Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Latrobe Relay Is Ready to Roll

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Latrobe Relay Is Ready to Roll

Article excerpt

Madeleine Hoopes, Gina Defrancesco, Kayla Owens and Monica Sowinski made a lot of wake as Greater Latrobe's 400-yard freestyle relay team last winter.

The four came in fifth at the WPIAL championship meet, and eighth at the PIAA meet. Because the Latrobe girls keep their "race focus" on themselves, the Wildcats will be tough to beat this season.

At the WPIAL race, Latrobe's lane was in a fast heat with other tough teams such as fourth-place Mt. Lebanon and sixth-place Oakland Catholic. But the four girls explained that it didn't matter.

They said what really drives each swimmer is her desire to do her job. At the 2012 WPIAL meet, Owens swam first and Sowinski dived in second. Defrancesco swam the third leg of the race before Hoopes took the anchor leg.

Hoopes, a senior, anchored the race for Latrobe to finish in 3:32.94, thirteen-hundredths of a second behind Mt. Lebanon.

Owens, the relay's lead-off swimmer, recalled clearly the need for individual focus in the race. She explained that swimmers were churning all eight lanes of Pitt's Trees Pool that day. Too much concern about any lane besides her own would have hindered her performance.

"You can't take chances," she said. "You just have to give it your best."

For the Greater Latrobe 400-yard relay team, success is found in a team's own lane. They race the clock, not the other teams.

With their "tunnel-vision" philosophy, the four Latrobe swimmers took an eighth-place medal at states. Their time in the relay was 3:34.52 -- a testament to the team's potential for this season.

Owens said she is ready.

"I would say getting the medal at states was really icing on the cake for us," she said. "It's more motivation for this year for us to try our best. "

Latrobe coach Grey Arrigonie noted that the team has been training non-stop. After a brief postseason break at the end of the high school season, Hoopes, Sowinski, Owens and Defrancesco swam for the Greater Latrobe Aqua Club, based out of their own high school's pool. …

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