Penn-Trafford underclassmen look forward to WPIAL championship meet

Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Penn-Trafford swimming coach Dave Babik knew this season would be challenging.

The Water Warriors boys and girls teams didn’t have the numbers this season, compared to some of the other Class 3A programs.

The boys finished 7-5 and the girls 6-6.

“We were pretty happy how the boys finished,” Babik said. “It may not what were used to, but the future is bright. We were also pleased with how hard the girls worked to finish 6-6.”

While the girls didn’t have anyone qualify for the WPIAL championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool on March 3 and 4, the boys had three underclassmen — junior Aiden Kelly and sophomores Patton Graziano and Conner Alexander — qualify in individual events.

Three others — Dante Barchiesi, Jake Nardozza and Gabe Yant — will be part of the three relay teams to qualify along with Kelly, Graziano and Alexander. Babik is not sure how the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays will look until the championship meet.

Graziano and Alexander will compete in both the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Graziano is seeded third in the backstroke with a school-record time of 51.49 seconds that he set at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association meet.

Graziano is seeded seventh in the 100 freestyle, and Alexander is seeded 11th in both.

Graziano also qualified in the 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 IM. Alexander also qualified for the 50 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, the 500 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and 200 IM.

Swimmers can compete in only four events (including relays) at the WPIAL meet. Both Graziano and Alexander will compete in two individual events and two relays.

Kelly did meet the WPIAL qualifying standard in the 100 breaststroke, but Babik said Pitt put a cap at 32 on how many swimmers could compete in each individual event.

“We choose those events for Patton and Conner because we felt it was their best events,” Babik said. “Both certainly have a chance to qualify for states. Our goal is to try to get the fastest times possible at WPIALs. With those two, we’re excited about the future and what it brings.”

For most of the regular season, swimmers and coaches alike waited to get word on both the location of and the number of qualifiers for the WPIAL championships.

Covid last year severely altered the normal operations, so many hoped things would return to a semblance of normalcy.

On Feb. 8, the WPIAL announced that, in fact, WPIALs would be returning to Pitt’s Trees Pool and the number of qualifiers would double in size from last year, from 16 to a maximum of 32 for each individual event and from 12 to 24 for each relay.

The top eight finishers in each individual and relay event earn WPIAL medals. WPIAL champions automatically qualify for the PIAA championship meet. The remaining PIAA-qualifying spots are filled with the fastest statewide district times.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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