WPIAL Bestows Individual and Team Swimming Titles at Trees Pool

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Pittsburgh, Pa. – The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) hosted its annual boys’ & girls’ swimming championships in the 2A and 3A classifications March 3-4 at Trees Pool on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Individual champions were crowned in 11 events as well as four team champions, two of which were repeat winners.

North Allegheny (3A Girls’) and Hampton (2A Boys’) successfully defended their team championships, while Seneca Valley (3A Boys’) broke a 47-year drought and Mt. Pleasant (2A Girls’) claimed its first in school history. The Tigers extended their streak to 14 consecutive WPIAL girls’ swimming & diving titles – the longest streak in Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District VII history across all girls’ sports – and the Talbots made it back-to-back championships, increasing their total to five overall.

Three student-athletes took home a weekend-best four WPIAL gold medals in Fox Chapel junior Sophie Shao, Riverside sophomore Joseph Roth, and Mt. Pleasant freshman Lily King. 23 competitors in all captured multiple gold medals over the two days.

There were 13 champions that successfully defended titles in their respective events and two – Shao in the 100 Butterfly and Shady Side Academy junior Maeve Kelley in the 500 Freestyle – that won their event for a third straight season.

A total of 11 WPIAL records were broken across the four championships, highlighted by Shao’s performance in the 100 Butterfly as her time of 53.85 seconds shattered the previous mark of 54.16, which was set by 2011 WPIAL Hall of Fame inductee Melanie Buddemeyer in 1984.

3A BOYS’ [Results]
For the first time since 1975, Seneca Valley is the WPIAL 3A boys’ swimming & diving champion, earning a total of 333.5 points to top second-place Upper St. Clair at 266.

The Raiders carried 62 points into the swimming portion of the championships courtesy of an impressive effort at diving, as Isaiah Clerkley (2nd), Jeremiah Laslavic (3rd), Sam Skeen (4th), and Sam Hersick (5th) all finished inside the top five. Seneca Valley then took home gold in the 200 Freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, 200 Freestyle Relay, 100 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke, and 400 Freestyle Relay over the weekend to secure its first title in 47 seasons.

Seneca Valley duo Haihan Xu and Daniel Simoes both brought home three gold medals, while their teammates Kevin Donaldson, Gavin Blazer, and Zach Lozowski claimed two each. Upper St. Clair senior Ganesh Sivaramakrishnan also won multiple gold medals in the 100 Butterfly and 100 Backstroke.

Friday began with the 200 Medley Relay, where the Franklin Regional team of Holden Thomas, Aiden Bunker, Owen Holm, and Jason Tosh claimed the win with a time of 1:33.50. After helping the Raiders to a second-place finish in the relay, Donaldson took home gold in the 200 Freestyle after touching the wall in 1:40.22.

Xu continued the strong Seneca Valley start as he and Simoes took the top two spots in the 200 Individual Medley, finishing with respective times of 1:50.96 and 1:51.09. Butler senior Ben Borvendeg then successfully defended his title in the 50 Freestyle, beating Hempfield Area junior Dominic Falcon to the wall with a time of 20.83 seconds.

The first day of competition concluded with the 100 Butterfly and 200 Freestyle Relay. Sivaramakrishnan claimed the crown in the former, finishing with a time of 48.74 seconds to top Bethel Park senior Dom Cortopassi. Seneca Valley then edged Upper St. Clair in the latter, as the team of Simoes, Blazer, Lozowski, and Xu posted a time of 1:24.35 – 0.23 faster than the Panthers.

The Raiders continued their winning days to begin the second day, taking first and third in the 100 Freestyle as Simoes’ time of 45.30 seconds bested Gateway senior Andrew Holmes (45.39) and his teammate Donaldson (45.76). The Gators then got their first win of the weekend in the 500 Freestyle, as freshman Hunter Raymer defeated fellow first-year Luke Hartman of Central Catholic with a time of 4:35.83.

Sivaramakrishnan captured his second gold medal of the championships in the 100 Backstroke, clocking in at 48.51 seconds to beat Cortopassi. Xu then added his third overall and second in an individual event, claiming the 100 Breaststroke over Upper St. Clair senior Will Perham with a time of 55.12 seconds.

In the final event of the championships, Seneca Valley repeated as winners of the 400 Freestyle Relay as the team of Donaldson, Blazer, Lozowski, and Simoes turned in a time of 3:05.26. The three of Donaldson, Blazer, and Simoes were on the 2021 winning relay team.

Following Seneca Valley and Upper St. Clair on the team leaderboard was North Allegheny, who finished third with 241 points. Fox Chapel (174), Bethel Park (164), Hempfield Area (156.5), Franklin Regional (139), Mt. Lebanon (127), Kiski Area (123), and Gateway (116) made up the remainder of the top 10.

