College notebook: Bilko, Cassano keep Grove City in fast lane
Two swimmers from Washington County played significant roles in Grove City winning its sixth consecutive Presidents’ Athletic Conference women’s title during the James E. Longnecker Invitational/PAC Championships held last week at the Wolverines’ pool.
Megan Bilko, a sophomore from Canonsburg and a Canon-McMillan graduate, earned the invitational’s Most Valuable Performer award and was named PAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning three individual events.
An All-American as a freshman, Bilko won the 500 freestyle (4:58.96) Thursday and the 400 individual medley Friday. She won the latter event in pool- and meet-record time of 4:28.18, which was fast enough to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Division III championships.
Bilko secured her third individual win of the meet Saturday night by finishing first the 1,650 in 17:08.42. Bilko set the pool record in that event and again provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet.
Lauren Cassano, a junior from Venetia and a Peters Township graduate, also had a strong meet for the Wolverines, winning the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley. She provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet in both backstroke events, and contributed to wins in the 200 and 400 medley relays and 400 freestyle relay.
Washington & Jefferson swept the conference’s diving awards. Freshman Josh Vasko was named the PAC Men’s Diver of the Year, junior Jennifer Suder was selected the Women’s Diver of the Year and the Presidents’ Vic Galati received both the conference’s Men’s and Women’s Diving Coach of the Year awards.
Suder had one of the top performances of the three-day championship event as she amassed 513.35 points on the 3-meter board to set conference, invitational, pool and school records. Her total was only 3.75 points off the NCAA Division III record of 517.10 held by Hayley Emerick of Trinity (Texas).
Vasko became the fourth consecutive W&J men’s diver to win the conference title on the 1-meter springboard. He posted an invitational record 448.50 points. The Presidents swept the men’s diving titles as Drew Hungneberg won the 3-meter championship.
Brothers Jake Pletz and Dan Pletz of Venetia each had a big meet for Westminster.
Jake Pletz, a junior, set invitational and PAC records by winning the 500 freestyle in 4:36.17, which provisionally qualified him for the NCAA championships. He also won the 200 freestyle in 1:41.9, placed second in the 100 freestyle and was on the Titans’ winning 200 medley and 800 freestyle relay teams.
Dan Pletz, a freshman, won the both the 200 and 400 individual medleys, the latter in 4:10.1, which is the second-fastest time in Westminster history. He also finished second in the 200 backstroke and teamed with his brother on the 800 freestyle relay team.
In track & field
Marissa Kalsey of Waynesburg, a sophomore at Westminster, set the school record in the women’s pole vault Feb. 1, when she cleared 13-1½ at the Midwest Indoor Track & Field Open at Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Kalsey, a former state champion, broke her own school record of 12-11½. Kalsey’s record setting vault is currently the best in the nation indoors this season in Division III.
Kalsey is coached at Westminster by Bradi Rhoades, who also is a Waynesburg graduate.
Pitt sophomore Dustin Fuller, a former state champion in the 300-meter hurdles while at Washington High School, set his indoor best time in the 400 meters at the Virginia Tech Elite meet Feb. 8. Fuller ran 49.47 to finish in sixth place among 22 sprinters.
Tulane’s Mikayla Sonneborn, a sophomore from West Finley and a West Greene graduate, recently set a personal-best time in the mile run during the Samford Multi and Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. Sonneborn covered the distance indoors in 5:01.57, which was the ninth-fastest time in Green Wave history.
“I wasn’t that surprised by Mikayla’s performance because she has been training really well,” Tulane coach Eric Peterson said. “She has made a lot of progress and she has been waiting for a break in a race. She executed the plan to perfection today, and she came away from the race with a good competitive effort.”
Josh Patterson, a junior guard from McDonald and a South Fayette graduate, is the fourth-leading scorer for Grove City. Patterson is averaging 7.7 points per game for the Wolverines and is shooting 50 percent (23-for-46) from three-point range. He also is third on the team in rebounds and assists.