Mt. Pleasant swimmers gearing up for medal haul at PIAA championships

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023 | 3:35 PM


Mt. Pleasant sophomore Lily King reigned supreme at the WPIAL swimming championships March 2 and 3 as a strong contingent of Westmoreland County and Alle-Kiski Valley Class 2A and Class 3A competitors made their marks at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Now, they hope to do the same at the PIAA championships Wednesday through Saturday at Bucknell.

It was a record-setting day at WPIALs for King and also a possible foreshadowing of states. She is the top seed for the 100- and 200-yard freestyle and is part of the top-seeded Vikings girls 200 free and 400 free relays for the Class 2A state meet.

“We’ve all been getting each other pumped up,” King said. “In practice, it’s been about working on the finer details, making sure everything is down to a point and where it’s supposed to be. We’re all just ready to get down to Bucknell and swim fast.”

The 100 free Thursday is expected to be one of special interest overall as King swam to a time of 48.78 seconds at WPIALs, crushing her own WPIAL record set last year (50.03). She also was faster than the current Class 2A (49.57) and 3A (49.01) state records, set 10 and 12 years ago, respectively.

“(The fastest time in history) has definitely been on my mind,” said King, the defending PIAA champ in the 100 who also captured the 50 crown in her PIAA debut last year.

“That is a goal. I just want to better my times. I am feeling comfortable and confident going in because I’ve swum at that pool before, and I know what to expect with the atmosphere.”

King is part of a Mt. Pleasant contingent that owns seven Class 2A No. 1 seeds.

“Everyone is healthy, and they are all right on target,” Mt. Pleasant coach Sandy Felice said. “They are pumped.”

Sophomore Kiersten O’Connor is the top seed in the 50 free (23.76) and is fourth in the 100 backstroke. All three Vikings WPIAL-champion girls relays — the 200 medley relay (O’Connor and seniors SaraJo Gardner, McKenna Mizikar and Reegan Brown), the 200 free relay (King, Gardner, O’Connor and senior Trinity Graft) and the 400 free relay (Brown, Mizikar, Graft and King) — will swim in the top lane of the final heat.

On the boys’ side, Mt. Pleasant sophomore Joseph Gardner is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke after winning WPIALs with a time of 55.81. He was second at states last year.

“He has his time and place goal of getting that state title,” Felice said.

Gardner’s focus first will be with the 200 medley relay, which swims on Day 1 on Wednesday as the No. 3 seed (1:36.48). The team of Gardner, junior Logan Snively, sophomore David Mutter and senior Brendan Korpiel took second to North Catholic at WPIALs.

Mutter is the third seed for the 100 butterfly (49.57).

Class 2A kicks everything off Wednesday and Thursday, followed by Class 3A Friday and Saturday.

Morning preliminary swims all four days will determine the top 16 for the consolation and championship finals that evening.

The same event schedule for WPIALs is followed at states.

Diving championship competitions will be in the afternoon all four days between the prelims and the finals.

Senior Parker Sterlitz helped Kiski Area capture the boys program’s first WPIAL team title He won the WPIAL 2A 500 free (4:32.20) and is the No. 1 seed for his Thursday swim.

Sterlitz also is part of the Cavaliers 400 free relay with sophomore Justin Tucker, junior Landon Seman and senior Levi Hansen, which is the top seed at states after posting a WPIAL-record time of 3:10.23.

“We’re all super excited and know we all can drop time in the relay and all of our other events,” Sterlitz said.

“The goal is to win that relay, and we have a ton of confidence coming off WPIALs. With states only a week and a half after WPIALs, there’s not a ton of training, but we put in as much good work as we could and we’re pretty hyped for what we can do.”

Southmoreland senior Henry Miller hopes to make waves again as the top seed in the 50 free (20.18) and 100 butterfly (48.87). Like WPIALs, those events are back-to-back on Day 1.

Miller is the defending PIAA Class 2A champ in the 100 fly, and he was third last year in the 100 breast.

Those garnering second or third seeds for states include Fox Chapel senior Sophie Shao, the second seed in the Class 3A 100 butterfly (53.98) and third seed in the 200 IM (2:02.85) after winning both events at WPIALs.

The Foxes 200 medley relay of Shao, seniors Talia Bugel and Payton O’Toole, and sophomore Sarah Pasquella, finished runner-up to North Allegheny at WPIALs, and they are the second seed to the Tigers at states.

The same four are the No. 2 seed in the 400 free relay (3:28.06) after capturing the WPIAL title.

Kiski Area junior Eliza Miller hopes to challenge for PIAA gold in the 200 IM as the No. 3 seed (2:05.45). She also is seeded fourth in the 500 free (5:09.17).

“The game plan is to stay mentally in the game this late in the season,” said Miller, who heads to states off her WPIAL 500 title and her runner-up finish in the 200 IM. “Staying relaxed and calm is important at a meet like states where it can get pretty crazy.

“It is really exciting to be a top-five seed in both of my events and be able to match up against the best in the state.”

Freeport sophomore Kira Schrecongost hopes for a repeat of her Day 1 last year at Bucknell. She made a busy debut in 2022 as one of a select group to swim eight times in one day: four preliminary swims and four finals swims.

Schrecongost earned medals as part of the 200 medley relay (sixth) with fellow PIAA returnees, sophomore Isabella Barton and junior Caitlyn Brennon, and individually in the 200 IM (eighth) and 100 butterfly (seventh).

She also teamed with Barton and sophomore Danielle Parke on the 12th-place 200 free relay.

Schrecongost is seeded third in the 100 fly after a runner-up finish at WPIALs, and she is fourth in the 200 IM.

In all, 43 relays or individuals from A-K Valley and Westmoreland schools are seeded in medal contention (top eight).

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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