After claiming WPIAL gold, Gateway’s Holmes turns attention to PIAA meet

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Monday, March 15, 2021 | 1:05 PM


Andrew Holmes had WPIAL gold on his mind March 7 at the Class AAA championships at Upper St. Clair High School.

Soon enough, after posting a school-record time of 1 minute, 41.43 seconds in the 200-yard freestyle, he had gold around his neck.

“It was an amazing feeling to see that No. 1 next to my name,” Holmes said. “I’ve worked hard this year, and my coaches have helped me work hard. My teammates have supported me. All that finally paid off in the win.

“I felt really good in my race, and the competition pushed me even more.”

Holmes, who also finished a close second to North Hills senior Josh Bogniard in the 100 free with a school-record time of 45.78, now turns his attention to Saturday’s PIAA championship meet.

Only the WPIAL champion picked up an automatic berth to states. Other place winners earned at-large bids based on their times. Holmes is seeded seventh in the 200 and third in the 100. His swim times Saturday are 5:10 and 6:50 p.m.

“To make states is an amazing feeling, especially during this time and all of the changes,” Holmes said. “It’s been a challenging time for everybody. I am going to continue to work hard, and hopefully, it pays off again.”

Holmes is the first Gateway boys swimmer to win a WPIAL individual title since Luke Nosbisch won back-to-back gold medals in the 100 breaststroke in 2010 and 2011.

The previous school record in the 200 free, set by Sam Shearer in 1976, was 1:42.6. Holmes surpassed the previous 100 free record of 46.3 set by Gators swimming legend and WPIAL Hall of Famer Mel Nash in 1972.

“I thank Upper St. Clair for hosting WPIALs,” Holmes said. “They and the WPIAL definitely knew what they were doing as they had to make the changes. They did a great job keeping it covid safe and still keeping it fun and all about the swimmers.”

Gateway coach Sherry Sonetti said she was impressed with the way Holmes concentrated on fast swims at WPIALs.

“It was so amazing to see him win that 200 free title. That was his goal,” Sonetti said.

“When he was done in the 100, Drew said, ‘Man, that kid (Bogniard) was fast.’ I asked him if he realized just how fast he was in both of his events. He’s worked extremely hard to get to where he’s at.”

Sonetti said Holmes is set up nicely for states.

“He likes where he is situated in his events,” she said. “He will do some tapering and continue to work on some things. He knows his start on the 200 really wasn’t that great, but he was still able to get the time he did. All the little aspects and things to work on make a big difference.”

Junior Summer Raymer came close to qualifying for states in the girls 500 free.

She finished with a fifth-place medal with a time of 5:07.26, down slightly from her seed time of 5:07.37.

When the at-large bids to states were announced last Monday, Raymer fell just shy of a qualifying berth. The top four from WPIALs qualified in the 500. South Fayette freshman Zoe Poe got the final bid with her WPIAL time of 5:06.92.

“She was really disappointed because she had worked so hard to swim well at WPIALs,” Sonetti said.

“But I am so proud of her, because she puts everything into her swimming. She was trying to look at the positives. She got to swim, and next year, hopefully, it will be a better finish with all the training she does. She’s looking forward to next year already.”

Raymer added a seventh-place medal in the 200 free (1:56.54).

Raymer, sophomore Morgan Holmes and freshmen Mallory and McKenna Brown finished 10th in the 400 free relay (3:45.91) and 12th in the 200 medley relay (1:41.99).

Morgan Holmes added an 11th in the 50 free (24.87) and a 13th in the 100 free (54.69).

On the boys side, sophomore Primo Brodt Jenkins posted a 10th-place finish in the 100 breast (1:00.65) and helped seniors Payton Brown and Sam DiPalma and junior Gabriel Sha take 11th in the 200 medley relay (1:40.21).

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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