3rd-place finish at WPIALs gives glimpse of future for Quaker Valley girls swimming

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Sunday, March 20, 2022 | 10:58 AM


Quaker Valley’s girls swim team made another strong bid for a WPIAL championship at this year’s finals March 3-4 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

The QV girls placed third in Class 2A with a score of 221 points in the team race. QV’s girls squad finished as the WPIAL runner-up last season.

Mt. Pleasant won the WPIAL title this year with 296 points followed by Blackhawk (232 points) in second place.

“We were very happy with how our teams performed at WPIALs and are proud of how they stepped up on the biggest stage,” QV coach John Nemeth said. “The girls followed up their second-place finish last year with a third-place finish, and the boys placed 11th overall, which was a huge improvement from last year.

“It can be tough going into a meet like that especially with a young team like ours, but they swam great and dropped time pretty much across the board. The future is bright with nearly everyone coming back next year, which is a huge plus as we continue to build the program at QV.”

There were several highlights for the Quakers at the WPIAL meet, starting with the girls diving specialists.

Ruby Oliffe, Katie Blackmer and Ruby Krotine placed second, fifth and seventh at the diving finals with scores of 393.1, 317 and 292.5. Oliffe and Krotine are freshmen; Blackmer is a sophomore.

“That was not necessarily a surprise because we know they are a talented crew,” Nemeth said, “but to place three divers in the top eight is not something you see very often. It was such a huge benefit to our team. They set the girls team up really well heading into the swimming events.”

The top six finishers advanced to the PIAA diving finals at Bucknell.

Turning to the swimming, QV sophomore Emily Connors placed third in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle with times of 56.76 and 51.69 — both school records.

“Emily was in two events with some of the toughest competition in the WPIAL, and she handled the pressure well,” Nemeth said.

Connor broke her own 100 fly record set earlier this season at 57.76. She also broke the 100 free record that was held by Courtney South (1984) with a time of 51.98.

“I put my best effort forward, and I am very happy with my results,” Connors said. “I am now hoping to carry that energy on to states. We have been doing a variety of focus work in practice. Depending on whether you are swimming distance or sprint events, you have a set that helps your specialty.

“For distance, it is more pace work and longer yardage. For sprint, it is sprint work with shorter yardage. We also work on fine-tuning and technique occasionally.”

On the boys side, junior Alex Wagner and freshman Ryan Steinfurth dropped times in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke, respectively, at the WPIAL championships.

“Alex and Ryan dropped so much time and showed up when we needed them to,” Nemeth said. “Both moved onto states in those individual swims, as well.”

All six (three boys, three girls) relay teams qualified for the state meet.

“Qualifying all of our relays was a goal for us, and the teams were able to do that,” Nemeth said. “We knew they had it in them.”

Connors (100 fly, 100 free), sophomore Rena Gilligan (200 IM, 100 breast) and freshman Margaret Getty (200 free, 500 free) qualified for states in two events and were joined by freshman Paige Juliano in the 500 freestyle.

Wagner and Steinfurth also advanced to the state meet in the 200 IM and 100 back.

“We lost a few key contributors (from last season), but we have a strong freshman class,” Connors said.

Quaker Valley’s relayers on the girls team include freshmen Mia Fusco, Kwilai Karto, Getty and Juliano, senior Amanda Kerrish, junior Ella Fuener, along with Connors and Gilligan.

For the boys, it’s Wagner, Steinfurth, junior Ashton Ragoowansi, sophomore Wesley Riddle and freshman Thomas Fuener. Olliffe and Blackmer qualified in the girls diving competition.

“We wanted the swimmers and divers to enjoy the experience and focus on trusting the training that they did all season heading into WPIALs,” Nemeth said. “The mental side is as important as the physical side, and our crew was able to rise to the occasion and make the most of the opportunity. It was a fun meet.”

The PIAA swimming and diving finals were scheduled for March 16-19 at Bucknell.

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