TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

More confident Otwell to defend WPIAL swim titles

TribLIVE Sports Videos

wpial swim shampionship qualifiers

The top four finishers in each WPIAL Class AA girls event automatically advance to the PIAA championship meet, which are March 13-16 at Bucknell University. Additional participants can qualify if their times rank high enough in the state.

Apollo-Ridge: Samantha Wargo (200 freestyle).

Freeport: Rebecca Dudek (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle), Bria Otwell (200 individual medley, 500 freestyle), Zoe Pawlak (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle), 200 freestyle girls relay, 400 freestyle girls relay, 200 medley girls relay.

Kittanning: Morgan Joseph (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke).

Top high school sports
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 1:11 a.m.
 

Say goodbye to “Brett” and hello to Bria the beast.

As a freshman last season, Freeport's Bria Otwell used an alter ego to harness her fiery, competitive side at swim meets.

A year older and more experienced, she no longer needs “Brett” to channel the intensity that she'll need to her defend two WPIAL Class AA titles.

Otwell is in position to repeat as the winner of the 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle at the WPIAL swimming championships, which begin Thursday and continue Friday at the Pitt's Trees Pool.

She enters the competition with the fastest-qualifying time in the 200 IM, the fifth-fastest mark in the 500 and a strong mind.

“I don't psych myself out anymore,” Otwell said.

“Last year, I psyched myself out, and I had to create Brett to deal with it. … She's not an alter ego anymore — more of just a mentality. I can find it easier.”

So much in Otwell's life changed in the past 12 months. Home-schooled as a freshman, she enrolled at Freeport for her sophomore year. Her social life bloomed.

Freeport fielded a full swim team, which only helped expand Otwell's social circle.

“I don't feel as caged, like I did last year,” Otwell said. “I don't feel as much stress and anxiety. I think my friends have really helped with that.”

More Yellowjackets are around this season to share in the excitement. A year ago, Freeport had just one other individual qualifier, then-sophomore Rebecca Dudek, and two relay teams, the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle.

This winter Dudek is back, there's an additional relay (the 200 freestyle team), and Otwell's longtime friend, freshman Zoe Pawlak, is in the mix.

Pawlak, a standout on Freeport's volleyball team, started swimming with Otwell when both were around 5 years old. But Pawlak gave up the sport when she began to devote serious time to volleyball two years ago.

Back into swimming, but “not really seriously back into it,” Pawlak is a medal contender in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She has the second-fastest 50 time (25.23) and the eighth-best mark (55.97) in the 100.

“It was a sport that I was really serious about when I was younger, but it's kind of become more of a hobby,” Pawlak said.

Otwell considers her friend's comeback tour nothing short of amazing. The sophomore was particularly stunned when Pawlak broke her 100 butterfly record fairly early in the season.

“Zoe has the racer mentality to a ‘T,' ” Otwell said. “She came back and killed it.”

While Freeport has several swimmers who might end up on the podium, Kittanning's only hope of a medalist rests with MoJo.

Junior Morgan Joseph, the Wildcats' lone representative for a second straight season, has the fifth-best qualifying time in both the 100 backstroke (1:01.86) and 100 butterfly (1:01.97).

“I know I can go a lot faster than my seed times,” said Joseph, who noted that she had better marks in non-high school meets this year. “I have equal faith in both. But backstroke is my event; I prefer back.”

Bothered by nerves at the WPIAL championships last season, Joseph placed 11th in the butterfly and seventh in the backstroke.

She believes she'll remain more collected this time. And she'll feel stronger, too — Joseph began to taper her training two weeks ahead of the WPIAL meet, a reaction to the way her body responded after a one-week taper last year.

“A little bit of nerves is always good, but I'm not too nervous,” Joseph said. “I'm confident in my training.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
  2. Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers
  3. Pirates top Cardinals, 5-2, on Davis’ homer; Alvarez, McCutchen hurt
  4. Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
  5. Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
  6. Pittsburgh paramedics treat 38 people at Stage AE concert
  7. Girl accidentally kills Arizona gun instructor with Uzi
  8. Indiana County township ‘afraid for the water’ fights waste well
  9. Parade of Mustangs to kick off Connellsville’s Mum Festival
  10. Mystery continues to surround Hill District slaying
  11. Dem Wolf eyes shale’s ‘golden egg’ to boost school funding
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.