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Connellsville freshman Zimcosky struggles with nerves

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 11:06 p.m.

LEWISBURG — Geibel freshman Emily Zimcosky was hoping to win a heat at the PIAA Class AA championship meet.

Only she was kind of hoping to do it way before she did.

Zimcosky took first place in the consolation finals of the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 52.94 seconds to finish ninth at the state finals at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.

“Having this new experience and being separated from my time, I think it got to me and my nerves,” Zimcosky said. “Coming to a big meet like this and seeing big names, it kind of got to my head.”

Zimcosky finished second to Elizabeth Forward senior Braelyn Tracy in the event at the WPIAL Class AA finals at Pitt's Trees Pool on Feb. 28 with a time of 1:52.69, but she swam a 1:54.88 in the morning qualifiers that put her nearly a second behind Moon senior Alexis Mitcheltree for the eighth and final slot in the championship heat.

Despite the improvement from the morning to the evening, her time would have been good enough to finish sixth in the finals, she did not earn a medal because she did not compete in the last heat.

That knowledge, though, will serve her well as she prepares to compete in the 100 freestyle Thursday on the final day of the Class AA meet.

Zimcosky will have another chance at her first medal when she swims in what she terms her favorite event, the 100 freestyle.

Not only did she win the WPIAL title with a time of 51.85, but she is the No. 2 seed behind Victoria Griffin of Delone Catholic.

“You just want to get into your suit, get the right amount of yards in and talk to your coach,” Zimcosky said.

“It's all time-management.”

While Zimcosky struggled off the blocks, Tracy just could not find anything that worked for her.

Though she did win a medal — she was fifth with a time of 1:52.84 — her time was we'll above the personal-best 1:51.94 with which she won the WPIAL championship.

“I don't know what happened,” Tracy said.

“I did phenomenal at WPIALs and was happy with how I did there, but I just didn't feel fast in the pool.”

Rising times were a constant for the girls competitors from the WPIAL on the day.

Mt. Pleasant sophomore Fallon Nelson came into the state meet as the 14th seed in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:57.25 but finished her preliminary swim in 1:58.53 and ended up 15th with a seventh-place finish in the consolation heat in 1:58.09.

Laurel Highlands senior Justin Kostelnik didn't have to worry about his times dropping.

He barely qualified for the final of the 100 butterfly as the No. 8 seed, then swam a 52.11 in the final to finish sixth.

Neither Geibel's John Paul Zimcosky (50 freestyle) nor Steve Conko (100 butterfly) could make it into the finals as both swam consolation heats.

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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