Watson, Lorusso named Almanac Athletes of the Year

Published May 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm (Updated May 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm)

Justin Watson of South Fayette and Olivia Lorusso from Canon-McMillan captured Athlete of the Year honors while Ben Haus from Upper St. Clair won the prestigious Waldie/Shaeffer Scholarship Award during the 24th Almanac Premier Performers All-Sports Banquet held May 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe.

Two hundred guests attended the event, which recognized 48 athletes from The Almanac’s readership area for their excellence in athletics, academics and community service.

Watson beat out a competitive field that featured six state champions and three PIAA runners-up, to claim the 2014 Almanac Male Athlete of the Year distinction.

Included among the Top 10 male finalists were: Troye Kiernan from Upper St. Clair, a two-time state champion and member of the Region I national soccer team; Watson’s football championship teammates Grant Fetchet, who holds the school wrestling record for victories, and JJ Walker, who is a PIAA wrestling runner-up; Thomas Steve, a state champion in golf; Dalton Macri, a MVP and state champion grappler from Canon-McMillan; Levi Masua, a WPIAL basketball winner and PIAA runner-up from Seton-La Salle; Major League Baseball prospect Taylor Lehman from Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon wrestling record holder Kellan Stout and Pitt football recruit Michael Grimm from Bethel Park.

Watson shared MVP honors for football with his teammate and quarterback Brett Brumbaugh. Together, they passed the Lions into the record books as South Fayette won its first PIAA football title. The Lions, who were 16-0, also claimed the Century Conference banner and a WPIAL championships. Watson set the WPIAL single-season record with 73 receptions for 1,568 yards and 22 TDs. On a defense that recorded six shutouts, he racked up 54 tackles, 10 deflections and three sacks. The son of Doug and Teresa Watson netted All-State, All-WPIAL and All-Conference acclaim.

Watson also led the basketball team in scoring and rebounding. He was a two-year starter and captain.

A standout in the classroom, maintaining a 4.2 QPA, Watson was a $500 winner and finalists for the WPIAL Scholar Athlete Award. He also was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Player of the Year.

Watson will play Ivy League football at Penn. He will also be enrolled in that university’s prestigious Wharton School of Business.

Meanwhile, Lorusso distinguished herself out of a field that featured Mt. Lebanon swimmer and North Carolina recruit Katie Ford. Both were two-time female finalists.

The competition also featured eight additional multi-talented athletes that excelled in the classroom, too. They included: Madeleine Collins, a 5.0 student and Margie McCaffrey, both of whom played basketball for Mt. Lebanon; Jeanne Farnan, who is bound for Notre Dame and competed in cross country, lacrosse and swimming at Seton-La Salle; Ashley Grimm and Julianne Hart, standouts at Bishop Canevin; Chartiers-Houston’s Haley Sutton (soccer, cheerleading, volleyball) as well as Seton-La Salle’s Tia Torchia (lacrosse, volleyball) and Joey Walz, a state runner-up in golf.

Lorusso garnered high praise from her coaches. They said she was the most talented female student-athlete which they have had the opportunity to coach.

All Lorusso did during her career was guide Canon-McMillan to its first state softball title, as well as back-to-back district championships. She socked 15 home runs this spring and has the Big Macs poised for another title run.

The Robert Morris recruit also scored over 1,000 points in her basketball career. She finished with 857 rebounds.

The daughter of Bart and Raechel led the volleyball team to a section title and WPIAL playoff appearance. She garnered All-state, All-district, All-conference and All-section honors in her sports while maintaining a 3.9 GPA.

Meanwhile, Haus not only fulfilled one of the criteria for the Waldie/Shaeffer Award by matriculating to VMI, but he overcame much adversity to return to the athletic arena. After shattering his fibula and tibia in football and nearly losing his left leg because he developed compartment syndrome, Haus returned to the baseball diamond.

The son of Charles and Mary Jane Haus of Upper St. Clair ranked sixth among hitters in the WPIAL with a .519 batting average this spring. He drove in 19 and scored 14 runs.

Despite suffering a concussion, too, Haus recovered and was nominated Student of the Year. He maintains a 4.08 GPA and belongs to National Honor Society. He sat on the leadership team for Athletes Taking Action and served as an attorney during Mock Trial Competition. In addition to mentoring troubled students, Haus planned, organized and scripted a presentation that helps students transition through school and advises on how to make better academic and social choices.

According to USC manager Jerry Malarkey, “Ben possesses exceptional character, courage and integrity. His principals and values guide his behavior and decisions. He is respectful of others, loyal and a trusted friend.”

Those qualities will serve Haus well into the future. He plans to one day become a Navy Seal.

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