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Derry's Brownlee shines after putting focus on swimming

| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, 4:03 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry's Allison Brownlee cheers on her teammate during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry's Allison Brownlee, Abby Pacek, Emily Dominick and Danielle Jellison pose for a 'selfie' after winning the 200-yard medley relay during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry's Allison Brownlee swims the 100-yard freestyle during the WCCA swimming championship Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, at Derry.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry's Allison Brownlee reacts after her 100-yard freestyle event during the WCCA swimming championship on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Derry Area High School.

Derry junior Allison Brownlee may have changed specialties, but that did not stop her winning streak at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association swimming and diving championships at Derry last month.

Brownlee took first place in two swimming events and anchored two winning relays after earning titles in girls 1-meter diving the previous two years.

She led Derry to the Class AA girls title and second place to Franklin Regional overall.

Brownlee — who competed in diving and swimming before deciding to focus on swimming this season — was first in the girls 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 57.10 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 53.43 seconds. She swam the final legs of the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays that garnered gold medals.

Sophomore Abby Pacek, freshman Emily Dominick and junior Danielle Jellison joined her in the relays.

Brownlee won the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle by around a second.

Derry swimming coach Jeff Kelly was impressed by Brownlee's performance.

“Focusing on swimming is helping her swimming,” he said. “She's a gifted athlete.”

Brownlee, whose mother, Trish, is a former Pitt diver and the Derry and Latrobe diving coach, said she misses diving, but likes swimming more and hopes to pursue it in college. Diving just for fun, she qualified for the WPIAL diving championship meet later this month, but does not plan to enter.

She also has made qualifying cuts for the WPIAL swimming championship next month.

Brownlee was a WPIAL and PIAA finalist in 1-meter diving and a WPIAL finalist and PIAA consolation finalist in the 100 freestyle as a freshman and sophomore.

Brownlee said she and her teammates gained confidence by their strong showing at the county championships. The Trojans hope to contend for the WPIAL title after placing second last year.

Brownlee was one of three Derry individuals to earn gold medals at the county meet.

Jellison tied for first in the girls 100 butterfly (59.70) with Hempfield senior and Dickinson College recruit Molly Sternick.

Junior Zach Baum was first in the boys 50 freestyle (22.45).

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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