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Penn Hills swimmers return to WPIALs

| Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Members of the 2017 Penn Hills swim team who have qualified for the WPIAL swimming and diving championships include, in front, from left, Julia Mikita, Emma Lintelman, Alice Bowser, Megan Hull, Stephanie Sipple, Odin Gamble, Colleen Hoolahan; and in back, Kimani Gregory, Devin Messenger, Tommy Natalia, Isaiah Gregory, Terrance Daly, Glenn Hanna, Bradley Mulanski and Rebecca Miller.

Three Penn Hills swimmers have their sights set on reaching the podium at this week's WPIAL Class AAA swimming championship at Trees Pool.

The Gregory brothers, senior Isaiah and sophomore Kimani, as well as junior Stephanie Sipple all return for another appearance at WPIALs on Thursday and Friday with hopes of making it to the state meet.

Isaiah Gregory will compete in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He is seeded third in the 50 freestyle with a 21.55 time and is fourth in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:00.24 time.

Last year, Isaiah Gregory finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke (58.38) and seventh in the 200 IM (1:56.47).

Kimani Gregory has qualified to participate in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. He is seeded fourth in the 100 butterfly (52.78) and 100 free (47.91).

Last year, he finished third at the WPIAL meet in both the butterfly (50.71) and 100 freestyle (46.25).

Sipple will compete in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle. She is seeded fifth in the 100 fly (58.84) and 12th in the 500 freestyle (5:20.96).

“I'm hoping to drop time in both of the events that I'm swimming. I'm not really worried about place at this point. I just want to really drop time in both of the events,” Sipple said. “I have been working really, really hard this season so just to know that my times are getting faster because I'm working a lot harder would just make it worth it. I have been dedicating myself so much this season. I really just want to drop time.”

Last year, Sipple finished second in 100 butterfly (57.51) and seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:11.23) at the WPIAL meet. Sipple believes she has learned from her experience and is going to approach WPIALs in a different way.

“I would just say to go out and have fun,” she said. “Last year, I got extremely nervous, and I think it very badly affected my swim. I'm just going to go and try not to get so nervous. I'm just going to have fun with my team and see what happens.”

Freshman Colleen Hoolahan will make her first appearance at WPIALs, competing in the 100 breaststroke. Sophomore Glenn Hanna has qualified for the first time to participate in the 50 freestyle.

“We have improvement with the team as a whole,” coach Cheryl Ciorra said. “Their times have gotten faster and faster as the season went along. The kids are very hard working, and I couldn't ask for much more considering the size of the team.”

Penn Hills also qualified its three boys and girls relay teams for WPIALs.

Sipple and Hoolahan will join sophomore Julia Mikita and junior Megan Hull in the 200 medley relay, while Sipple and Hoolahan will be part of the 400 freestyle relay with Hull and junior Rebecca Miller. Houlihan, Hull, Miller and sophomore Emma Lintelman will be part of the 200 freestyle relay. Alice Bowser will be the alternate for the relay teams.

The Gregory brothers will be joined by Hanna and senior Devin Messenger in the 200 medley relay, while the Gregory brothers will team up with Hanna and Tommy Natalia in the 200 freestyle relay. Hanna will be joined by Messenger, Natalia and senior Terrance Daly in the 400 free relay.

“Hopefully, we get some fast swims,” Ciorra said.

The Indians will look to advance to the PIAA championships March 15-18 at Bucknell.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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