Gardner has Mt. Pleasant swimmers eyeing WPIALs

Monday, January 8, 2018 | 4:15 PM

The Mt. Pleasant girls swimming team (5-0) is off to a superb start with its best swimmer in decades leading the charge.

Sophomore Heather Gardner ranks first among individual qualifiers for the WPIAL Class AA championship meet in March in the 50-yard freestyle (24.71 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:07.7).

She placed second in both events last season.

Mt. Pleasant coach Sandra Felice said Gardner reminds her of former Viking Amy Cole, who she said earned two WPIAL titles in the 1991-92 season.

“(Gardner) has the natural talent, good stroke technique and good work ethic that Amy had,” Felice said. “Her times are within tenths of a second to a couple of the records that Amy still holds.

“We are all (rooting) for Heather to (achieve) those goals.”

Gardner said she aims to win WPIAL crowns and place in the top three in both her events at states.

Gardner came in 11th in the 50 freestyle and tied for 12th in the 100 breaststroke at the PIAA championship last season.

“I missed both of my turns,” Gardner said.

“This year, I know what to expect.”

Senior Lynn Gardner — Heather Gardner's sister — and sophomore Cally Hixson also have qualified for the WPIAL championship.

The Vikings downed Valley in their Section 4-AA opening meet Thursday.

They placed 12th at the WPIAL championship meet a year ago.

On the boys side, the Vikings (3-2, 1-0) have to replace Cole Dombrosky, a WPIAL medalist in the 200 freestyle.

Dombrosky is a freshman on the Penn State Behrend team.

Sophomores Dalton Swartz and Brad Paraska and junior Steven Painter qualified for the WPIAL championship individually.

Swartz said he is eyeing Dombrosky's school record in the 200 freestyle.

The Vikings finished 14th at the WPIAL championship last season.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.


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