USC boys take bronze in PIAA swimming

Published Mar 19, 2014 at 12:21 am (Updated Mar 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm)

Bronze wasn’t exactly the color of the medal Upper St. Clair preferred during the PIAA Class AAA boys’ swimming and diving championships at Bucknell University, but the Panthers considered their third-place finish in the team standings just as rewarding as gold.

La Salle College, a private school just outside of Philadelphia, won the team title with a 280 score, while North Allegheny, the WPIAL District 7 champion, took the runner-up trophy with 202 points. The Panthers racked up 192.5 points and several state records.

“Our goal was to win the meet,” explained USC head coach Dave Schraven. “LaSalle simply had too much firepower.

“It’s hard for a community of 15,000 to compete with a private school that enrolls students from a five million metropolitan population. But we are okay with being the second highest-scoring public school in the state.

“We had a great meet,” he added

Ryan Dudzinski had a sensational meet. The junior shattered the state record in winning the 100-yard butterfly. He won the fly in 47.44, smashing the PIAA mark by .24 seconds. Andrew Kosic from West Chester Henderson set the record in 2011. Dudzinski’s time also was .11 off the pool record of 47.33 at the Kinney Natatorium. The National Federation of High School’s record is 45.52 held by Joseph Schooling from Florida.

Dudzinski settled for second in the 100-yard backstroke. His time of 46.88 was a scant .23 off the winning pace set by Michael Thomas from Hatboro-Horsham and was a little over a second slower than the state record of 45.49 set by David Nolan of Hershey in 2011.

Schraven called Dudzinski’s efforts “phenomenal” and added that the backstroke was the “most impressive individual event race of the competition.”

Since Thomas is also a junior, Schraven anticipates he and Dudzinski will be going at it again next year.

USC went at both LaSalle and NA with three WPIAL record-breaking relays. The Panthers did not fail to set new state standards. However, the Explorers and the Tigers were also on top of their game.

USC broke the PIAA mark in the 200-yard medley relay. Dudzinski led off the unit. Tomos Williams, Fynn Minuth and Nathan Novak followed and finished in 1:31.02. While the time broke the state record, the Panthers settled for the bronze medal as La Salle won the event in 1:30.26 and NA swam a silver-medal time of 1:30.86.

The Panthers placed second in the 200 free relay. Their time of 1:23.35 was just off the winning pace of 1:23.12 recorded by La Salle. Plus, it was also good enough for a new school record. Alex Hardwick anchored the unit, which included Williams, Patrick Lersch and Novak.

Though the Panthers did not bring home a team trophy, they went out with flair and a nod to the future, capturing the gold in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. The foursome of Hardwick, Lersch, Dudzinski and Fynn Minuth shaved more than three seconds off its preliminary time and finished first in 3:03.04. All but Hardwick, a senior who will swim at Emory University next year, are juniors.

“We had a great showing in the relays,” Schraven said. “The highlight of the meet for us may have been the 400 free, because we prevented La Salle from sweeping the relays. It was a super exciting race that was decided by [Dudzinski’s] race-winning third turn on the last leg of the race.”

In individual freestyle action, Hardwick and Minuth secured sixth places in the 100 and 500 distances, respectively. Hardwick’s time of 45.40 was a new school record.

Additionally, Minuth finished eighth in the 200 IM, Williams took 10th in the 50 free and Jake Johnsen picked up six points for the Panthers with 11th in the 100 fly.

USC girls 10th

In the girls’ Class AAA team competition, Upper St. Clair finished 10th overall.

The 200 free relay team of Victoria Shaffer, Carly Olsakovsky, Carolyn Novak and Lindsey Choate secured sixth place. The medley unit of Maeve Lersch, Yoos, Choate and Olsakovsky won its consolation heat and took ninth overall. Choate, Olsakovsky, Yoos and Shaffer combined for 11th place in the 400 free relay.

Individually, Shaffer finished 14th in the 100 free while, Yoos was 12th in the breaststroke.

All the Lady Panthers return next season as none are seniors.

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