Kittanning swimmer takes aim at even more history
TribLIVE Sports Videos
During one of her busiest months of swimming, a stretch that includes preparation for the Age Group Championships in Pittsburgh and for a regional competition in Buffalo, N.Y., Kittanning junior Morgan Joseph will squeeze a new competition into her schedule — the PIAA Class AA championships.
Joseph's talent and dedication to the sport, unprecedented by Kittanning female swimmer standards, shaped her into the Wildcats' first girls state qualifier, a distinction she earned with a third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke and an eighth-place finish in the 100 butterfly at the WPIAL championships two weeks ago.
Now she'll try to add another layer to that legacy: By placing in the top eight, she can become Kittanning's first PIAA medalist since A.J. Claypool, who took third in the 50 freestyle in 2005.
Her PIAA championship debut begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium with a preliminary heat in the 100 butterfly. The finals will conclude later in the day. And she'll swim the 100 backstroke preliminary at 8 a.m. Thursday.
“I'm trying to make it a little bit bigger,” Joseph said of Kittanning swimming, which has only existed as a school-sponsored sport since the 2005-06 season; Kittanning students, including Claypool, previously competed as independents.
The past two seasons, Joseph needed only to worry about the WPIAL championships and then the Age Group Championships. The PIAA meet added one more stop on her tour de force.
That extra stop became even busier this past weekend. Because she finished in the top three in the 100 backstroke, Joseph knew she secured an automatic state berth in that event.
But one of her Cavalier Swim Club coaches notified her that her time in the 100 butterfly, though not fast enough for automatic qualification, ranked high enough statewide to earn her a spot.
“We had to make extra hotel reservations and order more tickets, so it was a little bit hectic,” Joseph said.
Her WPIAL finals time in the 100 backstroke, 59.56, is the 14th fastest in PIAA Class AA. A margin of .81 separates her from the fifth fastest mark.
Joseph simultaneously finds that gap promising and daunting.
“I understand that to everybody else, a tenth seems like nothing, but to a swimmer, a tenth is everything,” said Joseph, who aims for a time in the low 58s.
Her 100 butterfly time, 1:00.25, is the 20th fastest. Greater gaps between her and the medal favorites exist in that event, so Joseph's goal is less about placing and more about breaking the one-minute barrier.
“I dropped a second and a half (in the WPIAL finals), so I can't be unhappy with it,” Joseph said of her backstroke time. “But this (PIAA meet) motivates me to go under a minute.”
Freeport sophomore Bria Otwell and freshman Zoe Pawlak join Joseph as PIAA meet qualifiers from Armstrong County.
Pawlak advanced in the 50 freestyle, where she has the 15th fastest time (24.85), and in the 100 freestyle, where she ranks 24th (54.68).
Otwell, a two-time WPIAL champion in the 200 individual medley and a two-time PIAA qualifier in the 500 freestyle, looks to improve on her two-medal performance as a freshman. She placed seventh in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 IM.
“I know what it's like now,” said Otwell, who ranks fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:04.36) and fourth in the 200 IM (2:08.54). “I won't be a freshman…that's somebody else's job now.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.