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Kiski Area’s Brzozowski ready to defend title at WCCA championships | TribLIVE.com
High School Swimming

Kiski Area’s Brzozowski ready to defend title at WCCA championships

Michael Love
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area’s Brendan Brzozowski works out in preparation for the WCCA tournament Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at Kiski Area High School.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area’s Meredith Pepka works out in preparation for the WCCA tournament Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at Kiski Area High School.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area’s Brendan Brzozowski works out in preparation for the WCCA tournament Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at Kiski Area High School.

Brendan Brzozowski is the defending Westmoreland County Coaches Association champion in the boys 100-yard butterfly.

The Kiski Area senior has his sights set on winning the event again Saturday at Derry Area High School, but he knows his quest won’t be an easy one.

“I know it’s going to be a good race because there are some new swimmers who are really fast, and others who were right on my tail last year are there, too,” Brzozowski said. “I am really excited for my races. I’ve been consistently dropping time. I hope to keep doing that (at the WCCA meet).”

The Cavaliers ruled the butterfly last year as Meredith Pepka, now a senior, captured the girls race. Both are seeded fourth in the event this year.

“I feel everyone in the race is out to get me, but I’m ready to give it my all,” Pepka said.

Burrell and Valley, both Class AA teams, again will be a part of the swimming festivities. The WCCA weekend begins Friday evening with the diving portion of the championships, but the Cavaliers, Bucs and Vikings have no divers entered.

It is one of the few times this season where competitors from both classifications go up against each other.

Swimming is set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Derry. Each WCCA event features heats with a mix from Class AAA and AA, but separate team champions again will be crowned. Last year, the Franklin Regional girls and Penn-Trafford boys took home Class AAA team titles, while the Belle Vernon boys and Mt. Pleasant girls captured the Class AA championships.

“Our swimmers are facing triple-A teams and athletes they don’t normally see during the season,” Burrell coach Samantha Callen said. “It gives them some different and bigger competition and plenty of opportunity to drop time and pick up WPIAL cuts. It can give them a confidence boost to know they can go fast against some strong competition. Our swimmers like that, so I know they will come out ready.”

The seeds for each event are based on times produced at dual meets and other events from the start of the season through Jan. 17.

Kiski Area freshman Jack Coleman is seeded fourth in the boys 200 IM and sixth in the 100 back. He will team with Brzozowski, senior Dan Watt and freshman Landon Newell on the fourth-seeded 400 free relay.

“We have some fast kids in the freshman group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they do,” Kiski Area coach Lisa Pepka said.

Brzozowski owns a fifth seed in the 200 free, and Pepka is the seventh seed in the 50 free.

Other top-10 seeds for Kiski include the boys 200 free relay of Watt, senior Sam Shannon, junior Dean Fowkes and freshman Jacob Opaska (sixth); the girls 200 free relay of Pepka, senior Sophie Shannon, junior Martina Webb and freshman Megan Hastings (eighth); and Hastings in the 100 breast (10 th ).

“This is one of the first big meets like this of the season, and it’s always a good meet to get everyone excited and ready for WPIALs,” Meredith Pepka said. “There’s a lot more energy than just a dual meet.”

Burrell senior Hannah Pastor owns her team’s top individual seed with an eighth in the 100 back.

She will team with seniors Cecilia Caprino and Abby Horcicak and sophomore Claire Linderman on the seventh-seeded girls 400 free relay.

“WCCA is so competitive every year, especially going against the bigger triple-A schools,” said Pastor, who has qualified for WPIALs in the 100 back.

“Everyone really goes fast at this meet. It really gives you a good idea of where you are at this point in the season. It’s also exciting to see the younger swimmers and the freshman experience the meet for the first time. I just want them to have fun and swim well.”

Burrell’s girls 200 free relay has earned a qualifying cut for WPIALs, and the quartet of Caprino, senior Allyson Lindo and freshmen Carly Walton and Grace Giordano hopes to finish better Saturday than their 10 th seed.

The 200 medley relay of Pastor, Horcicak, Linderman and junior Danielle Fisher also is seeded 10 th .

Four WPIAL champions from 2018 are back to compete at WCCA: Belle Vernon’s Robert Spekis (AA boys 200 IM, 100 breast) and Ian Shahan (AA boys 100 back), Mt. Pleasant’s Heather Gardner (AA girls 50 free and 100 breast) and Penn-Trafford’s Paige Kalik (AAA girls diving).

Other teams with competitors either Friday or Saturday include Derry, Latrobe, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield, Kiski School, Norwin, Southmoreland and Yough.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.