While the Mustangs were hosting the Uniontown basketball team, the Red Raiders entertained Laurel Highlands swimming team in a non-section meet Monday night with the visiting Mustangs eking out a 92-88 victory.
Laurel Highlands secured the victory with Connor Locke, Kole Friel, Dean Schiffbauer and Ian Hamilton touching the wall in 3:31.71 to win a very spirited 400 freestyle relay.
The Red Raiders’ Leyton Maust, Alex Eitner, Dalton Grimes and CJ Soltis gamely finished second in 3:35.81. Both times met the WPIAL qualifying standard.
Hamilton had a solid performance throughout the meet, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:54.54 and 100 freestyle in 51.96 seconds. Both were WPIAL qualifying times.
The freshman also swam the opening backstroke leg of the victorious 200 medley relay in a qualifying time of 1:54.8.
The regular season closes Saturday, so all times must be posted by the end of the week. Hamilton is satisfied with the progress he’s made as he looks to his first WPIAL meet.
“I say so,” replied Hamilton when asked if he’s happy with how the season has progressed. “My times definitely got better through the season.”
Though he’s qualified in multiple events, Hamilton will likely swim the 200 IM and backstroke in the district meet.
“I want to get a 56 (seconds) at WPIALs,” said Hamilton.
Joe Holp and Collin McManis spotted the Mustangs the early lead with a 1-2 finish in diving. Holp finished first with a WPIAL qualifying point total of 173.35. McManis was second with 157.85.
Friel (200 IM, 2:11.14, WPIAL; 100 breaststroke, 1:06.86, WPIAL) and Schiffbauer (500 freestyle, 5:44.99) also had first-place finishes for Laurel Highlands. Andy VanVerth hit the qualifying time in his second-place finish in the butterfly.
Uniontown’s Dalton Grimes finished second in the 200 IM with a qualifying time of 2:15.71 and was third in the 100 butterfly in 1:03.92, but looks to swimming the 100 and 200 freestyles in the district meet at the end of the month.
“I know my times aren’t that competitive, but I always try to do better than my personal goal. I want to do better and climb the list a little bit,” said Grimes. “I want to swim 1:56 in the 200 freestyle. I need good turns and finding the perfect race day.”
Andrea Ballacchino, CJ Soltis, Grimes and Eitner won the 200 freestyle relay in a qualifying time of 1:38.99.
Eitner (50 freestyle, 24.20), Soltis (100 butterfly, 58.50, WPIAL), and Ballacchino (100 backstroke, 1:07.15) had first-place finishes for Uniontown.
Eitner also hit the qualifying time in the 100 freestyle.
The Uniontown-Laurel Highlands swimming rivalry doesn’t quite have the tenacity of the basketball game.
“It’s a good time. They’re good friends. I like to compete against them. It’s fun,” said Hamilton.
“We’re a real fun group. It’s all fun and games, really. We swim on the same YMCA team,” Grimes said of the rivalry in the pool. “There’s some bragging rights. We haven’t won since 2006.”