Franklin Regional boys swimmers win 27th section title, turn focus to WPIALs

Saturday, February 18, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The Franklin Regional boys swimming team captured its 27th section title with a victory against Latrobe on Feb. 9.

Now the boys turn their focus to the WPIAL individual swimming and diving championships. The diving portion is Feb. 25 at North Allegheny. The swimming side is March 2-3 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Franklin Regional currently has 12 swimmers and three divers who have qualified for WPIALs.

The Panthers played host to Pine-Richland on Feb. 16 and coach Vic Santoro hopes more swimmers can earn a trip on the bus to WPIALs.

“The season has gone well,” Santoro said. “I’m thrilled. I wish the girls could have won the section. They were close in their meet against Latrobe.”

The divers who have qualified are Kate Lowe, Gino Piraino and Mac Miller.

The swimmers include Aiden Bunker, Holden Thomas, Ben Holm, Maggie Hull, Eric Lingg, Amanda McFaden, Amelia Oates, Jason Tosh, Natalie Eiben, Paityn Blakley, Joe Thomas and Ally Hilty.

Bunker has qualified in eight individual events. The senior plans to pick a couple of events for WPIALs.

“I want to become an All-American again,” Bunker said. “Being able to qualify in every event shows you’re an all-around swimmer.”

Bunker plans to swim at Villanova next year.

Thomas was trying to qualify in every event against Pine-Richland. He said hard work should pay dividends for him.

“I just want to qualify in every event too,” Thomas said.

Junior Ben Holm needed one more event to qualify for all eight individual events.

All three have their sights set on WPIAL and PIAA titles. They are also vying for the Grand Slam Award that Santoro gives at the end of the season.

“I give it to the top swimmer,” Santoro said. “This is the first time that we might have three in one season. I’ve never had that before.”

It’s been a while since Franklin Regional had a state champion. Diver Samantha Pickens was the last champ when she became a four-time winner in 2010.

The last swimmer to win a title was Kathy Nickel in the 500 freestyle in 1983.

Three members of the WPIAL 200 medley relay team of Bunker, Thomas and Jason Tosh return. Owen Holm, who is swimming at John Carroll, is replaced by his brother Ben.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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