlers to win four regional titles. He also is just the sixth in District 9 history to reach 150 career wins, and and the first from a AAA school to do so.
Scott also has the best winning career winning percentage (96) among those six wrestlers, ith the next best being 92% by Ridgway’s Nikko Leitzel (156-13), who wins tie him for second all-time. Leitzel’s 13 losses are also next fewest by any of 150-win wrestlers after’s Scott’s six.
All six of Scott’s losses also came during his first two years (39-2 freshman, 33-4 sophomore), with three coming at states. He went 79-0 his final two years, recording 62 of his District 9 record 103 career pins in those two seasons.
Boys Honor Roll
Ian Thrush, Brookville — If you love speed, Thrush was your guy to watch during his high school career — whether it was on a track for football field.
Thrush, who missed on out his senior year of track because of COVID-19, still left Brookville as the most decorated athlete in the boys’ program. He collected 10 District 9 Class AA medals, including eight golds, on the track as a sprinter. He won three individual golds (2 in 100, 1 in 200) and five between the 4x100 and 4x400 relay events. He also added a silver medal in 200 dash (junior year) and 4x100 relay (freshman year).
The Raider was a quadruple gold medalist at districts his junior year, setting D-9 Meet records in the 100 (10.81) and 200 (21.48) dashes and the 4x100 relay (42.02).
At the state level, Thrush captured seven medals at the PIAA Championships, including four his junior year (silver in 200, 4x100; 4th in 100; 7th in 4x400). He also took home three medals (5th in 4x100, 6th in 200, 8th in 4x400) from Shippensburg University as a sophomore.
Given all the success, it should come as no surprise Thrush is moving on to compete in track at the Division I level at Duquesne.
Thrush also proved to be a weapon on the football field as a wide receiver with all that speed. In three seasons at the varsity level, he hauled in 116 catches for 1,791 yards and 23 touchdowns. He did a lot of that damage as a senior (77-981, 11 TDs).
Colby Whitehill, Brookville — Like Scott, Whitehill — who also played a couple seasons of football during his time at Brookville — also made a name for himself on the wrestling mat and he and the Beaver were tied to each other success-wise in their final two seasons despite being in different classifications for the sport.
Unlike Scott, though, Whitehill didn’t experience instant success in the sport at the varsity level competing as a heavyweight from the very beginning. He went 13-6 as a freshman and placed fourth at the District 9 Class AA Championships to reach regionals for the first time.
Things changed for Whitehill as a sophomore, as he went 40-7. He won his first D-9 title that year and finished second at regionals before placing eighth at states for his first PIAA medal. The loss in his medal bout that year was the last of his high school career, as he too went 79-0 with 54 pins over his final two years and captured back-to-back PIAA gold medals, becoming Brookville’s first two-time state champion.
Whitehill, who is headed to Pitt to wrestle, finished his Raiders career with a 132-13 record and 86 pins, collecting three D-9 titles and two Northwest Region crowns to go along with his three state medals. He ranks third in school history in career wins and is just the fifth Raider to capture a third PIAA medal.
Whitehill also helped Brookville win four straight District 9 Class AA team tournament titles and fourth-place finishes in the state team tournament his freshman and junior seasons. The Raiders went 11-8 in Hershey during those four trips to the Giant Center.
Aaron Park, Brookville — Park was yet another standout senior for the Raiders, making his mark in both basketball and baseball. However, his future looks to come on the diamond, as he he is headed to play Division I baseball at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Park was recruited as a pitcher, posting a 16-10 record with a 1.62 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 147 innings in three years at the varsity level for the Raiders. He never got the chance to add to those numbers as a senior with the season being cancelled.
He burst on to the area baseball scene as a freshman, helping Brookville win a District 9 Class 2A title and reach the state semifinals in 2017. He was named TCS/CE Player of the Year that season after going 8-3 on the mound with a 1.53 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. He also hit .413 (26-for-63) 19 RBIs, 12 runs and four doubles.
Park is a .397 career hitter (71-for-179) with 58 RBIs, 40 runs, 13 doubles, five triples and a homer.
