North Allegheny teams again sweep WPIAL swimming championships

Friday, March 2, 2018 | 6:18 PM

Another year, another pair of WPIAL Class AAA championships for the North Allegheny boys and girls swimming teams, and another plunge into Trees Pool for Tigers coach Patrick Wenzel.

For the North Allegheny girls, this season's title marks their 10th in a row as they racked up 327 points to outlast second-place Upper St. Clair (255) and third-place Mt. Lebanon (252). The latest title came in authoritative fashion, too, as the Tigers took home first place in three of five events during Day 2 competition.

“I would say winning that (400) relay at the end was definitely putting the exclamation point on what was, to me, an absolutely fantastic, passionate swim meet for my girls. I couldn't be more proud of them,” Wenzel said.

“This is 10 WPIAL titles in a row. To say that we have a whole decade worth of champions at North Allegheny, I couldn't be more proud.”

The NA boys earned their seventh consecutive WPIAL crown. The group's score of 440 points outpaced Upper St. Clair's 253 and Central Catholic's 217 in the team standings.

In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the day's final event, Rick Mihm, Josh Galecki, Joel Songer and Jack Wright combined to grab first place with a time of 3 minutes, 3.12 seconds, setting a new WPIAL championship record.

Mihm also took first place in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:28.89, while senior Andrew Zhang snagged first in the 100 backstroke (49.28).

“I was very happy with my race,” Zhang said. “Our coach hasn't fully rested us yet, but I just swam my lifetime best in this event. So at states, I'm hoping to go even faster. I felt really strong today. I was a little nervous earlier because my legs were a little tired, but whenever I got in the water and started racing, I just felt really well.”

North Allegheny senior Mason Gonzalez also beat his own record from last season in the 100 freestyle (44.14), but finished second to Penn Hills' Kimani Gregory (44.09), who set the WPIAL record in the event.

For the NA girls, Molly Smyers secured first place in the 500 freestyle (4:58.32), and Torie Buerger won the 100 backstroke (55.80).

In the final event for the girls, the 400 freestyle relay, Smyers and Buerger teamed up with Kristine Mihm and Lila McGrath to grab first place, clocking in at 3:28.87.

In Class AA, the Shady Side Academy girls team extended its WPIAL championship winning streak to four in a row, thanks in part to a first-place finish by Sasha Arefyev, Jeanne Lauer, Heather Grune and Meredith Cummings in the 400 free relay (3:36.86). Shady Side Academy had a final team score of 287.

Indiana took second place with a score of 266.5 while Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic finished in third with 199.

The Class AA boys title went to Northgate, which racked up a score of 228 to bring home the first swimming title in school history. Quaker Valley placed second with 177 points, and Belle Vernon took third with 149.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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