Several records on shaky ground at WCCA swim meet

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 5:42 PM

At least three records seem destined to fall in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday and Saturday at Derry.

Norwin senior Ethan Tulenko is seeded first in the boys 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 42.97 seconds. His time is close to two seconds faster than the record set by Hempfield’s Zack Rulli in 2017 (1:44.28).

Belle Vernon junior Ian Shahan, the top seed in the 100 butterfly (48.83), is about three seconds ahead of Derry’s Zach Baum’s pace from 2017 (51.62).

Shahan (21.35) also is seeded first in the 50 freestyle.

“I am looking forward to competing in a new event, the 50 free, and defending last year’s 100 fly title,” said Shahan, the reigning WPIAL Class AA and PIAA champion in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. “I am focusing on winning both events to secure first-place points for the team.”

The Leopards are seeking their third straight Class AA title.

Tulenko, who plans to walk on at George Washington next season, is seeded second in the 50 freestyle (21.53). He placed sixth in the event in the 2018 WPIAL Class AAA championship, qualifying for states, before missing last season to compete for his USA Swimming club.

“My goals would be to win the 200 free and the 50 free and place top three for the relays,” he said. “(County is) a good meet leading up to WPIALs (in late February) to see how our training has been.”

On the girls side, Mt. Pleasant senior Heather Gardner (1:06.12) looks forward to bettering the meet standard she set in the 100 breaststroke last year (1:04.30).

A Liberty recruit, Gardner also is top seeded in the 100 freestyle (53.75). She is the two-time defending WPIAL Class AA champion in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke and was the PIAA runner-up in both last season.

Gardner said she hopes to set the meet record, as well as the school record, in the 100 free. Latrobe’s Madeleine Hoopes (52.52) has held the meet record since 2010.

Other top-seeded girls are Norwin junior Lizzie Smeltzer (200 freestyle, 1:59.44 and 500 freestyle, 5:16.36); Penn-Trafford senior Corina Paszek (200 individual medley, 2:15.13); Norwin sophomore Berna Zukina (50 freestyle, 24:43); Derry junior Ali Cowan (1-meter diving); Franklin Regional sophomore Annika Albright (100 butterfly, 1:00.75); and Hempfield sophomore Jordan Crupie (100 backstroke, 1:02.10).

In relays, Hempfield’s 200 medley (1:54.26) and 400 freestyle (3:50.66) teams are seeded first, as is Mt. Pleasant’s 200 freestyle team (1:42.06) anchored by Gardner.

Paszek, a Clarion recruit, said there is some pressure as a first seed.

“But as my dad says, ‘Pressure is a privilege,’” she said. “The county meet has always been one of my favorite meets.”

Among top-seeded boys are Norwin senior Phong Tran (200 IM, 2:01.20); Derry senior Jakob Riggle (1-meter diving); Penn-Trafford junior Ben Yant (100 freestyle,47.91); Kiski Area freshman Parker Sterlitz (500 freestyle, 4:52.57); Hempfield junior Will Falcon (100 backstroke, 56.29); and Franklin Regional senior Marshall Mao (100 breaststroke, 1:03.41).

In relays, Hempfield’s 200 medley (1:40.71), Norwin’s 200 freestyle (1:30.48, anchored by Tulenko) and Franklin Regional’s 400 freestyle (3:23.40) teams are tops.

Besides the Belle Vernon boys, Mt. Pleasant (Class AA girls), Franklin Regional (Class AAA girls) and Penn-Trafford (Class AAA boys) are defending champions.

The meet kicks off with diving at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by swimming at 10 a.m. Saturday. Sixteen schools will compete.

“Our kids are always excited to perform in the WCCA meet,” Penn-Trafford coach Dave Babik said. “We expect this will be a very fast meet, as usual.”

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