ON CAMPUS: Piccirillo had solid freshman year
Angel Piccirillo has enjoyed plenty of success at the Penn Relays during her career, and this season — her freshman year at Villanova University — was no different.
But this season had a different feel for the Homer-Center graduate.
“It was nice to have a team there,” she said. “It wasn’t just me there like in high school. I wasn’t just running for myself. I was doing it for Nicky, for Emily, for Michaela.”
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features graduates of area high schools who are performing athletically in college, and it appears the last Thursday of the month. This is the final installment of On Campus for the 2012-13 school year. If you know of someone who could be featured here, contact Mirza Zukic by email or at (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
Piccirillo ran a leg on three Villanova relay teams at the long-running, prestigious meet, and she won’t soon forget two of those races.
On the first day of the Penn Relays on April 25, the Villanova distance medley relay team of Piccirillo, Michaela Wilkins, Nicky Akande and Emily Lipari raced to victory with a time of 10 minutes, 58.84 seconds. The Wildcats led for much of the race thanks to a strong opening 1,200-meter leg from Piccirillo and won for the event for the second straight year and for the 12th time overall.
But the best was yet to come.
Two days later, on April 27, Piccirillo and her relay mates topped that performance by winning the 4x800 relay with a national collegiate-record time of 8:17.45.
Piccirillo ran the second leg for the Wildcats, turning in a time of 2:04.12, .
And as Piccirillo wraps up her freshman year, the record-setting weekend she and her teammates had at the Penn Relays is the highlight of her collegiate experience so far.
“It’s definitely the highlight of my freshman year,” she said. “I was given the opportunity to run all three relays, and to set the collegiate record, I don’t think anybody saw that coming. To have that happen my freshman year, it’s just crazy.”
Piccirillo also ran a leg on the Wildcats’ third-place 4x1,500 relay at the Penn Relays.
But her success wasn’t limited to that weekend.
On April 13, she won the 800-meter run at the Miami Hurricanes Alumni Invitational with a personal-best time of 2:05.31 and qualified for the NCAA Division I East Preliminaries, the final step before the NCAA Championships.
At the East Preliminaries last weekend, Piccirillo reached the semifinals of the 800. She finished 23rd and didn’t advance to nationals.
But she doesn’t carry feelings of disappointment about not making the NCAA meet.
“It’s been a really solid season,” she said. “I’ve been running really good times, especially compared to what I did in high school. I’ve already gone past the goals I set for myself for this year. It’s kind of been a whirlwind.”
A 10-time state champion in high school, Piccirillo had built a reputation as a mile specialist. But during her freshman year at Villanova, the 800 became her new specialty, and it took some getting used to for Piccirillo.
“I ran more 800s than 1,500s this season,” she said, “probably because I was running some good times. It’s different for me because I’m used to being a miler. But I’m loving it.”
Piccirillo set new personal-best times this season in just about all her events this season, and that’s a direct reflection of coach Gina Procaccio’s ability to get more out of even the top-notch athletes.
“When Gina tells you that you can do something, you believe you can do it,” Piccirillo said. “They have the most faith in you.”
Among her other accomplishments this season, Piccirillo took third place in the 1,500 at the Big East Outdoor Championships on May 5; she placed second in the 800 at the Raleigh Relays in March; she ran on Villanova’s distance medley relay team that placed second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March; and at the Big East Indoor Championships, she ran a leg of the Wildcats’ winning 4x800 relay team while placing second in the 1,000.
SAINT VINCENT BASEBALL: Five area players dot the Bearcats’ roster, and two of them were instrumental in getting the Bearcats to the Presidents’ Athletic Conference playoffs this season.
• JORDAN BRITCHER: An Indiana graduate, Britcher was a key cog in the Bearcats’ run to the conference playoffs.
He was second on the team among the regulars with a .344 batting average (32-for-93) and third in slugging percentage (.430). Britcher banged out eight doubles on the season, tied for third on the team in runs scored (21) and finished fourth on the team with 21 RBIs.
Britcher delivered when it mattered, batting .394 (13-for-33) with runners in scoring position, and he especially came on strong over the last month of the season.
