Hempfield, Latrobe swimmers collect county titles
The Hempfield boys swimming team celebrated victories in the first and last events of the day and went home as the Westmoreland County Coaches Association champions Saturday at Derry High School.
Hempfield scored 284 points to finish ahead of defending champion Penn-Trafford (213 points) and third-place Franklin Regional (201 points), thanks to victories in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay, among others.
“We're fortunate that we're still working hard,” Hempfield coach Kevin Clougherty said. “We're still in the middle of our season. The kids responded and performed at a very high level.”
On the girls side, Latrobe finished with 242 points and repeated as county champions, edging out Franklin Regional (208 points) and Penn-Trafford (173).
The Latrobe 400-yard freestyle relay team of seniors Kayla Owens and Gina Defrancesco, sophomore Megan Douds and junior Monica Sowinski set a new meet record with a time of three minutes, 37.01 seconds, breaking the old record of 3:38.07.
“We're a team built for the WPIAL and PIAA setting,” Latrobe coach Grey Arrigonie said. “To come through a swim format like this, we're going to do really well. A meet like this shows top-end speed, and if you're good you're going to place.”
Penn-Trafford junior Anthony Montalto suffered a lower body injury when the medal stand suddenly collapsed underneath him halfway through the event, forcing him to miss the rest of the competition. The injury is being evaluated, and it's unclear how much time he'll miss, Penn-Trafford coach Dave Babik said.
As excited as the teams were to take home county bragging rights, the coaches aren't viewing this much different than they would any other meet.
“We treated this like a regular Saturday,” Clougherty said. “It's an opportunity to swim fast while you're tired. You want to be fast in the end of February and middle of March.”
Most teams are still working toward where they would like to be for the WPIAL championships.
Clougherty, for one, wouldn't be surprised to see the teams finish in a different order at the district meet.
“This is a nice format for a county championship, but it's not going to be reflective of the WPIAL meet,” he said. “There are a lot of kids that right now are very tired. When they get to the WPIAL meet, we all expect those kids to really step up and be strong, and in some cases, dominant.”
There were plenty of other records broken on the day.
Norwin junior Kathryn Painter set new marks in the 200 individual medley (2:04.31) and 500 freestyle (4:58.53), and fellow Norwin junior Mark Patterson set a new record in the 100 backstroke (54.88).
Other record setters included Greensburg Central Catholic's Brian Uhrin in the 100 butterfly (51.94), Franklin Regional's Nick Whiteman in the 500 freestyle (4:51.37), and Hempfield's Amanda Kedzierski in the girls 100 breaststroke (1:06.35).
Penn-Trafford also set a new record in the girls 200 freestyle relay (1:40.45), consisting of juniors Devon Davenport and Audra Ragan, sophomore Emily Graziano and freshman Emma Winchell.
Franklin Regional had three double-winners: senior Alyssa Ruffing in the girls 50 freestyle and 100-yard backstroke, sophomore Tyler Stevenson in the boys 200 IM and 100 freestyle, and Whiteman, who also won the 200 freestyle.