Latrobe girls swim team boasts strong returning corps
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Latrobe lost one of the top swimmers in the state to graduation last spring, but luckily for the Wildcats, they returned three others.
Seniors Gina Defrancesco and Kayla Owens and junior Monica Sowinski accounted for 75 percent of the group of girls that led Latrobe to a fourth-place finish at the PIAA Class AAA Swimming and Diving Championships last March.
Though there is a hole left by the departure of Maddie Hoopes, who now swims for the University of Connecticut, Latrobe coach Grey Arrigonie is confident his girls can repeat the many successes of a year ago.
In addition to the girls' impressive performance at states, their accomplishments included a Section 1 title, a win at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming and Diving Championship and a fourth-place finish at the Class AAA WPIAL Swimming and Diving Championship.
“We don't really want to take a step down,” Arrigonie said. “That's the bar we kind of set every year now.”
On Dec. 9, the Wildcats opened their season against Laurel Highlands with the girls winning and the boys losing.
A week later, they were scheduled to face Mt. Pleasant and Greensburg Salem.
Latrobe's next meet is Jan. 2 at Franklin Regional, a strong section foe.
It won't be easy for Latrobe to replace Hoopes in the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay. Neither it nor the 200 and 400 freestyle relays are set, but the three returning stars are all but certain to play crucial roles.
Sophomores Courtney Kinkead, Megan Douds and Karley Owens (Kayla's sister) have emerged as candidates to join them.
“It'll be a good battle,” Arrigonie said. “We have three or four girls that are all fighting for it. That's a good thing.”
As for the Latrobe boys, who did not enjoy quite as much success as their female counterparts in 2012-13, senior John Jankowski and junior Michael Marinchak are expected to stand out in the pool.
Marinchak was part of the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays that qualified for the WPIAL meet last season. This season is the first that Jankowski, a veteran swimmer, will compete for the Wildcats.
The boys will rely on junior Taylor Barta for points in diving, and the girls will look to sophomore Rachel Douglas. They both were first-year divers last season, and both qualified for WPIALs. There also are first-year divers this season who could turn out to be key contributors.
But the Wildcats will go as far as their veteran swimmers can take them. At the PIAA meet, the elder Owens took third in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 breaststroke, Sowinski finished sixth in the 100 free and won the consolation race in the 200 free and Defrancesco grabbed third in the 500 freestyle consolation race.
Latrobe is expecting to see success in each of those events again this year.
“I think we have a lot of talent on the team, even though we're small,” said Defrancesco, who made it her goal to break the school record in the 500 free. “I think there's a lot of quality for the small quantity.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year, so we're not as big, and I think it'll be hard, but I think we're just about as good as last year.”
If that ends up being true, no doubt it will largely be because of Defrancesco, Owens and Sowinski.
“They're extremely important,” Arrigonie said. “Having three girls of that caliber is pretty nice.”
Mark Emery is a freelance writer.
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.
- In Steelers-Saints game, all eyes on Brown-Lewis matchup
- Steelers notebook: Defense has a retro feel
- Salvation Army in W.Pa. uses social media campaign
- Trib real estate writer Spatter ‘worked right to the end’
- Sloppy Penguins fall to Hurricanes
- Hempfield Area High School senior Richason creates Before I Die wall in Greensburg
- Carnegie boy with rare gene mutation enjoys 1st Penguins game
- Auto technology gives mobile computing a new meaning
- McKeesport’s Minerva’s Bakery to be featured on Sebak’s documentary
- Hunting creates strong bonds, traditions
- Cash-strapped Pittsburgh Public Schools to sponsor holiday parade