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Daily News spotlight athletes: East Allegheny's Brian Fox, Serra Catholic's Nicole Pero

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Brian Fox

School: East Allegheny

Year: Sophomore

Sport: Swimming

Claim to fame: Fox placed first in the 50-meter freestyle race at Elizabeth Forward last week, clocking in at 23.38 seconds, his best time of the season. The sophomore placed second in the 100 freestyle at 50.87 seconds, and will compete in both at the WPIAL meet Thursday and Friday.

“Brian has been working very hard,” coach Kevin Batey said. “He started swimming in the seventh grade middle school program and wants to keep swimming into college. He had great times at Elizabeth Forward, and I have a lot of confidence in him to build on that and take it into the WPIAL meet this week. He always works hard and is a team leader. He should do very well.”

How do you prepare for each meet?

I listen to music to get ready and stretch before they call my name. Once I step onto the block, I picture the race in my mind.

Are you nervous about the WPIAL meet this week?

I think I am a little. I'm seeded in the last heat with the fastest guys, so hopefully I'm right there going for the win.

What do you enjoy most about swimming?

I guess being around my friends. I also like that it's an individual sport. No matter what happens, win or lose, it's on me.

Who do you look up to?

As far as famous people, Michael Phelps, but I also have to say my coaches. I know they were good swimmers back in the day.

Do you want to continue swimming in college?

Yes, I'd like to swim in college. I want to go a lot further. Hopefully, I can compete in the Olympics some day.

Nicole Pero

School: Serra Catholic

Year: Senior

Sport: Basketball

Claim to fame: Pero scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and recorded five blocks in a 65-15 victory over Aliquippa on Saturday in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals. The senior almost had a triple-double in the previous round, with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in the Eagles' 58-30 victory over Eden Christian. The Eagles will play California at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the WPIAL semifinals at Baldwin.

“Nicole has had two great games for us in the playoffs so far,” coach Bill Cleary said. “She has been playing very well for us. She has pretty much been hitting her season averages each game and has been playing with a lot of energy and leadership.”

Why has the team had such a great season?

Well, we have four returning starters, and we are very balanced. We don't have a star player. We like to pass it around and make sure everyone gets their shots. Also, I think we're determined and motivated because of last year.

What do you feel is your role on the court?

I don't think of myself as an offensive-minded player. I try to rebound and contest shots when they come inside.

Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced this year?

I would probably say Belle Vernon. They're similar to our team in that they're really balanced.

What do you guys have to do to continue the success you've had?

We need to keep playing the way we've been playing. Even when we're not playing well offensively, we have to do that much more on defense.

— Robert Stinner

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