He began the season by playing in just six of the Bearcats’ first 16 games, but he played in the final 23 games and recorded at least one hit in 16 of those games. He batted .371 over the final 23 games (26-for-70) with 18 RBIs.
A junior, Britcher is listed as an outfielder/right-handed pitcher on the Bearcats’ roster, but he did not make any pitching appearances this season. In fact, Britcher hasn’t pitched for Pitt Johnstown since his freshman season in 2011.
Britcher played both corner outfield positions and also saw time as the designated hitter. He appeared in 29 games for the Bearcats (19-20) and logged 28 starts.
• VINCE MURPHY: A sophomore outfielder, Murphy led the Bearcats in hitting this season.
The Derry graduate batted .351 (39-for-111), the highest batting average on the team among players with 10 or more at-bats. He was among the team leaders with 18 RBIs, he scored 16 runs and had six doubles.
Murphy was also among the team leaders in on-base percentage (.419), and he collected a team-high nine stolen bases.
In the field, Murphy made one error in 72 fielding chances, for a fielding percentage of .986. He played in all but one of the Bearcats’ (19-20) games this season, with 35 starts.
• BEN CARNAHAN: A freshman second baseman from Apollo-Ridge, Carnahan was used sparingly this season.
Most of his action came as a defensive substitute or a pinch runner in the late innings. He appeared in six games, and recorded a single in his only at-bat of the season.
• MIKE PANCHIK: A freshman from Homer-Center, he appeared in one game this season and went 0-for-1.
Though he’s listed on the roster as a right-handed pitcher, Panchick did not make any pitching appearances this season. In his lone game of the season, he pinch hit and played third base.
• ERIC REITZ: A spot starter for the Bearcats, the right-handed freshman struggled at times but also fell victim to some shoddy fielding behind him.
The Derry graduate was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA, and gave up 17 hits in 11 2-3 innings. He allowed 15 runs, though only nine were earned.
He made six appearances, including two starts. Opponents hit .347 against him.
SETON HILL TRACK AND FIELD: Three area athletes are members of the Seton Hill women’s track and field team, which won the team title at the WVIAC Championships on May 3 and 4.
• JEANNIE BUJDOS: One of the Griffins’ top distance runners, Bujdos picked up where she left off during cross country season.
The Indiana graduate was downright dominant during the outdoor track season, posting 10 top-five finishes in 12 races. What’s more, only once did Bujdos finish outside the top 10 during the outdoor season.
She capped her strong year by winning the 10,000-meter run (36:36.03) at the WVIAC Championships while taking second in the 1,500 (4:51.27) and 5,000 (17:57.17) to help lead the Griffins to the conference team title. Bujdos came up less than a second shy of taking two golds from the WVIAC meet, as she finished 0.94 seconds behind teammate Meagen Carter in the 1,500.
Earlier in the season, on April 20, Bujdos took first at IUP’s Ed Fry Invitational in the 3,000 in a dominating performance in which she won by nearly 40 seconds. Two weeks before that, she took first in the 1,500 at the Bethany (W.Va.) Invitational as the only runner to post a time of under 5 minutes (4:49.77).
Also, Bujdos took second place in the 3,000 and fourth place in the 5,000 at the season-opening Charlotte 49er Classic in March; she placed third in the 5,000 and fifth in the 1,500 at High Point’s VertKlasse Meeting, finishing as the top Division II finisher in both races; and she added a fourth-place finish in the 800 at the Bethany Invitational.
Bujdos also qualified for the prestigious Penn Relays and competed in the 5,000.
Bujdos was coming off a strong cross country season, during which she raced to a pair of victories, including one at the WVIAC Championships.
• KAYLA PERCIC: The Apollo-Ridge graduate showed steady improvement throughout the season and capped her freshman year with a sixth-place finish in the discus at the WVIAC Championships on May 3 and 4. Percic especially came on strong over the final month of the outdoor season, posting four top-10 finishes in that span.
She began that stretch by taking seventh place in the discus and ninth place in the shot put at the Bethany (W.Va.) Invitational on April 5 and 6. She established a career best with a throw of 31 feet, 1 inch in the shot put.
Two weeks later, at IUP’s Ed Fry Invitational, Percic again took seventh place in the discus, and she ended a successful freshman campaign with a career-best throw of 107-8 to take sixth in the discus at the WVIAC Championships.
