Capping a Career

Valentovish, Blazer earn Seneca Valley MVP awards

May 29, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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Seneca Valley's Breana Valentovish (back) fights for head ball with Mount Lebanon's Michelle Malizio (18) in a WPIAL Class 4A girls soccer quarterfinal game at NexTier stadium in this file photo from 2018. Valentovish was named Seneca Valley's Sherman Female MVP recently.

For Breana Valentovish and Owen Blazer, it was one final accolade before graduating — and a very deserving one.

Valentovish, a soccer star for the Raiders, and Blazer, a standout swimmer, received the school's Sherman Female MVP award and NexTier Male MVP honor, respectively.

The designation takes into account athletics, academics and character beginning with a student athlete's freshman year.

“Both Breana and Owen have been the cog, the leader of their respective teams all four years,” said SV athletic director Heather Lewis. “They're great athletes, great students and great people in the hallways.”

Nominations are accepted from the district's varsity coaches. The final decision as to who is chosen for the awards falls to Lewis and assistant athletic director Dave Fuhrman.

Valentovish and Blazer were recently notified that they had been selected. Lewis presented them with the award at their residences Wednesday.

“This award means so much to me,” said Valentovish. “When I was a freshman, I was just hoping to play. To be named MVP, it's great. It's the cherry on top of my high school career.”

A solid contributor her freshman and sophomore seasons, Valentovish hit another gear her junior year with 19 goals and nine assists as a midfielder. She scored the game-tying goal with just seconds remaining against Peters Township in the WPIAL title game, which the Raiders won in overtime. She was chosen as the Butler Eagle's Girls Soccer Player of the Year after the season.

All-Section, All-WPIAL and All-State — Valentovish earned all three over the last two seasons. She is now anticipating her arrival at Carnegie Mellon University.

“I'm really looking forward to contributing to the team and challenging myself on and off the field,” she said.

Blazer never failed to medal in the butterfly and backstroke in four trips to the WPIAL Swimming Championships and swam at the state meet four times. He leaves Seneca Valley after contributing to eight school records between individual and relay events.

Last February, he won district crowns in the butterfly and backstroke, the latter with a WPIAL-record time.

“The back will always stand out for me,” said Blazer. “That and the way the whole team came together to finish second, I know I'll always remember that and I hope my teammates do, too.”

Swimmer Owen Blazer earned the Seneca Valley NexTier Male MVP award recently.

Blazer, who will swim at Miami University in Ohio, was primed for more glory at the state meet in mid-March. A day after placing second in the butterfly at Bucknell University, he focused on defending his No. 1-ranking in Pennsylvania in the backstroke. But after a preliminary swim that morning, the remaining events were canceled due to the coronavirus.

“I'll remember how things turned out there, but I'm not going to spend the rest of my life telling people that I was robbed,” said Blazer.

There has always been a strong dose of humility with any measure of success achieved by Blazer. His acceptance of the MVP award was no different.

“Making sure the team succeeded was always first,” he said, “but when you focus on that and it leads to something like this (honor), it's pretty amazing.

“I remember my freshman year, some friends and I were talking about who would win this award when we were seniors,” he added. “They were throwing some names out there and I thought to myself, maybe I had a chance.”

Valentovish, Blazer and their fellow graduates did not spend the final months of their high school days were they expected to be. Staying at home and completing school assignments online became the new normal due to COVID-19.

Valentovish, though, believes something positive can come from it.

“It was really disappointing,” she said. “There were things that we were looking forward to for 12 years, but no prom, no last day of school.

“It's sad, but hopefully, we're all better for going through it. When we are able to come together again as a class, it will be much more meaningful.”

Recipients of other awards at Seneca Valley include wrestler Drew Vlasnik (Murray Award, male), basketball player Brian Hart (O'Shea Award), softball player Julia Ehrman (Murray Award, female) and lacrosse player Keely Lisco (Positive Athlete Award).

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography