The most decorated female athletes in the 101 years of Old Forge High School are, from left to right, Dana Bilski, Sarah Fish, Lindsay Regan, Nicole Marianelli, and Andi Alsalahat.photo by rick notari
Last year, Old Forge graduate Mike Avvisato became the most decorated athlete in school history when the baseball team won its fourth straight District 2 title. It was Avvisato’s seventh gold medal of his scholastic athletic career. He also won three basketball gold medals
One year later, five female athletes have joined Avvisato.
Andi Alsalahat, Nicole Marianelli, Lindsay Regan, Dana Bilski and Sarah Fish earned their seventh District 2 gold medal when the Old Forge softball team won its fourth straight D2 crown. The quintet also was part of a three-year run where the girls’ basketball team struck gold. That run unfortunately ended this season or this group of girls would have had eight gold medals.
Alsalahat emerged on the scene as a freshman and sophomore in both sports, and fought off injuries her final two seasons to earn her seven medals. In softball she began her career as an all-star third baseman, moved behind the plate to earn all-star status as a catcher during her sophomore year, played in right field the second half of her junior year after returning from a knee injury, and returned to third base this year before finishing the season at shortstop. Throughout her time on the diamond she was one of the most feared hitters in all of District 2. On the court, Alsalahat played inside as a freshman and sophomore, missed her junior year due to the injury suffered playing soccer, and ran the point as a senior.
Marianelli started on the diamond since her sophomore season, playing left field during the Blue Devils run to the PIAA title game. She then took over in centerfield as a junior and started her senior season in the middle of the outfield before spurring Old Forge’s unexpected run through the district playoffs and into the PIAA quarterfinals from inside the circle. She also developed into one of the better hitters in the Lackawanna League late into her junior season, and throughout her senior year. On the hardwoods, Marianelli came off the bench during her sophomore season as an outside threat, and started during her junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Marianelli was one of the top three-point shooters in the Lackawanna League and was the Blue Devils leading scorer.
Regan was a steady presence in both the softball and basketball lineups for the Blue Devils. She started as a freshman in left field before moving to third base for her sophomore and junior seasons. She started her senior season at shortstop but moved to third base late in the year as part of a major shakeup that proved dividends during Old Forge’s post-season run. She played her entire junior season with an injured shoulder that required surgery the proceeding summer, playing almost flawlessly at third base while committing just two errors during the Blue Devils 25 games. On the basketball court, Regan was a versatile player. She played inside and could rebound, and stepped outside during her senior season to finish second on the team in scoring and three-pointers.
Bilski excelled on the diamond where she started for three seasons at first base after serving as the team’s top pinch-hitter as a freshman. She was a steady influence on the softball field, making many tough plays at first base look easy while turning errant throws into unexpected outs. He bat was just as productive during her sophomore and junior seasons, and after a slow start to her senior season, she finished strong for the Blue Devils in the post-season. On the basketball court, Bilski was a role player during her junior season, and started every game as a senior, playing in the post for Old Forge.
Fish was the consummate teammate. No more than a role player before her senior season, the Blue Devils designated player emerged as a senior – especially during the post-season – coming up with more than one big hit for Old Forge. She served as a relief pitcher during her sophomore season and the Blue Devils top pinch-hitter as a junior. Fish’s role on the basketball court was as a reserve, but still was a vital member of three district title teams.
Former Old Forge football standout John Bressi had an extra reason to be happy the NFL Lockout ended – childhood friend and University of Pittsburgh fullback Henry Hynoski – signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants.
Bressi, who grew up in the Southern Columbia School District before coming to Old Forge as a seventh grader, played junior football with Hynoski.
That’s not Hynoski’s only tie to Old Forge though. Who could forget the infamous “Henry Who?” banner posted by OFHS students at the Blue Devils PIAA playoff game against Southern at Dunmore High School in 2006
Hynoski took the banner as an insult and rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries during his team’s 48-0 victory. The win led to Southern’s fourth consecutive PIAA Class 1A state title.
Bressi isn’t the only one excited about Hynoski’s signing, diehard Giants fans Bobby “Fico” Semenza, his son Bobby, Carl “Baker” Agostini, Larry and Dustin Ferrett, and the entire Alexander gang hope “Henry Who” helps the G-Men get back to the Super Bowl.
Three former members of the Old Forge football team made an interesting statement with their choice of hairdos for the 77th annual Dream Game.
Connor Fultz, Mike Tagliaferri and Brandon Souryavong sported “Devilhawks” – their version of the Mohawk style haircut made popular by Mr. T in the 80s.
Teammates Mike Matisko and Kiel Eigen thought better and kept their hair at its normal length and style.
No. Not that Guinness.
The Guinness Book of World Records may have an Old Forge entry in it soon.
Former Blue Devil three-sport athlete Brandon Gatto will try and set the record for the most jumping jacks in a minute, tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Old Forge Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Gatto has contacted Guinness and has been informed no such record exists. So the former Old Forge tailback will go through the process of being the first to set the record.