Before heading to Cincinnati, South Park’s Katie Jackovic aims for more WPIAL, PIAA success

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Sunday, January 7, 2024 | 2:46 PM


Like many elite swimmers at the high school level, Katie Jackovic is versatile in what she can do in the water.

That again is evident by the fact that the South Park senior already has qualified for WPIALs in every individual event.

What she will swim at WPIALs in early March at Pitt’s Trees Pool still is up in the air. She is the defending WPIAL champion in the 100-yard butterfly and a returning bronze medalist in the 100 freestyle.

There is a lot of time for Jackovic to make those decisions.

“I just want to see the rankings and what everyone else’s times are so I can give myself the best chance at WPIALs,” said Jackovic, who went on to claim PIAA medals in both events at the state championships at Bucknell.

Jackovic hoped to follow her WPIAL 100 fly title with another one at states, but she ran into the speed and power of Bedford junior Leah Shackley who dominated the field with a state-record time of 51.93 seconds.

Jackovic was a strong second, settling for silver in 55.51, a half second ahead of Freeport’s Kira Schrecongost.

“Katie’s looking really good and is ready for the competition season,” South Park coach Jennifer Montuoro said.

“We are looking forward to her getting stronger and faster before the WPIAL championships. She is a seasoned swimmer, and she knows the process really well.”

Jackovic said the excitement for her final varsity season played into good swims in December both in high school meets and also through her Bethel Park club team.

At the CM Speedo Invitational at West Virginia University on Dec. 7-10, Jackovic earned firsts in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly.

“I am right on track with times and other things at this point,” she said.

“We have increased the yardage in practice and have done a lot of sprinting, too. The times have shown just how much hard work we’ve all been putting in. Once we go down in yardage later in February, I feel my times will really produce the results I am looking for.”

Jackovic’s future in the sport beyond high school is bright, too, as she will swim at the University of Cincinnati. She made a verbal commitment soon after an official visit in July and made her decision final during the national letter of intent signing period in November.

“I am super excited to be able to swim at a Power 5 school and in a program that strong,” Jackovic said.

“It’s a really good opportunity for me to produce some good times and work with some great coaches. I am confident I will be a great fit for them and a strong addition.”

She will reunite at Cincinnati with current Bearcats freshman and Kiski Area graduate Levi Hansen.

“Levi and I traveled to Virginia when we were 12 for a zone meet, and we’ve always stayed in contact,” Jackovic said

“He’s been telling me about practices and routines and things like that. It will be nice to be teammates again.”

Montuoro said Cincinnati is getting a gem.

“Cincinnati is a wonderful opportunity for Katie to show what she can do at the next level,” Montuoro said.

“The program is phenomenal. I know she will be successful there and will be a great addition to the team in any one of the strokes.”

Montuoro said that Jackovic, in addition to being a top talent in her races, is an overall inspiration to the other girls on the South Park team.

“They watch Katie swim and they see how fast she goes,” Montuoro said.

“They try to emulate what she does in and out of the pool. Katie also is quick to give advice if someone is struggling. That is so important from a leadership standpoint. She understands the impact she has. She is a great role model.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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