Six Portage seniors to play on in college

·6 min read

May 19—PORTAGE — Six seniors at the Portage Area Junior-Senior High School announced their intentions Wednesday to continue their academic and athletic careers at the collegiate level.

Kaden Claar and Maryn Swank will attend Juniata College to play basketball and softball, respectively.

Dylan Tubbs committed to Shenandoah University for football as well as track and field and will be joined by Josh Canavan, who signed with the university's running programs. Tyler Alexander announced his intention to play baseball at Delgado Community College, and Anthony Coukart committed to wrestle at Lycoming College.

After considering several other Division III programs, Claar chose Juniata because he felt it was the best fit and somewhere he could grow as a person and basketball player.

"They recruited me the heaviest out of all the other schools," said Claar, who plans to major in business. "I wanted to go to a place where I was wanted and a place I could make an impact on. It was just the best fit for me."

A two-time all-state selection in basketball, Claar scored over 1,500 points throughout his career and led his team to back-to-back District 6 Class 2A titles.

A four-year letter winner, Claar helped propel the Mustangs into the state playoffs three-straight seasons and guided Portage to the program's first WestPAC title this past winter.

"I'm a pretty versatile player and can do whatever the coach (at Juniata) wants me to do," Claar said. "They run a lot of sets and a lot of motion, which is a little different than I'm used to, but I think I'll be able to adjust."

He is the son of Terry Claar and Kristy Kargo.

Swank, who is the Mustangs' all-time leader in career strikeouts, chose Juniata because of its friendly environment.

"I just felt like I belonged there," said Swank, who intends to study accounting and is ranked No. 2 in her class. "The coach and players were all so welcoming. I really liked it there."

Swank, who was recruited as a pitcher, led the Mustangs to a 13-6 record this spring and is set to guide Portage in the District 6 Class 1A playoffs, which begins Monday.

She currently has a 2.93 ERA and has fanned 123 batters across 96 innings.

"I think I'm a very competitive player, and even if I'm not the best player on the field, I'm going to fight the best I can to help the team win," Swank said. "I just want to be able to make a difference."

She is the daughter of Susan and the late Brian Swank.

Recruited as a kicker in football and for throwing events in track and field, Tubbs picked Shenandoah over other schools so he could blend together his favorite passions and preferred field of study.

"I was looking at other schools, but as soon as I visited Shenandoah, I knew I wanted to go there," said Tubbs, who plans to major in business. "I met the other players and the coaches, and it just seemed like a family."

In football, Tubbs set a school record this past season after he kicked a 43-yard field goal against Meyersdale.

He tallied three field goals and converted on 34 extra points in 2021.

In track, Tubbs took second in javelin, third in shot put and this in discus at last week's WestPAC Championship meet.

"I loved being a Mustang, and I always looked forward to practices and games," he said.

"It became such a big part of my life, and it's something I'll never forget."

He is the son of Brad and Shawna Myers.

The friendly environment at Shenandoah was also a major draw for Canavan, who will join Tubbs as a distance runner on the track and field team.

"The instant I met with the team, I knew it was the place for me to be," said Canavan, who intends to study nursing.

"Their distance team in track needs some help, so I'm hoping to go in there and make an impact right away."

Canavan was a state qualifier in cross country this past fall after finishing fourth at the District 6 Class A championships.

He was named to the Central Western All-Star team and was a member of Portage's WestPAC track and field championship team in 2019.

"I have a lot of self discipline," Canavan said. "Everyone has those days where it's hard to stay motivated, but I think I'm really disciplined, both academically and athletically, to keep moving and keep pushing forward."

He is the son of John and Amy Canavan.

While he will be making a long trip to Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana, Alexander believes he has an opportunity to make himself right at home.

"This is really the best fit for me both academically and athletically," said Alexander, who chose Delgado because of its esteemed civil engineering program.

"I'm an all-around guy who can be there for my teammates, and I feel like I have a chance to go there and make a difference."

Recruited as a utility player with plans to play at second base, shortstop and in the outfield, Alexander led the Mustangs to an undefeated regular season this spring and a WestPAC championship.

He went 5-for-5 at the plate to guide his team to an 18-8 victory over Rockwood in Monday's WestPAC title game and currently carries a .404 batting average.

"With my energy and enthusiasm for the game, I feel I can make those around me better," Alexander said. "I want to be a huge contributor to the team and help keep the program's success going."

He is the son of Rick Alexander and Hope Miller.

Lycoming's longevity at the head coaching position was a valuable trait for Coukart, who will play for 25th year coach Roger Crebs.

"Lycoming was the first school I visited, and I thought it was perfect for me," said Coukart, who will major in criminal justice.

"Their coach has been there for a long time, and it was important to me to go to an established program."

As a member of the Penn Cambria Wrestling program, which has a co-op agreement with Portage, Coukart took sixth at this year's District 6 Class 2A Championships and advanced to the PIAA Southwest Regionals.

He finished his career with 53 victories and was an all-WestPAC selection his junior year.

"I'm a dedicated wrestler and will never go up," Coukart said.

"I will go all three periods and will work as hard as I can. I give it my all, whether I'm winning or losing."

He is the son of Thomas and Michele Coukart.