Latrobe’s Miller, P-T’s Kalik set to face off at WCCA diving championships

Thursday, January 25, 2018 | 10:32 PM

Two of the finest divers in the WPIAL will square off Friday in the first day of competition at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association swimming and diving championships at Derry.

Latrobe senior Taylor Miller and Penn-Trafford junior Paige Kalik came in first and second in the girls 1-meter event at the 2017 county championship. Both went on to place in the top five at WPIALs.

“We are head and head,” said Miller, adding it should be an exciting start to a meet that ends Saturday with swimming.

Miller, an Ohio University recruit, and Kalik look forward to cleaning their dives.

“For me personally, winning or not (winning) at the WCCA championships isn't the most important factor,” Kalik said. “Instead, I want to set my standards high for hitting all of my dives, especially for the few new ones that I am putting in my dive list.”

In boys 1-meter, Penn-Trafford junior Logan Sherwin is a favorite.

“I hope to move up, but it definitely will not be an easy meet for me,” said Sherwin, who placed second last year.

In swimming, two returning boys champions are among top seeds.

Hempfield junior Gavin Mayo said he is faster in the 50-yard freestyle (21.80 seconds) than he was a year ago, when he helped the Spartans to the title.

Mayo also anchors the top-seeded 200 medley relay team (1 minute, 40.86 seconds) and 200 freestyle relay team (1:30.67).

Franklin Regional junior Patrick Cavanaugh, who won the 100 breaststroke last season, ranks first in the 200 individual medley (2:02.33).

“We are hoping for several individual titles, and hopefully we have a shot at both team titles,” Franklin Regional coach Vic Santoro.

Junior Abigail Ramey leads the defending champion Panthers girls squad.

Ramey is the top seed in the 200 individual medley (2:14.12) and as part of the 200 medley relay team (1:54.97).

Senior Michelle Lopes, who won the 50 and 100 freestyle last season, will compete. Lopes said she is sad it will be her final county meet.

Hempfield senior Emily Smith, the 2017 champion in the 500 freestyle, sits atop the 100 butterfly (1:00.71).

Mt. Pleasant sophomore Heather Gardner, the top seed in the 50 freestyle (24.69) and 100 breaststroke (1:07.70), hopes to make history. Gardner said by trimming her times, she can break a school record in the 50 freestyle and improve the one she holds in the 100 breaststroke.

Meet organizer Donna Harshell said the mark Kiski Area senior Josh Madzy has in the 100 backstroke (53.51) puts him in range of a meet record. Harshell said Belle Vernon freshman Ian Shahan, who is favored in the 100 freestyle (48 seconds), stands out among newcomers.

Penn-Trafford, the boys and girls runner-up last season, is poised for a sweep of the final two events. The Warriors rank first in the girls 400 freestyle relay (3:43.56) and boys 400 freestyle relay (3:22.48).

Freshman Ben Yant, the top seed in the boys 500 freestyle (5:04.61), paces the Warriors individually.

“We always look forward to the county meet,” Warriors coach Dave Babik said. “We are hoping to swim and dive very well there.”

Other top seeds are Madzy, boys 200 freestyle (1:47.86); Hempfield junior Zoey Wilson, girls 100 freestyle (54.06); Franklin Regional junior Laura DiNunzio, girls 500 freestyle (5:29.48); Latrobe senior Rylee Jackson, girls 100 backstroke (1:03.16); and Belle Vernon junior Robert Spekis, boys 100 breaststroke (1:01.40).

Franklin Regional is favored in the girls 200 freestyle relay (1:42.84).

Seventeen schools will compete. Friday's diving competition, an 11-dive format, will commence at 5 p.m.

Saturday's swimming championships will start at 10 a.m.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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