In 2011 the Upper St. Clair boys brought a halt to the North Allegheny five-year WPIAL Class AAA team championship reign. Last season North Allegheny regained the crown outpointing the Panthers 308.5 to 261. This year it appears only Upper St. Clair has the depth and speed to challenge North Allegheny.
In a dual meet in December, the Tigers had their way with the Panthers winning six of the eight individual meets and two of the three relays. Yet dual meets are not necessarily a great indication of how a team might fare in a major invitational like the WPIAL championships.
After the results of the meet, North Allegheny coach Kirk “Corky” Semler said, “I still believe USC is a powerhouse and that they just weren’t up for it…as our kids were. We also scored a ton of points in diving which wont factor in nearly as much at WPIALs.”
Upper St. Clair did score individual wins against North Allegheny with junior Alex Hardwick in the 200-yard freestyle and with sophomore Ryan Dudzinski in the 100 backstroke. The duo of Hardwick and Dudzinski is a big reason why current Mt. Lebanon coach and former Upper St. Clair coach Tom Donati thinks his former team can give the Tigers a run.
“USC boys are pushing NA for WPIAL title,” Donati said after facing his former team in a dual meet in early December.
While Upper St. Clair did not win nearly as many events as North Allegheny in the dual meets, the Panthers still had a strong showing.
Dudzinski teamed up with sophomores Tomos Williams and Jake Johnsen and junior Nikhil Narayanan on a second-place 200 medley relay. Dudzinski also finished second in the 200 individual medley while Johnsen did the same in 100 butterfly and Williams in the 50 freestyle.
Hardwick took second in the 100 freestyle, sophomore Patrick Lersch took second in the 500 freestyle and Hardwick and Lersch teamed up with juniors Christian Kelly and Nathan Novak on a second-place 200 freestyle relay.