WILKES-BARRE — Wyoming Valley West went out on top for Coach Frank.
Trailing by 2.5 points heading into the final district race of their coach’s long-time tenure, the Spartans’ 400 free relay scored a first place to give Wyoming Valley West the District 2-4 Class 3A boys swimming and diving championship Saturday at the Wyoming Valley CYC.
The Spartans defeated Williamsport by a slim 5.5-point margin for their second straight regional title. Delaware Valley topped the Millionaires for the Class 3A girls title.
Wyoming Valley West gave coach Frank Tribendis a fitting sendoff with the district crown in his final swimming race at the local level. Tribendis is retiring after 37 years at the helm with the Wyoming Valley West swim program.
“That was our goal,” Wyoming Valley West junior Maxim Kowalski said. “We said we wouldn’t let him down. We said we were going to do this, and we put our minds to it. He taught us everything, and he put us to work.”
The 400 free relay featured the Spartans’ heavy hitters of Josh Zawatski, Kowalski, Ivan Volynets and Logan Fluegel. As they wrapped up the race to set a school record of 3:14.46, Tribendis’ celebrate was subdued. He scrolled through his notes, fixated on his stop watch, and gentlemanly shook hands with his raucous swimmers.
“It was awesome,” Kowalski said. “I feel like our 400 free relay just hit the grand slam to win the game. I can’t even put word to it. It’s amazing. I’m so proud of my team. It was the background kids that got fourth and fifth.”
The Spartans won four of the five boys’ races to wrap up the comeback.
Zawatski won his second individual race of the weekend to set the tone. He used his long-armed stroke to clock in at 47.09 seconds. Though only a 34-hundredths of a second differential between he and Scranton’s Alex Schaefer entering the race, Zawatski torpedoed to a two-plus second victory.
“I had a good tempo tonight,” Zawatski said. “I thought this is the last 100 free that I am going to be swimming for my coach. So, it better be a good one.”
Fluegel finally made his way to the top of the podium after narrowly losing by seven-hundredths of a second on Friday night. There would be no photo finish as he clocked in at 55.09 seconds in the 100 back – well ahead of the field.
“It was a great redemption moment for me,” Fluegel said. “I never thought my first individual title would be a backstroke event. I’m a butterflier. I’d like to thank my coaches since I had great training for that race”
To cap it off, Rosencrans staved off a monumental comeback from Hazleton Area’s Paul Flowers in the 100 breast. He out-touched him at the wall by a mere nine-hundredths of a second with a time of 1:02.13.
On the girls’ side, the Spartans’ Alexis Ivanitch broke her own district record in the 100 breast. Although slower than her seed time, Ivanitch dropped more than a second off her benchmark in a time of 1:07.03.
“I was more relaxed this year,” Ivanitch added. “I was a little more ready. Last year I didn’t know what to expect.”
Hazleton Area finished the night with a pair of upset wins. The Cougars’ 400 free relay team of Amy Collins, Megan Llewellyn, Marina O’Hara and Hayley Sanko won out of the second lane. Earlier, O’Hara, a freshman, dashed more than six seconds off her season best to win the 100 back in 1:01.93.