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Elizabeth Forward's Tracy repeats as WPIAL 200 free champ

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 7:24 p.m.
Braelyn Tracy (center) of Elizabeth Forward High School at the medal stand after winning the 2013 WPIAL Class AA girls 200-yard freestyle on Thursday, February 28, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Brad Kolesar of West Mifflin wins the at the 2013 WPIAL Class AA boys 100-yard butterfly on Thursday, February 28, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Braelyn Tracy is never one to show her emotions in the pool, but she couldn't resist letting out a shout after she won the 200-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AA finals Thursday at Pitt's Trees Pool.

“I did my (100) turn, and I was underwater, and I knew that I was a little behind everybody else. So I thought: ‘Oh my God, I've got to pick it up,' so on the last 50, I think I only took like two breaths,” she said. “As soon as I hit the wall, I saw that no one had hit the wall yet, and I just screamed. I couldn't hold it in.”

Coming from behind throughout the heat, the Elizabeth Forward senior came up with the kick of her life as she swam the final 50 yards in a blistering 28.44 seconds to win her second consecutive title in the event. Tracy finished with a personal-best time of 1:51.94, while Geibel freshman Emily Zimcosky came in second at 1:52.69 to edge Kara Kaulius of West Allegheny by 0.03 seconds.

Tracy is the first swimmer to win the 200 free in consecutive years since Jordan Wallace of Oakland Catholic took the titles in 2001-02. Ambridge alumnus Lindsay Vrooman won twice, in 2007 and 2009 but took off in 2008 to train for the Olympic trials that year.

“I had adrenaline going into the race because I was the (defending) WPIAL champion,” Tracy said. “But I can't believe I did that.”

Tracy came into the race seeded fourth with a qualifying time of 1:58.27, which was well below the 1:53.30 she had in the 2012 finals. She was also in fourth place after the first 100 yards behind Kaulius, Zimcosky and Morgan Fink of South Fayette before posting a 57.38-second final 100 to lock it up.

“My goal was just to stick with Braelyn,” Zimcosky said. “I've swam with her all my life and she's a phenomenal swimmer and I knew she would have a phenomenal swim.”

While Tracy swam her cool-down lap, West Mifflin junior Brad Kolesar was going through his own battle in the 100 butterfly.

The defending champion nearly broke the WPIAL Class AA record as he fended off a late push by Ian Bucker of Neshannock to win with a time of 51.21 seconds.

“I could see him the last 25. I could see him coming on,” Kolesar said. “I just had to put my head down again, like usual, but it worked out pretty good this year.”

Kolesar was just 0.06 seconds off the record pace set in 2011 by Broderick Kelley of Shady Side Academy, but he was more concerned with Buckner — who was swimming on the outside in lane 7 — than he was with setting a standard.

“I really don't know what the time was, and I heard it was pretty close,” Kolesar said. “That's crazy, but I still have next year and hopefully I can work towards that.”

Kolesar joined some elite company. He became the fifth consecutive multiple winner in the event, joining Tyler Scheid of Shady Side Academy (2003-05), Mike Seiferth of Hampton (2006-07), Matt Millikin of Carlynton (2008-09) and Kelley (2010-11).

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kbarnes@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.

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