Gateway swimmers send off coach at PIAA championships

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Sunday, April 3, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The 2021-22 season is the last for Sherry Sonetti as head coach of the Gateway swim teams, and she also is retiring from the Gateway School District at the end of the academic year in June.

She said she was pleased with the ending to her tenure with the Gators.

“With my last hurrah as coach, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than us taking eight kids to states,” Sonetti said. “They represented Gateway and swam very well. We had a good time.”

Those eight swimmers competed in seven events at the PIAA Class 3A championships March 16-17 at Bucknell and qualified for four consolation finals swims.

The girls 200 free relay of junior Morgan Holmes, sophomores McKenna and Mallory Brown, and senior Summer Raymer set a school record with a time of 1 minute, 39.04 seconds in the preliminaries on Day 1.

The quartet then came back for the consolation finals and landed in 12th overall (1:39.38).

“I was very pleased with their swims,” Sonetti said.

“The twins were a little nervous because it was their first time swimming at states. But they were able to handle the pressure and had a great time. They all worked really hard to be ready to swim that relay at states and they gave it their all.”

Holmes just missed a berth in the consolation finals of the 50 free as she tied for 16th (24.25) after the preliminaries.

In a swim-off to determine the final spot in the consolation heat, Lower Merion’s Annika Naveen edged Holmes, 23.78 to 24.16.

“Morgan was a little nervous because it happened so quickly after her (initial) swim, but she really handled it with grace and did her best,” Sonetti said

“Her first 25 was fabulous. I don’t know what happened with her turn, but the other girl came out of her turn faster. It was just tenths of a second difference. She wished for a better outcome, but she was just really happy she was able to swim the 50 at states.”

Raymer, who will swim at Division I Youngstown State next season, capped her high school career in the 500 free and placed 24th overall with a time of 5:12.86.

“Her time was a little elevated from WPIALs (5:07.21), but she swam it well and was OK with her time,” Sonetti said.

“It was one of her better times this year, so she was pleased with that.”

Issues with the timing system plagued the Day 1 Class 3A boys finals, which began close to an hour past the original start time.

Several additional delays stalled the swimming as PIAA officials worked to correct the problem. Officials also spent time working out placement problems in certain events, but ultimately they were able to correct those issues.

The delays pushed the start time for the girls events to 8:05 from an original start time of 6:50.

Issues then resurfaced right before the finals of the girls 100 butterfly.

The Gateway boys 200 medley relay of seniors Andrew Holmes and Gabriel Sha, junior Primo Brodt Jenkins and freshman Hunter Raymer had their sights set on lowering their school-record time of 1:36.57 from WPIALs.

Despite a slightly slower time in the preliminaries — 1:37.14 — they qualified for the consolation final and finished 16th overall (1:37.43).

The same four qualified for the consolation finals of the 200 free relay later in the Day 1 championship session. They would face a roller coaster of emotions in the consolation swim.

The relay went faster than the previous school record of 1:26.29 set in 2011, but it was flagged for a violation and disqualified.

“They really wanted that record and were so happy when they thought they got it but so disappointed when they found out they were DQ’d,” Sonetti said.

“Unfortunately, they don’t get the record.”

Holmes qualified for the consolation finals of the 100 free and placed 10th overall with a time of 45.78, an improvement on his 46.63 from the preliminaries.

The Bloomsburg commit came to the state meet off a runner-up finish at WPIALs (45.39).

His consolation time also was better than two swimmers in the top-eight championship heat, but those who swim the consolation finals are locked into a finish no better than ninth.

“Drew was happy with his consolation swim, and now he has his sights set on the next step where he can prepare well and refresh for his college career,” Sonetti said.

As Holmes finished up his high school career at states, Hunter Raymer made his PIAA debut in individual competition. The WPIAL champion in the 500 free returned for the consolation finals in the event on Day 2 and placed 14th overall (4:36.56).

“He knows he could’ve done better, but now he has that first experience and knows what to expect coming back next year,” Sonetti said.

“He had a great first (varsity) season, and he has a WPIAL title to prove it.”

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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