Expectations high for Mt. Pleasant swimmers entering WPIAL championships

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 | 9:29 PM

It has been a strong season for the boys and girls swim teams at Mt. Pleasant, as both squads captured Section 4-2A championships with 8-0 records.

The Vikings are one of several Westmoreland County swimming teams vying for WPIAL medals Thursday and Friday at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Class 3A teams take the pool in the morning session starting at 9:45 a.m., and Class 2A competition begins 3 p.m. The top eight swimmers and relay teams will receive medals.

Many eyes will be on the Mt. Pleasant girls team (12-1), which holds several of the top times in the district this season. While the WPIAL Class 2A title is a goal, several Vikings swimmers also have their eyes on qualifying for the PIAA championships.

“I think the girls are in a really good spot,” Mt. Pleasant coach Sandy Felice said. “I would like to see us take all three relays, and hopefully they can at least take the place they are seeded because they are all seeded very well.”

The Vikings swam away with the Westmoreland County Coaches Association meet in 2A on Jan. 29. Freshman Lily King set two individual records and was a part of two relay meet records.

King has the WPIAL’s top times in the 50-yard freestyle (23.17 seconds) and 100 freestyle (50.78) and 200 individual medley (2:07.75) in 2A. She also was second in the 200 free and fifth in the 100 fly.

Mt. Pleasant also has the top time in all three relays (200 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 freestyle).

King will be joined by juniors Reegan Brown, Trinity Graft and SaraJo Gardner in at least two of those events.

Brown will try to medal individually for the Vikings as she is seeded fifth in the 200 free and seventh in the 100 fly. Gardner, ranked fifth in the 100 backstroke, also has a chance for an individual medal. Graft is seeded sixth in the 100 freestyle.

The Vikings have been close in previous attempts at a team championship with top-three finishes in recent years, but the gold has eluded them.

“They’ve been working really hard. They’re year-round swimmers, very focused and driven,” Felice said. “They don’t sit out a set. They don’t miss an interval. It’s the best team I’ve ever had.”

While the boys also won the WCCA meet in Class 2A, their chances of a WPIAL medal rest on their ability to get some big swims.

“It’s hard to tell. I think our relays will do well, and we’ll get a few on to states,” Felice said. “I don’t think I have the depth or the top places to win. But they have faced good competition.”

The Vikings boys 400 free and 200 medley relay teams are seeded second, and the 200 free relay team is fourth.

Mt. Pleasant freshmen Joseph Gardner and David Mutter have the best chance to collect multiple medals. Gardner is second in the 100 breast and in the top six in the 50 and 100 free and 200 IM. He will swim two of those events. Mutter is in the top eight in three events with the 100 free his best time coming in third.

Also in Class 2A, Southmoreland junior Henry Miller has a top-six time in five individual events. He has the fastest 2A time in the district in the 100 fly at 51.43.

There will be a new WPIAL champion in this event as highly decorated Ian Shahan of Belle Vernon has graduated.

Miller also has the third-best time in the 100 breast and is the defending WPIAL champion.

The Belle Vernon girls have a chance to medal in all three relays.

The 200 free team is seeded fourth, the 400 free is seventh and the 200 IM is ninth.

Delaney Patterson will be a relay swimmer and has the ninth-fastest time in the 500 free.

Nick Reda will attempt to claim a medal for the Leopards in the 100 back and is seeded sixth.

Hempfield also had an impressive regular season, and the boys tied for the WCCA Class 3A title with Franklin Regional. The Spartans have several swimmers to watch at the WPIAL championships.

Sophomore Dominic Falcon will look to add to his four gold medals at the WCCA event. He is seeded third in the 50 free, just 0.13 seconds off the top time. Falcon will also have a chance to pick up medals in the relays as the Spartans are seeded second in the 200 free and third in the 200 medley.

Liam Randolph is a member of those relay teams and is No. 7 in the 100 breast.

Camryn Watters (100 back), Jordan Crupie (100 back) and Hannah Uhrinek (100 fly) are all ranked in the top 10 on the girls side.

Franklin Regional will send 14 swimmers to the Class 3A meet. Junior Paityn Blakley is seeded fourth in the breaststroke, and Natalie Eiben is seventh in the fly. On the boys side, junior Joseph Thomas is fourth in the breaststroke, junior Josh Tosh is fifth in the 50 free and senior Owen Holm is sixth in the 100 fly.

Penn-Trafford will be represented by sophomore Patton Graziano, who is seeded third in the backstroke and seventh in the 100 freestyle.

WPIAL swimming championships

What: WPIAL Class 2A and 3A swimming championships

When: Thursday and Friday

Times: Class 3A: 9:45 a.m. (both days); Class 2A: 3 p.m. (both days)

Where: Pitt’s Trees Pool

Events: Day 1: 200-yard medley relay, 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 free, 100 butterfly, 200 free relay; Day2: 100 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 400 free relay

Medals: Top eight finishers in each relay and individual event

PIAA Qualification: Automatic to WPIAL champions only

Masks: Required for all spectators

Tickets: $10 (Gate sale only)

Live stream: TribLive High School Sports Network

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