On the hardwood, Park became the seventh Raider to reach the 1,000-point milestone and now ranks third on that list with 1,058. Despite that total, he was never really a score-first type of player as he only led the Raiders in scoring 35 of 96 career games while leading his team in rebounding all four years (726) and assists in three of his four seasons (269 in career).
As a senior, Park helped Brookville as District 9 Class 3A champs and capture its first PIAA victory in 23 years with a 49-34 win against Neshannock.
Austin Newcomb, Clarion-Limestone — Newcomb is another multi-sport athlete who excelled at one (football) so much that some people forgot he competed in another (track and field).
Newcomb started his varsity football career rather quietly at C-L as a sophomore, rushing for 327 yards and adding another 357 yards receiving. All that changed his junior year, when he put together a historic year in what proved to be the final season for the C-L program.
He captured TCS/CE Player of the Year honors after setting a new District 9 single-season rushing record with 2,627 yards on 253 carries (10.4 avg.) while scoring 35 TDs on the ground. He added 572 yards and five TDs as a receiver and finished the season with 43 total touchdowns and 298 points.
Clarion-Limestone merger with Clarion Area as part of a co-op for Newcomb’s senior season, and while he didn’t get anywhere near his record numbers, he still led the area in rushing yards (1,276, 10.7 avg.), rushing touchdowns (21), total touchdowns (28) and scoring (176 points). He also was the Bobcats’ second-leading receiver with 12 catches for 331 yards and five scores.
Overall, he amassed 421 carries for 4,230 yards and 67 TDs on the ground and had 55 catches for 1,260 yards and 17 more scores. Newcomb found the end zone 77 times in his career, scoring a total of 518 points.
Austin Green, Johnsonburg — Green was another well-rounded three-sport athlete who saw more than his share of success, both individually and team-wise, as he helped all three programs he was a part of in high school reach the state playoffs.
Green played basketball and baseball at his home school of Johnsonburg and football at Ridgway as part of the school’s co-op, winning five District 9 titles in those team sports. If not for his senior year of baseball being cancelled, Green would have been a four-time lettermen in both basketball and baseball and was a three-time letterman in football.
Green made an instant impact on the hardwood, where he helped lead the Rams to the state playoffs in each of his first three seasons. Johnsonburg won a D-9 Class A title his sophomore season. He was the team’s leading scorer throughout his time in a Rams uniform, scoring a career-high 503 points (18.6 ppg) as a junior. He finished his career with 1,239 points, which ranks him fifth in school history.
On the diamond, Green (middle infielder/pitcher) was one of Johnsonburg’s top players throughout his career and helped the Rams win a D-9 Class 2A title his sophomore season. He hit .369 (24-for-65) as a sophomore and then .475 (29-for-61) as a junior.
When it came to football, Green helped Ridgway win three straight D-9 crowns (1 in Class A, 2 in Class 2A) and enjoyed his best season as a two-way player as a senior. He was a menace to defensive backs with his size and athletic ability, hauling in 42 catches for 685 yards and 11 TDs. He tied for the second most TD catches in the Tri-County Area and ranked fourth in receiving yards. Defensively, he recorded 59 tackles to go along with two interceptions.
Anthony Glasl, Brockway — Glasl fits the mold of several other boys on the Fantastic 14 in that he was a two-sport athlete who excelled in his main sport of wrestling but also competed in cross country in the fall as a secondary sport.
Glasl enjoyed a stellar career for the Rovers on the mat — one of the best in school history — but was overshadowed wrestling at same time as multi-state champs in DuBois’ Ed Scott and Brookville’s Colby Whitehill. But, like those two, he also is headed to compete at the Division I level on the mat at George Mason.
Glasl was a four-time District 9 Class AA champ, winning those titles at four different weight classes, and qualified for states all four years of his career. He also helped the Rovers win their first team title in 16 years at the District 9 Wrestling Championships his junior year. He won his lone Northwest Regional crown as a senior, finishing as the regional runner-up each of his first three years.
At the state level, Glasl captured three state medals in Hershey. He placed sixth as a freshman, then added a fifth-place medal as a junior. He saved his best for last, going 39-2 as a senior en route to capturing a PIAA bronze medal.
Glasl surpassed former Rover standout Andy Rendos as the school’s all-time wins leader during states this past winter, posting a career mark of 146-22. Rendos, a two-time state champ, was 144-16.
