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North Allegheny swimmers sweep WPIAL championships

Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Upper St. Clair junior Ryan Dudzinski swims the boys 100-yard backstroke, coming in first and leading by several seconds during in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Upper St. Clair junior Ryan Dudzinski swims the boys 100-yard backstroke, coming in first and leading by several seconds during in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - North Allegheny junior Casey Melzer swims the boys 100-yard breaststroke, coming in first in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>North Allegheny junior Casey Melzer swims the boys 100-yard breaststroke, coming in first in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du (bottom) shakes hands with Mt. Lebanon senior Meghan Schilken after swimming the fifth heat of the girls 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland. Du took first in the heat for the event.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du (bottom) shakes hands with Mt. Lebanon senior Meghan Schilken after swimming the fifth heat of the girls 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland. Du took first in the heat for the event.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Bethel Park senior Kelly Kramer swims the girls 100-yard backstroke in the third heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Bethel Park senior Kelly Kramer swims the girls 100-yard backstroke in the third heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Mt. Lebanon swimming coach Amanda Smith (center) cheers from the wet deck alongside Bethel Park swimming coach David Kutrufis (right in orange) as their teams compete in the girls 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Lebanon swimming coach Amanda Smith (center) cheers from the wet deck alongside Bethel Park swimming coach David Kutrufis (right in orange) as their teams compete in the girls 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Norwin junior Kathryn Painter races in the girls 500-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Norwin junior Kathryn Painter races in the girls 500-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Peters Township senior Saoirse Palu-Benson races in the girls 500-yard freestyle, coming in second place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Peters Township senior Saoirse Palu-Benson races in the girls 500-yard freestyle, coming in second place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Upper St. Clair junior Fynn Minuth swims the boys 500-yard freestyle in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Upper St. Clair junior Fynn Minuth swims the boys 500-yard freestyle in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Hempfield senior Amanda Kedzierski swims the girls 100-yard breaststroke in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Hempfield senior Amanda Kedzierski swims the girls 100-yard breaststroke in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Central Catholic junior Neal Smith swims the boys 500-yard freestyle in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Central Catholic junior Neal Smith swims the boys 500-yard freestyle in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Sarah Nutter, 18, of Ross, cheers for her fellow North Hills swimmers during the girls 100-yard breaststroke event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Sarah Nutter, 18, of Ross, cheers for her fellow North Hills swimmers during the girls 100-yard breaststroke event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media - North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du competes en route to a victory in the fifth heat of the 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg  |  Trib Total Media</em></div>North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du competes en route to a victory in the fifth heat of the 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du swims the girls 100-yard backstroke, coming in first during in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>North Allegheny junior Jacquelyn Du swims the girls 100-yard backstroke, coming in first during in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Mt. Lebanon senior Paolo Mesde swims the boys 500-yard freestyle, in the third heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Lebanon senior Paolo Mesde swims the boys 500-yard freestyle, in the third heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Norwin junior Kathryn Painter races in the 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland. She won the event.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Norwin junior Kathryn Painter races in the 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland. She won the event.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - The crowd shows a mixed reaction while watching the boys 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>The crowd shows a mixed reaction while watching the boys 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Norwin junior Mark Patterson swims the boys 100-yard backstroke during the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Norwin junior Mark Patterson swims the boys 100-yard backstroke during the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - North Hills junior Brian Lovasik races to the finish during the boys 100-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>North Hills junior Brian Lovasik races to the finish during the boys 100-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Hampton senior Katie Fernander swims the girls 100-yard breaststroke, coming in first in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Hampton senior Katie Fernander swims the girls 100-yard breaststroke, coming in first in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Mt. Lebanon senior Katie Ford races to the finish during the girls 100-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Lebanon senior Katie Ford races to the finish during the girls 100-yard freestyle, coming in first place in the fifth heat for the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Patrick Lersch catches his breath after swimming in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals as he watches his fellow Upper St. Clair teammates win the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Patrick Lersch catches his breath after swimming in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals as he watches his fellow Upper St. Clair  teammates win the event at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Lauren McGrath (right), 15, of Wexford hugs fellow North Allegheny teammates Jacqueline Du (left), 16, of Wexford and Kayla Churman (rear), 16, of Wexford after winning in the fourth heat the girls 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Lauren McGrath (right), 15, of Wexford hugs fellow North Allegheny teammates Jacqueline Du (left), 16, of Wexford and Kayla Churman (rear), 16, of Wexford after winning in the fourth heat the girls 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Upper St. Clair teammates Fynn Minuth (front left), Ryan Dudzinski (bottom left), Alex Hardwick (bottom right) and Patrick Lersch share a moment after winning the boys 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Upper St. Clair teammates Fynn Minuth (front left), Ryan Dudzinski (bottom left), Alex Hardwick (bottom right) and Patrick Lersch share a moment after winning the boys 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review - Chartiers Valley swimmers wait on deck during the second heat of the girls 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review</em></div>Chartiers Valley swimmers wait on deck during the second heat of the girls 400-yard freestyle relay timed finals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimimng championships Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at Trees Pool in Oakland.

