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Latrobe's Sowinsky, Hempfield's Shiffler win events at WPIAL meet

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 9:24 p.m.

While Thursday morning was mostly dominated by the likes of North Allegheny and Upper St. Clair, a few swimmers crashed the party on the first day of the WPIAL swimming championships at Pitt's Trees Pool.

Latrobe junior Monica Sowinski won the Class AAA girls 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 50.45 seconds, edging freshman Lauren McGrath (1:51.14) and senior Jade Song (1:52.41) of North Allegheny.

“She took it out fast and held on,” Latrobe coach Grey Arrigonie said. “Hopefully, with the extra rest she'll be able to push it a little more at states.”

The 200 freestyle was the first individual event of the day, which played into Sowinski's preferences.

“I like getting in and getting the first swim out of the way,” Sowinski said. “Then I feel more comfortable in every swim after that, because I've already been in the pool.”

Sowinski also anchored the 200-yard freestyle relay for Latrobe, which finished second at 1:36.46 behind North Allegheny.

Sowinski also will compete in the 100 freestyle Friday.

In the Class AAA boys 50-yard freestyle, Hempfield junior Judson Shiffler outstretched junior Tomos Williams and senior Nathan Novak of Upper St. Clair to win in 21.27 seconds. Williams and Novak tied with a time of 21.36.

“Sometimes it's just luck,” Shiffler said. “You just keep practicing until every time you get everything perfect, because if you get one bad start or one bad turn the race is over.”

Shiffler had a quick turnaround before swimming the 100-yard butterfly, where he finished sixth. Hempfield teammate Brett Gwynn placed fourth.

Friday, Shiffler will lead off the 400 free relay as his only event.

Six WPIAL records fell in the early session: North Allegheny in the girls 200 medley relay, Upper St. Clair in the boys portion of the event; North Allegheny's Zach Buerger in the 200 IM; Mt. Lebanon's Katie Ford in the 50 free; Upper St. Clair's Ryan Dudzinski in the 100 fly; and Upper St. Clair in the boys 200 free relay.

In Class AAA, North Allegheny held a 1.5-point lead over Upper St. Clair in the boys team standings, while the Tigers girls were cruising with 271 points to second-place Mt. Lebanon's total of 121.

The West Allegheny girls finished Thursday in the Class AA team lead with 149 points, and the Mars boys were tops with 116.

The top three finishers from all Class AAA events automatically advance to the PIAA meet March 12-15 at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium. Class AA swimmers get four girls and five boys entrants to states. Day 2 events get started Friday with Class AAA at 10 a.m. Class AA starts at 3 p.m.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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