Outstanding Senior Girl
Taylor Newton, Elk County Catholic — Newton was a three-sport standout for the Lady Crusaders who competed in volleyball, basketball and track and field — earning All-State honors in each of those sports during her career.
Newton was a monster at the net in volleyball and was a two-time Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association All-State selection. She racked up well over 1,000 career kills while leading ECC to the state playoffs twice (freshman, senior years). Newton helped lead ECC to the District 9 finals her senior year, the school’s first title-game appearance since 2015 when Newton was in eighth grade.
On the hardwood, Newton was one of the best all-around players in District 9 during her career. She scored 1,397 points, which ranks her second in school history. She helped lead ECC to the state playoffs her sophomore season.
Newton was named Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express Player of the Year as a junior and was a two-time PA Sports Writers Class A All-State selection, earning Third Team honors her junior year and
As good as Newton was at volleyball and basketball, track and field was arguably her best sport and one that earned her a scholarship to compete at the Division I level at the University of Pittsburgh.
Newton competed in multiple events in track and field during her career, but her specialty was the high jump. Despite missing her senior year of track, Newton was a two-time District 9 Class AA champion in the high jump and two-time PIAA medalist.
She placed fourth at states as a sophomore after being one of six jumpers to clear 5-4.
Newton followed that performance up by clearing 5-7 at states her junior campaign, winning PIAA gold based on having fewer misses than another jumper who also cleared the height. The state title was the ninth by a Lady Crusader in school history. She cleared a personal-best 5-7 3/4 during a meet against Kane during her junior year.
Senior Girls Honor Roll
Kaitlyn Constantino, Clarion — Constantino also was in the mix for the Outstanding Senior honor, as she too was a standout three-sport athlete who played volleyball, basketball and softball for the Lady Cats. She helped lead Clarion to the state playoffs in all three sports during her career.
In volleyball, she was a powerful outside hitter that played on three Lady Cat squads that reached the PIAA playoffs, winning D-9 Class A titles her junior and senior years. Clarion, which lost to the eventual state champion in all three PIAA runs, reached the state semifinals her sophomore and senior campaigns. She earned multiple honors within the KSAC and District 9 during her career and was a Class A All-State selection as a senior.
On the hardwood, Constantino proved to be a prolific scorer for the Lady Cats and helped lead them to the state playoffs each of her final two seasons as the third-place team from D-9 in Class 2A. She saved her best for last, scoring a career-high 520 points (20.0 ppg) as a senior to rank second in D-9 in both categories. Her huge senior season vaulted her into third-place on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,314 points.
On the diamond, Constantino was a two-time Class A All-State selection at two different positions (third base, pitcher) during her career.
Constantino earned Second Team honors at third base as a sophomore after hitting .466 (27-for-58) with 13 RBIs, three triples and a team-high 25 runs scored. She moved to the circle full-time as a junior, and all she did was help lead Clarion to the state quarterfinals as the D-9 Class A runner-up to DuBois Central Catholic. The playoff appearance was the Lady Cats first since her freshman year when they also were the D-9 runner-up.
Constantino’s huge junior season earned her Class A All-State First Team honors as a pitcher after going 17-6 with a 1.60 ERA, 245 strikeouts and just 39 walks in 144 innings. She recorded double-digit strikeouts in 13 games. She also hit .500 (41-for-82) with seven doubles, four triples, 29 runs scored and nine RBIs.
She lost her senior year on the diamond to COVID-19 but is headed to Grove City to continue her education and softball career.
Chanell Britten, Brockway — Britten played just one sport (soccer) in high school but made the most of focusing one on just soccer by putting together one of, if not the best, career on the pitch by a boy or girl in Tri-County Area history.
Britten became the all-time leading scorer (boy or girl) in Tri-County Area history, finishing her career with 164 goals to go along with 43 assists. She shattered both the girls and boys records during her senior season, records formerly held by two other former Brockway standouts — Juli Esposito (135 goals) and Phil Esposito (149).
Along the way, Britten helped lead the Lady Rovers to three District 9 Class A titles and four trips to the state playoffs. Those D-9 crowns were the first three in program history. She was a three-time Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer league (UAVSL) Central Division MVP selection.
