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Connellsville swimmers hope to shine at WPIALs

Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Connellsville swimmers (from left) Alyson Urie, Bayle Shreve, Collin Mastowski, Lauren Urie and Nicole Wood will compete in the WPIAL Class AAA Championships on Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 at Pitt's Trees Pool.

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Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, 9:42 p.m.

The best swimmers in the region will converge on Pitt's Trees Pool on Thursday and Friday to compete in the WPIAL Class AAA championships, and the Connellsville swim program will be well represented.

Five Connellsville athletes will take part at WPIALs, and each will be looking to set personal best times in what is, to date, the biggest meet of the high school season.

Senior Lauren Urie, junior Bayle Shreve, sophomores Alyson Urie and Collin Mastowski and freshman Nicole Wood will be representing the Falcons at WPIALs.

Alyson Urie, Lauren Urie, Shreve and Wood will join forces to compete in the 200 freestyle relay Thursday. The quartet is seeded 19th with a top time of 1:47.36.

“At the beginning of the year, we weren't expecting the 200 freestyle relay (to qualify),” Connellsville swim coach Marie Nedley said. “But we saw that they were doing pretty decent and they were able to get it by two seconds, so I was pretty happy. Everyone else, we expected to make it.”

This year's 200 freestyle relay team features a swimmer from each grade, ranging from freshman to senior. According to Lauren Urie, the chemistry has worked well.

“We have someone from every grade, so it's kind of cool,” Lauren Urie said. “I hope we get our best time and everyone drops individually.”

While senior Lauren Urie will be swimming in her last WPIAL meet, Wood will be making her first appearance at the championships. The freshman is hoping the group's hard work will pay off.

“We definitely want to try to place because we've been working hard,” Wood said. “When we realized it would be Alyson, Bayle, Lauren and I, we knew we had to work harder and push ourselves more.”

But no matter what happens this week, Wood is thrilled that the 200 freestyle relay team has come this far and will have a chance to compete against other top WPIAL teams.

“It's all about the fact that we made it to WPIALs,” Wood said.

In addition to the 200 freestyle relay, Alyson Urie and Shreve also qualified in individual events. Alyson Urie will swim the 200 individual medley (2:19.68) as the 27th seed Thursday and the 500 freestyle (5:28.88) as the 19th seed Friday. Also on Friday, Shreve will compete in the 100 backstroke (1:04.84) and is the 30th seed. Both competed at WPIALs last season.

“Last year, I made it in our last meet of the season,” Shreve said. “This year I made it early in the season, and it relieved a lot of stress because I knew that I would be going. My goal for every meet is to just better my time.”

Alyson Urie is hoping WPIAL experience gained as a freshman will be to her advantage this year.

“The first time, I got really nervous and I did really bad,” Alyson Urie said. “It showed me that I shouldn't be nervous.”

Alyson Urie noted that she would like to lower her time in the 200 individual medley to the range of 2:10 to 2:12. For the 500 freestyle, she'd like to beat 5:15. She also has a bigger goal.

“I'm trying to make it to states,” Alyson Urie said.

Mastowski will be Connellsville's lone boy competing at WPIALs. He acknowledged that he was hoping some of his teammates would be joining him, but he won't be focused on that when the competition begins.

Mastowski will be swimming in the 100 butterfly (57.20) as the 25th seed Thursday and the 100 freestyle (51.86) as the 37th seed Friday. He qualified in the 100 butterfly last season and was excited to add the 100 freestyle this season.

“It's nice to be able to get to swim both days,” Mastowski said. “Making it in the 100 free is a great accomplishment for me.”

Mastowski has set specific goals for each event.

“I'd like to break 56 (seconds) in the 100 fly and just do good in the placing,” Mastowski said. “Our team record (in the 100 freestyle) is 49.98, and I'd like to get close to that.”

Timed finals will begin each day at 10 a.m.

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