Penn-Trafford wins WCCA boys swimming title, Franklin Regional second for boys and girls
Penn-Trafford's boys swim team hasn't been as dominant as previous years, but at the county championships, it looked like the same old P-T.
The Warriors won the boys title by 8.5 points over Franklin Regional, and Latrobe took the girls title last weekend at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming and Diving Championships at Derry.
Franklin Regional's girls also were the team runner-up, while Penn-Trafford was fourth, and Norwin was eighth. Norwin's boys had a strong meet, as they placed fourth behind P-T, Franklin Regional and Hempfield.
Penn-Trafford's boys trailed with three events remaining before Anthony Montalto and Jake Marino took second and third in the 100-yard backstroke, Tony Sekowski won the 100-yard breaststroke, and the Warriors' 400-yard freestyle relay of Jack Babik, Montalto, Marino and Matt Loughner placed second to clinch the team title.
“We were really happy. I thought the way our kids have worked this year, they deserved to have something like that happen,” Penn-Trafford coach Dave Babik said. “After not winning the section this year, we really had our sights set on winning this meet.”
Penn-Trafford won the first swimming event of the meet, the 200 medley relay, with a 1 minute, 41.09 second performance from Montalto, Sekowski, Loughner and Marino. Loughner also won the 100 free in 49.19 to give P-T three boys champions for the meet.
“One of the things about this meet is the atmosphere. You do have the team element, but it's more like a skeleton crew because you can only enter two people per event, whereas at WPIALs, you can take four,” Dave Babik said. “But it's a great opportunity to qualify more swimmers for WPIALs and lower seed times against good competition, so there's a lot of motivation.”
Franklin Regional opened the competition with a champion on Friday night, as freshman diver Andrew Sederholm scored 346.65 to win over Penn-Trafford's Paul Stock, who was the diving runner-up.
“We've had a great tradition of divers at Franklin Regional, and it's nice to see we have another that will be able to step right in and compete at WPIALs for years to come,” Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro said.
While Sederholm starred on the springboard, Tyler Stevenson was exceptional as a winner in three events for FR. He won the 200 individual medley in 2:02.90, the 500 free in 5:00.71 and anchored the 200 free relay of Jon Palmer, Nieko Santoro and David Maholage to a win in 1:30.96, a new meet record.
Palmer also snagged a second gold medal for himself in the 100 backstroke, which he won in 56.60.
“Jon Palmer had a big meet, and to win the backstroke was completely unexpected. The whole team had some of our best swims by far, and we didn't taper or rest for this. We took it like any other meet,” Vic Santoro said.
“We lost some good swimmers from last year, and there are spots open on a lot of our relays. This meet was a first chance for the kids to really show they can fill those spots for WPIALs.”
Norwin's boys team was led by a pair of third-place finishes. Junior Tyler Dempsey was third in the 100 free in 50.32, and freshman Eric Booth came in behind Stevenson and Loughner in the 200 IM with a time of 2:07.24.
On the girls side, Norwin's Hannah Rusinko was third in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.55. Norwin also put four of its six relays — two boys relays and two girls relays — on the medal stand, with the best finish coming from the boys 400 free of Tyler Dempsey, Spencer Blazek, Cole Dempsey and Booth, who place fourth in 3:35.57.
“I was very pleased with the girls' performance. Rachael Smrekar, Hannah Rusinko, Amanda Kaloz, Jessica Wunderley, all of them did a really good job,” Norwin girls coach Barb Augustin said.
“We had a lot of girls with nice drops in their times, especially the freshmen, and even though the 200 free relay had already qualified for WPIALs, we had another combination (Amanda Booth, Wunderley, Camryn Grudowski and Casi Smith) qualify.”
As expected, a Ruffing from Franklin Regional won the girls sprint events, but perhaps not the one some people anticipated. Kaitlyn Ruffing won the 50 free in 24.31 and the 100 free in 53.09 to sweep the events in which her sister, Alyssa, is the reigning WPIAL champ.
Alyssa Ruffing, meanwhile, helped out Franklin Regional's team hopes by swimming a pair of events for which the Panthers lack depth, the 200 IM and 500 free. She placed second in the 200 IM in 2:12.91 and third in the 500 free in 5:22.22.
“Alyssa took one for the team there by going in the events where we were the weakest,” Vic Santoro said. “Those finishes helped keep us in the meet until the end.”
The Ruffing girls combined with Julianna Carolla and Megan Remaley to take another gold medal for FR in the 200 free relay, which they won in 1:41.55.
FR's girls also placed second in the 400 free and third in the 200 medley relays, and Sam Tower was second in the 100 breaststroke with a personal-best time of 1:08.45.
Rachel Barkey was third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:02.62, while top-three finishes for FR's boys also came from Dale Maholage, who was second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.98, Nico Whiteman, who was second in the 500 free in 5:03.30, and the 400 free and 200 medley relays, which were second and third, respectively.
Penn-Trafford's girls were led by Emily Graziano, who took third in the 200 free in 2:02.37 on her way to a four-medal day. She was joined by Audra Ragan, Devon Davenport and Hayley Muro in the 200 free relay, where P-T was second to FR in 1:43.11.
Jack Babik took a third-place finish for P-T's boys with a 5:03.36 in the boys 500 free, and the Warriors were in the top three of all three boys relays, which should be a strength for the team at WPIALs.
“Certainly, we think the medley relay is the most obvious choice for our boys to go after because we have a WPIAL qualifier in each stroke, but after (the WCCA) meet, we're a lot more encouraged about the free relays,” Dave Babik said.
Babik's optimism for WPIALs was shared by his counterpart from Franklin Regional.
“We've got some kids with some nice seed times for WPIALs,” Vic Santoro said. “We know we don't have the depth we've had in years past, but overall, I'm very pleased with the way our kids are swimming right now.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.