South Xtra: Upper St. Clair has moment to enjoy at WPIAL swim championships

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Upper St. Clair might not have won the WPIAL Class AAA boys swimming championships this past Thursday and Friday at Pitt's Trees Pool, but the Panthers certainly made an impression as they finished second in the meet with 364 points, 11.5 points behind North Allegheny.

"We set records in all three relay events," Panthers coach Dave Schraven said. "What that means is that we swam harder than anyone has in all three relays in the same meet, and that's a huge deal."

Upper St. Clair's record book assault began in the meet's first event, the 200 medley relay. The team of Ryan Dudzinski, Tomas Williams, Fynn Minuth and Nathan Novak swam a time of 1:31.77, just ahead of North Allegheny, which finished with a time of 1:31.85. Williams and Novak came back later to team with Patrick Lersch and Alex Hardwick to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:23.73, Once again, North Allegheny was second.

For Hardwick, it was an emotional end to the first day of the meet. Earlier, in the 200 yard freestyle, he had an asthma attack and was forced to abandon the race. On Friday, he finished second in the 100 freestyle and swam the opening leg of the 400 freestyle relay that finished in 3:03.63 on a team that Dudzinski anchored.

Dudzinski staged a personal assault on the record book, setting standards in 100 butterfly (48.13) and the 100 backstroke (48.35).

Schraven said greater efforts can be expected at the PIAA meet next Thursday through Saturday at Bucknell University.

"We have some swimmers all season who have been pointing toward the state meet," he said. "Our goal at the beginning of the season was not to win WPIAL, but to win states. And, it still is. We know we put on a great showing here, and we're going to go to Bucknell and put on a great showing there."

Ford has big plans

Mt. Lebanon's Katie Ford made a sizable impression on the WPIAL Class AAA girls swimming championships. A senior, Ford set records in winning the 50 and 100 freestyle with times of 23.21 seconds and 50.63 seconds.

"The records I set were among my goals," she said. "To do this in my last WPIAL meet felt great."

A North Carolina recruit, her victory in the 100 was all the more impressive because it was an event she had not swum often this year.

"I've been ranked second pretty much all year in the backstroke," she said. "The girl who won [North Allegheny's Jacquelyn Du] is ranked first, so I chose to pass on that event and give myself a shot to win a state title in the 100."

Kolesar wins two

Motivation can take an athlete a long way.

West Mifflin swimmer Brad Kolesar displayed his determination when he won two individual events at the WPIAL Class AA boys swimming championships at Pitt's Trees Pool.

"When he found out he was the No. 4 seed in the butterfly, that fired him up," West Mifflin coach Steve Larkin said. "That was all the motivation he needed. This was the third year in a row he's won the butterfly."

His time of 50.82 seconds set a record, and he came back the next day to win the 100 backstroke in 52.45, finishing strong in the race's last 50 yards. He edged prerace favorite Logan Palochak of Hopewell.

"Brad is a back-half swimmer in the backstroke," Larkin said. "He knew he'd have a really good chance of winning if he took the lead on the back of the race and finished well. He was the No. 3 seed, and he felt confident he'd win that race."

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