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Latrobe girls swimmers turn attention to WPIAL meet after winning WCCA title

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

After defending its title at the county meet, the Latrobe girls swimming team is shifting focus to the WPIAL championship, to be held Feb. 27-28 at Pitt's Trees Pool.

The Wildcats (242 points) took first place in the Class AAA division at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Championships last weekend at Derry. Franklin Regional was second with 208.

It was the sixth time in eight years Latrobe won the title. Franklin Regional was champion in 2011 and 2012.

Franklin Regional handed Latrobe (7-1 entering this week) its only loss in a Section 1-AAA meet earlier this season.

“We wanted to show (Franklin Regional) we have some good swimmers,” said junior Monica Sowinski, who led the Wildcats with victories in the 200-yard freestyle (one minute, 55.03 seconds) and 100 freestyle (52.94).

“The girls were mad Franklin Regional beat them and were out to get them,” assistant coach DeOnna Kelly said.

Senior Kayla Owens also won individually, finishing the 100 butterfly in 57.54. Owens was second in the 200 individual medley with a mark of 2:08.07.

Senior Gina DeFrancesco was runner-up in the 200 freestyle (1:58.09) and 500 freestyle (5:14.58).

Sophomore Megan Douds placed second in the 100 freestyle (54.64) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:03.24).

In winning the 400 freestyle relay in 3:37.01, Owens, DeFrancesco, Douds and Sowinski shattered the meet record of 3:38.07 set by Latrobe four years ago.

Rachel Douglas (fourth in 1-meter diving), Rachel Douds (sixth in 500 freestyle) and Karley Owens (fifth in 200 individual medley and third in 100 breaststroke) also won medals.

The 200 medley relay team of Megan Douds, Kayla Owens, DeFrancesco and Sowinski finished second in 1:52.27.

Courtney Kinkead, Regan Quinn, Karley Owens and Rachael Boggs were sixth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:47.24).

“Latrobe looked great,” said Derry coach Jeff Kelly, whose team won the Class AA title.

With no meets for two weeks, the Wildcats practiced harder, Sowinski said.

“You go as fast as you can and work through the tiredness and soreness,” Sowinski said.

“The girls worked harder than at Christmas break,” DeOnna Kelly said.

Latrobe head coach Grey Arrigonie said the Wildcats will begin tapering soon for the WPIAL championship.

“This was a great warm-up,” Arrigonie said.

Taylor Barta (fifth in 1-meter diving) and John Jankowski (fourth in 100 butterfly) were top individuals for a Latrobe team that finished ninth overall among boys.

Michael Marinchak, Jankowski, Nate Jackson and Justin Stewart placed fifth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:38.01).

Organizer Donna Harshell said Latrobe was among six schools competing in diving and 17 in swimming at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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