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Medley relay takes third place at states

Matt Grubba | Murrysville Star - Franklin Regional senior Rachel Barkey swims the 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championships on Friday, March 1, 2013, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Matt Grubba  |  Murrysville Star</em></div>Franklin Regional senior Rachel Barkey swims the 100-yard backstroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championships on Friday, March 1, 2013, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
Matt Grubba | Murrysville Star - Franklin Regional senior Sam Tower swims the 100-yard breaststroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championships on Friday, March 1, 2013, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Matt Grubba  |  Murrysville Star</em></div>Franklin Regional senior Sam Tower swims the 100-yard breaststroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championships on Friday, March 1, 2013, at Pitt's Trees Pool.
Submitted - Franklin Regional's 200-yard medley relay team of (from left) Kaitlyn Ruffing, Sam Tower, Rachel Barkey and Alyssa Ruffing poses for a group photo on the pool deck at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium after placing third at the PIAA Class AAA meet on Friday, March 15, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Franklin Regional's 200-yard medley relay team of (from left) Kaitlyn Ruffing, Sam Tower, Rachel Barkey and Alyssa Ruffing poses for a group photo on the pool deck at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium after placing third at the PIAA Class AAA meet on Friday, March 15, 2013.

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Franklin Regional's girls swim team started off the WPIAL meet with a bang, and the state meet turned out to be no different.

The Panthers' 200-yard medley relay placed third in the state with a time of 1 minute, 47.18 seconds, which would stand as the Star coverage area's best finish at the PIAA Class AAA Swimming & Diving Championships last Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.

The relay of junior Alyssa Ruffing and seniors Sam Tower, Rachel Barkey and Kaitlyn Ruffing were third behind only a state record-breaking time of 1:44.22 by Hershey and WPIAL champ North Allegheny, which placed second by .03 seconds.

Alyssa Ruffing began the final relay with a 27.25 backstroke leg, and Tower followed that with a 30.35 breaststroke, as the Panthers were near the back of the field. FR closed with a 26.00 butterfly by Barkey and a 23.58 freestyle by Kaitlyn Ruffing to fly into bronze medal position, one hundredth of a second ahead of fourth-place Latrobe.

The 32-point haul from that relay provided the bulk of Franklin Regional's team points at the meet. The Panthers placed 14th in the final girls standings.

The Ruffing sisters also competed in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, and both had similar results.

Both sisters qualified for the “B” final with their preliminary swims in the 50. Kaitlyn Ruffing finished 10th — second in the “B” final — with her time of 24.02, while Alyssa Ruffing was 13th with a time of 24.24.

In the 100, both just missed out on one of the 16 spots in the finals. Alyssa Ruffing was 17th with her preliminary time of 52.99, and Kaitlyn Ruffing was 20th in 53.12.

The FR girls appeared in one other “B” final, the 200 free relay. The quartet of Kaitlyn Ruffing, freshman Megan Remaley, junior Julianna Carolla and Alyssa Ruffing were third in the final and 11th overall with a time of 1:37.72.

Dale Maholage was the only local boy to reach a final, as he swam in the “B” final of the 100 breaststroke. The FR senior placed 15th overall in the event with his final time of 58.80, which scored the only points of the meet for FR's boys, who finished in 48th.

Maholage also placed 30th in the 50 free with a time of 22.07, and he took part in two FR relays that both placed 18th. The Panthers 200 medley relay of senior Jonathan Palmer, Maholage, freshman Tyler Stevenson and senior David Maholage turned in a time of 1:38.17, and the same foursome finished the 200 free relay in 1:28.05.

Penn-Trafford also competed in the boys 200 medley relay, and while it just squeaked in ahead of FR's relay, it fell one place short of a final by taking 17th place.

P-T's relay of sophomore Anthony Montalto, junior Tony Sekowski and seniors Matt Loughner and Jake Marino finished with a time of 1:38.17 — .04 seconds better than FR, but one tenth of a second behind Conestoga, which took the last finals spot.

Sekowski and Loughner also swam individual events for the Warriors, who were shut out of the team scoring. Sekowski placed 28th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.08, and Loughner was 31st in the 50 free with a time of 22.15.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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