Junior sets PIAA record at swimming meet

Dudzinski grabs a gold in butterfly

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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Ryan Dudzinski hasn't had any poor meets at the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships the past two years. They just didn't meet his high standards.

After a blistering 47.44 seconds in the 100 butterfly Wednesday night at the PIAA championships, this Upper St. Clair swimmer's standards are now abnormally high.

Dudzinski's effort in the butterfly not only earned him his first PIAA gold medal, it put his name in the state record book. His time surpassed the record of 47.68 set by West Chester Henderson Andrew Kosic in 2011 by 0.24 of a second.

"That was the goal," Dudzinski said afterward. "I haven't had great state meets in the past, but this year I have my whole team behind me, and that's given me a lot of encouragement."

Dudzinski wasn't the only WPIAL champion Wednesday night at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.

North Allegheny senior Zachary Buerger won his second consecutive PIAA Class AAA boys 200 individual medley with a thrilling, come-from-behind triumph over Hatboro-Horsham's Michael Thomas.

Buerger, who hit the pad in 1:45.64, trailed Thomas by a body length at the race's midpoint, thanks to Thomas' strong backstroke. But Buerger made up nearly two seconds with a superb breaststroke on the third leg, and finished strong in the freestyle for the victory.

"All year. I've been training hard on my breaststroke because it was probably my weakest stroke," Buerger said. "I know [Thomas] had a great backstroke, so I wasn't surprised when he was a little bit ahead after that."

Dudzinski and Buerger were the WPIAL's only champions in the first day of the four-day PIAA meet, but both came close to a second gold medal in the 200 medley relay.

Buerger and Duzinski led off for North Allegheny and Upper St. Clair, respectively, in the relay, which eventually was won in record time by District 12's La Salle College High School (1:30.26).

North Allegheny finished second in 1:30.86 and USC touched in 1:31.02. Both times were faster than the state record of 1:31.28 set last year by Upper Dublin.

Upper St. Clair picked up a silver medal in the 200 freestyle relay, finishing in 1:23.35, just 0.23 behind La Salle College, the team scoring leader after the first day.

Upper St. Clair's relay team consisted of Tomos Williams, Patrick Lersch, Nathan Novak and Alex Hardwick.

No WPIAL swimmer or relay team won a Class AAA girls gold medal Wednesday, but the district did pick up four silvers.

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