Quaker Valley swimmers, divers prepare for WPIAL championships
Quaker Valley’s Simon Iwanonkiw will be among favorites at the WPIAL Class AA diving championship meet Friday at South Park, giving the Quakers (3-6 overall, 3-4 in Section 2-AA) a much-needed lift going into the WPIAL swimming championship next week at Pitt.
Iwanonkiw, a Sewickley Academy sophomore who competes for Quaker Valley as part of a cooperative sponsorship, ranked third in WPIAL Class AA boys 1-meter six dives (276.10) as of Feb. 1.
“Simon will be doing a lot of repetition to make sure that his dives are as consistent as possible,” Quaker Valley diving coach Becca Kirby said. “He attended states last year.
“I definitely think we’ll see him (there) again.”
The top six finishers will advance to the PIAA championship March 13-14 at Bucknell. Iwanonkiw placed fifth in the WPIAL and made the PIAA semifinals last season.
The Quakers do not look like a serious contender for the WPIAL swimming and diving title after a four-year run that saw them win from 2015-17 and place second last season. Only four Quakers have qualified in swimming events: seniors Kieran Ragoowansi and Andres Hubsch and sophomores Aidan Ragoowansi and Navin Rana.
Kieran Ragoowansi is stepping up.
“Having a young team is a great thing for the program, (but), as a senior, being a leader is very important and a key to our success,” said Ragoowansi, who attends Sewickley Academy.
Iwanonkiw (third place in diving) and Kieran Ragoowansi (fourth, 100-yard breaststroke) were top performers for the Quakers at the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship Feb. 8-9 at Moon, where the Quakers placed eighth of 15.
Isabel Huang is a standout on the girls team (6-3, 6-1), which came in sixth of 16 at MACs.
Huang, a Sewickley Academy freshman, ranked first in the WPIAL in the girls 100 backstroke (1 minute, 0.51 seconds).
“My goals for the rest of the season include winning the backstroke at WPIALs and making it to states, along with just going faster in the (other) events that I swim,” said Huang, who ranked fifth in the 100 freestyle (56.22), sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:14.35) and seventh in the 50 freestyle (26.30).
Huang was encouraged by her performance at MACs, where she came in second in the 200 individual medley (2:11.08) and third in the 50 freestyle (25.00).
“I was pretty close to the fastest times I’ve ever gone, which was surprising because I was wearing a really old kneeskin (suit) and wasn’t tapered,” she said. “This was a good tune-up for WPIALs because I got to race against some of the people (who) will be (there).”
Also competing at WPIALs will be freshmen Amanda Kerrish, Rebecca Glass and Hannah Richardson and sophomore Halle Wagner. Richardson is a diver.
To get more qualifiers, Quaker Valley coach Alexis Glenn planned to take a few swimmers to a last-chance meet at Chartiers Valley.
Close to making cuts are senior Amber Huang and sophomores Diya Kad and Lydia Callaghan.
“We had many swims that came extremely close to WPIAL qualifying times,” Glenn said.
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.