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SSA girls place 2nd at PIAA swim championships

| Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 5:45 p.m.

After capturing their third straight WPIAL championship earlier this month, the Shady Side Academy girls swimmers wrapped up the season with a runner-up finish at the PIAA Class AA meet last week at Bucknell.

The Indians scored 123 points to finish behind only Villa Maria (240).

Their second-place finish could change after the diving championships March 25.

“We could end up in second, third or fourth place, but it's still quite an accomplishment,” SSA coach John Landreth said.

Heading into the weekend, Landreth felt it was a foregone conclusion Villa Maria Academy would finish first.

“They are a very strong and deep team,” he said. “We believed we had a good shot for a second-place finish.”

The Indians ended up earning five medals.

The top performances were a pair of silver medals in the relays and two top-16 finishes in individual races.

In Thursday's action, the 200 medley relay team of Jeanne Lauer, Maya Groff, Ashley Azzarello and Meredith Cummings finished ninth; Lindsey Grune finished eighth in the 200 IM; Lauer came in 16th in the IM; and Heather Grune took 18th in the IM.

Meredith Cummings was 20th in the 100 butterfly, and Ashley Azzarello finished in 25th place in the fly. The 200 free relay team of Azzarello, Heather Grune, Cummings and Lindsey Grune also earned a silver medal.

The boys 200 free relay team of Gannon Leech, William Lu, Sevryn Napora and Adrian Beckford finished 22nd.

On Friday, Lindsey Grune earned an eighth-place finish in the 100 free, and Azzarello claimed fifth place in the 100 backstroke, with Lauer finishing in 21st place.

Maya Groff finished 17th in the 100 breaststroke, and the girls 400 free relay team of Cummings, Heather Grune, Lauer and Lindsey Grune picked up SSA's second silver medal.

The boys free relay team of Nick Lauer, Lu, Zac Coughlin and Leech finished 20th. Coughlin also finished 23rd in the 500 free.

“It was a fantastic way to finish the season,” Landreth said. “I enjoyed every moment of working with these kids. I am so proud of what they accomplished at WPIALs and also at the PIAAs. This year's team worked very hard every day. The postseason is always a wonderful time of the year for swim coaches. I generally have a smile on my face for a while, and this year will certainly be no exception.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.

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