Kiski Area swimmers focused on top performances as WPIALs looms

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Sunday, February 14, 2021 | 2:35 PM


Last year as a freshman, Parker Sterlitz had a goal of joining classmate Levi Hansen on the medals podium for the Class AAA boys 500-yard freestyle at the WPIAL championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

However, the Kiski Area distance specialist fell two seconds short, placing 12th in 4 minutes, 47.58 seconds.

Undaunted, Sterlitz returned ready to make a sophomore jump and has put himself in position as one of the top 500 free contenders just three weeks before WPIALs.

“It was easier coming in from the jump this season based off of getting that experience last year,” said Sterlitz, who ranked second on the WPIAL 500 free performance list for boys Class AAA released Feb. 8.

“I am ready to go to WPIALs and see what I can do. I know there are some fast guys out there, including Levi. I have so much respect for Levi and what he can do in the water.”

Sterlitz recorded a season-best 4:44.55 in a hotly contested meet against Penn-Trafford on Jan. 28 and trails only Butler senior David Bocci (4:39.71), last year’s WPIAL 500 runner-up to North Allegheny graduate and Stanford freshman Rick Mihm.

In addition to his position in the 500, Sterlitz’s time is better than the automatic qualifying standard, which guarantees him a spot at WPIALs.

With concerns over covid-19 capacity limitations, the WPIAL on Jan. 12 came out with faster qualifying marks, making it more of a challenge to reach automatic qualification for WPIALs.

On Feb. 3, the WPIAL also set the number of entries to championships, scheduled for March 7, at 16 for each individual event and 12 for relays.

Sterlitz also finds himself in position to fare well in the 200 free. He swam a season-best 1:47.19 against Penn-Trafford, good for eighth on the performance list.

“I know what I am going after this year. We all do, and it’s definitely exciting,” Sterlitz said.

Hansen, who swam to a seventh-place medal (4:44.72) last year as a freshman and qualified for states, is back in 500 contention. He reached automatic-qualifier status for the 500 with a 4:46.08 last Thursday against Hempfield.

He also ranked 10th on the Feb. 8 performance lists in the 100 back (55.13) and 11th in the 200 free (1:47.64). He plans to swim the 200 and 500 frees at WPIALs.

“I hope I can improve my (500) place at WPIALs,” said Hansen, who also was 14th in the 200 free (1:46.48) at WPIALs last year. “There are a lot of fast guys coming back.”

Freshman Eliza Miller is gearing up for her first WPIAL championship meet after recording an automatic qualifying time in the girls 100 breaststroke (1:07.52) against Penn-Trafford.

“I feel I have done pretty well so far, considering all of the unusual circumstances with the season,” said Miller, who ran to a fifth-place finish at the Class AAA cross country championships and a trip to states in the fall.

“I feel my best swims are ahead of me. I just want to keep working on some small things with my swims to make sure I am ready.”

Miller also has an eye on challenging for the school record in the 100 breast owned by older sister Naomee, a freshman at Marshall, who set the record of 1:04.89 in 2017.

Junior boys co-captain Jack Coleman also hopes for an individual return to WPIALs. He ranks ninth in the boys 200 IM with a time of 2:00.47 set against Hempfield. That time is less than a second from the automatic standard of 1:59.70.

He also is 12th in the 100 fly with a 53.71 against Highlands last Tuesday. The automatic in the event is a 53.00.

“I feel pretty good right now,” Coleman said. “I am just glad we got the chance to swim this season. I am doing a lot better than I did last year. I just hope to keep up the pace for WPIALs.”

Freshman Abigail King has her sights set on a WPIAL spot in the girls 100 breast. She was 16th in the event on the Feb. 8 performance list with a season-best 1:10.13 against Penn-Trafford. The automatic time is a 1:08.50.

Sterlitz, Hansen and Coleman, along with freshman Landon Seman, are hoping to make a WPIAL boys relay impact.

The quartet was ranked eighth on the performance list for the 400 free relay with a season-best 3:22.15 against Penn-Trafford.

The team also is tracking the school record of 3:17.49.

“We’re really pushing ourselves,” Seman said. “We want that record. We are ready every time we swim it. I think we can get it at WPIALs.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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