South Fayette swim team lapping the competition
After finishing the 2012-13 season with a WPIAL title, the South Fayette girls swim team has picked up where it left off.
The defending Class AA champions are off to a 4-1 start – the lone loss coming to Class AAA power Mt. Lebanon – as it is on the prowl for its second straight title.
“They are motivated,” Lions coach Matt Tucker said. “They want to win another WPIAL title.”
The Lions have had to overcome the loss of key talent from last season's squad including Morgan Fink – the holder of four South Fayette individual records who now swims for Duquesne – along with Mary Rosati and Grace Klimak, who compete for Edinboro and Grove City, respectively.
“That had a huge effect on the team,” Tucker said. “(Klimak) got us big diving points. But this year's seniors have been great and stepped up into leadership roles.”
Seniors Carrie Torre, Kristin Stanek, Miranda Mozick, Sophia Hestad, Sydney Briner and Tiana Marrese are leading the team this season after gaining valuable experience at the WPIAL and PIAA championship events last year.
Junior Maddie Bartrug is another of the team's experienced swimmers after she competed at the WPIAL championships last season in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle while being part of the relay team that won the 200 medley and 400 freestyle.
Sophomore Jocelyn Colussy did not qualify for the WPIAL championship meet last season but came close in several events. She is using the missed opportunity to have a breakout season competing in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
Freshmen Madison Zombek (diving), Faith Ruehle (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle), Hannah Finestone (100 butterfly) and Breauna Franklin (50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) have all shown promise.
During the holiday break, the girls team won the West Allegheny Christmas Invitational. The Lions' 263 points bettered Seneca Valley's 209 and West Allegheny's 208. What made the victory noteworthy is the last three WPIAL Class AA champions in both boys and girls competition were also champions of the invitational.
“It is a good indication of where teams are at,” Tucker said. “Traditionally, the team that who wins it goes on to win the WPIAL title. We'll have to see how that plays out.”
The girls squad opened Section 6-AA competition 2-0 with wins over Cornell, 100-28, and Bishop Canevin, 102-35.
The boys team, meanwhile, is off to a 2-3 start. The Lions are 2-0 in Section 6-AA competition after defeating Cornell, 100-76, and Bishop Canevin, 90-76.
The strength of the boys team is its divers, who took home the top-four spots in the 1-meter at the West Allegheny Christmas Invitational – senior Stephen Zombek was first, followed by freshman Trevor Mahoney, sophomore Nate Petrow and senior Evan Zombek.
Stephen Zombek also competes in the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle relay while twin brother Evan competes in the 200 individual medley and 200 medley relay. Both brothers compete in the 400 freestyle relay.
Petrow competes in two relays and the 100 breaststroke and Mahoney competes in the 50 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay.
The team also has seniors Eric Marks, Aaron Mack, Matt Guyan, Nathaniel White and Radhir Kothuri guiding the team that has several talented freshmen in David Ewing, Michael Black and Tanay Raje.
After finishing last season third in the WPIAL, Tucker wouldn't be surprised to see the boys squad duplicate the same success this season.
“Our team goal before the season was to finish in the top 5,” Tucker said.