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Derry's Brownlee boasts top-3 seeds for WPIAL swimming, diving

| Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Allison Brownlee has been busy as a freshman on the Derry girls swimming and diving team.

Brownlee is seeded third in the 100-yard freestyle (54.75 seconds) at the WPIAL Class AA championship, to be held Thursday and Friday at Pitt's Trees Pool. She also is part of two top-seeded relay teams.

Brownlee also was seeded third at the WPIAL diving championship last week and went on to finish third.

Derry swimming coach Jeff Kelly said it is rare for someone to excel in swimming and diving. Sophomore Morgan Elrick — who finished fourth at the WPIAL diving championship — also swims, but on a limited basis, Kelly said.

“Morgan participates on the relay teams and has done some of the freestyle events, (but) she only practices a little,” Kelly said. “Allison, on the other hand, will swim (at) practice, then dive after swimming.”

Brownlee took first place in 1-meter diving and third place in the 200 freestyle (one minute, 59.18 seconds) at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association meet. She also anchored the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays that finished third and fifth, respectively.

Led by Brownlee, Derry captured the Class AA title.

Doe Krug, coach of Pitt Aquatic Club Divers, admires Brownlee's dedication.

“She trains with us three times a week and has a long drive,” Krug said. “Her mind is her greatest asset. She's a tough, hard worker.”

Brownlee, 15, expects to compete in just swimming or diving eventually.

“Closer to college, I'll probably have to make a choice,” said Brownlee, whose mother, Trish Ney Brownlee, is Derry's diving coach and a former Pitt diver. “I love swimming and find it relaxing; I like diving because you get to be creative.”

By finishing in the top nine in the WPIAL, Brownlee and Elrick qualified for the PIAA diving championship meet March 14-15 at Bucknell University.

“I'll think more about states when I'm done swimming,” Brownlee said.

Freshman Danielle Jellison and juniors Taylor Byers and Chelsea Dominick also will swim for Derry at the WPIAL meet.

Senior Andrew Downey, freshman Zach Baum, senior Dustin McCallen and sophomores Evan Gruss, Austin Buterbaugh, Sean Simon and Lucas Morgan will represent the boys team.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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