LEWISBURG — For the final time in four decades, Wyoming Valley West exited the PIAA Swimming Championships natatorium under the guidance of longtime coach Frank Tribendis.
There were no medals around any of his swimmer’s necks but junior Maxim Kowalski was high spirits, as always.
“When I grow older, I still think that Frank will be alive,” Kowalski joked. “He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s the best coach in the valley. He’s the reason we’re here today. I give him all my credit – 99 percent, my parents would get 1 percent. He showed me how to swim and be here today.”
Tribendis completes his 37-year coaching career with a 22 boys and 25 girls District 2 championships. The Pennsylvania Swimming Hall of Fame recipient coached a pair of Class 3A gold medals from Corey Welch in 2001.
“It feels pretty good,” junior Josh Zawatski said. “It kind of feels like a blessing and a curse because at least you did the best for your coach but you also know it’s his time to go.”
The Wyoming Valley West boys finished in 31st overall with 11 points at this weekend’s PIAA Class 3A Swimming Championships at Bucknell University. This week’s inclement weather forced the championships to change to a timed finals format for the first time since 2007.
Wyoming Valley West’s best performance came with an 11th place showing in the 200 medley relay on Saturday night. The Spartans’ foursome of Kowalski, Zac Rosencrans, Logan Fluegel and Zawatski slashed 1.5 seconds off their seed time to clock in at a time of 1:35.49.
The Spartans took glee that their performance was quicker than their Wyoming Valley Conference rival Wyoming Seminary’s best time of the season. Wyoming Valley West registered a quarter-second faster than the time the Blue Knights would have won a Class 2A gold medal had it not been for a disqualification.
Zawatski had an equipment malfunction during his 100 free that cost him a chance at his first medal. The junior sprinter was forced to swim blind after his goggles began letting in water. He dropped 14 places from his seeding to 26th with a 47.83-second swim.
“I dove into the water, and they started filling up on me,” Zawatski said. “It’s kind of sad. I did less (that what) I expected but it was still a good race.”
Swimming in his final high school race, Fluegel came in 32nd place in 55.09 seconds in the 100 back. On Saturday, he crossed 32-hundredths off his seed to take 16th in 51.27 seconds in the 100 butterfly.
“Personally, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to (in the backstroke),” Fluegel said. “It’s OK because a loss is sometimes better than a win. You just have to learn from your mistakes and just do better.
On the girls’ side, the Spartans’ Alexis Ivanitch had the conference’s best individual performance in 27th place in the 100 breast.
PIAA Class 3A Girls Swimming Championships
Standings – 1. Avon Grove 228.5, 2. Upper Dublin 176.5, 3. Mt. Lebanon 140, 4. North Penn 133, 5. Conestoga 132
50 Free – 32. WVW Chelsea Mackiewicz 25.53
100 Back – 31. HAZ Marina O’Hara 1:03.94
100 Breast – 27. WVW Alexis Ivanitch 1:05.98
400 Free Relay – 21. HAZ (Amy Collins, Megan Llewellyn, Marina O’Hara, Hayley Sanko) 3:53.73
PIAA Class 3A Boys Swimming Championships
Standings – 1. North Allegheny 271, 2. La Salle College 183, 3. State College 156.5, 4. North Penn (Lansdale) 144, 5. Conestoga 135, 31. Wyoming Valley West 13
200 Medley Relay – 11. WVW (Maxim Kowalski, Zac Rosencrans, Logan Fluegel, Josh Zawatski) 1:35.49
200 IM – 31. HAZ Jorge Moncayo 2:02.79
50 Free – 25. WVW Josh Zawatski 21.73
100 Fly – 16. WVW Logan Fluegel 51.27; 26. HAZ Jorge Moncayo 52.1
100 Free – 26. WVW Josh Zawatski 47.83
100 Back – 32. WVW Logan Fluegel 55.09
100 Breast – 32. WVW Zac Rosencrans 1:02.21
400 Free Relay – 22. WVW (Josh Zawatski, Maxim Kowalski, Ivan Volynets, Logan Fluegel) 3:17.33
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