They say April showers bring May flowers. Well, one certain Rose couldn’t quite wait for the month to flip, so, on one of the final days of April, she blossomed in a performance you could say was one of the most impressive in WPIAL history.

Two events. Two titles. Two meet records. Two of the top marks ever in the WPIAL. For Canon-McMillan junior Rose Kuchera, the 2023 Washington-Greene County Championship is one she might never forget.

“It honestly felt unreal,” she said.

Kuchera’s unforgettable performance came Saturday on her home track. She began to make history just after 9:15 a.m. when she soared 40 feet, 9 inches in the triple jump. It was a meet record and the No. 2 mark in WPIAL history, according to WPIAL historian Jim Faiella. South Park great Nikita Lewis, who went on to become an NCAA Division II champion at Slippery Rock, jumped 41-2½ in 1998. Kuchera is only the second girl to hit 40 feet. And get this: Her winning jump Saturday was longer than any boy competing in the meet.

But Kuchera’s history lesson didn’t stop there. It continued an hour later when she leaped 19-6¼ in the long jump. Another meet record and another historic jump. This one landed Kuchera No. 4 on the WPIAL’s all-time list. The only girls to soar farther were Hempfield’s Maddie Holmberg (20-1 in 2014), Lewis (19-11½ in 1998) and Winchester Thurston’s Cassie Richards (19-11½ in 2001).

Oh, and for good measure, Kuchera claimed two more titles on the day, giving her four total. She raced to top honors in the 100-meter hurdles and ran a leg on Canon-McMillan’s winning 400 relay. Surprise, surprise, Kuchera was named the meet’s field MVP.

“Beyond special,” longtime Canon-McMillan coach Mike Koot said of Kuchera’s outing. “She just keeps impressing. You never know what she’s going to do each time out. She constantly shocks you. It’s getting to the point where you just take it as, ‘That’s just Rose.’”

Canon-McMillan junior Rose Kuchera won four gold medals at the Washington-Greene County Championship on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at Canon-McMillan. (Submitted)

Before the season, Kuchera wrote down a list of goals, one that she can easily find on the desk and chalkboard in her room, as well as the notes app on her phone. But with her triple jump and long jump goals already surpassed, Kuchera had to set some new goals for the final month of the season. They include hitting 41 feet in the triple jump and 20 feet in the long jump.

Kuchera is one of the WPIAL’s top all-around performers and most versatile athletes. You can pretty much just mark her down for four wins at dual meets. The events may vary, but the results do not. As a sophomore, Kuchera qualified for states in four events after a performance at the WPIAL Class 3A championships that saw her win the 100 hurdles and triple jump, place fifth in the long jump, and help the Big Macs’ 400 relay team place third. At the PIAA championships, Kuchera was the runner-up in the 100 hurdles (her time of 14.75 seconds stands as her PR), placed third in the triple jump and helped the 400 relay squad place seventh.

Koot, Canon-McMillan’s coach since 1994, said he has never had an athlete so versatile. Kuchera has also competed in the 200, 300 hurdles, triple jump and 1,600 relay.

“No, not with this much flexibility,” he said.

Speaking of flexibility, Kuchera credited another sport for picking up most of hers. From when she was about 5 years old up until ninth grade, Kuchera’s primary athletic focus was competitive dance. She did everything from ballet and jazz to contemporary and hip-hop. But when Kuchera was in middle school, she said she “randomly” decided to give track a shot. She excelled, so, by the time she was a freshman, dance was out and track was here to stay. 

“I don’t think I’d be nearly where I am if I had never danced before. I have all this strength and flexibility, and it all comes from dance,” explained Kuchera, adding that she still does some ballet to help keep her ankles strong.

May is now here, and this could be a special month for this Rose, who has already laid claim to being one of the top jumpers in WPIAL history.

Recapping the Relays

A couple of WPIAL athletes put forth fantastic performances at the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States. Mt. Lebanon’s Logan St. John Kletter, Ringgold’s Ryan Pajak and Riverside’s Joe Reed all notched top-3 finishes at the meet, held April 27-29 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

St. John Kletter, a junior, ran a time of 4:50.77 to finish second in the girls mile. It was a personal best and the fastest time by a Pennsylvania girl this season. St. John Kletter was barely edged out by Angelina Napoleon, an N.C. State recruit hailing from New York who finished in 4:49.36. Pajak, also a junior, placed third in the boys mile after running a personal-record time of 4:15.08. Reed, a senior, was third in the javelin courtesy of a throw of 194-5, also a personal best.

A pair of former WPIAL champions won titles at the meet. Knoch’s Jordan Geist, who attends the University of Arizona, was crowned the college men’s shot put champion after producing a meet record mark of 68-7¾. South Park graduate and current Auburn star Maura Huwalt is pretty good at throwing that heavy metal, too, as her heave of 169-11 in the college women’s discus throw won her a title.

PA No. 1’s

Hempfield’s Liz Tapper and Peyton Murray both won discus titles at last Friday’s Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships. Not only that, but their marks were the best of any Pennsylvania athlete this season, according to PA MileSplit.

Tapper, a senior and Michigan recruit, and Murray, a junior, had big days at the meet held at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Tapper unleashed a throw of 157-6, while Murray threw 173-10. Murray’s mark was a personal record. Both also picked up shot put titles at the meet, with Tapper winning with a heave of 44-1½ and Murray topping the field with a toss of 55 feet, which was a PR.

Up next

It might not be as large as the Penn Relays, but the biggest regular-season invitational in Western Pennsylvania will take place Friday. That would be the Baldwin Invitational, which, as of Sunday night, had 54 schools registered. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

Among the field are a dozen athletes who are reigning champions in individual events. For the boys, that includes McGuffey’s Kirkland Cipoletti (1,600), South Fayette’s Jake Borgesi (3,200), Mt. Lebanon’s Fritz Stengel (300 hurdles), Cathedral Prep’s DaMario Crawford (long jump) and Waynesburg’s Drew Layton (pole vault). On the girls side, the defending champs include Upper St. Clair’s Dani Prunzik (100), Penn Hills’ Kali Booker (200), South Fayette’s Lily Colombo (800), Uniontown’s Hope Trimmer (1,600), Cathedral Prep’s Sarah Clark (3,200), Laurel Highlands’ Mia Pierce (discus) and Baldwin’s Brooklyn Lucas (javelin)

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at