JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa.; April 10, 2024 – It was a historic winter sports season for Thomas Jefferson High School, featuring team and individual championships, records and accomplishments across several sports. The winter was capped by the TJ Hockey team earning its second PIHL 2A Penguins Cup championship in the past three years and three WPIAL Wrestling Champions, one of whom - junior Maddox Shaw - also captured PIAA Gold.


The TJ wrestlers made history, with a trio of juniors winning WPIAL 3A titles and the second PIAA individual crown in program history. Maddox Shaw delivered his first PIAA state championship in Hershey as he defeated Central Mountain's Dalton Perry in overtime to claim the title at 139 lbs. The top seed at 139, Shaw (43-3) and Perry were tied, 1-1, heading into overtime and Shaw got a takedown to end the match.

Shaw is TJ's second PIAA Champion in the past three years under Coach Michael Ladick. A two-time WPIAL Champion, he added to his school record victory total, which stands at 128 entering his senior season. In 2022, TJ's Brian Finnerty was the PIAA champ at 215 lbs. Finnerty was the Jaguars' previous career wins leader, with 121 from 2019-22.

Junior Bode Marlow captured third place at 160 lbs. in the PIAA Championships. The 2024 WPIAL Champion finished the season with a 39-7 mark. The Jaguars' third WPIAL champ, junior Shep Turk (285 lbs.) finished the season with a 34-9 mark. TJ finished ninth in the PIAA team standings. Ladick is just the second coach in PIAA history to direct state wrestling champions at three different schools, joining Dave Crowell.

At the WPIAL 3A Championships, TJ was the only school with multiple WPIAL champions, doing so for the first time in program history. Shaw became the first Jaguar to win multiple WPIAL titles. TJ has won at least one WPIAL title in each of the past three tournaments and six of the school's all-time total of 10 have come since 2019. The Jaguars' trio of WPIAL champs also were Allegheny County Tournament titlists.


Two years ago, the Thomas Jefferson hockey team needed four unanswered goals in the third period to force overtime en route to the school's first PIHL 2A Penguins Cup Championship since 2000.

On March 18, the No. 2 seeded Jaguars used five consecutive tallies in the second period to build a 6-2 lead en route to an 8-4 victory over Penn-Trafford to capture TJ's second Penguins Cup in three years. The Jaguars (21-3) won their 14th consecutive games since a 4-2 loss to South Fayette on December 14.

Playing in front of a boisterous, sold-out crowd at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Jaguars delivered the fifth PensCup crown in school history, joining the 1998,1999 and 2000 PensCup and state championship squads and the 2022 comeback titlists.

The common denominator among all five teams? John Zeiler, who was a center on TJ's 1998-99-2000 championship squads and played for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings before returning as TJ's head coach for the 2021-22 season.

With the Pens Cup victory, TJ advanced to the PIHL 2A state championship game against Flyers Cup 2A victor Pennridge. The Rams were victorious in the March 23 contest in Havertown, denying the Jaguars their first state title since capturing three straight from 1998-2000.

The hockey team had a superlative 18-2 regular season, tying for first place in the PIHL Class AA standings and earning the No. 2 seed.

Boys Basketball

The TJ boys basketball team went 10-0 in Section play to deliver its first Section title since the 2013-14 season, posting a 19-3 regular season mark. The Jaguars were the No. 4 seed in the WPIAL 5A playoffs and defeated Penn-Trafford and Kiski Area before dropping a heart-breaking 67-65 decision to top-seed and eventual WPIAL champ Moon Area in the semifinals.

Led by Coach Dom DeCicco, the Jaguars advanced to the PIAA 5A Tournament for the first time since 2019-20, dropping a 52-48 contest at York Suburban to finish a tremendous season at 21-6.

Senior Evan Berger became TJ's career basketball scoring leader among all boys and girls, finishing with 1,610 points. He surpassed Karri Miller Lockhart '89, who scored 1,357 points during her brilliant career, in TJ's win at Bethel Park in mid-January. Berger became the first Jaguar selected to the Post-Gazette's Fabulous 5 team and was first-team All-WPIAL. Berger and Noah Prosser were selected to play in the Roundball Classic as was senior Laekyn Flinn, a first-team All-Section honoree, from the TJ girls' squad.

Swimming & Diving

It was a historic season for the TJ boys and girls swimming and diving teams. The Jaguar girls earned three podium finishes at the PIAA 2A Championships, led by junior Genevieve Cody. She was second in the Girls 50 Free (:23.73) and fourth in 100 Free (:51.48) at the state meet. The Jaguars' 200 Free Relay team - comprised of Shannon Chalfant, Nadia Casamassa, Lilly Safran and Cody - placed seventh and became the first TJ relay to medal at PIAAs.

The TJ girls team finished 14th of 68 teams and broke four school records at the state meet.

At the WPIAL 2A Swimming Championships, TJ broke eight school records. Five individual marks were broken along with three relays. The TJ girls finished 10th to earn their highest team finish in program history; the squad was 11th last year.

The Jaguars had four podium finishes at WPIALs, all of which were school records:

- Genevieve Cody placed second in the 50 Free, fourth in the 100 Free and anchored the Girls 200 Free Relay, which placed fourth. Brooke McGrew, Shannon Chalfant, Nadia Casamassa and Cody comprised the 200 Free relay team.

-Senior Gage Derrick placed sixth in the Boys 200 Free.

The Jaguars also broke school records in the Boys and Girls 500 Free and the Boys and Girls 400 Free Relays. Both teams also captured the 2024 Section Invitational under the direction of first-year TJ coach Steve Larkin.

Senior Addison Arndt will graduate owning the TJ 6 and 11-dive records, breaking her own 11-dive TJ record twice this season. Addie placed 8th of 28 divers at the WPIAL 2A Championships.


The TJ Gymnastics team captured the State Championship in the Silver Division at the PA Classic State Gymnastics Championships. The squad members were Addison Arndt, the team's lone senior, Riley Barna, Karlie Enick, Kelsey Kanotz and Nicole Parsons. The Jaguars captured their third PA Classic state title under Coach Jodi Cummings, also winning in 2018 and 2019.


The Jaguars' boys bowling team posted a 10-0 regular season to earn its third consecutive WPIBL Section title under the guidance of first-year head coach Lou Scataglia. In January, sophomore Joey Nix rolled the first 300 game in program history, finishing with a 735 series in the victory over Norwin. Nix also qualified for the state tournament.

Unified Bocce

In just its second year as a TJ varsity program, the Unified Bocce team qualified for the Three Rivers Region South Allegheny playoffs. The Jaguars' Team No. 1 earned a 5-3 regular season mark and advanced to play South Park No. 1 in the playoff semifinals under the direction of coaches Emily Leininger and Michael Rose.

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