Carlynton girls send Kozy, 2 relays to state swimming meet; Chartiers Valley makes headway

Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 10:47 PM

Heading into the WPIAL Class AA swimming championships, the Carlynton girls wanted to finish in the top 10. Senior Katie Kozy said, more specifically, the Cougars wanted to finish ninth or better.

They did that, finishing ninth, and some of the swimmers got to extend their season.

Kozy led the way, finishing third in the 100 butterfly in a school-record time of 58.57 seconds to earn her first trip to the PIAA championships at Bucknell. She will have plenty of company. Joining Kozy will be Isabel Irwin, Natali Lutsiv and Sarah MacMurdo, who swam with Kozy on the 200 freestyle relay team that placed fifth in a school-record time of 1:42.99.

Kozy, Lutsiv, MacMurdo and Julie Carothers also earned a spot on the podium and at Bucknell by placing seventh in the 200 medley relay — with another school record, 1:55.51.

It is the first trip to states for all of them.

“The main goal was making states, and records were another thing we wanted to accomplish,” said Kozy, who went in to the PIAA meet seeded 15th in the 100 fly. “I think it will be a lot of fun being with the other girls. A little bit of company.”

Competing at states might well be a fun experience, but it also represents — no pun intended — uncharted waters for this group of Cougars. Kozy said, however, she and her teammates will try not to let themselves be overwhelmed by the experience.

“We’re just going in like it’s a normal meet, and we’re not putting too much pressure on it,” she said. “We don’t have too many expectations. I think I swim my best when I’m not going crazy thinking about what I have to do.”

Chartiers Valley will not have any competitors at the state meet, but the Colts made strides this season after dropping to Class AA. They also produced a WPIAL medalist, with sophomore Grace Janas placing sixth in the 500 free with a time of 5:30.24.

“I had ambitious goal: I wanted to win,” Janas said. “I went in seeded fifth, and I had just gotten my new suit and tapered for a couple weeks and I was working on pace times for going a 5:20.

“Even though I fell a little bit short … my goal was at least to get on the podium, and I was so proud of myself.”

Janas admitted to having a case of the nerves. It was, after all, her first trip to the WPIAL championships.

The anticipation built as she watched the other heats of the 500 free while waiting to finally get her turn.

“I am so geared to go fast, go fast. That’s how I was thinking,” she said. “During the race, I was like, ‘OK. I can’t see anybody anymore.’ Then I was like, ‘I can’t breathe anymore.’ At the time, I didn’t know what was happening. I thought my legs had stopped working.”

She finally was able to pull herself together and finish strong, swimming the last 200 yards in splits of 1:04 and 1:06. She eventually passed the competitors she had fallen behind during the anxious moments early in the race and earned her medal — much to the delight of her octogenarian grandmother, who was cheering from the front row.

Janas also swam the anchor leg of the 400 free relay team that shaved 13 seconds off its season-best time and finished just short of the podium (3:54.85) in 10th. She was joined by juniors Sydney Jacobs and Natalia Santilli and senior Christina Butler.

“We had a nice season,” coach John Nemeth said. “It was a better section for us to be in. I thought we were able to motivate the kids a lot better throughout the season.

“(Janas) was seeded fifth going into it, so we wanted her to, obviously, be top eight. I believe there’s still more. That meet is a learning experience for a first-time swimmer.”

Though Janas didn’t make the cut for states — only WPIAL champions earned automatic bids to the PIAA meet, while the rest of the field was determined by comparing times across the state — she is part of what looks like a bright future for the Colts.

Many of CV’s swimmers who took part in the WPIAL championships, including Janas, Jacobs and sophomore boys Erik Tagg and Chris Sherman, will be back. And Nemeth said he has a good group of freshmen coming in next season, plus a large contingent of junior-high swimmers to stock the rosters down the road.

“The next couple years, we should see a bigger group of people swimming for CV,” Nemeth said, “which is what we wanted all along.”

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