Quaker Valley boys take 2nd at MAC swimming championships
By: Karen Kadilak
Monday, February 12, 2018 | 11:00 PM
After missing most of the season with a shoulder problem, Quaker Valley senior Ben Mastrorocco came back and went on a tear at the Midwestern Athletic Conference swimming championship meet Saturday at Moon.
Mastrorocco qualified in the 50-yard freestyle (23.93 seconds) and 100 backstroke (59.59) for the WPIAL Class AA championship that begins Feb. 23 with diving and ends the following week with swimming.
Quaker Valley coach Erin Cawley said it was the most exciting performance on a day filled with personal bests by her swimmers. Mastrorocco went his best in the 50 freestyle and was close to doing so in the 100 backstroke.
“I was very determined to make it to WPIALs,” Mastrorocco said. “We lost some really fast swimmers, so I wanted to work really hard to defend our WPIAL title.
“I trained so hard in the preseason and ended up giving myself tendinitis. I worked really hard at physical therapy, and though I couldn't use my arms, I kicked (at) every practice with the team.”
Junior Andres Hubsch was impressed by his teammate.
“Ben will definitely be a (contributor) in the big meets in both individual events and relays,” Hubsch said.
The Quakers are three-time defending WPIAL champions. They were PIAA champions in 2015.
Junior Kieran Ragoowansi added the 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 11.46 seconds) to his growing list of WPIAL qualifying cuts.
“Swimming at MACs really makes you realize the end of the season is close, and you need to start focusing on getting close to your personal-best times,” Ragoowansi said. “I needed to hit some times at MACs to give me better seeding at WPIALs.”
The 400 freestyle relay team of Ragoowansi, senior Devon Jones, Hubsch and senior Kevin Bergdoll (3:25.73) earned the Quakers' only gold medal.
Hubsch said the relay looks great.
“If the four of us can perform at a top level come WPIALs, I think we have a shot at winning the event,” he said.
Bergdoll (1:02.48) picked up a silver medal in the 100 breaststroke.
Freshman Simon Iwanonkiw (348.05 points) came in second in the 1-meter diving the day before.
The Quakers placed second to Moon in overall team scoring.
In girls swimming, the 200 medley relay team of sophomore Sophie Besterman, freshman Lydia Callaghan, senior Emiliana Arriaga and freshman Halle Wagner (2:04.76) punched its ticket to WPIALs, making it a clean sweep of Quaker boys and girls relay teams who will compete.
Wagner (2:09.76) also qualified in the 200 freestyle.
The Quakers placed sixth in team scoring.
“Being three weeks out from WPIALs, we are not tapered, so I feel pretty good about our team as a whole and am excited more girls get to attend WPIALs,” Besterman said.
The Quakers boys (7-0 in dual meets) and girls (5-2) will close the regular season with a Section 2-AA meet Thursday at home against Cornell.
“Moving forward, we will focus on tweaking our techniques, starts and turns,” Cawley said.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.
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