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Historic Moment: Swimmer Kristen Murslack Strikes Gold in State Tourney

Pine-Richland team brings home gold, silver and bronze medals.

One precious metal remained for the taking once the Pine-Richland High School girls swimmers and divers won at the state swimming and diving championships.

Sophomore claimed it, winning the Rams’ first-ever Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association [PIAA] Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium in Lewisburg.

Murslack won the Class AAA 100-yard breaststroke event in 1:02.12 – less than a second off the state record of 1:01.55.

“As soon as she hit that wall, it was a nice little slap on the water, her arm goes up in the air, a big smile as she looked up to her parents up in the crowd,” Pine-Richland coach Pete Barry said.

In Friday’s events, Pine-Richland junior won a Silver Medal in girls 1-meter diving with a 443.60 total, marking the highest finish ever by a Rams’ diver since the school moved up to Class AAA competition.

Murslack captured third in the girls 200 individual medley in 2:02.84 in the Friday events.

Barry said it was gratifying – and inspiring -- for everyone involved in Pine-Richland swimming and diving to see an athlete rewarded at the elite level for so much hard work.

“Nobody from Pine-Richland ever has taken a first place in the PIAA meet,” he said. “So we have a lot of new goals now. It was great. We’re looking forward to next year and getting more kids up here, and bringing back the ones we’ve had up here.

“It sets a lot of new goals next year,” he said. “It was a great year.”

Murslack, who did not qualify for the same event at states a year ago but was seeded No. 1 this time, came on strong in the final to win by an impressive 1.25 seconds, with splits of 29.61 and 32.51.

She earned her first PIAA Gold Medal. Kelly Carroll of Great Valley finished second in 1:03.37 and Kylie Reiter of Wilson was third in 1:04.48.

“Kristen had a start-to-finish lead the whole way,” Barry said. “She’s been seeded high up before, and she has had experience in a big-meet atmosphere. We reflected on that [before the race] and wanted to just let her step up on the block and swim her race. No matter how loud it gets, just do what we came to do, and that’s win.”

Also on Saturday, Pine-Richland sophomore diver finished on the awards podium by taking eighth in 1-meter diving with a 473.75 total. Despite making his first trip to states, Giordano improved his standing at each stage, going from 12th in the preliminaries to tenth in the semifinals to eighth overall when the heat was on.

“Dominic has really come a long way in a short time, and he’s impressing a lot of people,” Barry said.

Giordano’s friend and competitor, North Allegheny diver Connor Kuremsky, set the PIAA record by not only winning his fourth straight PIAA Gold Medal on the 1-meter board, but by piling up 599.50 points in an event in which three divers broke the state mark.

Rams sophomore placed 11th in the girls 500 freestyle and set a school record in 5:00.90 on Saturday in a speedy event won by Oakland Catholic’s Leah Smith in a state-record time of 4:39.96.

“Allison not only set a school record, but added team points, and that helped our girls in the team race,” Barry said.

Pine-Richland girls finished 16th with 59 points in the team competition won by Hershey with 269.5. The Rams’ overall finish placed them ahead of several powerhouse programs from the region including Upper St. Clair [18th], Hempfield [20th], Mount Lebanon [33rd], Bethel Park [36th] and Peters Township [46th].

The Rams boys team placed 36th with 11 points in a race Hershey ran away with by compiling 344 points.

“We’ve never had a better overall finish,” Barry said, adding up the scoresheet which included gold, silver and bronze medals, plus eighth- and 11th-place finishes. “This is our best year ever at the PIAA meet. That’s a real nice finish in triple-A.”

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