School: Wyoming Valley West
Sport: Boys Swimming
Events: 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle
All in the Family: Ed is the son of Billie Jo and Ed Zawatski Jr. of Larksville. He has two younger brothers, Joshua and and Jared, who are also swimmers in the Wyoming Valley West middle school system.
Statistically Speaking: Zawatski fired out of the gates with a fourth-place state medal in the PIAA Class 3A championship 50 freestyle race Wednesday, but that was just a warmup to his big week. The next night, Zawatski came back in the state’s 100 freestyle and moved up from a No. 13 seeding to a top-10 state finish, just missing out on winning the event’s consolation race and finishing second. That gave Zawatski two state medals in the 50 freestyle and two runs in the 100 during the past two years.
Lightning Strike: In the moments following the PIAA Class 3A boys 50 freestyle, it was difficult for Zawatski to hide his disappointment when he looked disbelievingly at the state scoreboard and saw he finished fourth. After all, he was the state’s top seed entering the event. Then Zawatski realized he’d just finished the 50 free with the second-fastest time of his life, a run of 20.73 that would have broken the District 2 record of 20.80 he set a couple weeks ago. It was the highest finish by a Wyoming Valley Conference swimmer in the state field. And it brought him first-team all-state honors, along with the highest medal he’s won at states — an improvement on his sixth-place state finish a year ago. If that wasn’t enough, Zawatski accomplished a personal best time of 46.00 in the 100 freestyle, which took him from a No. 13 seed entering states to a 10th-place state finish — and an all-state honorable mention. If this keeps up, they’re going to start calling Zawatski “Fast Eddie” around Valley West.
Coach’s Corner: “He has tremendous attitude, he’s totally focused on what he’s doing,” Valley West coach Frank Tribendis said. “He’s always working hard, looking toward better ways of getting the job done. He’s always trying to improve. He’s going to be in Virginia for a sectional meet this Thursday and Friday, next week he’ll be in Buffalo at a long course meet. He’ll be swimming all summer long at some of the big events. I’m also looking to see what else I need to do to make him go better — how do I push him to get to that elite level? I’ve got this great athlete. I do not want to fail him.”
Did you know? When Zawatski isn’t creating ripples in the state waters, he likes to rip off a few riffs on the guitar — which he’s been strumming since he was in the fifth grade, and is currently enamored with a new Fender Stratocaster he received as a Christmas gift over the winter. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful guitar,” said Zawatski, who is pretty accomplished on both the acoustic and electric guitar. “I’ve been playing guitar for awhile. One of my favorite songs to play is Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson. When I rock out, I play the Beatles, Pink Floyd …”
From his angle: “I was very proud of the 100 free, because I was coming in 13th and didn’t know how well I was going to finish,” Zawatski said. “That was my fastest time ever in the 100 free, I was pretty happy with it. And the fourth-place medal (in the 50 free), that was higher than I finished last year. The big problem is, with the 50 and 100, there’s always a rush of water for each swimmer in the lanes, down by your feet and your head on the turns. That’s why you see people drop back a few spots in those races. What I tried to focus on before each race was, when I flip-turn, make sure I stay down, so I didn’t pop up too early. To perform like that, it puts my mind at ease. It means a lot. It means all the hard work I did, all the hours at morning practice, all the times at regular practice at the high school, all that work was to put forth the best effort. It makes me very happy.”
Week in Review: One last time, Hazleton Area boys basketball fans saw the best of Sal Biasi. The senior sharpshooter played with a high ankle sprain he suffered just four days before, and buried a game-high 34 points — including eight three-point field goals — during a PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal game. The underdog Mountaineers wound up dropping a 79-71 decision to powerful Chester, but Biasi’s gritty display gave Hazleton Area a shot right to the very end. And Meyers got the best shot from Tyriek Steward, who led the Mohawks into Tuesday’s PIAA Class 2A semifinals by scoring a game-high 20 points in a victory over West Catholic, then followed that up with a 24-point day — including a bucket that put the Mohawks ahead to stay — in a 52-50 double-overtime victory over Del-Val Charter in the state quarterfinals. …
Holy Redeemer’s Alexis Lewis continued to impress the state while leading the Royals where they’ve never gone before — into Tuesday’s PIAA Class 3A girls semifinals. Lewis opened last week by scoring a game-high 27 points during a second-round state victory over Fleetwood. …
You might say Hazleton Area simply bowled them over. The Cougars’ girls bowling team wound up fourth in the state championship tournament, and Miranda Rish led the way with a 559 series — the fourth-highest of anyone in the entire state tourney. …
Crestwood’s Josh Grzech reached new heights at the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships, scoring a fifth-place Class 2A state medal with his time of 47.41 seconds in the 100 freestyle after taking sixth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 52.41. He was the only Wyoming Valley Conference swimmer to collect two medals in the state finals. Lake-Lehman diver Matthew Edkins took eighth place in the boys event with a score of 483.55 points for his third straight state medal. And the rest of the WVC swimmers were full of surprises. Coughlin’s Terry Vrabec went from a 27th seed to eighth place on the medal stand when he swam the Class 2A 100 breaststroke in 1:01.08 — chopping nearly three seconds off his seed time from the District 2 championships. Tunkhannock stars Matt Miller and Joe Moffitt both teamed up on two Class 2A relay teams that finished where they weren’t supposed to. They helped the Tigers’ 200 medley relay team exceed its 11th-place seeding and capture a seventh-place state medal, while their 200 freestyle relay team jumped from a No. 23 seeding into the state consolation race with a 16th-place finish overall. And Crestwood’s Chris Lukasewski pulled the biggest shocker of them all when he went from a last-place seed at No. 32 to a 14th-place state finish in the Class 2A boys butterfly with a time of 22.27.