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North Allegheny swim teams look to defend WPIAL titles

| Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The North Allegheny swim team didn't miss an opportunity to add more WPIAL qualifiers at the last-chance meet Feb. 18. The Tigers added 10 more qualifying times to their bevy of qualifiers as they look to add to their WPIAL trophy case.

The list of North Allegheny swimmers who qualified at the last chance meet included: Cait Edwards and Marlyn Root, 200 free; Emma Kunzmann, 200 IM; Lila McGrath, 50 free; Alex Grabor, 500 free; Thomas and John Ehling, 100 back; and Joe Songer, Andrew Yang and Josh Galecki, 100 breast.

North Allegheny coach Patrick Wenzel is excited to see how this group — combined with his other athletes who qualified throughout the season — do at WPIALs Thursday and Friday at Trees Pool.

“We have a goal-setting session where we set goals at beginning of year and go from there,” Wenzel said. “We hope the work we did was correct, and we save our best swims for the end.”

The Tigers typically do their best work late in the season. North Allegheny has won eight consecutive WPIAL Class AAA team titles on the girls' side, while the guys have collected five in a row.

Junior Mason Gonzalez will attempt to defend his two WPIAL titles from last season in the 100 and 200 free, while senior Lauren McGrath will try to defend her crown in the 100 free.

“Our expectations are to strive for excellence every day in practice,” Wenzel said. “We feel when we are doing great things all year long that our end goals are always within reach. We are always looking to win.”

One of the major goals was to complete an undefeated dual meet season, which North Allegheny accomplished by sweeping North Hills on Feb. 17. The Tigers' boys team set four pool records against the Indians. Gonzalez set the mark in the 200 free and 500 free. Rick Mihm recorded the best mark in the 100 back, while the 400 free relay team — consisting of Jack Wright, Gonzalez, Eben Krigger and Mihm — also set a new mark.

All of these teams are part of what Wenzel hopes is another big postseason.

North Allegheny has set the foundation.

Now the Tigers need to continue to apply what they've learned.

“The preparation and doing everything correctly hasn't amounted to a whole lot of anything yet,” Wenzel said. “We are hoping for great things at the end.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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