• MAURA HANSEN: A senior jumper, Hansen ended her collegiate career by qualifying for the WVIAC Championships in the high jump. Hansen qualified for the conference championship meet all four seasons she competed for the Griffins.
This season, she posted a pair of top-15 finishes in the high jump, including a 15th-place finish at her hometown Ed Fry Invitational, hosted by IUP.
During the course of her career, the Indiana graduate dabbled in just about all aspects of the sport. She started out as a sprinter/middle-distance runner as a freshman, competing in the 200, 400, 800 while also running on the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. Early in her career, she also competed in the 100-, 300- and 400-meter hurdles as well as the heptathlon before turning almost exclusively to the high and triple jumps as a junior and senior.
BRETT MARABITO and JOEL POLITES (Pitt-Johnstown, baseball): A graduate of now-defunct Laurel Valley High School, Marabito made the most of his limited at-bats this season and ended the season on a tear.
An outfielder, he batted .380 (19-for-50), posted an on-base percentage of .426 and had a pair of doubles and three RBIs on the season.
But Marabito saved his best for the final two weeks of the season.
In one of his best games, he went 4-for-5 with a double and a pair of runs in a 14-9 loss to Alderson-Broaddus on April 14.
Starting with that game, Marabito ended the season on a seven-game hitting streak.
He appeared in eight of the Mountain Cats’ final 12 games, and he went 13-for-24 (.542) with eight runs, two doubles and a pair of stolen bases. In one of those eight appearances, he was a defensive substitution and played only one inning without an at-bat.
Overall, Marabito saw action in 29 games for the Mountain Cats (27-19), with 13 starts.
In the field, Marabito had a 1.000 fielding percentage, making 38 putouts with no errors. He played mostly right field, but made appearances in left and center field while also serving as the designated hitter in two games.
A Northern Cambria graduate, Polites was a relief pitcher for the Mountain Cats. Seldom used as a redshirt freshman, the righty appeared in two games and posted an ERA of 9.00, giving up four hits and two earned runs in two innings of work.
ALEX WOODROW (Duquesne, track and field): Though he was slowed by injuries for much of the spring, Woodrow made the most of his limited opportunities this season, and in the process, he made some history.
In just his second outdoor meet of the regular season, the Marion Center graduate posted the second-fastest time in school history in the 10,000-meter run with a 29:44.27 at Bucknell’s Bison Classic on April 14. In addition to finishing third among a field of 58 runners at the meet, Woodrow qualified for the NCAA East Preliminaries, the last step before the NCAA Division I Championships.
At the NCAA East Preliminaries last week, Woodrow placed 22nd among 48 runners with a time of 30:21.40, but he did not qualify for the NCAA Championships as only the top 12 finishers advance to nationals.
However, Woodrow made more history by becoming the fifth athlete in Duquesne history to qualify for the East Preliminaries.
The sophomore also added an eighth-place finish in the 5,000 at the Atlantic-10 Championships on May 5.
During the indoor season, Woodrow beat out a field of 16 Division I runners to win the 5,000 at the Youngstown State National Invitational in early February.
ZACK WISNESKI (Slippery Rock, track and field): A freshman thrower, Wisneski was a pleasant surprise for The Rock this season.
The Derry graduate won the discus title at the PSAC Championships on May 11, putting a bow on a breakout freshman season that included 12 top-10 finishes. In one of the surprises of the PSAC meet, Wisneski took the discus gold with a throw of 155-4 as Slippery Rock nearly dethroned five-time conference champion Shippensburg from its perch.
Wisneski also took first in the discus at the Slippery Rock Invitational on April 5 and at Slippery Rock’s Dave Labor Invitational on April 13.
He added second-place finishes in the discus at two other invitationals, and collected seven other top-10 finishes throughout the season between the shot put, the hammer throw and the discus.
Slippery Rock placed second in the team standings at the PSAC Championships, falling 5½ shy of Shippensburg.
JOHN JONES (Westminster College, baseball): A sophomore third baseman/right-handed pitcher, Jones was a mainstay in the Titans’ lineup this season.
