PG Athletes of the Week: Ryan Dudzinski, Maria Palarino

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Ryan Dudzinski, Upper St. Clair

Last week: Dudzinski broke three meet records and won four gold medals at the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Check this out: Dudzinski, a junior, set records in the 100-yard backstroke — breaking a mark held by his brother, Kyle — and 100 butterfly, and anchored Upper St. Clair’s winning 400 freestyle relay team, which also set a WPIAL record. In addition, Dudzinski helped the 200 medley relay team win gold. Dudzinski has won seven WPIAL gold medals in his career. He will try to win gold for the first time at the PIAA championships next week at Bucknell University. Dudzinski’s two siblings also are swimming standouts. Kyle is a junior at the University of Virginia and Brittany a freshman at Miami of Ohio.

•What’s the story with the hair? The swim team normally comes up with some crazy cuts. This year it was about intimidation. We went with the jet-black mohawk.

• What did it mean to beat one of your brother’s records? He always said to me that he’d rather me break it than anyone else. It always feels good beating your older brother.

• Do you have a trophy case at home with all your medals? I keep my WPIAL and state medals on my dresser. Everything else goes in a shoebox.

• What are your goals for the PIAA meet? Hopefully win four more golds. Two of those are dependent on my [relay] team, and I have total trust in them.

• Have you, your brother and sister ever raced each other? My sister and I have never raced. Me and my brother always find a meet to race in every year.

• Which schools are recruiting you the heaviest? Right now some major [Division Is] … Michigan, Indiana, Stanford. I’m keeping my options open.

• Is your brother recruiting you to Virginia? Yeah, I’m talking to Virginia. They’re coming to visit me. They want to see what the younger Dudzinski is like. (Laughs)

• Last concert you went to? Bassnectar.

Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford

Last week: Palarino scored a game-high 21 points, helping lead the Warriors to a 56-45 victory Saturday against Section 1 foe Hempfield in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship. Trailing, 40-25, late in the third quarter, Penn-Trafford finished the game on a 31-5 run.

Check this out: A 5-foot-7 guard/forward, Palarino has been an offensive catalyst throughout the season for Penn-Trafford, which was able to claim its first WPIAL championship in girls’ basketball. For the season, she is averaging around 18 points per game, putting her among the top-20 players in the WPIAL in scoring. Just a junior, Palarino said she’s still early in the college search, but she has been in contact with IUP and Seton Hill, along with a few other schools from outside the area.

• As a player on the court for it, what kind of a whirlwind was that comeback? It was incredible. It’s still sinking in now. What we’ve accomplished from the beginning of the year until now is amazing.

• When did it really hit the team that it won a WPIAL championship? I think when we walked back into our gym and all of our student section and all of our fans were there, it sort of hit me then.

• How long do you let that feeling last before mentally preparing for the PIAA playoffs? The win was great, it was fun that night, but now we have to move on and focus on state. We have unfinished business.

• What’s your favorite thing about playing basketball? I just love being on a team, especially this year. We’re all best friends. I love every single girl so much and it’s just so fun to be playing with them.

• Who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? I’ve never played against her in an official game, but I’ve scrimmaged against Shatori-Walker Kimbrough [a former Hopewell star at Maryland]. She’s incredible. She’s an amazing player.

• What’s your favorite subject in school? I really like anatomy this year. It’s interesting and I never get bored in that class.

• The cowboy hat Pharrell Williams wore to the Grammys recently sold for $44,000. How much would you have paid for it? Probably not too much. Definitely not as much as he paid. Maybe 20 or 30 dollars.

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