How good a week was it for Greene County sports?
West Greene’s girls basketball team completed the almost unheard of accomplishment of an undefeated regular season. That’s 22 wins, no losses through a schedule that included 2019 WPIAL playoff participants The Ellis School, Bishop Canevin, Sewickley Academy and others.
Add in the fact that the Pioneers accomplished the two-month long sweep after graduation of the Lampe twins, Kaitlin Rizor, Savannah Pettit and Brianna Goodwin, and the achievement becomes even more impressive.
And that wasn’t even the biggest story of the week.
That honor, of course, belongs to the Waynesburg Central wrestling team, which seemed to check off an entire laundry list of memorable occurrences in one season. From beating Canon-McMillan to claim the section championship, to beating Seneca Valley for their first WPIAL title in decades, to knocking off state and national powerhouse Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA tournament, the Raiders seemingly did it all, except hoist the PIAA team trophy.
After finally succumbing to Nazareth, which was ranked 28th in the country prior to its match with the Raiders, WCHS had to deal with something that hadn’t happened since Feb. 2, 2019: a dual loss.
That defeat may only fuel an even greater season next year, perhaps one that ends with the Raiders atop the podium.
Not only is WCHS scheduled to bring back its entire starting lineup for next year, but there are several eighth-graders who are expected to, at the very least, push those veterans and create an even more intense practice room. That lineup will also be back as an older, stronger, more polished version of itself that has faced the elite of the elite in the Keystone State.
Some of you may be wondering whether or not Nazareth could once again rise up to meet Waynesburg and deny it the state gold. While the Raiders are scheduled to bring everyone from this year’s squad back, the Blue Eagles will graduate seven members of the lineup that defeated the Raiders.
Could a program like Bethlehem Catholic, Erie Cathedral Prep, Central Dauphin or even Canon-McMillan deny the Raiders the crown? Absolutely. However, if they want to do it, they may have to take down the most talented and complete team ever to put on the Red and Black singlets.
Before we completely close down the team chapter of this amazing run and look ahead to the individual tournaments, here are a few notes and nuggets that I feel may get lost in the overall greatness of this story.
For those of you who may be thinking the Raiders are just an excellent dual team, they finished in the upper level of three of the toughest tournaments in the country. Waynesburg was 10th at the Iron Man, 12th at the Beast of the East and third at the Powerade, each time serving as the top finishing WPIAL school at the event.
WCHS also finished ahead of Bethlehem Catholic, the returning state champions, at both the Beast of the East and the Ironman.
The only time the Raiders scored less than 30 points in a match was their 38-21 loss to Nazareth. They tallied at least 40 points an impressive 11 times and twice eclipsed 70 points.
WCHS apparently causes some unfavorable matchups for the state’s elite. When looking over the team brackets, the Raiders defeated Bethlehem Catholic 33-31, but did so after giving up two forfeits after the match was already clinched. BECA defeated Seneca Valley 33-31 on its way to taking state bronze.
Canon-Mac was eliminated from the tournament by Erie Cathedral Prep 29-26 after the Raiders dropped the private school into consolations with a 44-24 triumph. The Big Macs also dropped a 39-22 final score to Bethlehem Catholic.
Perhaps most impressive was the Raiders’ showing against Nazareth. While a 17-point loss may not be that impressive to most people, the fact that the Blue Eagles defeated their first three opponents by a combined score of 128-19 truly shows the toughness of the WCHS lineup.
So, congratulations to the Raiders, and the Lady Pioneers as well. It will be exciting to see just how much higher these outstanding programs will rise before the winter comes to an end.