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Norwin's Painter faces difficult test at PIAA swimming championships

| Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

LEWISBURG — As the awards were presented for the PIAA Class AAA girls 200-yard individual medley Wednesday, Hershey's Meaghan Raab came rushing to the front of Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium, tugging her warmup suit on in a rush.

Given how far ahead she was during the race, you might have thought Raab had been busy doing her homework for next week. Or maybe she was Christmas shopping.

Raab finished in a state-record time of 1 minute, 57.13 seconds, fast enough to blow past poor Kathryn Painter of Norwin, a fantastic swimmer in her own right whose 2:01.78 — a personal-best — didn't come close to holding up.

“I wasn't really worried about that because I know that I swam the best that I could,” Painter said. “I wasn't mad or sad about getting second because I was proud about how I swam; it didn't matter what place I got.”

It's likely a feeling those competing against the Georgia recruit have gotten used to, even if Raab, the daughter of two former Stanford swimmers, insists her races are competitive.

“It's definitely fun to be ahead,” Raab said. “It's definitely fun to have some clear water. But I think also being close to other people motivates me. I see these other people next to me, and it makes me want to go fast.”

Overall, the girls portion of the event was defined by several near misses for the WPIAL. Of the six events contested Wednesday, four featured a WPIAL team or swimmer coming in second, the 200 IM included.

North Allegheny finished one-hundredth of a second behind Hershey in the 200 medley relay to open the second session.

The 200 IM was followed by Katie Ford from Mt. Lebanon dropping the 50 free by three-hundreds of a second.

The North Allegheny girls finished second to Hershey again in the 200 free relay.

Latrobe had a busy day on the medal stand. Monica Sowinski was fourth in the 200 free in 1:50.25, dropping two tenths of a second from her WPIAL time.

“I was hoping to drop time,” Sowinski said. “I knew there were things I could improve on”

Sowinski later joined Kayla Owens, Gina DeFrancesco and Megan Douds on Latrobe's fifth-place 200 freestyle relay team.

Owens took fifth in the 100 butterfly in 56.27 to give Latrobe three medals.

“I think I did pretty well,” Owens said. “I think our team did an excellent job.”

Tyler Stevenson led Franklin Regional with a 12th-place finish in the 200 IM, while Hempfield's Judson Shiffler was 16th in the 50 free.

Penn-Trafford diver Joe Ference was 11th.

North Allegheny's Zach Buerger (200 IM) and Upper St. Clair's Ryan Dudzinski (100 fly) were the only WPIAL swimmers to win state titles. Dudzinski's time of 47.44 set a state record.

After the first of two days, La Salle College High School has 173 points to lead North Allegheny (118) and Upper St. Clair (109.5) in the boys standings. Hershey leads North Allegheny in the girls team standings 159-130.

The Class AAA portion of the meet wraps up Thursday with girls diving, as well as the 100 and 500 freestyle, the backstroke and breaststroke and the 400 freestyle relay.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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