A-K Valley athletes of the week: Kiski Area’s Luke Larko, St. Joseph’s Anna Swierczewski

Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 12:36 AM

Luke Larko

School: Kiski Area

Class: Senior

Sport: Rugby

Report card: Larko scored one try in top-seeded Kiski Valley's 67-5 win over No. 8 Carlisle in the quarterfinals of the Rugby PA Club Division II tournament. A four-year starter and captain, he tallied two tries in the Titans' win over Blair United to capture the section title. Larko, a flanker, has seven tries this season and ranks fifth all-time in Kiski Valley history with 220 points (38 tries, 15 conversions). He was also a member of the Cavaliers wrestling team for three years, where he competed in the 170-pound weight class.

When did you begin playing rugby?

It was in between seventh and eighth grade. My brother (John Paul Larko) was there when they started the team.

What drew you to the sport?

Just the physicality in it and how it was different than every other sport.

Was it tough to leave Kiski wrestling behind?

Yeah. The reason I didn't wrestle this past year is I got a job and it was too much if I wrestled every day after work.

Can you describe rugby in three words?

Intense. Decisive. Brotherhood.

What kind of stuff goes on inside a rugby scrum?

There's a couple of curse words and mostly laughs. We're not really mean to each other. It's not violent at this level.

How does last year's quarterfinals loss to Kutztown drive this team?

The feel it just drove us through the Hollidaysburg game and this last game. And we're going to ride the pain through the semifinals and hopefully into finals.

What does this team need to do beat Elizabethtown and move on to Sunday's championship match?

We're just going to need to play our best and play like we did this past Sunday. Smart rugby, no dumb mistakes.

How is this year's team different?

We have more experience and we've seen different teams this past year.

Does the team have any traditions for scoring your first career try?

Not really. We can't really do too much.

Who is the most underrated player on the team?

I think Frankie Poydence (scrum half).

What three words best describe you?

Hardworking. Dedicated. Fun.

What's your favorite subject at school?


What is something interesting about you that nobody knows?

I'm going to be a machinist apprentice.

What are your plans for after high school?

I'm doing a four-year apprentice program with Metal Solutions to become a journeyman machinist.

Anna Swierczewski

School: St. Joseph

Class: Senior

Sport: Softball

Report card: Swierczewski doubled twice and knocked in three runs to help power No. 8 seed St. Joseph (11-4) past No. 9 Western Beaver, 13-0, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A softball tournament. A four-year starter, she leads the Spartans in batting average (.688), doubles (11), RBIs (24), walks (13) and has yet to strike out this season. Swierczewski, a Franciscan commit, also can get it done from the circle, where she holds a 2.37 ERA.

How important was it for the Spartans to perform well against Western Beaver in the first round?

It was a big deal for us especially since the majority of the team are veterans. It was important to come out strong, relax and have fun.

Is St. Joseph playing its best softball of the season right now?

I would like to think towards playoff time we're hitting the best as we can.

What do the Spartans need to do to upset the No. 1 seed and defending champs, West Greene?

We need to hit the ball, keep our offense going and make sure we make the routine plays. That's what will get you.

How deep was the talent pool in Section 3-A this season?

I think we do have a heavier section, when you look at other sections. It's a battle every game.

Who is the most difficult pitcher to face in the section?

(Leechburg's) Morgan Pierce, most definitely. It's funny because we'll be playing on the same travel team (Pittsburgh Spirit) this summer.

What is the strength of this year's team?

Team chemistry. We're all really good friends and we get along well. When you fall down, somebody is always there to pick you up.

Who is the most underrated player on the team?

Molly Coleman. She's a sophomore, a basketball player, and she decided last year to come out for softball. She really works her butt off.

If you could have “walk-up music” on the way to the plate, what song would you choose?

“Back in Black,” AC/DC.

How does it feel to have helped put St. Joseph softball on the map?

It makes me really happy because St. Joe's is a great place and to be able to do what I love and be able to help grow the program with my friends. It's amazing to see something turn around so quickly.

Was it difficult choosing a college?

I don't think in my case because I knew what I wanted. I had three offers (W&J, Franciscan, Westminster) (and) Franciscan had the morals that I was looking for.

What kind of advice would you give to your freshman self?

Do not be afraid and trusting my swing. I feel like freshman year there were a lot of things that I was afraid to say.

What actress should play you in a Hollywood movie?

Sandra Bullock.

What's your favorite subject at school?


What are you going to study at Franciscan?


What is something interesting about you that nobody knows?

I like to bake a lot. I actually cook really, really good bananas foster French toast.


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