Gateway’s Livingston looks to add to medal haul during junior season
By: Michael Love
Friday, November 23, 2018 | 6:21 PM
The list is long: four WPIAL titles, two state championships, records galore in her two freestyle events, and accolades and praise far and wide.
Gateway junior Olivia Livingston is well on her way to one of the most successful high school careers by a WPIAL swimmer, and she certainly is proud of all the accomplishments gained in her first two years representing the Gators.
But, she said, she is nowhere near satisfied, and has more goals to obtain. One clear mountain still to climb is the PIAA title in the 100-yard freestyle after runner-up finishes both last season and in 2017.
“There are a lot of things I still need to work on, including some small things in the water that will help me drop a lot of time,” said Livingston, who also is competing at USA Swimming Winter Nationals through Saturday in Greensboro, N.C.
“I just want to drop time, no matter what else I accomplish.”
Last spring, Livingston tied her own Class AAA state record in the 50 free with a time of 22.73 seconds. She finished as runner-up in the 100 free with a time of 49.63.
She knows there still will be a challenge in the 100 even though the PIAA champ the last two years has graduated. Thirteen of the top 16 finishers in the 100 at states last year were underclassmen.
“Olivia’s coming in with a good, positive attitude,” Gateway coach Jonathan Moore said. “She’s a hungry girl. She relishes in the accomplishments, but she always wants more and is excited to see there is more to be had. She is so driven.”
In addition to her individual goals, Livingston also is hoping for good things in the relays, and two teammates from WPIALs return hoping to improve on top-12 finishes from last year.
Juniors Jess Stroh and Sydney Perry were members of the 200 and 400 free relays that placed 11 th and 12 th , respectively. Both swam personal bests at WPIALs, and Moore is excited to see what both can accomplish this year, both in the relays and in their individual swims.
“Sydney and Jess have been on those relays for two years, and they’ve really become strong veteran swimmers,” Moore said. “They both have some high goals and expectations. What’s nice is they are both great utility swimmers who we can put anywhere we need them in addition to their regular swims. We’re looking for both to have great seasons.”
Stroh and Perry also swam at WPIALs last year in the 200 medley relay with sophomore Lauren Harper and senior Amanda Pugliano.
Pugliano is a veteran of Gateway’s WPIAL team, having swum at Pitt’s Trees Pool the past three years.
Harper, Moore said, is hoping to stay healthy this season after battling through an injury last year.
“She worked her tail off last year even though she had to miss some time with the injury,” Moore said. “I like to see what she can accomplish with a full season.”
Freshman Summer Raymer, Moore said, is one who can make an impact after recording strong USA Swimming times in both sprint and distance events.
Moore said sophomore Ashia Lovelace has shown improvement in her events
On the boys side, junior Nathan Gabriel, with three seniors who have since moved on because of graduation, placed 15 th in the 200 free relay at WPIALs last year.
He also swam individually in the 50 free.
“We’re hoping Nathan can repeat what he did last year and take that next step,” Moore said. “He’s a strong kid that works really hard. He’s a sprinter, but he’s proven that he can swim other events and help the team.”
Gabriel joined senior Conor Faren on the 400 free relay at WPIALs, and the duo helped the relay place 20 th .
“Conor is coming back hungry,” Moore said. “He wants to make a WPIAL cut in an individual event. He’s never done that.”
Senior Bryce Sukel is coming off a broken foot from the summer, and Moore hopes to see good things from him in his final season with the Gators.
Sophomores Sam DiPalma and Payton Brown were WPIAL relay alternates last year, and Moore said he is looking for big things from both.
Moore said freshman Andrew Holmes put up good times in the 50 and 100 this past fall. His 200 and 500, Moore said, are expected to meet WPIAL cuts this year, and he should also factor into a couple of relays.
The Gateway diving teams are young on both sides.
Moore said sophomore Caleigh Better leads the way among the inexperienced but potential-filled group.
“Caleigh got better as last season went on,” Moore said. “She broke her hand and missed several meets. When she returned, her scores improved each time she dove.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at email@example.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.