The Ligonier Valley graduate ranked second on the team with a .317 batting average (26-for-82), he scored 14 runs and contributed 11 RBIs. He finished with four doubles, two triples and had a slugging percentage of .415 while playing in 33 games for the Titans (15-23).
On the mound, Jones made six appearances, with three starts. He posted a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA, giving up 16 runs (12 earned) in 18 2-3 innings of work. Opponents batted .269 against him.
HANNAH HARLEY (Point Park University, softball): A freshman pitcher, Harley served as the Pioneers’ No. 4 starter and relief pitcher this season.
The Indiana graduate went 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 12 games, including six starts, and she led the team with two saves.
Harley threw three complete games and ranked fourth on the team with 42.0 innings pitched, giving up 33 runs (26 earned). Harley recorded 22 strikeouts, yielded 20 walks, and opponents batted .292 against her.
In her lone plate appearance of the season, Harley hit a single.
LAINA WALKER (Muskingum University, softball): A graduate of now-closed Elderton High School, Walker was a little-used freshman infielder for Muskingum, a Division III school in New Concord, Ohio, which competes in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
She appeared in the first three games of the season and earned one start for the Fighting Muskies (28-12) before an injury sidelined for the remainder of the season. She saw action in two games as the pinch hitter and earned one start as the designated player, similar to the designated hitter in baseball. She went 0-for-5.
LIZZIE NEWHOUSE (Bethany College, softball): A Ligonier Valley graduate, Newhouse was a pitcher and first baseman for the Bison as a freshman this season.
Newhouse saw action in seven games, with six starts at first base. She batted .182 (2-for-11).
Defensively, she posted a .960 fielding percentage with one error in 24 putout chances.
Newhouse did not pitch for Bethany this season.
EASTON RENWICK (Coastal Carolina University, golf): A sophomore, Renwick saw his time on the links spike during the spring season and he took advantage of it, winning one tournament and also posting the two lowest rounds of his career in relation to par.
The Punxsutawney native played in six of the 10 tournaments in which the Chanticleers competed this spring, highlighted by his victory at the College of Charleston (S.C.) Shootout on March 4-5. At that tournament, he posted a career-low score of even-par 216 to finish in a tie for first place, then won the three-way playoff on the third hole to claim the individual medalist honor in the 84-golfer field. His first-round 68 at the Charleston Shootout was his career-low round.
A week later, Renwick had the second-best round of his collegiate career, shooting a 12-over-par 228 to tie for 25th in the 63-golfer field at the General Hackler Championship, Coastal Carolina’s home tournament.
He added another top-20 finish, taking 16th place at UNC Wilmington’s rain-shortened Seahawk Intercollegiate with a 9-over-par 153.
Between the fall and spring seasons, Renwick played in eight of Coastal Carolina’s 14 tournaments, posting a 76.61 scoring average over 23 rounds. Coastal Carolina won the team title at the Big South Conference Championships this spring, and the Chanticleers followed it up by finishing fifth at the Baton Rouge Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships, being held this week at Georgia Tech. Renwick is not competing at the NCAA Championships.
Renwick is a transplanted South Carolinian, having moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., prior to his senior year of high school in August 2010. He made the move in hopes of playing his senior season at Socastee High School, but due to South Carolina’s high school transfer rules, he had to sit out the season.
Renwick was named Western Pennsylvania Golf Association’s junior player of the year in 2008 and 2009.
In high school, he was heavily recruited by programs such as Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland and South Carolina.
TOM SUPINKA (Dickinson College, golf): One of five freshmen on the Red Devils’ roster, Supinka saw the most action out of the bunch, competing in three of Dickinson’s 10 competitions during the 2012-13 season.
The Indiana graduate competed in one of the Red Devils three competitions during the fall season, and played two rounds during the spring season.
The highlight of his season came at the three-team Barefoot Invitational on March 13, where he tied for 13th place among 22 golfer with a season low score of 87 (16 over). Supinka’s scoring average for the season was 88.7.
Based in Carlisle, Dickinson competes at the NCAA Division III level.
On Campus features graduates of area high schools who are performing athletically in college, and it appears the last Thursday of the month. This is the final installment of On Campus for the 2012-13 school year. If you know of someone who could be featured here, contact Mirza Zukic by email or at (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.