Franklin Regional, Norwin, Penn-Trafford swimmers set records at county meet
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association swimming championships last weekend at Derry Area High School turned into a record-breaking showcase for several swimmers from Franklin Regional, Norwin and Penn-Trafford.
Local swimmers broke five WCCA meet records at the competition, which featured 17 schools from around Westmoreland County. The WCCA began keeping track of records in 2005, and eight benchmarks were broken at last weekend's meet.
“We've seen it before, but it's nice to have it (happen again), especially when you don't have a chance to win (the team championship) because you don't have the diving,” Norwin coach Neil Rushnock said. “(It's nice) to have the swimmers prove that they're as good as anyone else by setting records.”
Norwin's Kathryn Painter led the way for local swimmers, setting meet records in the 200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle. Mark Patterson of Norwin set a meet record in the 100 backstroke, while Franklin Regional's Nick Whiteman broke the record in the 500 free and the Penn-Trafford girls 200 free relay also established a new benchmark.
“When you think of all of the performances at that meet over the years, for our girls to get that record was quite a big boost for us,” Penn-Trafford coach Dave Babik said. “We're not the top-ranked team in the section, but I've always maintained that we're still very good. I think it meant a lot to them to swim faster than anyone had at that meet. That was really a high point for us.”
Franklin Regional placed second among girls teams and third in the boys standings. Whiteman won the 500 free in 4:51.37, beating Christian McCurdy's record by 1.55 seconds.
“He wanted to go about a second and a half faster than he did,” Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro said. “That's what we were shooting for, but it's tough when you're leading the field by almost a full length. You're not being pushed. Nick is having a great season. He's doing very well, as are the other two.”
Whiteman also won the 200 free in 1:48.62. Alyssa Ruffing, who won the 50 free in 24.76 and the 100 backstroke in 59.66, and Tyler Stevenson, who won the 200 IM in 1:59.67 and 100 free in 49.02, were also multiple event winners. The boys 200 free relay won in 1:32.25.
Andrew Sederholm finished second in the boys diving competition Friday night, with teammate Kevin Schon placing sixth. Rena Gerber finished fifth in girls diving.
Other Franklin Regional swimmers to medal included Morgan Birdy, who finished fourth in the 200 free and 100 butterfly; Julianna Carolla, who took fifth in the 500 free; Meredith Easterling, who placed sixth in the 100 free; Ben Mendez, who finished fifth in the 100 back; and Nick Snyder, who took sixth in the 50 free. The girls 200 medley relay finished third, with the boys taking fourth; the girls 200 free relay took second; and the girls 400 free relay finished fourth, with the boys placing sixth.
“We had a lot of freshmen competing, so it was experience for them to see what it's like to be in a bigger high school meet,” Santoro said. “A lot of them had done club team meets before, but it's a little different than what the high school makeup is. They got to experience that big team meet feel, which is good.”
As a team, Norwin finished fourth in both the boys and girls standings.
Painter's time of 2 minutes, 4.31 seconds broke Kayla Owens' record in the 200 IM by more than three seconds. Her time of 4:58.53 broke Gina Defrancesco's record in the 500 free by more than 14 seconds. Patterson's time of 54.88 seconds in the 100 brackstroke broke Kyle Abner's record by 0.42 seconds.
Norwin's other event win came in the 200 medley relay, as Hannah Rusinko, Painter, Courteney Hubert and Rachael Smrekar swam a time of 1:50.62. Other Norwin medalists included Eric Booth, who finished second in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke; Tyler Dempsey, who placed third in the 50 free and fourth in the 100 free; Hubert, who took third in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 butterfly; Patterson, who placed fifth in the 200 IM; Rusinko, who took second in the 100 back and fourth in the 200 IM; Smrekar, who finished sixth in the 50 free. The boys 200 medley relay teams came in third, while both the boys and girls free relays came in second.
Rushnock said Smrekar dealt with a sore arm throughout the day Saturday but still swam individually and as a part of all three girls relays.
“It was really bothering her, but she still got back in the pool for the next event and swam her heart out,” he said. “That's the kind of stuff you like to see.”
Penn-Trafford's boys finished second, and the girls took third. The 200 free relay, consisting of Devon Davenport, Audra Ragan, Emily Graziano and Emma Winchell, posted a time of 1:40.45, breaking the previous record by 0.41 seconds.
Joey Ference got the weekend off to a good start for the Warriors, winning the diving competition on Friday night with teammate Mike Bertoni finishing fourth. Tony Sekowski won the 100 breast on Saturday in 1:03.11, with teammate Noah Babik placing third.
Other Penn-Trafford medalists included Kurt Baurle, who placed third in the 200 and 500 free; Emily Graziano, who finished fourth in the 500 free and fifth in the 200 free; Anthony Montalto, who took fifth in the 100 fly; Audra Ragan, who placed fourth in the 50 and 100 free; Patrick Reilly, who finished sixth in the 100 fly; Tony Sekowski, who took third in the 200 IM; and Emma Winchell, who placed fifth in the 50 and 100 free. The boys medley relay finished in second with the girls taking sixth, the boys 200 free relay took second and both 400 free relays placed third.
Babik said Ragan was a breakout star over the weekend, while Devon Davenport and Cassie Szmyd each qualified for the WPIAL championships in multiple events.
“At a meet like this, what you would expect is the teams that have the most stars to thrive in that type of environment,” Dave Babik said. “Where you have so many competitors, getting first place is a huge advantage. Especially on the girls side, we hadn't been known to have the firepower that a few of the other teams would have. For us to place that high was a tribute to how great they swam. And really the same goes on the boys side.”
With section competition rounding down, local teams are gearing up for the WPIAL championships, which take place later this month at the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool.
“The closer you get to WPIALs, the more determined everybody is to step up and move on to states,” Rushnock said.
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at email@example.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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