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West Mifflin's Kolesar takes fifth in 100 butterfly

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 11:51 p.m.

LEWISBURG — West Mifflin junior Brad Kolesar scouted the competition at the PIAA Class AA meet by looking through the 2012 finishers to see who was coming back and compare his times with what won a year ago.

It's a sound theory and one that made sense as he prepared for his lone event, the 100-yard butterfly, on the first day of the two-day competition. But this was a new year full of new surprises, and Kolesar wasn't quite ready for what happened in the pool.

Kolesar swam a solid 51.32-second final but could muster only a fifth-place finish in the ultra-competitive race.

“I think that would have gotten me second last year,” Kolesar said. “Those guys were unbelievable.”

Three of the top four in the event were also in the final a year ago, but, this time, defending champion Eric Tatum of Salisbury came up just short. Fairview junior Robert Sikatzki posted a 49.98 that was 0.01 seconds better than Tatum to win the title.

Tatum won with a 51.20 in 2012.

“I'm a little disappointed that I didn't beat last year,” Kolesar said. “But the time dropped and ... that's the hard thing about swimming. You can be competitive with yourself for a while and watch the time drop, but you always wonder if you're good enough to beat your competition.”

There are a lot of swimmers who would have loved to walk out of the meet with a medal around their neck.

Just as many might have been pleased to have qualified for an obligatory consolation swim so they could have jumped into Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium pool just one more time.

Elizabeth Forward senior Braelyn Tracy holds herself to a much higher standard. It's also the reason she was visibly upset after she finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle on the first day of the state finals.

“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.”

Tracy could not find anything that worked for her. Though she did win a medal with a time of 1 minute, 52.84 seconds, her time was we'll above the personal-best 1:51.94 with which she won the WPIAL championship.

“In the morning I felt fast but with a God-awful time and, at night, my time was a little better but not by much,” Tracy said. “My body sort of hurt when I was swimming.”

Tracy wasn't the only WPIAL qualifier on the girls' side who saw her times balloon at this meet. Normally the state finals are a haven for a swimmer's best times of the year. But this time around, most of the times went up instead of down.

“I don't really care about my place, but I really wanted to break 1:51 and I would have been happy if I went the 1:51 I went at WPIALs,” Tracy said. “I don't even know what happened. I hit the wall, and I don't know why.”

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