Burrell, Kiski Area renew swimming rivalry
Burrell (Class AA) and Kiski Area (Class AAA) are among the top swimming programs in the Alle-Kiski Valley. On Tuesday night, they will face off at Kiski Area.
Nonsection meets don't usually draw much attention, but both rising programs see it as a tune-up for postseason competition.
Led by juniors Ben Johnson and T.J. Swigart, sophomore Josh Wertkin and seniors Ben Wertkin and Kubby Walker, Burrell's boys enter the meet with an 8-1 record.
“It's a nice, friendly rivalry because they know each other so well,” Burrell coach Diane Swigart said about the boys meet. “A lot of the Kiski boys and Burrell boys swim together during the summer at the Vandergrift pool.”
Swigart expects a close meet between the boys, mainly because of the similarities of the relay teams.
Despite having only 10 swimmers, Kiski Area's boys enter the meet with a 7-3 mark.
“We are super small, but we are scrappy,” Kiski Area coach Dave Hartman said. “They are a talented bunch, but we are outnumbered everywhere we go.”
The team is led by captain and senior Luke Nelson, junior Angelo Principe, sophomore Blake Bachner and freshman Trevor Sites. Until this year, Kiski Area has not had a diver — that is until Bachner answered the call.
“He was always a talented swimmer, and we didn't have a guy diver and he wanted to try it,” Hartman said. “He's done well. He's placed first or second in every meet he's dived in, and he's never finished lower than third.”
Burrell's girls (6-3) are led by juniors Darcy Foster and Mckenzie Gordon, and freshmen Kayla Decker and Mackenzie Bindas.
The freshmen have been a bonus on an already young team.
The Kiski Area girls (8-2) are led by senior and team captain Megan Paulett, junior captain Mariah Singerman, senior Danielle Mullen and sophomore Maggie Kuzemchak. Like Burrell, Kiski Area has a pair of contributing freshmen: Paris Krug and Letiza Collini.
Hartman believes the strength of the girls is their team-first mentality.
“They don't put personal gain in front of team need,” Hartman said. “That to me is the most important thing the girls team offers.”
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.