3A GIRLS’ [Results]
North Allegheny continued its historic run by claiming the WPIAL 3A girls’ swimming & diving championship, accumulating 344 points to beat out second-place Fox Chapel at 314.

The Tigers’ 14th consecutive WPIAL girls’ swimming & diving title was its 26th overall, extending its all-time lead. North Allegheny collected 41 points from the diving portion of the championships after Christina Shi won her third consecutive crown, and Lola Malarky (4th) and Maddie Whitewolf (11th) also scored points, then claimed gold in the 200 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle Relay, 500 Freestyle, and 100 Breaststroke.

Fox Chapel junior Sophie Shao led all competitors with four gold medals, with Tigers junior Lexi Sundgren coming right behind with three. Mt. Lebanon freshman Sylvia Roy, North Allegheny sophomore Natalie Sens, and Fox Chapel duo Ariana Pasquella and Rei Sperry won two gold medals each.

The Foxes took the first event of the championships, as the quartet of Talia Bugel, Pasquella, Shao, and Sperry posted a time of 1:43.90 to win the 200 Medley Relay – the second consecutive year they have won it. The Tigers answered in the 200 Freestyle, with Sundgren’s time of 1:49.00 edging out Upper St. Clair sophomore Kaitlyn Connors.

Shao won her second of three Friday golds in the 200 Individual Medley, clocking in at 2:02.51 to top Sens by three seconds. Mt. Lebanon’s Roy then took the top spot in the 50 Freestyle, touching the wall ahead of Sperry in 23.09 seconds.

A 38-year record went down in the 100 Butterfly, as Shao’s time of 53.85 seconds set a new standard ahead of North Hills alumna Melanie Buddemeyer’s 54.16 mark. The Fox Chapel junior made it 3-for-3 in the event, and was the only student-athlete to break a record in the competition.

North Allegheny completed Friday’s events by winning the 200 Freestyle Relay, as the team of Sundgren, Sense, Rebecca Melanson, and Delaney Kennedy finished with a time of 1:35.36.

Connors of Upper St. Clair began the Saturday portion with a win in the 100 Freestyle, edging the Foxes’ Sperry with a mark of 50.94 seconds. Sundgren then snagged her third gold medal in the 500 Freestyle, touching the wall at 4:51.89 as the only competitor under five minutes.

Mt. Lebanon’s Roy continued her stellar WPIAL championship debut by winning the 100 Backstroke, clocking in at 53.93 seconds ahead of Fox Chapel’s Bugel and older sister Vivian Roy. Sens then captured gold in the 100 Breaststroke with a time of 1:03.15, topping Kiski Area sophomore Eliza Miller.

The Foxes earned their second relay victory to close the championships, as the quartet of Shao, Pasquella, Sperry, and Peyton O’Toole won gold in the 400 Freestyle Relay with a time of 3:29.23.

Following North Allegheny and Fox Chapel on the team leaderboard was Mt. Lebanon, who placed third with 216.5 points. Seneca Valley (175), Upper St. Clair (159), Pine-Richland (138.5), Oakland Catholic (138.5), Franklin Regional (107), South Fayette (105.5), and Hempfield Area (99) completed the top 10.

2A BOYS’ [Results]
Hampton made it back-to-back WPIAL 2A boys’ swimming & diving championships, raising the trophy with 233 points – ahead of runner-up Riverside’s 205 mark.

The Talbots are now the eighth different WPIAL boys’ swimming & diving program to win five or more titles, joining Bethel Park (29), North Allegheny (16), Clairton (12), Shady Side Academy (10), Mt. Lebanon (9), Connellsville (7), and Indiana (5). Hampton entered the championships with 12 points, thanks to Pax Carslaw’s seventh-place finish at the previous weekend’s diving portion.

Riverside sophomore Joseph Roth paced the field with four gold medals, while Hampton senior Will Retsch brought home three. The other student-athletes who won multiple events were the Riverside trio of Ryan Turner, Sam Kline, and Alexander Roth, and Indiana freshman Preston Kessler.

Friday’s first event went to the Talbots, as the team of Ben Sheets, Zach Sutterlin, Dan Bratu, and Retsch took home the 200 Medley Relay over Mt. Pleasant with a record time of 1:36.92. The mark broke the previous standard of 1:37.01, which they set in 2021 with Sheets and Retsch as part of that relay team. Kessler followed that up with a win in the 200 Freestyle, touching the wall in 1:41.08 to beat out Laurel Highlands junior Ian Hamilton.

The top three finishers broke the WPIAL record in the 200 Individual Medley, with Retsch’s 1:51.81 good enough to repeat as champion. The previous standard was set by Shady Side Academy’s Brett Murphy in 2003 at 1:53.92, as second-place Sheets (1:52.55) and Northgate junior Matthew Purcell (1:53.47) both came in under that mark.

Joseph Roth won his first gold of the weekend in the 50 Freestyle, clocking in ahead of South Park senior Zach Huwalt at 21.28 seconds. Retsch then claimed his third gold medal from Friday in the 100 Butterfly, posting a time of 50.15.