Britten is headed to Point Park to continue her soccer career.
Lauren Eckert, St. Marys — Eckert competed in four different sports during her Lady Dutch career. She played soccer and basketball all four years in high school and spit her spring sports season between softball (freshman, sophomore years) and track and field (junior, senior years).
While Eckert was a three-time letterwinner in basketball, she was most known for her prowess on the soccer field. And, what career she enjoyed on the pitch. If not for Brockway’s Chanell Britten, Eckert would now be the all-time leading goal scorer in girls soccer in Tri-County Area history.
Eckert finished her career with a school-record 144 goals, which easily broke the old area girls record of 135 held by Brockway’s Juli Esposito. However, Eckert was always chasing Britten, a fellow senior, who finished with 164 goals — the most by a boy or girl in area history. Eckert’s total is now third overall, behind only Britten and former Brockway Rover standout Phil Esposito (149).
Shayleigh Gulvas, DuBois Central Catholic — Gulvas was a standout three-sport athlete in her own right at DCC, and if not for COVID-19 this spring, would have been a four-time letterwinner in each of her three sports.
She was a libero for the vollyeball team and was the leading scorer on the basketball team for most of her career. However, softball is where she really made a name for herself and was a two-time Class A All-State Second Team selection at shortstop.
Gulvas helped DCC win a pair of District 9 Class A titles and reach at least the state quarterfinals in each of her three years at the varsity level — including the school’s first-ever state finals appearance her junior year.
She was hoping to help lead DCC back to the state finals this past spring only to see the season wiped out because of COVID-19. Despite missing an entire season, Gulvas still put together one of the best careers in school history. She ended her career with a .456 career average (115-for-252), 119 runs, 80 RBIs, 27 doubles, six triples and six home runs.
Gulvas will continue her softball career at Seton Hill University.
Tara Hinderliter, Redbank Valley — Hinderliter, a two-sport athlete who also played volleyball, was most known for her prowess on the basketball court in high school, where she was a prolific scorer for the Lady Bulldogs.
And, she saved her best for last as a senior when she was the driving force behind Redbank’s magical season that saw the Lady Bulldogs post a 12-win turnaround, win the school’s first district title since 1998 and reach the second round of the state playoffs.
All Hinderliter did during that season was lead District 9 in scoring — both in total points (590) and scoring average (21.1 ppg) — a season that earned her TCS/CE Player of the Year honors. Hinderliter finished her career with 1,401 points, which rank her second in school history behind older sister Brooke Hinderliter (1,997 points).
Hinderliter will play collegiately at Penn State DuBois.
Megan Quesenberry, St. Marys — Quesenberry is another strong all-around athlete who was part of a talented senior class that just graduated from St. Marys. She sometimes got lost in the shuffle with the accomplishments of fellow senior Eckert and some other classmates, but she quietly put together a strong career resume. She played four different varsity sports (soccer, cross country, basketball and track and field) during her time in a Lady Dutch uniform, although she played soccer just her freshman year before switching to cross country as a fall sport.
Quesenberry excelled in the running sports, capturing 12 District 9 medals between cross country and track and field and helping St. Marys win four D-9 team titles (3 in cross country, 1 in track).
In three years of cross country, she collected one silver medal and two bronzes and was one of St. Marys’ Top 3 finishers each of those years at states, including a personal-best 76th this past fall as a senior. On the track, she took home nine medals, including five golds (3 in 4x800 relay, 1 in 400 dash as a junior, 1 in 4x400 as a junior). She won a silver in the 4x400 as a freshman and added a bronze in the 400 and fourth place in the 800 as a sophomore.
She was part of 4x400 and 4x800 relay squads that set new school records, with her 4x800 squad (also featured Samantha Hayes, Tessa Grotzinger and Vivianne Catalone) setting a new school record (9:32.44) at states last year to become the first Lady Dutch relay squad to make the state finals in Class AAA (finished 12th).
On the hardwood, Quesenberry played in 91 of St. Marys’ 94 games during her career. She led the team in scoring her junior year with 239 points (11.4 ppg) and was second her sophomore (181 points) and senior (175 points) years.