Class AAA swimmers knock off 6 records in WPIAL championships
First came the North Allegheny girls, a few minutes into the WPIAL swimming and diving championships. Then it was Upper St. Clair, equally as dominant in the 200-yard medley relay.
A little later, three records went down in a five-event span: North Allegheny's Zach Buerger in the 200 IM, Mt. Lebanon's Katie Ford in the 50 free and Upper St. Clair's Ryan Dudzinski in the 100 fly.
The Upper St. Clair boys punctuated a busy morning of record busting Thursday at Pitt's Trees Pool when the Panthers completed the 200 freestyle relay in a race so fast that North Allegheny, the second-place team, also broke the WPIAL mark.
“WPIALs is a monster,” Dudzinski said. “When you hear WPIALs, you get the jitters. Everything's faster.”
After one day, the North Allegheny boys lead Upper St. Clair, 206-204.5, in the race for the Class AAA team title. North Allegheny is cruising on the girls side with a 271-121 edge over Mt. Lebanon.
The Panthers' win in the 200 freestyle relay came with senior Alex Hardwick swimming the anchor leg, an emotional moment for Upper St. Clair given Hardwick stopped halfway through the 200 free — which he won last year — because of an asthma attack.
Hardwick couldn't breathe and was briefly examined by paramedics on hand, though few expected him to miss the event; Dudzinski even warned a reporter to keep an eye on a motivated Hardwick.
“He's a fierce competitor,” Upper St. Clair coach Dave Schraven said. “There was no question in my mind that he would get it done.”
Latrobe's Monica Sowinski upset defending champion Jade Song of North Allegheny to win the 200 free.
Brian Lovasik of North Hills took advantage of Hardwick's disqualification by taking gold in the boys 200 free.
“Ever since last year, I've wanted to come back this year and win,” said Lovasik, who cut nearly four seconds off his time. “I accomplished that.”
North Allegheny's Kayla Churman successfully defended her 100 fly title, while Morgan Soulia, Lauren McGrath, Maggie Root and Song took gold in the girls 200 free relay.
The West Allegheny girls upset top-seeded Quaker Valley in the 200 medley relay to open the Class AA meet. The Indians hold the team lead, 149-131, over Blackhawk.
Jessica Wasek, Kaylee Musiol, Hannah Charlton and Casey Tokarski turned in the winning time for West Allegheny.
Shady Side Academy's Caroline Colville was victorious in the 200 free. Christopher Georgiadis from Mars won the 200 IM and helped Mars into the boys team lead with 116 points, four more than Indiana.
The Planets' 200 medley relay team of Reed McDonough, Thomas Pierre, Georgiadis and Francis Folz finished first.
Chartiers Valley started strong with Drew Damich taking first in the 200 free and finished with a bang by winning the 200 free relay, but the Colts were still stuck in fourth place.
“Initially we had a few swims that weren't what we wanted,” Damich said, “but we poured it on at the end with the relay.”
South Fayette, the defending girls Class AA champ, was first in the 200 free relay in 1:39.89.
The top three finishers from all Class AAA events advance to the PIAA meet March 12-15 at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium. Class AA swimmers get four girls and five boys entrants to states. Day 2 events get started Friday with Class AAA at 10 a.m. Class AA starts at 3 p.m.