Mt. Pleasant, Franklin Regional swimmers shine at WCCA championships

Saturday, January 27, 2024 | 7:31 PM

Another year, another captivating performance from the Mt. Pleasant girls swim team at the WCCA championships.

The Vikings won 12 of 22 events to claim the 2A trophy in the boys and girls competitions Saturday at Derry. Franklin Regional won both 3A titles.

“Everyone knew this season was going to be different after we lost the seniors we did from last year, but I think everyone’s been doing amazing this season and putting their best foot forward,” junior Lily King said.

Along with sweeping the team competition, three Vikings swimmers broke WCCA records.

King broke her record from last year (1 minute, 49.76 seconds) in the 200 freestyle by two seconds, posting a 1:48.02. Then she eclipsed her record in the 50 free with a 22.74.

“I always like to keep an eye out for my competition because I know that anything can happen and anyone can come in and do something crazy,” King said. “I also know the girls I’m racing against and what they can do. I was hoping for the results I got, but nothing’s guaranteed.”

King finished first in the 200 free, the 50 free and was the anchor of the Vikings’ first-place finishes in the 400 free relay (3:37.43) and the 200 medley relay (1:48.38)

Junior Kiersten O’Connor got in on the record-breaking party by breaking a 14-year-old record in the 100 back. She swam a 56.03, which bested the previous record holder, Latrobe’s Anna Gibas, by more than a full second (57.12).

Latrobe made up for the fallen record, as junior Lauren Bell broke a mark that stood for 16 years. Bell posted a time of 56.46 in the 100 butterfly, besting Greensburg Central Catholic standout Andrea Marko’s time of 56.84.

“My coach told me the record before I climbed the block and I said, ‘Awesome let’s do it!’ It was a last-minute thing, and I’m glad I got it,” Bell said.

Bell’s teammate, junior Maggie Elder, took first in the 200 IM (2:15.31), and the Lady Wildcats topped the podium in the 200 free relay (1:39.85).

“The girls have been working really hard at practice, and it shows,” Bell said. “Our coach told us to go out and show them what we could do and we did it.”

Kiski Area senior Eliza Miller took home gold for the 500 free (5:04.80) and the 100 breaststroke (1:06.81)

In the girls overall team competition, Franklin Regional finished first with 298 points in Class 3A. Latrobe was second with 286.50 and Mt. Pleasant, finished third with 269 points.

In the boys overall team competition, Franklin Regional was the top squad again with 335 points and picked up the 3A trophy. Mt. Pleasant finished second with 282 points and Penn-Trafford finished third with 268 points.

On the Mt. Pleasant boys side, junior David Mutter broke two records in the 200 free (1:41.30) and 500 free (4:39.24). Mutter bested each record by a tenth of a second.

“I did not know what the record was for the 500,” Mutter said. “I thought it was a 4:37.00, so I didn’t think I broke it until I got out of the water and everyone was cheering and my teammates told me I beat it.”

Mutter was the final leg of the Vikings 200 medley relay (1:36.11) and 400 free relay (3:14.72) that won gold. Junior Joseph Gardner gave Mt. Pleasant two more goal medals, winning the 200 IM (1:54.84) and 100 breast (56.94).

Other top individual finishers for the boys included Latrobe sophomore Charlie Thomson in the 50 free (22.13), Franklin Regional senior Holden Thomas in the 100 fly (50.90) and Penn-Trafford senior Patton Graziano in the 100 free (46.73) and the 100 back (50.24).

Franklin Regional’s quartet of Thomas, seniors Dylan Tometsko and Benjamin Holm as well as junior Eric Lingg took first in the 200 free relay (1:28.23).

In all, 194 individual swim times and 43 relay times were improved and seven records were toppled.

“It’s fun to swim this event because even though we all go to different schools, we all know each other from swimming against each other since we were young,” Bell said. “It’s just fun to compete against one another and see how we’ve all improved.”

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