Together, Bears Reach New Heights

From Varsity Girls Basketball’s season of firsts and Varsity Boys Basketball’s playoff appearance, to success by individual competitors, it was a season to remember at WT. “This season is a testament to the power of WT Athletics in unifying athletes and the greater community as one WT team,” declared Director of Athletics Kevin Miller. “The Bears roared to life in games, meets, matches, and championships for dear old WT, and the community’s support pushed them to victory.”

Boys Basketball, the “Comeback Team”

The Varsity Boys Basketball team recovered from a slow start and persevered for a strong finish to the season, winning eight of their last 11 games to make the fourth straight WPIAL playoff appearance for Boys Basketball. In a must-win game on the road against Propel Andrew Street, the Bears were down 16 points in the third quarter. Making a comeback with the team phrase, “one bucket at a time, one stop at a time,” senior Malik Potter put the Bears ahead, with just five seconds left, to win the game.

Featured as an East Feature Athlete and averaging an impressive 30 points per game, Malik saw much success this season. He was selected for the premiere all-star game in Western Pennsylvania, the Roundball Classic, and for the WPIAL All-Section team. Other standout contributions came from senior Dorian Epps who averaged more than 10 rebounds per game, sophomore Danny Sentner who set a career high for points in a game, and sophomore Tyler Perry who reached double-digit rebounds in several games.

Despite a tough 66 – 57 first-round playoff loss, Coach Jordan Marks believes the Bears have much to celebrate. “In my years of coaching, I am proud to say that this group was the best I’ve ever coached,” says Marks. “They often dug down deep and found the determination to never stop playing like they could win. Their unselfishness and willingness to do what was best for the team was motivation for me to never give up on them.” Given the growth of younger players, and the lasting impressions left by senior players, the team looks ahead to what’s sure to be a promising 2017-2018 season.

Tristan Forsythe: 1600-meter state champion

Fresh off the Varsity Cross Country team’s PIAA State Championship win last fall, junior Tristan Forsythe charged ahead to track and field competitions. In February, he competed in the 110th annual NYRR Millrose Games, the world’s most prestigious indoor track and field competition, where his time qualified him for a spot at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) State Indoor Track Championships. In May, Tristan became a WPIAL Champion with an upset win in the 1600-meter race, giving him the #1 seed in the PIAA State Championship race—which he won with a time of 4:12.36! Just 48 hours prior to the race, Tristan received the school’s Cassy Richards ’01 Athlete of the Year award which celebrates a student-athlete of strong character who has competed successfully at the highest athletic levels. Cassandra ‘Cassy’ Richards ’01 is the only other individual State Champion in WT history.

Individual Athlete Spotlight: EJ Eppinger

Senior EJ Eppinger, one of only five Bears to earn a WPIAL Individual Championship and the first-ever WT swimmer to win a WPIAL Championship, saw swimming success at several competitions this season. At the WPIAL Swimming Championship, EJ captured a silver medal in both the Class AA 200 individual medley (IM) and 500 freestyle, swimming lifetime bests in both races and qualifying for the PIAA State Swimming Championship. While there, EJ secured two top-ten finishes in the Class AA 200 individual medley (IM) and 500 freestyle. Again, EJ swam lifetime bests, finishing sixth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 500 freestyle. At the last short course meet of his high school career, the Speedo Eastern Sectional Championship, he once again achieved lifetime bests in all races—the 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyle, and 400 IM.

Fencing Teams Persevere Through Rebuilding Season

The Fencing teams put their best foot forward for a strong, rebuilding season after many members graduated last year. The boys finished with a record of 5 – 4, coming in fifth place, and narrowly missing a Pittsburgh Interscholastic Fencing Association (PIFA) playoff spot, while the girls finished with a record of 1 – 5. Though it was the first time in several years that the Bears did not make the playoffs, Coach Iana Dakova was impressed by the Bears this season: “I saw incredible team effort and hard work—from the efficient preparation of the Hilda Willis Room for practice to performance at matches, the team truly gave it their all.”

The Bears will miss senior captains Maggie Caballero and Aidan Place, but with a talented group of Middle School fencers already practicing with the Upper School team, the Bears are optimistic about next season.

Field Hockey:
Postseason Honors

Two Field Hockey players were selected for the 2016 All-WPIAL Class A team after the last issue of Thistletalk went to press. Senior Captain Julia Hilton made first team, and junior Isel Pollock received an honorable mention. Stay tuned for an update on the 2017 Field Hockey season in our next issue!

A Season of Firsts

“We’re going to ‘The Pete!’ We’re going to ‘The Pete!’” This chant roared out of the WT Girls Basketball locker room after their victory in the WPIAL Semi-finals, sealing their place in the WPIAL Championship …