3rd straight WPIAL team swimming title within grasp of Mt. Pleasant girls

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 11:01 AM


The past two WPIAL Class 2A championship showings for the Mt. Pleasant girls swim team have been filled first-place finishes and shattered records.

The Vikings hope this year’s competition will bring more of the same.

Anchored by the tandem of juniors Lily King and Kiersten O’Connor, who are seeded first in their events, the Vikings are in a prime position to bring home their third WPIAL championship in as many years.

“Lily’s always one of our hardest workers at practice,” coach Sandy Felice said. “She’s very dedicated and disciplined. In addition to her swimming, she’s lifting weights six times a week. The kids look up to her, and she’s very humble.”

King’s hard work has led her to set school and WPIAL records. This year, she broke two school records: the 50 free with a time of 22.53 seconds and the 100 fly, which had stood since 2010, swimming a 57.15.

The N.C. State commit will look to repeat as champion in the 100 and 200 free. She is seeded first in each event and also holds the WPIAL record for each: 48.58 in the 100 and 1 minute, 47.36 seconds in the 200.

King’s skill and work ethic have done more than place her high in the WPIAL ranks. She’s had an effect on her teammates as well.

“If the other swimmers want to be good, they watch her,” Felice said. “They know they have to put in the time and effort. It definitely spirals down through the group.”

One such swimmer is O’Connor, who has improved greatly over the last couple of years, Felice said.

“Kiersten was on our junior high team and that was her first time at swimming,” Felice said. “She recently got serious and dedicated with swimming year-round. She’s developed into a strong swimmer and a good leader.”

O’Connor will swim the 50 free, for which she is the top seed and reigning champion with a time of 23.76. She is also seeded first in the 100 back.

The Mt. Pleasant girls, who finished second in Section 4-2A at 10-3, 5-2, also boast three relay teams that are reigning champs, set WPIAL records and qualified for PIAAs.

The 200 free relay posted a time of 1:35.90, the 400 free a time of 3:32.07 and the 200 medley swam a 1:45.86. The Vikings are seeded first in the 200 medley and the 400 free and second in the 200 free.

“Our girls could win WPIALs,” Felice said. “It’s not like last year where I had five seniors and we were in a really good spot. Everything has to go as planned.”

The boys team, which placed second in Section 4-2A (11-2, 6-1), owns a formidable trio of relays as well.

They are seeded first in the 200 medley and 400 free and are sixth in the 200 free.

Mt. Pleasant returns a strong quartet of senior Logan Snively and juniors Joseph Gardner, David Mutter and Seth Painter. Junior Gunnar Probst will also swim in the relays to give some of the others a breather for their individual events.

“They want to do well, certainly better than last year,” said Felice. “They want to get all three of their relays to states.”

Gardner holds the WPIAL meet record (55.94) in the 100 breast. This year, he is seeded first in that event and second in the 200 IM.

Mutter will compete in the 100 fly, where he is seeded first. He is seeded second in the 200 free.

The toughest competition the boys will face is from Indiana.

“It will be difficult, but they’re capable,” Felice said.

The girls, on the other, hand will have competition from not just Indiana, but Kiski Area and Derry as well.

“I think there are a few teams that are seeded pretty well, like Kiski, who’s in our section,” Felice noted. “They finished second behind us at the WCCAs in January by only four points. Derry was tied in points with them at that meet. I’m sure each is looking at what we’re doing.”

Mt. Pleasant has a good start in points as their two qualified divers, junior Rayna Wisneski and freshman Emam Paul, placed 12th and 14th in the diving championships Friday.

As for the swimmers, they are primed and focused for a shot at bringing home another championship.

“They’re extremely ready, that’s for sure,” Felice said. “I have a couple of freshmen who are a little nervous. I talked with them yesterday, and the upperclassmen are talking to them about tapering. We’re excited.”

Mt. Pleasant WPIAL qualifiers

Girls

Gabby Kinneer, senior, 100 back

Lily King, junior, 100 free, 200 free

Kiersten O’Connor, junior, 50 free, 100 back

Maddie Barrick, junior, 50 free, 100 fly

Kaylie Korpiel, junior, 100 breast

Lainey Brown, sophomore, 100 free, 100 breast

Riley Shinsky, freshman, 100 free, 100 back

Shayla Cain, junior, alternate

Boys

Logan Snively, senior, 100 fly, 100 back

Joseph Gardner, junior, 100 breast, 200 IM

Quinn Heinnickel, junior, 100 breast

David Mutter, junior, 100 fly, 200 free

Seth Painter, junior, 100 fly, 100 free

Gunnar Probst, sophomore, 50 free

Lucas Poole, freshman, 100 fly

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