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Franklin Regional's Ruffing chooses to swim at Lehigh

| Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Doug Gulasy | Murrysville Star
Franklin Regional senior Kaitlyn Ruffing (center) poses with her letter of intent to swim next season at Lehigh on Friday, May 31, 2013, at the Franklin Regional High School counseling center. Seated next to Kaitlyn are her parents Lew (left) and Kathy (right); in back are Franklin Regional swimming and diving coach Vic Santoro (left) and athletic director Zach Kessler (right).

For Kaitlyn Ruffing, choosing between running track or swimming in college wasn't all that difficult.

“Track is one of those things I do two months of the year,” she said. “The rest of the year I devote to swimming. It'd be harder to give up swimming than it would be to give up track. And I did better this year at swimming, too.”

For those reasons, the Franklin Regional senior will compete next season at the Division I level. Ruffing recently signed a letter of intent to swim for Lehigh.

While Ruffing didn't close the door on her track career — “They say I can do both, and I might,” she said — swimming will be her primary focus.

Ruffing had great success in the sport this past season, qualifying for the PIAA meet in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races individually and as part of Franklin Regional's 200 free and medley relay teams.

She finished in second place at the WPIAL Class AAA championships in the 50 free and third in the 100 free, one spot ahead of her younger sister Alyssa in both races. The 200 medley relay took second at the WPIAL meet and third at the state meet.

“Kaitlyn has a lot of natural athletic ability and dominates in sprint events,” Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro said. “She carries a very heavy academic and extracurricular load, so she missed practice from time to time, but because of her athletic ability could step it up in the sprint events.”

Ruffing, who also qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA Track and Field Championships in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, said Lehigh was her only Division I offer for swimming.

She visited the school last year, after which Lehigh started recruiting her. She went on an official recruiting trip to the school in October 2012, and that solidified her interest.

“For me, that really sealed the deal,” she said. “I stayed overnight and was with the team, watched their practice and that sealed the deal.”

Lehigh, located in Bethlehem, competes in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks' women's swimming and diving team finished in fifth place out of eight teams at the Patriot League Championships in February.

Ruffing, who plans to study pre-medicine in Lehigh's honors program, said the school offered her a full-tuition scholarship. She also considered Case Western Reserve in Ohio.

Ruffing said her most memorable time at high school came as part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, which set the school record and made the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association's All-American list two seasons in a row.

She also enjoyed competing with — and against — her younger sister, who is also receiving Division I interest. She hopes to compete against her sister again at the collegiate level.

“There might be another chance for us to race against each other in the future,” she said. “You never know. I think that'd be pretty cool.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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