Gateway’s Olivia Livingston collects two WPIAL golds, sets sights on states

Sunday, March 4, 2018 | 11:35 PM

After defending both of her WPIAL Class AAA individual championships last week at Pitt's Trees Pool, Gateway sophomore Olivia Livingston is setting her sights on more in one week's time at Bucknell.

Livingston set another WPIAL record (22.71 seconds) in the 50-yard freestyle and returned the next day to post a winning time in the 100 free (49.57).

“I feel pretty good about states,” she said. “It will be a true taper (plan of rest), and I should be able to go faster. I have big goals for this year, and hopefully, I will be able to achieve them.”

The PIAA Class AAA championships are March 14-17.

Livingston is the defending state champion in the 50 free, and she also owns that record (22.73). She finished as the state runner-up in the 100 free (49.53).

Last year's PIAA time in the 100 free was identical to what she posted in winning the WPIAL title two weeks earlier. It was the time she hoped to surpass last Friday, but she fell short of it by the smallest of margins.

“I was a little upset at first, but I talked to my coaches, and they told me since I had less rest this year, it's good to be at that time,” Livingston said. “It was such a small amount, nothing to be too stressed about.”

Senior Savannah Plaskon swam at WPIALs for the fourth and final time, and she achieved a personal-best time and place finish in the 50 free.

Seventy one-hundredths of a second separated the 37th and final seed with the eighth seed. Plaskon came in seeded 27th with a time of 25.56 seconds.

She sliced almost a full second off that time and finished ninth (24.69).

“My goal was to break 25 (seconds) and get into the top 16,” she said. “I was so happy to see I exceeded that by a lot. I'm also a little disappointed I missed a medal by such a small bit of time (17 one-hundredths of a second). But I got my fastest time by almost a half second. In the 50, that's a lot of time. It's been a fun four years, and I've worked and trained really hard.”

She also swam the 100 breaststroke (27th) and both relays.

“Savannah had an outstanding meet, both in her individual swims and the relays,” Moore said. “I couldn't have asked any more from her.”

Plaskon and others throughout the WPIAL waited until Monday to see if their WPIAL times would be good enough to earn at-large bids to states.

The top three finishers in each Class AAA event at WPIALs earned automatic berths. The PIAA also selects others based on time from performances at all of the district meets to fill out the event lineups: 32 for individual events and 24 for relays.

Plaskon and Livingston also teamed with sophomores Jess Stroh and Sydney Perry in the 200 free relay, and the quartet dropped almost five seconds from their seed time to finish 11th (1:40.65).

The same four returned for the 400 free relay, and they cut more than 11 seconds from that seed time to finish 12th (3:43.03).

Moore said Stroh and Perry swam personal bests in each relay.

“Almost everyone had personal bests in their races,” Moore said. “We had a lot of kids step up. That's what you are looking for at WPIALs. They can be happy with their performances. Overall, the team had fun competing and being with each other over the two days. That's what's most important.”

Gateway swimmers competed in eight other events over the two days at WPIALs.

The boys 200 free relay of seniors Mike Holmes and Dave MacMurchy, sophomore Nathan Gabriel and senior Luke DiPalma placed 15th (1:33.10).

The boys 200 medley relay (Holmes, senior Jake Mears, DiPalma, MacMurchy) and 400 free relay (junior Conor Faren, MacMurchy, Gabriel, DiPalma) finished 20th.

Holmes placed 23rd in the 200 free and 30th in the 100 free, Gabriel tied for 33rd in the 50 free and MacMurchy was 32nd in the 100 back.

The girls 200 medley relay of Stroh, Perry, freshman Lauren Harper and junior Amanda Pugliano finished 28th overall.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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

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