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Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 8:09 p.m.
 

The Upper St. Clair boys may have won the battle, but North Allegheny, as has become its custom, won the war.

Ryan Dudzinski powered the Panthers to the 400-yard freestyle relay title to close the WPIAL Class AAA Swimming Championships Friday at Pitt's Trees Pool.

The anchor leg sealed a WPIAL-record time of 3 minutes, 3.63 seconds — one of five records broken Friday, 11 overall — but North Allegheny still won its third consecutive title and eighth in the past nine years.

“With such a close race with USC this year, it was so fun to finally pull this one off,” NA's Zach Buerger said.

The Tigers had 373.5 points to surpass Upper St. Clair (364) and Mt. Lebanon (235).

One of two individual event winners Friday — Sam Rutan in the 500 free was the other — Casey Melzer's first-place 56.67 in the 100 breaststroke finally let the Tigers breathe easy.

“I know (Thursday) all of us were scared. ‘What if, you know?' ” Melzer said. “We came here (Friday) with such a sense of drive.”

So did the North Allegheny girls, who cruised to the Class AAA title with 471 points. Mt. Lebanon (189) was second.

Jacquelyn Du swam on two winning relays — the 400 free setting a WPIAL mark — and won the 100 backstroke in a record 54.20.

“I knew that our team could do this,” Du said. “But the feeling of standing up on the podium is new every year.”

After taking over for longtime North Allegheny coach Corky Semler, Patrick Wenzel coached both teams — with Semler looking on.

“Two WPIAL titles in my first year ... I'm not going to take it for granted,” Wenzel said. “I know these things don't happen all the time.”

Mt. Lebanon's Katie Ford set a second WPIAL record after winning the 100 free in 50.63. North Hills' Brian Lovasik took the boys 100 in 45.36. Both won titles in the 50 on Thursday.

Hampton's Katie Fernander held off a charge from Latrobe's Kayla Owens, who was seeded sixth — to take gold in the 100 breaststroke.

“All year long people have been telling me she's the one to beat,” Fernander said. “I've trained with her. I knew she was going to be there.”

Dudzinski broke his older brother Kyle's record in the 100 backstroke (48.35).

Christopher Georgiadis nearly won a gold medal for every member of the Class AA Mars boys team, which has only six members.

Georgiadis, a four-time winner, took first in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.24 and swam the third leg on the Planets' first-place 400 freestyle relay team that also included Reed McDonough, Thomas Pierre and Francis Folz, the 100 freestyle champion.

Mars finished with 233 points to beat out Quaker Valley (170).

“I couldn't have asked for anything better,” Georgiadis said. “It's such a way to end senior year — at least WPIALs.”

Despite winning just one individual event, West Allegheny won its third girls title in the past four years, 227-199, over last year's champion, South Fayette.

“You don't have to win every event; you have to score in them,” West Allegheny coach Bob Miller said. “As a team, we were solid doing that.”

Chartiers Valley's Drew Damich picked up his second WPIAL gold by clocking a 4:35.88 in the 500 free.

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.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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