The moment was a bit overwhelming for first-year North Allegheny swim coach Patrick Wenzel. While praising his team for sweeping the WPIAL Class AAA boys and girls swimming championships Friday at University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool, Wenzel teared up.
"These kids have had my back all year long," said Wenzel, who joined both teams with a celebratory jump into the pool.
The girls team won the team title with 471 points. Mt. Lebanon was a distant second with 189, and Oakland Catholic was third with 183.
The Tigers boys won with 373.5 points, and Upper St. Clair was second with 364. The Tigers didn't clinch the meet until the final two events when junior Casey Melzer won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 56.67 seconds, and the 400 freestyle relay team finished second.
It was the sixth consecutive title for the North Allegheny girls. The North Allegheny boys have won eight of the past nine team titles, and the championship Friday was their third in a row.
Upper St. Clair coach Dave Schraven will use the meet as a teaching tool. "Our goal at the beginning of the season was not to win the WPIAL, but to win states. And, it still is. We know we put on a great showing here, and we're going to Bucknell and put on a great show there."
The Panthers swept all three boys relays, and that included the 400 freestyle relay, breaking North Allegheny's five-year-old record with a time of 3:03.63. Ryan Dudzinski, the Panthers' anchor swimmer, pushed ahead of the Tigers' Sam Rutan in the final 50 yards and held on for the title. The Panthers also set records Thursday in the 200 freestyle relay (1:23.73) and the 200 medley relay (1:31.77).
Several records fell Friday in both Class AAA meets. North Allegheny's Jacquelyn Du set a record in the 100 backstroke (54.20), while the North Allegheny's 400 freestyle relay (3:26.41) and Dudzinski in the 100 backstroke (48.35) also set marks a day after setting the 100 butterfly record (48.13). Mt. Lebanon senior Katie Ford added the 100 freestyle record (50.63) to the 50 record (23.24) she set Thursday.
North Hills High's Brian Lovasik followed his victory in the boys 200 freestyle with top honors in the 100 on Friday with a time of 45.36 seconds.
There wasn't as much drama in Class AA as Mars won the final two events -- the 100 breaststroke and the 400 freestyle relay -- to secure the boys team championship with 227 points. A third-place finish in the relay vaulted Quaker Valley into second place with 170.5 points.
Christopher Georgiadis, who won the 200 individual medley, took the breaststroke with a time of 1:00.24, and teammate Francis Folz took the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.45.
West Allegheny won only one event -- the 200 medley relay -- but the Indians won the girls team championship with 227 points.
Highlands freshman Bailey Bonnett added the 500 freestyle to the 200 individual medley that she won Thursday, and West Mifflin's Brad Kolesar added the 100 backstroke to the record-setting title he earned Thursday in the 100 butterfly. Geibel Catholic's Emily Zimcosky won the 100 freestyle after taking the 50 Thursday and Chartiers Valley's Drew Damich added a 500 freestyle title to the 200 freestyle title he won Thursday.
The top qualifiers advance to the PIAA meet March 12-13 for Class AAA schools and March 14-15 for Class AA teams at Bucknell University.