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Last updated: February 15. 2013 8:34PM - 101 Views

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Just for the record, Jake Chielli wants everyone to know he's not swimming upstream at a football school.


Neither are any of his Dallas High School teammates anymore.


Not after the Mountaineers captured their third consecutive District 2 Class 2A boys swimming and diving championship this weekend.


That's the type of dominance the Dallas football program's become known for.


But swimming?


That's a sport normally submerged under Dallas' perennial gridiron success. Until the boys in the pool started making such a splash.


"People in the school respect the swimmers. Even the football players," said Chielli, who transferred from Wyoming Seminary to Dallas prior to his sophomore school year. "I used to play football myself. I stopped when I came to Dallas, just because I wanted to pursue swimming."


It seems as if Chielli made the right decision.


He captured his third straight district championship in the 50-yard freestyle Friday, then came back to conclude his district run by swimming the leadoff leg – and gaining a body-length lead – for Dallas championship 400-yard freestyle relay team.


That helped the Mountaineers to a district team three-peat unprecedented in their swimming history.


"A lot of hard work went into this," Chielli said.


That's obvious.


Because before head coach Romayne Mosier took over the program and Chielli came aboard in 2010, Dallas wasn't exactly a destination for district medals.


"I had no idea we would blossom to this point," Chielli laughed. "But I can tell you that it's great. I just had a lot of great teammates. We all know the fact of our accomplishments. We never would have expected it."


Those teammates changed with time.


Last year's talented, senior-laden roster stuffed with 23 swimmers who went unbeaten through two Wyoming Valley Conference seasons gave way to a group of 11 boys in 2011-12 speckled with underclassmen.


The Mountaineers still kept winning.


"We had less boys this year," Mosier said. "But we had quality."


That was enough to warrant another trip to the state championships for a contingent of Dallas boys determined to uphold the winning tradition Chielli and his first group of Mountaineers teammates started.


"They knew they had to do their best to maintain their title for a third straight year," Mosier said.


It was a bunch of different names standing up for Dallas as this year's district finals.


Junior Brian Stepniak, a pitcher off the baseball team whose older sister Stacey once starred for the Dallas girls, captured the 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke. Fellow junior Marcus Wagner won the 500 and 200 freestyles for Dallas. Sophomore Patrick Gelso and freshman Reid Luksic both earned big team points with top-five finishes in two separate events.


And then there was Chielli, winning the 50 free and leading two relay teams to victory in his final run through district waters.


"I was just trying to give it my all," Chielli said, "leave it all in the pool.


"And go out with a bang."


That's a sound normally heard on football Saturdays around Dallas. But as the Mountaineers proved in the pool, you don't have to wear a helmet to impact a football school.


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