Belle Vernon’s Shahan claims 2 more WPIAL individual championships

Saturday, March 6, 2021 | 9:52 PM

Ian Shahan found himself in seventh heaven at Saturday’s WPIAL Class AA swimming championships at Upper St. Clair High School.

The Belle Vernon senior and Army commit captured his sixth and seventh individual titles: the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly.

He joined Southmoreland sophomore Henry Miller (100 breaststroke) and the Mt. Pleasant girls 200 free relay in bringing home WPIAL gold.

“This is definitely humbling,” said Shahan, who also collected the 100 backstroke as a freshman, the 100 free as a freshman and a sophomore and the 100 fly as a sophomore and a junior.

A second-place finish in the 100 fly as a freshman denied Shahan the four-year individual sweep.

“Going into freshman year, I knew I had some pretty big shoes to fill in the program. I was excited to see what I could do.”

Shahan’s first swim of the day was one for the record books.

He sprinted to a time of 20.36 seconds in the 50 free.

So did Neshannock senior Connor McBeth. The rivals shared the WPIAL title, and the time broke the WPIAL record and also set an Upper St. Clair pool record.

“Initially, I only looked at my line to see where I was,” Shahan said. “I saw the place and time, and I was like, ‘Oh, hey! I won!’ Then the announcer said, ‘Oh, they tied.’ It wasn’t how I thought it would go, but I couldn’t be any happier. It was a great race for WPIALs. Hopefully, we can have another great race against each other at states.”

It was McBeth’s fourth WPIAL 50 free title in as many attempts. He came back and won the 100 free with a time of 44.87.

Because Shahan had a better seed time in the 50 free, a 20.91, he earns the automatic bid to states. McBeth is expected to garner one of the six at-large bids easily.

Under the new covid-related formats for states, set for March 19 at Cumberland Valley High School, only the WPIAL champion in each event clinches the automatic berth.

Shahan swam a third straight event, the 200 free relay, with fellow seniors Luke Miller, Cody Danto and Sam West, and the quartet took second to Riverside with a time of 1:29.73.

“I am ecstatic that we even had this meet, even with all of the changes,” Shahan said. “Now, I am really looking forward to getting back to states.”

Miller, an independent swimmer at Southmoreland, came in seeded first in the 100 breast, and he turned away all challengers with a WPIAL-winning time of 57.13.

He also led after the first 50 (26.95) and touched the wall more than a second ahead of runner-up Richie Donato, a senior from Hampton (58.22).

“At first, I wasn’t really sure what happened,” Miller said. “I looked up and was looking for my time. Then I saw it, and was like, ‘No way that’s me!’ But it was, and I am just so proud of myself. I am really happy with the time, and I can’t wait to go to states.”

Miller was third in the 100 breast last season in his WPIAL debut.

Earlier in the meet, Miller was fourth in the 100 fly (53.05).

West had a strong individual meet for Belle Vernon as he secured third in the 100 free with a time of 48.15. He was fifth in the 200 free with a 1:47.67.

The Belle Vernon 400 free relay of West, Shahan, Danto and senior Garrett Ursiny placed fourth (3:16.59).

Also medaling Saturday was Mt. Pleasant senior Daniel Lynch with an eighth in the 100 fly (54.79).

On the girls side, the Mt. Pleasant quartet of junior Ashlyn Hornick and sophomores Reegan Brown, SaraJo Gardner and McKenna Mizikar set a pair of school relay records.

They sliced more than two seconds from their seed time in the 200 free relay and captured the title (1:39.76).

“This is so special,” said Brown, who also placed fourth individually in the 100 butterfly (59.38) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (59.31).

“We’ve been working so hard for moments like these. Now, we get ready for states. I am so happy.”

The same four kicked off the meet with a runner-up finish in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:49.13. It cut more than three seconds off its seed time.

Quaker Valley picked up the win in a time of 1:48.75.

“We got used to swimming at Pitt, and we didn’t know what to expect with this pool at Upper St. Clair, but we trusted in our training, trusted in our coaches and just went out there and swam,” said Gardner, who also posted a fourth in the 100 back (58.99) and a sixth in the 50 free (24.81).

Belle Vernon junior Delaney Patterson garnered two WPIAL medals: fourth in the 100 breast (1:09.35) and fifth in the 200 free (2:00.31).

Mizikar added to the medals haul for Mt. Pleasant with a sixth in the 100 fly (1:00.74) and the 400 free relay of Mizikar, Hornick and sophomores Morgan Baughman and Trinity Graft capped the day in eighth (3:50.01).

The performances helped land Mt. Pleasant in third place in the girls team standings with 179.5 points behind champion Northgate (254) and Quaker Valley (199).

Greensburg Salem senior Madison Cassidy earned her fourth WPIAL medal as she placed sixth in the 100 breast (1:09.38).

The Belle Vernon 200 free relay of Patterson, freshmen Martyna Maley and Melina Stratigos and sophomore Marlee Davis placed seventh in a time of 1:45.03.

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

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