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Swimming

Dudzinski, Minuth hope to lead USC swimming to WPIAL title this season

| Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The prospect of pleasant weather year-round persuaded Upper St. Clair senior Ryan Dudzinski to continue his swimming career at Stanford University next year.

Dudzinski — a two-time WPIAL Class AAA champion in the boys 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke and the defending PIAA champion in the 100 butterfly — signed a letter-of-intent with the Cardinal men's team last month.

Dudzinski, chose Stanford — located between San Francisco and San Jose in California's Silicon Valley — over the University of Southern California.

“I was looking for a change of pace,” said Dudzinski, 18, who is considering studying economics. “When I took a (recruiting) trip, the weather was beautiful.”

Stanford, an eight-time national champion, has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA championship meet the past 34 years. The Cardinal placed ninth last season and seventh in 2013.

Stanford was fourth in 2014 and third in 2013 at the Pac-12 Conference championship meet.

Dudzinski set meet records in winning the 100 butterfly (48.13 seconds) and 100 backstroke (48.35) at the WPIAL championship last year.

In the 100 backstroke, he broke the mark of 48.75 set by his brother, Kyle, in 2011. He set a PIAA record (47.44) in the 100 butterfly.

Dudzinski anchored the 400 freestyle relay (3 minutes, 3.63 seconds) that broke a WPIAL record and took first place in the state (3:03.04). He swam the lead leg of the 200 medley relay that shattered meet records in winning at the WPIAL championship (1:31.77) and finishing third in the PIAA (1:31.02).

Dudzinski will be the third member of his family to swim in college. His brother is a senior at Virginia and his sister, Brittany, is a sophomore on the Miami, Ohio women's team.

Dudzinski was one of two Upper St. Clair boys swimmers who signed a letter of intent. Fynn Minuth will compete at South Carolina next season.

Minuth, who moved with his family from Germany in summer 2013, finished second in the 200 individual medley (1:52.22) and third in the 500 freestyle (4:32) at the WPIAL championship. He swam the third legs of Upper St. Clair's record-breaking 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

Minuth said streamlined training has helped him in the U.S.

“In Germany, there is more yardage,” said Minuth, who turned 17 last month. “I'm doing more racing here.”

Led by Dudzinski and Minuth, Upper St. Clair expects to be a serious contender for its second WPIAL title in four years. The Panthers have been runners-up to North Allegheny the past three seasons.

“This is as strong a team as we've ever had,” coach Dave Schraven said. “If we can't beat (North Allegheny), we'll never beat them.”

“Upper St. Clair definitely is the team to beat,” North Allegheny coach Patrick Wenzel said.

Upper St. Clair will travel to North Allegheny for a dual meet on Tuesday.

Dudzinski and Minuth are expected to be among top age-group competitors at the Pitt Christmas Meet Thursday through Sunday at Trees Pool.

Organizer Jeff Berghoff said 1,265 people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts have entered. There will be 139 teams.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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