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Latrobe graduate Monica Sowinski receives award at Army | TribLIVE.com
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Latrobe graduate Monica Sowinski receives award at Army

Karen Kadilak Karen Kadilak
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West Point - The U.S. Military Academy
Latrobe grad Monica Sowinski is a swimmer for Army.
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Latrobe grad Monica Sowinski is a swimmer for Army.

Latrobe graduate and Army West Point swimmer Monica Sowinski earned a prestigious honor recently.

Sowinski, a senior, was the recipient of the Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award.

The annual award is presented to the athlete who best exemplifies the leadership qualities of Moore, the co-author of the book “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young” about the exploits of his battalion in the Battle of la Drang Valley during the Vietnam War.

The book was made into a 2002 film in which Mel Gibson portrayed Moore.

“I was humbled to receive this award,” Sowinski said. “General Moore was an amazing leader, and his story is truly an inspiration to me.

“To receive an award in his honor has been an amazing opportunity to learn more about his story. I hope to use these leadership lessons in my career as an officer.”

Sowinski, a kinesiology major who has made the Patriot League honor roll three times, will head to Fort Rucker, Ala., after graduating in May to learn to fly helicopters.

Sowinski, the 2014 WPIAL Class AAA champion in the 200-yard freestyle and a two-time second-team All-Patriot League selection, said she wants to enjoy her last season of competitive swimming.

“It had been such a journey the past three years,” she said. “I am blessed to have one more year with my amazing team and coaches.

“I am excited to help us win in whatever ways I can. I want to cap my college career by swimming fast.”

Army West Point coach Mickey Wender said Sowinski represents the Black Knights, who are 2-1 this season, like a professional.

“She races hard and overcomes adversity,” Wender said. “She leads the younger members of our team with heart and holds them accountable to a high standard.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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