Gateway swimmers take aim at WPIAL success

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Sunday, February 28, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Gateway boys and girls swimmers are making final preparations for Sunday’s WPIAL Class AAA championships at Upper St. Clair.

After a month and a half of meets and numerous qualifying attempts, the Gators found out last week where they would be situated for both individual and relay events.

A number of automatic qualifying times were posted based on standards released Jan. 12, and those times guaranteed a swimmer or a relay a place at WPIALs.

The swimming committee then filled the remaining available spots to reach the 12-entry limit for relays and the 16-entry threshold for individuals.

The WPIAL fixed the number of entries based on steps that needed to be taken in the wake of the state government’s covid rulings on capacity limitations.

The same guidelines led the WPIAL to move the swimming championships away from Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Junior Andrew Holmes owns a pair of top-three seeds for the Class AAA boys meet set to start at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

He is second only to Seneca Valley junior Kevin Donaldson in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:43.71. He is the third seed in the 100 free (46.82).

Sophomore Primo Brodt-Jenkins hopes to make his mark in the boys 100 breaststroke. He is seeded 12th (1:01.88).

The boys 200 medley relay of Holmes, Brodt-Jenkins, junior Gabe Sha and senior Sam DiPalma is the ninth seed (1:39.12).

The Class AAA girls take center stage first on Sunday with a 9:45 a.m. start.

Junior Summer Raymer is focused on the 500 and 200 freestyle events. She enters the 500 as the No. 3 seed with a time of 5:07.37 recorded against Hampton on Jan. 21. Last year, she finished runner-up in the 500.

Raymer is the fifth seed in the 200 free (1:55.71).

Sophomore Morgan Holmes is seeded eighth in the 50 free (24.84) and 10th in the 100 free (54.08).

There will be 13 teams for the girls 200 free relay. The Gators quartet of Raymer, Holmes and freshmen Mallory and McKenna Brown finished tied for 12th with North Hills with a time of 1:43.02.

The same four are seeded 12th for the 400 free relay (3:47.48).

The top eight finishers in each individual and relay event will receive medals. Only the WPIAL champions automatically advance to the PIAA championships set for March 19-20 at Cumberland Valley.

The remaining few spots in the field of 16 for each event at states will be filled based on times recorded at the district meets throughout the state.

Capacity limitations forced the PIAA to move the state championships from Bucknell and reduce the number of entries in each event to 16 from the normal 32.

Sophomore Aishia Lovelace and senior Steven Garcia earned entry marks for the WPIAL Class AAA diving championship last Saturday at North Allegheny.

The event, however, was to conclude past the deadline for this week’s edition.

It was the first trip to WPIALs for both Lovelace and Garcia. They were the first Gateway divers to qualify for WPIALs since Jacob Mears competed as a senior in 2018.

State diving is March 13 at Cumberland Valley.

A regional focus

With the WPIBL team and singles championships completed, the Gateway boys bowling team shifts its attention to the Western Regional tournaments this weekend at the North Versailles Bowling Center.

The singles event will be Friday with the team event set for Saturday.

Gateway knew it had clinched a spot in the team tournament when it wrapped up the East section championship with a 10-0 record.

The Gators slipped to 12th overall at the WPIBL team finals Feb. 17.

Seniors Mason Servello, Nathan Clark and Liam Brown will represent Gateway at regional singles.

Servello wrapped up a regional berth with his runner-up finish to Burrell junior Ryan Neville in the East section. Servello posted a 198.23 average for 30 games bowled.

Neville topped the section with a 30-game average of 200.50.

The top 40 finishers from last Wednesday’s WPIBL singles tournament automatically qualified for regionals. Clark missed the top 40 by three pins, taking a team-best 42nd overall with a 497 series on the challenging shot at AMF Mt. Lebanon Lanes.

But his regular-season average of 190.13 was good enough to secure one of the at-large regional spots.

A total of 74 boys and 74 girls from the WPIBL will take part in the regional singles event. That includes senior Liam Brown who finished 58th at the WPIBL finals but earned a regional spot with his 187.47 regular-season average.

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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