Triangular meet gets local swimmers ready for WPIAL championships

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Later this month, the top swimmers and divers from the area will compete in the WPIAL championships.

But Monday, some of the finest swimmers and divers in Fayette County met at Uniontown High School in a triangular meet designed to prepare them for the bigger competitions that lie ahead.

And by all accounts, the Connellsville, Laurel Highlands and Uniontown swimmers performed well, each gaining something positive from the event, which was swept by Laurel Highlands.

Uniontown coach April Dowling said the competition is tough but also friendly.

“There is a lot of good sportsmanship, and the kids are friends with each other in and out of the pool,” Dowling said. “To me, it's almost like we are one big team.”

The event featured a number of WPIAL-qualifying swimmers turning in solid efforts. Laurel Highlands took first place in 10 of the 12 boys events and nine of the 12 girls events.

The Mustangs won the boys meet with 95 points, followed by Uniontown (46) and Connellsville (45). The Laurel Highslands girls were victorious with 87 points, followed by Connellsville (59) and Uniontown (37).

The Fillies' Emily Yarish set a Laurel Highlands record in the 200 individual medley (2:12.68) and finished first in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.87). Lexi Kostelnik also won a pair of events, taking first in the 500 freestyle (5:19.75) and the 200 freestyle (2:01.23). Brooke Mansberry took the top spot in the 100 freestyle (1:00.32) and 50 freestyle (26.20).

The Mustangs' Logan Knoyer was a winner in the 50 freestyle (22:53) and 100 butterfly (56.45). Brandon Thomas took the top spot in the 200 individual medley (2:12.80) and 100 freestyle (54.08), and Lucas Thomas won the 200 freestyle (1:54.01) and 100 breaststroke (1:08.14). The Laurel Highlands boys also swept the three relay races.

“We had some great swims, and that's what you want to see toward the end of the season,” Laurel Highlands coach Ed Yauger said.

While Laurel Highlands was the dominant team, plenty of good things came out of the meet for Connellsville.

“Overall, we did really well,” Connellsville coach Marie Nedley said. “We had a couple of best times. What's good about this is that there is a lot of competition from LH, and it's nice to get a little bit of a race like this.”

Nedley said she believes Monday's event will serve her WPIAL qualifiers well, and so did the swimmers and divers themselves.

“It just helps to be in a competition like this,” Connellsville's Alyson Urie said. “It's a lot more fun to have three teams instead of just two teams. I swam my best times and I feel like I'm strong enough for WPIALs.”

Alyson Urie finished first in the 100 butterfly (1:03.73) and joined Nicole Wood, Lauren Urie and Bayle Shreve as part of the winning team in the 400 freestyle relay (4:06.82).

Connellsville's Travis Patterson was a winner in the 500 freestyle (6:19.17).

Connellsville also was strong in diving. Kristina Tomechko took first with 140.30 points, followed by teammate Chelsea Cook (136.40). And on the boys' side, Connellsville WPIAL-qualifier Luke Kisiel placed second with 176.95 points.

He was second to Uniontown's Braden Carei (185.55). Carei was Uniontown's lone first-place finisher.

Kisiel said the triangular allows him to see where he stands heading into the championship portion of the season.

“It gets you in the mindset that if you nail your dives, you're confident,” Kisiel said. “If not, you know what you have to work on.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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