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Athlete of The Week Brad Wilson/Upper St. Clair ~ Melissa Stewart/Indiana

Thursday, April 04, 2002

By Mike White and Paul Zeise, Post-Gazette Sports Writers

Brad Wilson

SCHOOL: Upper St. Clair

WHO IS HE? A 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior catcher on the Upper St. Clair baseball team and a record-breaking power hitter.

Brad Wilson: Four home runs already. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)

LAST WEEK: Wilson started the season by leading Upper St. Clair to a second-place finish in the Hawaiian Tropic Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. In six games, he hit four home runs and had nine RBIs. He had two home runs in a 7-2 victory against Socastee, S.C.

THE SEASON: Wilson is batting .423 (11 for 26), with nine runs scored, four home runs and nine RBIs.

POWER TRIP: At the Myrtle Beach Tournament, Wilson broke the long-standing school record for career home runs. He hit nine last year as a junior and has 13 overall. He broke the career record of nine, set by 1962 graduate Frank Vanzin. Wilson has 46 RBIs in two seasons. Upper St. Clair has produced major-leaguers Sean Casey and Kevin Orie.

"When he was a 10th-grader, he didn't have that much power," said Upper St. Clair Coach Jerry Malarkey. "You just don't expect a kid with his size to hit nine home runs his junior year and four more in the first six games of his senior year. That's a remarkable thing for a kid whether he is 5-11 or 6-11."

"Last year, I lifted weights a lot to get ready for football," Wilson said. "I think that helped me a lot with my power. My lower body got a lot stronger. My lower body is definitely my strength."

CATCHING ON: In Little League and Pony League, Wilson played a number of positions. Before Wilson's junior season, Malarkey informed him he would best help the team as a catcher. Wilson appears to have found his niche behind the plate.

"I don't think there's a better catcher that I've seen," Malarkey said. "He has the strongest arm I've seen out of a catcher in the 18 years I've been here. In baseball, people look at offensive stats first unfortunately. But I think people who have watched him play are more impressed with him defensively than offensively."

THE OTHER SPORT: Wilson was a starting cornerback on the Upper St. Clair football team the past three seasons. He also started at running back as a senior.

"I don't really know what I'm going to do in college," Wilson said. "I might play both sports, or I might just play one."

-- By Mike White

Melissa Stewart

SCHOOL: Indiana

WHO IS SHE? A 6-foot-1 senior who will graduate as one of the most decorated female athletes in school history.

LAST WEEK: She won the discus and shot put in dual meets against Kiski, Johnstown and Holidaysburg. Her best throw in the shot put this year is 40 feet, 5 1/2 inches, and she threw the discus 118-7. Both distances are far enough to qualify for the PIAA meet, although qualifying won't take place until the WPIAL championships next month.

CAREER: Stewart won the WPIAL Class AAA championship in the discus and finished second in the shot put last year. She finished fourth in both events at the PIAA meet. As a sophomore, she finished fourth in the WPIAL in both events.

OTHER SPORTS: Although track is her best sport, Stewart also is a standout in basketball and soccer. This year, she averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds for the Little Indians' basketball team and was named to the all-section team for the second consecutive season. In soccer, she plays goalkeeper and was named to the all-section team the past two seasons.

"We've had a lot of good athletes over the years," said Pat Snyder, Indiana's athletic director, who also is the school's track coach. "But I can't think of many others who have not just played three sports, but have excelled at all of them like she has. She is definitely among the top athletes we've produced."

FANCY FOOTWORK: Stewart's strength is that she is very good on her feet and deceptively quick. "A lot of times, girls who are taller are kind of stiff and can't move real well," Snyder said. "But if you've ever watched her on the basketball court, you'd see how quick her feet are and how much of a natural athlete she is. That's why it isn't a surprise that she is so good at what she does."

FAMILY BUSINESS: Stewart is the youngest of five sisters who have competed in track at Indiana and participated in the WPIAL and PIAA championships. Her older sisters are Katrina (specialty was the discus), Beth (hurdles), Stephanie (hurdles) and Jenn (800-meter run).

FUTURE PLANS: Stewart has had some offers to play soccer and basketball in college but will make track her primary sport. She is being recruited by several Division I schools, including Yale, Kent State and Duquesne. She carries a better than 4.0 grade point average and is ranked in the top five in her class. She has also been nominated for the Indiana County Scholastic Sports Hall of Fame.

-- By Paul Zeise

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