North Allegheny boys, girls grab leads at WPIAL swimming championships

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A full day of events remains, but North Allegheny got off to a good start in the WPIAL Class AAA championships Thursday at Pitt's Trees Pool.

After the first six events the Tigers led the boys and girls standings.

"It's like a football game -- we're ahead at halftime," North Allegheny coach Kirk Semler said. "You always want to be ahead, but the game's not over."

The North Allegheny girls piled up 253 points to build a commanding lead over second-place Oakland Catholic (134 points). The defending WPIAL champion boys team held a slimmer lead, with Upper St. Clair trailing it by 18.5 points.

The Tigers saw both their boys and girls 200-yard medley relay teams finish first, with the girls breaking its WPIAL record.

After taking a year off from swimming for Oakland Catholic, Leah Smith easily defended her 200-yard freestyle title from 2011, breaking her WPIAL record by nearly two seconds in the process.

Even on just two days of rest, Smith, who will swim next season at Virginia, was dominant in her performance.

"I was really excited about it," Smith said. "I really wanted to beat it and go out with a bang."

Kristen Murslack of Pine Richland finished her WPIAL career in the 200-yard individual medley the same way she started it, coming in first.

It was her fourth consecutive victory in the event, and her time was 0.07 seconds short of a 9-year-old WPIAL record.

Bethel Park's Eric Brinkhoff also continued a strong tradition in his final WPIAL meet, winning his third consecutive 50-yard freestyle.

In Class AA, the Indiana boys the two-time defending WPIAL champion, recorded 148 points to build a 47-point lead over second-place Beaver.

On the girls side, South Fayette led with 157 points with two-time defending champion West Allegheny second at 131.5.

The Indiana boys were buoyed by several strong performances, most notably from its 200 medley relay team that won its third consecutive WPIAL title.

The South Fayette girls had five swimmers finish in the top eight in the first day of the meet, and they captured first in the 200 medley relay.

A WPIAL record was set in the girls 100 butterfly by a familiar face -- Mars' Margaret Gruber, who broke her previous WPIAL record by 0.75 seconds with a time of 55.23. No competitor came within five seconds of her winning time.

"Whenever I'm ahead that much, it's a race against the clock for me to push myself as hard as I can," Gruber said. "It's not about winning for me."

Competing in the boys 100 butterfly, defending champion Brad Kolesar of West Mifflin came up just short of the WPIAL record of 51.15 with a 51.21 that earned him a first-place finish.

Chartiers Valley's Drew Danich beat out defending champion Alexander Sazkelyhidi of Riverside in the boys 200 freestyle by just over two seconds. After finishing in second last year, Mars' Chris Georgiadis won the 200 intermediate medley.

The Class AA meet will continue at 10 a.m. today, with Class AAA teams swimming their last six events beginning at 3 p.m.


Craig Meyer: and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.


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