Highlands freshman Bonnett earns second PIAA swimming bronze

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 11:24 p.m.

LEWISBURG — Whether it was working really hard or being at the beginning of her high school swimming career — or a combination — Highlands freshman Bailey Bonnett isn't going to complain about a four-second drop in time.

Bonnett broke five minutes in the 500 free for the first time during the morning prelims at Saturday's PIAA Class AA swimming and diving finals at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium. She returned in the evening and swam a 4:56.57 to place third, her second bronze medal in as many days after she took third in the 200 IM on Friday.

“I was really excited with that because (Saturday) morning I got my best time,” Bonnett said. “I just broke five minutes for the first time, and that was really exciting. Then I just got another best time, which was really exciting, too.”

Bennett's 500 free time might have been good enough to win, but Western York's Courtney Harnish set a state record at 4:40.04.

Bonnett said she was plenty pleased with the PIAA meet — but not because of her third-place finishes. Her 200 IM time of 2:04.59 was also a personal best.

“I wasn't really worried about the places as much as I was my personal-best times,” Bonnett said. “I just wanted to try and do my best no matter what.

“Place doesn't really matter for me, but getting third place is definitely a good thing.”

Not bad for someone who's only a freshman and has plenty to build on.

“I don't really swim the 500 that much,” Bonnett said. “I just realized that it was going to be a good event for me this year.”

Other local finishers included Freeport's Bria Otwell taking eighth in the 500 free in 5:06.96. Sabrina Bowman of St. Joseph was ninth in the 100 backstroke in 58.33.

Knoch freshman Brooke Zukowski bounced back from an eighth-place finish in the 200 IM to take fourth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.72.

“I'm happy,” Zukowski said. “I wish my time would have been a little bit better, but oh well.

On the boys' side, Knoch's John Wilson took 15th in the 100 breaststroke by reaching the wall in 1:02.56. Valley's Cody Schrecongost was 20th in the 100 free in 49.39. Collin Hurley of Springdale took 20th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:02.65.

The Mars boys claimed their first PIAA Class AA team title. Villa Maria Academy won the Class AA girls team title with 220 points. The top WPIAL team was South Fayette with 57.

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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