Bethel Park swimmers hit lifetime bests, collect medals at WPIAL meet

Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 11:01 AM

He’s only a sophomore, but he stood out as a team leader for Bethel Park.

Trent Powell was a medalist in two relays and two individual events at the WPIAL Class 3A boys swim championships March 2-3 at North Allegheny.

“Trent had a breakthrough year,” said Kathy Strock, who coaches the Bethel Park boys team. “He’s very talented and this season he gained a lot of confidence that helped him have great swims at the end of the season. Trent did a great job at WPIALs, getting best times in both his 100 fly and 100 back events.

“I thought the boys swam well. I think the most important accomplishment is that almost every swim was a lifetime best time. All of the boys worked very hard this year and were rewarded for their effort. In terms of team score, we were fourth after Day 1, which was great, but we didn’t have as many swims on Day 2 and finished seventh. I am very happy and proud of the boys. They came together as a team nicely this season.”

The 16-year-old Powell placed eighth in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly with times of 52.67 and 52.8.

“My best events are the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly,” Powell said. “I swam these two events at most of our dual meets and did well in them almost every time.”

He also swam on the Black Hawks’ medal-winning 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay units that finished fifth and seventh in 1:27.07 and 1:37.45.

Along with Powell, the team’s 200 freestyle relay team consisted of sophomore Luke Kallaur, junior Nathan Stutzman and senior Lenny DeMartino.

Powell, Kallaur, Stutzman and junior Luke Myers made up the 200 medley relay unit.

“I thought my performance at WPIALs was decent,” Powell said, “but I thought I could’ve done better. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how I swam. My expectations going into the meet were a little high. I was hoping to drop more time in both individual events.

“I’m happy that I made it to the podium, have a chance to compete at states in an individual event and two relays, and with our team’s overall performance.”

Powell’s time in the backstroke event gave him a spot in the PIAA Class 3A championships. His PR in the backstroke is 52.6 and in the butterfly is 52.8.

Powell has been swimming since the age of 7, teaches swim lessons (beginner to advanced) at the high school and works as a lifeguard at the wave pool in the summer.

The Bethel Park teen was a WPIAL medalist as a freshman, competing for the third-place freestyle relay unit along with Dom Cortapassi, Eamon Anderson and DeMartino.

“Swimming is my passion,” Powell said. “It doesn’t leave much time to do any other sports or extracurricular activities.”

It also appears to be a passion for his 13-year-old brother, Caden, a seventh grader who has been swimming for five years.

“He is a really good swimmer,” said the older sibling.

Powell’s time in the high school pool won’t stop following the PIAA finals.

“I swim year-round,” he said, “long course from mid-April until early August and short course from August to March.”

DeMartino also was a team leader for the Black Hawks at the WPIAL finals as was a double medalist. DeMartino ended up seventh in the 100 free (47.64) and eighth in the 200 free (1:43.67).

“Lenny works hard, and he encourages and pushes his teammates,” Strock said. “Unfortunately, Lenny had some setbacks during the season that made his distance events, where he is strongest, challenging. He did a great job of adjusting his mindset to swim the 100 free instead of the 500 free and ended up seventh and qualified for states. In the 200 free, which he also typically swims, he swam well to finish eighth and make it out to states.”

Stutzman, like DeMartino, reeled in three WPIAL medals. Along with his performance in the two relays, Stutzman secured fifth place in the 50 free in 21.78.

Kallaur narrowly missed out on winning a medal with his ninth-place finish in the 50 free. His time was 22.07 — six-one-hundredths of a second behind eighth place.

Two other individual finalists for the Black Hawks were freshman Sam Hoppe in the 200 IM and Myers in the 100 breaststroke.

The team’s 400 freestyle relay team, consisting of Stutzman, sophomore Brady McKiernan, Myers and DeMartino, posted a 3:19.16 time and finished in 11th place.

“We have a lot of talent on the boys team,” Strock said. “I was excited to see freshman Sam Hoppe and junior Luke Myers achieve best times in the 200 IM and move up in place. Luke also got a best time in his 100 breaststroke. Sophomore Luke Kallaur is one to watch in the future. He didn’t quite accomplish his goal in the 50 free, but he came back on Day 2 to get a best time in the 100 free. Junior Nathan Stutzman also had his best finish in the 50 free in fifth place with a best time.

“The 200 free relay of Trent Powell, Luke Kallaur, Nathan Stutzman and Lenny DeMartino was our best relay all season. They swam well at WPIALs, placing fifth and getting an invited to states. The 200 medley relay of Trent Powell, Luke Myers, Luke Kallaur and Nathan Stutzman had two new swimmers on it compared to last year, and all the boys stepped up to swim well, finishing seventh, and received an invite to states.

“And the 400 free relay of Stutzman, Brady McKiernan, Myers, and DeMartino also had a great swim. Although we didn’t meet our goal of getting to states, that relay also had two new swimmers compared to last year, and sophomore Brady McKiernan got his first WPIAL swim.”

Edner a 4-time finalist

Sophomore Cally Edner was the lone WPIAL medalist for the Bethel Park girls team, placing sixth in the 500 freestyle in 5:23.21.

“Cally had to work really hard to qualify and was seeded 10th,” said Anna Watterson, Bethel Park’s girls coach. “Watching her wheels turn in practice, the determination she had to make a statement with her swim at WPIALs paid off. Cally is a fierce competitor; she knows how to get up and race both in meets and at practice.

“What I’m most excited about with Cally is the atmosphere she helps to create at practice. Every practice is fun because she helps make it fun. This makes her teammates want to come to practice. When you have a fast kid who makes working hard fun for themselves and others, it makes an impact and changes a culture of a team. And that’s when success happens. Cally is a leader and is going to help get more of her teammates qualifying for WPIALs.”

Edner was a WPIAL finalist in four events. She also qualified in the 200 IM and as a 200 freestyle and 200 medley relayer.

“Cally also had a breakout season,” Strock said. “She was a leader on our team all season. She had a great swim on Friday after a tough start on Thursday. The first individual WPIAL swim can be stressful, but she learned from it and bounced back with a confident swim on Day 2 to get on the medal stand, placing sixth.”

The Black Hawks’ 200 freestyle relay unit, consisting of Edner, freshman Julia Ratti and juniors Kaitlyn Becker and Emma Burke, placed 14th in 1:44.61.

Burke, Edner, senior Braleigh Anderson and sophomore Addison Gurganus combined for a 1:58.24 time and 16th-place finish in the 200 medley relay.

“The girls had a really strong season,” Watterson said. “We are a really young team built of mostly underclassman, so it just is incredibly exciting to see what success they had this year and the potential we have moving forward. The last few years the girls team has had no one at WPIALs; this year we had two relays and Cally Edner swimming in individual events.

“The foundation our senior girls helped create for a new team environment is now being passed on to our incoming freshmen. It’s big. Big things are happening for this team and it will be fun to watch.”

Strock couldn’t agree more.

“It was nice to see two girls relays compete at WPIALs, especially with the hard qualifying time standards for 3A this year,” Strock said. “I was pleased to see six girls swimming this year after not having any compete last year. The 200 medley relay of Emma Burke, Cally Edner, Braleigh Anderson and Addy Gurganus had a great performance, as did the 200 free relay of Cally Edner, Julia Ratti, Kaitlyn Becker and Emma Burke.

“We are definitely headed in the right direction and I’m excited to see even more swims next year.”


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