The Panthers posted the first of two relay records to conclude Friday’s action, winning the 200 Freestyle Relay in 1:26.37. The team of Joseph Roth, Alexander Roth, Turner, and Kline bested North Catholic by 1.61 seconds to win their second straight 200 Freestyle Relay title, and clocked in under the previous standard of 1:27.15, which was established by Quaker Valley in 2016.

Kessler opened Saturday with a victory in the 100 Freestyle, touching the wall ahead of Alexander Roth in 44.94 seconds. Purcell then snagged the win in the 500 Freestyle with a time of 4:37.15, besting Indiana sophomore Alex Bauer.

Joseph Roth shaved nearly a full second from his WPIAL record time in the 100 Backstroke, taking the win with a mark of 50.00 seconds. Southmoreland junior Henry Miller then captured the 100 Breaststroke title for the second straight year, edging Mt. Pleasant freshman Joseph Gardner with a time of 57.04 seconds.

Riverside finished the final day of competition with a new record in the 400 Freestyle Relay, as the quartet of Joseph Roth, Alexander Roth, Kline, and Turner turned in a time of 3:10.93 to win the event for the second consecutive season – besting the previous mark of 3:11.91 set by Indiana in 2020.

Following Hampton and Riverside on the team leaderboard was Northgate, who finished third with 159 points. Mt. Pleasant (147), Laurel Highlands (139), South Park (136), Indiana (134.5), Mars (111), and Ringgold (100) rounded out the top 10.

2A GIRLS’ [Results]
Mt. Pleasant captured its first WPIAL 2A girls’ swimming & diving championship, scoring 296 points to finish ahead of runner-up Blackhawk at 232 points.

The Vikings are now the 13th different school to win a WPIAL girls’ swimming & diving championship and the fourth different winner in five seasons at the 2A classification, joining Elizabeth Forward (2020), Northgate (2019, 2021), and Shady Side Academy (2018). Mt. Pleasant entered the swimming meet with five points following Paige Ritcher’s 12th-place finish at the previous weekend’s diving competition.

Vikings freshman Lily King had a WPIAL debut to remember, pacing all competitors with four gold medals – breaking records in each of the events. Her teammates Reegan Brown, SaraJo Gardner, and Kiersten O’Connor won two gold medals each, as did Mapletown junior Ella Menear – a repeat champion in the 200 Individual Medley and 100 Backstroke.

Mt. Pleasant began its championship run with a win in the 200 Medley Relay, as the team of Brown, Gardner, O’Connor, and McKenna Mizikar clocked in at 1:49.46, just ahead of the 1:49.71 mark set by Freeport. Northgate sophomore Elise Nardozzi then took home the 200 Freestyle title, topping two-time reigning champion Maeve Kelley of Shady Side Academy with a time of 1:49.41.

Menear won her first of two events in the 200 Individual Medley, defending her crown after touching the wall in 2:04.46. King then set a new PIAA standard in the 50 Freestyle, clocking in at 22.74 seconds to beat the previous mark of 22.91, established by Villa Maria Academy’s Sarah Hutchens in 2013.

Freeport freshman Kira Schrecongost captured gold in the penultimate Friday event, winning the 100 Butterfly over South Park sophomore Katie Jackovic with a time of 56.09. The Vikings finished the day by breaking Shady Side Academy’s WPIAL record from 2009 in the 200 Freestyle Relay, as the quartet of Trinity Graft, Ashlyn Hornick, O’Connor, and King finished in 1:37.53 – 0.16 faster than the previous standard.

King started Saturday’s schedule with a new record in the 100 Freestyle, touching the wall in 50.03 seconds ahead of Northgate’s Nardozzi. The freshman’s time was 0.05 faster than the previous standard set by Geibel Catholic’s Emily Zimcosky in 2016. Kelley earned her third consecutive gold medal in the 500 Freestyle, clocking in at 4:59.75 to beat out Elizabeth Forward senior Hailey Yurkovich.

Menear joined Kelley as a Saturday repeat champion, earning the win in the 100 Backstroke with a WPIAL record time of 54.10 seconds – 0.41 faster than Mars’ Margaret Gruber in 2013. Another freshman, Indiana’s Peyton Scott, took home the 100 Breaststroke title with a time of 1:04.00.

The Vikings capped their first title with a record win in the 400 Freestyle Relay, as the team of Brown, Graft, Gardner, and King finished in 3:32.12 – breaking the previous record of 3:32.66 set by Oakland Catholic in 2002.

Following Mt. Pleasant and Blackhawk on the team leaderboard was Quaker Valley, who placed third with 221 points. Northgate (206), Freeport (179), Shady Side Academy (125.5), Indiana (112), Montour (108), Laurel Highlands (91), and Belle Vernon (75) completed the top 10.

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