Kiski Area freshmen impress at Westmoreland County swimming championships

Saturday, January 25, 2020 | 11:01 PM

A pair of Kiski Area freshmen were excited to see where they stood compared to the top swimmers in Westmoreland County.

Parker Sterlitz and Levi Hansen, who were the top two seeds in the boys 500 freestyle, finally got the experience they were looking for as they competed in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association swimming and diving championships on Saturday at Derry.

Sterlitz and Hansen started in front, but Penn-Trafford’s Austin Prokopec’s record-setting performance was too much. Hansen and Sterlitz finished third and fourth, respectively, with times of 4 minutes, 49.89 seconds and 4:51.55.

“I was ready for it. It was hard for me. We were all tied, and I was trying to go for it,” Hansen said.

Prokopec, a junior, finished with a time of 4:49.22, which broke a 6-year-old record set by Nick Whiteman in 2014 (4:51.37). Franklin Regional senior Ryan McFadden finished second with a time of 4:49.67.

“Austin is a great kid and a really good swimmer. He did what he wanted to do. I’m happy for him that was a good swim and for everyone that was a good swim,” Sterlitz said.

Even though Sterlitz was disappointed with his performance in the 500 free, he bounced back with a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke. Sterlitz finished at 56.09 behind Hempfield junior Will Falcon (54.92) and McFadden (55.92).

“I’m happy with the backstroke,” Sterlitz said. “I got a (personal) best time. In the 500, I got a best high school time as well. I would’ve liked to do a little bit better, but there’s nothing I can do about that. We will see what happens at WPIALs.”

Hansen finished fourth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:47.76. Norwin senior Ethan Tulenko set the record in the race with a time of 1:41.81. Prokopec (1:45.66) and Franklin Regional’s Andrew Harris (1:47.24) finished ahead of Hansen.

Kiski Area sophomore Jack Coleman placed in the top six in a pair of individual events, finishing fourth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.15. Belle Vernon junior Ian Shahan broke the record in the event with a time of 50.37. Franklin Regional senior Elias Holm (53.30) and Penn-Trafford senior Nick Graziano (53.80) finished ahead of Coleman.

Coleman finished fifth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:03.83. The event was won by Norwin’s Phong Tran (2:00.34).

“We haven’t tapered yet,” Coleman said. “I thought I did good compared to my WPIAL time from last year.”

The trio of Cavaliers teamed up with freshman Glenn Fowkes to finish fifth in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.

In the 200 medley relay, Kiski Area finished with a time of 1:46.38. The event was won by Norwin (1:40.20). In the 400 freestyle relay, which was won by Franklin Regional (3:16.58), Kiski Area finished with a time of 3:31.13.

“Three of us are freshmen and one of us is a sophomore. To see us do that is pretty crazy. I think the future is good for us,” Sterlitz said.

With their performance, Kiski Area finished sixth in Class AAA with 161 points. Franklin Regional won Class AAA with 393.50, and Penn-Trafford finished second with 264 points.

Burrell finished fifth in Class AA with 22 points. Belle Vernon captured its third straight Class AA title with 183 points, and Mt. Pleasant finished second with 139 points.

On the girls side, Burrell freshman Payton O’Toole reached the podium in a pair of races. She finished fifth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:02.30. Norwin’s Jordan Kutchak won the race with a time of 1:57.65, but O’Toole finished neck-and-neck with fourth-place finisher Amanda Graves (2:02.09) of Penn-Trafford.

O’Toole finished sixth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:28.11, which was just behind fifth-pace finisher Vicky Heffelfinger (5:26.04) of Norwin. Franklin Regional’s Madelyn Myers won the race (5:13.61).

Burrell finished fourth in Class AA with 88 points, and Valley finished fifth in Class AA with 16 points. Mt. Pleasant won Class AA for the second year in a row, finishing with 254 points, well ahead of runner-up Greensburg Salem (105 points).

Kiski Area finished seventh in Class AAA with 58 points. Hempfield captured the Class AAA title with 355 points, just ahead of Franklin Regional’s 330.

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