Several Connellsville-area swimmers positioned well for state meet

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

From medals to school records to personal best times, there will be plenty of goals to accomplish for local swimmers at the PIAA Class AA swimming and diving championships Wednesday and Thursday at Bucknell's Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg.

Action begins each day at 8 a.m.

Geibel's Emily Zimcosky, John Paul Zimcosky and Steve Conko; Mt. Pleasant's Fallon Nelson and Ethan Hurst; and Laurel Highlands' Justin Kostelnik will be looking for their best efforts of the season.

In her freshman year, Emily Zimcosky has positioned herself well in two events. She's seeded second in the 100 freestyle (51.85 seconds) and fifth in the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 52.69 seconds). The top eight finishers reach the medal stand.

“Being that this is a new meet for me, I feel there is a little more pressure,” Emily Zimcosky said.

She handled the pressure well in the WPIAL championships, taking first place in the 100 freestyle and finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

“In my mind, I'm putting pressure on myself, and it lets me think about nothing but swimming,” she said. “I want to make the finals and drop times in both events. That's all I'm focusing on right now.”

Kostelnik also appears primed to compete for a pair of medals. The Mustangs senior is seeded fifth in the 100 backstroke (52.46) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (52.32).

Conko, a freshman, will compete in the 100 butterfly (53.68) and 100 backstroke (55.59). He's seeded 17th in the 100 butterfly and 22nd in the 100 backstroke, so qualifying for the final round of 16 is on his to-do list.

“I'd really like to make it back to the finals at night,” Conko said. “That's a big goal. The top 16 go back to the finals, so I have a pretty good shot at it. I'm not quite to where I'd like to be, but I'm not stressed out about it.”

Junior John Paul Zimcosky will be making his first journey to states. He's seeded 13th in the 50 freestyle (22.18) and 19th in the 100 freestyle (49.10).

“I have to adjust to a new pool, and I've heard it's fast,” he said. “I want to drop times and make the finals.”

John Paul Zimcosky likes where he's at physically but said there's room to improve.

“I always think there is a little more that I can do, but I'm pretty well set from all the training that (coach) Laurel Highlands has put us through,” he said.

For Nelson, dropping her time in the 500 freestyle (5:13.93), where she's seeded 14th, will mean breaking her school record in the event. It's definitely a source of motivation. That, and finishing in the top eight in her events. Nelson is seeded 14th in the 200 freestyle (1:57.25).

“I'm going to try to get on the podium,” Nelson said. “I know there is a lot of tough competition, but my goal going to Bucknell is to drop time.”

Hurst has a similar goal. He's seeded 32nd in the 50 freestyle (22.74) and looks to make his first and only trip to states a memorable one.

“It feels really good to be able to make it after all the hard work,” Hurst said. “I want to get a better time, and I think it will be great.”

The only local relay team in action will be the Laurel Highlands boys 200 freestyle relay (1:31.10). The team is seeded 14th.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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