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High School Sports

Kiski Area swimmers adjusting focus

| Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Almost everyone sat silent at Kiski Area's swimming senior night, waiting for the time to flash on the scoreboard.

Kiski Area senior Devon O'Black didn't need to wait. He said he just knew.

O'Black already was celebrating the fact he and his teammates broke the school's 200-yard freestyle relay record, which was set in 1994 by a team that featured current coach Dave Hartman.

The new record of 1:32.65, set by O'Black, Chris Cernicky, Paul Singerman and Caleb Zaydack, eclipsed the old mark by 0.18 seconds.

"I swam the lead," O'Black said. "Chris Cernicky swam the anchor, and all I was yelling was 'Go faster, Chris, go faster.' As soon as he touched the wall, I started to celebrate."

O'Black and his teammates are hoping for similar success at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships, which will be held with the Class AA finals Thursday and Friday at Pitt's Trees Pool.

With its best time, Kiski Area could be in the running for a top-eight medal in the 200 freestyle relay.

O'Black also is seeded third in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.36 seconds. He is behind Mt. Lebanon's Sho Sugimoto (21.41) and Franklin Regional's Garrett Hehn (21.56).

Because O'Black is competing in the maximum of four swimming events, he couldn't compete in the WPIAL diving competition. O'Black said the decision not to dive was tough to make as he had the fifth highest diving score among WPIAL entrants with 244.50 points.

"My dad put an in-ground pool in the backyard, and I loved doing flips off the diving board," O'Black said. "When I got to high school, I knew I wanted to swim and figured I would try diving, too. I finished 13th in the WPIAL my sophomore year and 18th my junior year. I chose not to dive this year because I felt I would have a better shot to make it to states swimming."

Hartman said O'Black could hold more than the 200 freestyle relay record by the end of the WPIAL meet.

"He has a real chance to set records in the 100 free and 400 free relay," Hartman said. "I'm not trying to get ahead of ourselves, but he has a real can-do attitude in the pool. I never had to ask him to be a leader this year because he was already one."

O'Black wants to advance to states, but he would also like to take some more names off the wall at Kiski.

"I think I have a chance at breaking the record in the 50 and 100 free," O'Black said. "Whenever I started, I never thought I could reach the record. But after I started to improve my junior year, I started to think I could do it. Every time you finish a race at home, after you look at the scoreboard, you look at the record board right next to it."

O'Black isn't the only local athlete looking to bring home records or WPIAL gold.

Burrell senior Jared Malecki is seeded No. 1 in the breaststroke with a time of 1:03.44 and No. 3 in the 50 freestyle (22.75).

Highlands junior Conner Calarie had the highest qualifying times in the 200 and 500 freestyle (1:46.47 and 4:42.36, respectively). Calarie won the WPIAL Class AA championship in both events in 2009.

WPIAL Class AAA and AA swimming championships

When: Thursday-Friday

Where: University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool, Oakland

Local Class AA girls

Apollo-Ridge: MacKenzie Wargo (100 fly).

Burell: Carly Bindas (200 IM, 100 backstroke), Olivia Christy (100 fly), Lauren Clune (200 free, 500 free), Jaycie Sluss (100 fly, 100 free), Jessika Sluss (50 free, 100 free), 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay.

Deer Lakes: Shanna Kistler (200 free, 500 free), 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay.

Freeport: Keil Erickson (200 IM, 100 fly).

Highlands: Brandy Nortum (50 free), Samantha Swiklinski (100 breaststroke).

Kittanning: Corinne Blodgett (100 fly, 100 backstroke).

Knoch: Kristy Daubner (50 free, 100 free), Jessica Gross (100 breaststroke), Jillian Vogus (100 fly, 200 IM), 200 medley relay, 200 free, 400 free.

Springdale: Julie Moretti (50 free, 100 free).

Valley: Staci Schrecongost (200 IM, 500 free).

Local Class AAA girls

Fox Chapel: Alexis Boyd (200 IM, 500 free), Natalie Fallert (100 breaststroke), Sarah Henry (200 free, 100 fly), Carly Jones (100 backstroke, 200 IM), Anna Mucci (100 backstroke, 200 IM), Madeleine Souza (100 breaststroke), Rachel Williams (100 Fly), 400 free relay, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay.

Kiski Area: Megan Paullet (100 backstroke), Elizabeth Prager (100 backstroke), 200 free relay, 200 medley relay.

Plum: Elena Ehrentraut (100 fly, 200 IM), Lauren Figurelli (100 backstroke), Channing Nolan (100 fly), 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay.

Local Class AAA boys

Fox Chapel: Asa Nelson (100 backstroke, 200 free), Scott Sterrett (100 breaststroke), Zihan Su (200 IM), Stanley Wang (100 fly, 100 breaststroke), Arthur Verkaik (200 IM, 500 free), 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay.

Kiski Area: Nick Bertha (100 backstroke), Chris Cernicky (50 free, 100 free), Devon O'Black (50 free, 100 free), Paul Singerman (100 backstroke,100 fly), Caleb Zaydak (50 free) 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay.

Plum: Sean Ging (50 free), David Starr (50 free, 100 free), Brian Wilson (200 IM, 100 breaststroke), 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay.

Local Class AA boys

Burrell: Steven Casselberry (50 free), Jared Malecki (50 free, 100 breaststroke), Connor Minford (100 backstroke), Jonathan Powers (50 free, 100 free), 400 free relay, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay.

Deer Lakes: Tim Claus (100 backstroke), Chad Evanuik (200 free, 500 free), Zach Hall (50 free), Andrew Kraus (100 fly), Michael Schultz (100 fly), 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay.

Freeport: Ryan Sweeny (50 free,100 free).

Highlands: Guthrie Baker (100 breaststroke), Conner Calarie (200 free, 500 free), Taylor Magoc (50 free, 500 free), Nick Wakeley (100 backstroke, 200 IM), 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay.

Kittanning: Logan Mudlo (200 IM, 100 backstroke), Cameron Mechling (100 fly).

Knoch: Cole Blaugher (100 fly), Aaron Goldman (100 breaststroke), Van McCarren (200 free, 500 free), Jacob Shoemaker (100 fly), Joshua Tackett (100 free, 100 backstroke) 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay.

Valley: Chris Capo (100 breaststroke).

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