Valley News Dispatch's Spotlight Athletes: Highlands' Mike Masarik, St. Joseph's Nikki Mielecki

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

Mike Masarik

Class: Senior

Sport: Swimming

School: Highlands

Report card: Masarik has qualified for the WPIAL postseason in six events: the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles and the 200-yard medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. He also in one of the area's top football kickers in the fall.

Where are you compared to your goals at the beginning of the season?

I'm pretty happy with how it's going, right now. I still have yet to see what I can pull off with it still being midseason.

How difficult is it to stay focused, knowing you've already qualified for the postseason?

It's actually not (difficult). The end goal isn't Pitt (for the WPIAL finals), it's to make states.

How does conditioning from football translate over to swimming?

It really doesn't. Swimming is its own monster. It works everything all at once. There's nothing that can prepare you for swimming besides swimming.

Do you play any spring sports?

No. In the spring I have to cut back and focus on football.

How many calories do you take in during the day?

I honestly couldn't give you a real number, but if I had to estimate it would probably be around 7,000 to 10,000 calories.

—Dave Yohe

Nikki Mielecki

Class: Junior

Sport: Basketball

School: St. Joseph

Report card: The 5-foot-10 forward was among the team leaders in rebounds and assists during the regular season. She also recorded 12 rebounds in a 45-30 win over Avella in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Has this season gone how you thought it would go?

I thought the season would go like that because we had three returning varsity players and the two other starters. Brooke Arabia was a transfer from Evangel Heights and I knew she would start from day one and Julie Hetu is also a strong player. We have a lot of talent. Everyone that steps onto that court for our team gives 100 percent.

Do you play any other sports at St. Joes?

I play softball and soccer. I got all-section for both. We didn't go far in both sports. It was more about the atmosphere. I had awesome teammates and coaches. The coaches pushed me to play to my potential and I think that's what led to my achievements.”

How are you doing in the classroom?

“The grades are pretty good. My junior year is getting to be pretty tough. It's the most challenging so far in my high school career. It's hard to juggle three sports and school”.

Here's the scenario: You have the ball in the closing seconds, down 2. You have a girl open for a 2-pointer and a girl open for a 3-pointer. Which pass do you make?

“I'd have to say I'd go for the two-pointer because our team tends to do good in overtime situations and I feel that would be the better decision even though we do have some good 3-point shooting.”

What restaurant does Natrona Heights need and why?

“I'd have to say Kentucky Fried Chicken. They have all-around good food.”

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