Girls Swimming & Diving: 2017 West Season Recap

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

If there was any doubt who the fastest sprinter in PIAA Class 2A was this season, there is no doubt after the 2016-17 season. Ellwood City senior Taylor Petrak went to the PIAA championships this year at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium and did what she has been doing for most of her career -- winning sprints. Petrak swept her two individual events, the 50 and 100 freestyle. Petrak and the PIAA Class 2A 50 freestyle have some history together. She won gold in the event as a sophomore in 2015 but settled for silver as a junior in 2016 as she was edged out by Geibel's Emily Zimcosky. This year the Ohio State recruit traveled to Bucknell seeking to avenge that defeat and return to the top of the podium. She did just that. Petrak shaved 0.49 seconds of her seed time to finish in 22.94 out of lane four and capture PIAA gold in the event for a second time. She also came within 0.03 seconds off the 2013 state record still held by Villa Maria Academy's Sara Hichens. Petrak managed a margin of victory of 0.85 seconds in the shortest race of the event. She beat out Emma Wilson of Grove City. The following day Petrak completed the sprint sweep. She won the 100 freestyle by 1.11 seconds over WPIAL rival, Northgate senior Karen Siddoway. Petrak brings back two state gold medals to her high school that does not even have a swim team. Petrak swam as an independent swimmer over her four years of high school.

The type of success Petrak enjoyed as an independent swimmer from a school without a program is rare, but not unheard of in the area. Lindsey Vrooman from nearby Ambridge was one of the best swimmers to come out of Western Pennsylvania this decade. Vrooman won WPIAL and state titles as an individual swimmer. Vrooman, like Petrak is planning at Ohio State, went on to compete in the Big Ten Conference for Indiana University.

In Class 3A, Moon Area hung with the heavyweights and placed eighth in the WPIAL team standings finishing with 97 total points. Sophomore Leah Baker led the way for the Tigers. She won WPIAL bronze in the 100 breaststroke and teamed with Jennifer DiVito, Abby Beatty and Emma Connors to take sixth in the 200 medley relay and get out to states. The foursome also took seventh in the 200 freestyle relay.

In Class 2A, Blackhawk finished fifth in the WPIAL team standings with 132 points and Hopewell cracked the top 10 with 86 points. Riverside senior Erica King took WPIAL silver in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Off the diving board, top seed Ava Talorico of Beaver Area held serve and won the WPIAL Class 2A diving title. The sophomore finished with 392.35 points.