The high school sports seasons in Pennsylvania were brought to a sudden end before they began last spring, and the fall seasons have been played with safer, socially distant guidelines. But what hasn’t changed in high school athletics is the recruiting game.
Local athletes continued to be recruited by schools, whether it be Division I, II or III programs.
The NCAA’s fall signing period began last week and myriad of athletes signed national letters of intent for the 2021-22 season. Among them are recruits headed to Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia along with other Division I and Division II programs.
Waynesburg is expected to be one of the top high school wrestling programs in the state this year after finishing as the runner-up in the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament last season. One of the key wrestlers for the Raiders is Luca Augustine, who signed with Pitt. He is one of five wrestlers to sign with the Panthers this month.
A three-time section champion, Augustine has 101 career victories and made it to the PIAA semifinals last season, when he finished in sixth place at 160 pounds. He had an 18-match winning streak that included nine pins.
“We’ve known about Luca for a few years and have closely followed his development,” said Pitt coach Keith Gavin. “First, we love his work ethic. He’s really come on the last two years, which hasn’t been surprising to us because we’ve always liked his potential. He’s beaten some good wrestlers and we’re excited about his future, for sure.”
n Wyatt Henson, Augustine’s teammate at Waynesburg, signed with national powerhouse Iowa.
Henson was the first wrestler to commit in the Hawkeyes’ 2021 recruiting class. He placed fifth in the PIAA Championships as a freshman in 2018, then wrestled for Christian Brothers in the St Louis area in 2019 and won a Missouri state championship. Back at Waynesburg last winter, Henson had a 47-4 record and won WPIAL and PIAA championships, beating two-time state champion Sam Hillegas of North Hills in the 138-pound finals of each tournament.
n Rhea Kijowski of Waynesburg signed with West Virginia as part of the Mountianeers’ 11-player women’s soccer recruiting class.
Kijowski, a forward, scored more than 100 career goals and had 60 assists. She is a two-time member of the All-WPIAL team, leading Waynesburg in goals and assists three different seasons.
n Ian Shahan of Belle Vernon was one of the best swimmers in the WPIAL and state over the last two years. He has won two straight WPIAL Class AA titles in both the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle. He won PIAA championships in each of those events during his sophomore season. The PIAA Championships were canceled last spring.
Shahan has committed to Army.
n Waynesburg baseball player Tyler Switalski signed with Gardner-Webb. A left-handed pitcher/first baseman, Switalski had a .364 batting average with 20 RBI during his sophomore season. He was named one of the top 500 high school players by Perfect Game.
Among the other local athletes who recently signed letters of intent are:
n Belle Vernon four-sport (cross country, soccer, basketball and track) standout Grace Henderson, who signed with Akron and will compete in track.
n Belle Vernon’s Izzy Laurita, with Georgia State (soccer).
n Waynesburg’s Mikie Culp-Alston with Ursuline (soccer).