Franklin Regional swims past Penn-Trafford
A week after Franklin Regional's girls had a lengthy win streak snapped in the pool, the Panthers' boys played streak-ender against Penn-Trafford.
The Warriors suffered their first boys swimming section loss in five years, 99-87, while the FR girls also won, 106-84, as both Panthers teams maintained control of their own fate in the Section 1-AAA title race.
The wins for FR came Thursday in their own pool, just seven days after the FR girls team lost at Latrobe for its first section loss in more than six years. With a critical meet to come at home against Hempfield on Jan. 24, Franklin Regional's teams will play the lead role in deciding this year's champions.
“I'm thrilled. Our boys team has been working together really well,” Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro said. “We lost a lot of talent from last year to graduation and people not coming back to swim, but these guys are having a lot of fun together, in and out of the pool.
“We don't have the number of superstars that we did in the past, but they're swimming hard as a team. These guys did a fantasy football league together. They're a tight group in the locker room, and I'm proud of what they've done so far.”
While the girls meet was settled earlier, the boys meet came down to the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Franklin Regional held a 91-81 lead entering the race, and with the 8-4-2 scoring system, Penn-Trafford needed to finish first and second to earn a 93-93 tie. Because of that, P-T coach Dave Babik mixed his “A” and “B” relays in hopes of pulling off a long-shot upset with his new No. 2 relay.
Babik ended up making the split almost perfectly by time, as the team of Jack Babik, Nick Yakel, Billy Mazza and Matt Loughner finished in 3 minutes, 37.73 seconds, and the team of Anthony Montalto, Patrick Reilly, Kurt Baurle and Jake Marino came home in 3:38.79. Neither group was close to FR's “A” group of David Maholage, Nick Whiteman, Nieko Santoro and Jonathan Palmer, however, and FR took the first-place points by more than six seconds.
“I talked to the boys and said we could just keep the score close, but we wanted to go for it,” Dave Babik said. “I think we would have won the relay, but we needed first and second. So we tried to split them, and (FR's relay) was six seconds faster.”
“Obviously, we're disappointed. We didn't come here to lose. The boys and the girls both gave it a great effort, but that's part of swimming. If all you're about is winning, then when you lose, you have nothing. That's not how I feel about our team.”
Posting wins for Franklin Regional's boys in other events were Andrew Sederholm (diving), Tyler Stevenson (200 IM), David Maholage (100 butterfly), Whiteman (500 free), Dale Maholage (50 free and 100 breaststroke) and the 200 free relay of Dale Maholage, Eric Ellson, Santoro and Stevenson.
The event winners for P-T's boys were Loughner (100 and 200 free), Montalto (100 backstroke) and the 200 medley relay of Montalto, Tony Sekowski, Loughner and Marino.
In the girls half of the meet, Franklin Regional swept 10 of the 12 events. The winners were Courtney Starrett (diving), Julianna Carolla (200 IM), Rachel Barkey (100 fly), Nicole Stevenson (100 free), Tori Frydrych (100 back), Sam Tower (100 breast), Alyssa Ruffing (50 and 500 free) and two relays — the 200 medley of Barkey, Ruffing, Meredith Easterling and Megan Remaley and the 200 free of Carolla, Stevenson, Remaley and Ruffing.
Winning for Penn-Trafford's girls were Emily Graziano in the 200 free and the 400 free relay of Graziano, Cassie Szmyd, Hayley Muro and Devon Davenport.
While Franklin Regional is gearing up for its showdown with Hempfield, Penn-Trafford still has plenty of meets remaining on its schedule, the next coming at home Thursday against Connellsville at 6 p.m.
“Because of this loss, we will shift our focus a little (toward individual performance), but there's still a lot more meets to come,” Dave Babik said. “But realistically, we felt this was the last team on our schedule that could really compete with our boys.”
While the Panthers sit in a much better position in the section race, having his swimmers ready for the big meets at the end of the season is also on the mind of Vic Santoro.
“We had one of our best Christmas routines that we've ever had, as far as beating the kids up and really getting a lot of good work out of them,” he said.
“Hopefully, that will work for us later in the season. Our girls team is solid for WPIALs, and our boys team really had a nice meet (against P-T). We're having fun.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or email@example.com.