Kiski Area athletes swim to glory at PIAA meet
Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 10:13 PM
Parker Sterlitz finished outside the top 16 in last year’s Class 3A boys 500-yard freestyle at the PIAA swim championships at Bucknell.
What a difference a year makes.
Sterlitz, the WPIAL Class 2A champion in the 500 and the No. 1 seed after a successful preliminary swim Thursday morning, captured PIAA gold in the evening with a winning time of 4 minutes, 30.40 seconds.
“It is an absolutely amazing feeling,” said Sterlitz, who came to the state meet the No. 1 seed in the 500 after a WPIAL swim of 4:32.20.
“I’ve been working all year for this. I finished in the 20s (in the Class 3A) meet last year, so I had some work to do. I was really disappointed after this meet last year. Instead of just giving up, I decided to just train harder and keep working. Hard work does pay off, and I can confirm that it does. I want to thank my teammates, my parents, and all glory to God. I am so thankful for this moment. It was awesome.”
Kiski Area took over the 500 championship final as senior Levi Hansen swam to seventh (4:47.70) and junior Landon Seman placed eighth (4:47.99).
“Levi, Landon and I are the guys who are only doing distance training,” Sterlitz said. “That’s what we do. We train for the 500. We’ve done it all year, and we’re right at the same place. To all get in the ‘A’ final at states, it is amazing.”
The Kiski Area boys 400 free relay of Sterlitz, Hansen, Seman and sophomore Justin Tucker closed out the meet with a runner-up finish in a time of 3:10.54, just a half second elevated from their WPIAL-record swim of 3:10.23 but more than a second faster than their time from the preliminaries.
“Obviously, our thought was gold,” Seman said. “But to get second at a big state meet like this after winning WPIALs and setting a record there, it’s been just an amazing run for this relay. It’s just a big accomplishment. I am so happy to be here and be a part of it.”
The 34 points the Cavaliers received for finishing second in the 400 relay placed them fourth overall in the final team standings with 136 points, just five points away from Indiana in third (141).
Kiski Area junior Eliza Miller swam the girls 100 breaststroke last year on the second day of the PIAA championships.
She switched things up to the 500 freestyle at the start of this season, and she carried that through a WPIAL title in the event earlier this month at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
On Thursday, Miller brought home some more hardware in the 500 as she placed third overall with a time of 5:00.88 seconds.
“For just starting this year, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come in such a short time,” Miller said. “I started out with a 5:12 and worked hard to drop time all season.”
Miller said she had a goal for WPIALs and states to go under 5 minutes.
“I was excited to look up and see how fast I went, but I really wanted to break that five-minute mark,” she said. “I was a little disappointed, but I can’t be too disappointed since I got third. I’ll be able to come back next year to work to go even faster.”
Miller added bronze in the 500 to the fifth-place finish she recorded Wednesday in the 200 individual medley.
She swam eight times over the two days:four preliminaries and four relays. She also competed as part of the 200 medley relay with sophomores Paige Kunkle and Amara Sterlitz and junior Abigail King, which kicked off the meet with a eighth-place medal.
That same quartet came back Thursday and closed its meet with a seventh-place finish (3:39.66) in the 400 free relay.
The 24 team points earned by the relay moved the team from 11th to seventh in the final team standings with 89 points.
Mt. Pleasant, with 218.50 points on the strength of five state champions and other depth performances, ran away with the team title. Northgate and Quaker Valley finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“That (400 free) relay was a great way to end the meet, a great way to end the day and with just four swimmers earning that many points, I couldn’t be any prouder,” Kiski Area coach Ryan Berberich said.
“Four swimmers, and we were able to get seventh in the state. They all swam incredibly both days.”
King added an individual 10th-place finish Thursday in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.77).
Knoch sophomore Giona Lavorini was seeded third for the championship heat of the 100 breaststroke after posting a preliminary time of 1:03.70 earlier Thursday.
That is where she remained after her finals swim. Lavorini recorded a time of 1:03.12 to secure the bronze medal behind state champion Peyton Scott, a sophomore from Indiana (1:02.42), and Sue Bin Park, a junior from District 1’s Lower Moreland (1:03.04).
Lavorini’s 1:03.12 this year was two seconds better than her sixth-place time from last year.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Freeport, Kiski Area
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