Knoch’s Giona Lavorini wins duel for gold at PIAA Class 2A swim meet

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Saturday, March 16, 2024 | 10:45 PM


Knoch junior Giona Lavorini bested rival Peyton Scott, a junior from Indiana, for the WPIAL Class 2A title March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Scott then got the better of Lavorini at a YMCA district meet last weekend.

But Lavorini was back on top Saturday evening in the finals of the 100-yard breaststroke at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

She defeated Scott and the field with a winning time of 1 minutes, 2.11 seconds.

Scott was the defending champ, and Lavorini was third in 2023.

“We push each other so much, and I don’t think I would be in the spot I am without her being right there,” said Lavorini, who took fifth in the 200 individual medley Friday. “It was kind of a crazy feeling to be up there on the top of the podium. I’ve worked so hard for it.

“I was kind of glad that I wasn’t the top seed going into the finals. I seem to do better when I am behind. This morning, I kind of just swam in an old tech suit to get the swim in. I definitely focused on tonight, and I am super excited that I got first.”

Lavorini had a huge cheering section of her own teammates and coaches as well as those from nearby schools such as Freeport and Kiski Area.

“After my race, I could definitely hear them and I could feel that excitement and energy,” said Lavorini, who swam to a 1:01.91 in winning the WPIAL title.

Lavorini’s state title was one of several strong performances by Alle-Kiski Valley boys and girls swimmers on day two of the Class 2A championships.

The WPIAL champion Kiski Area girls 400 free relay of Abby King, Amara Sterlitz, Leah Kunkle and Eliza Miller placed second with a time of 3:35.74. Miller, the anchor, rallied to catch the final swimmer for District 3’s York Suburban and touch the wall right after Northgate’s Elise Nardozzi.

Northgate, from lane seven, won the title in a time of 3:35.05.

“That race was how you should end a meet,” Kiski Area coach Ryan Berberich said. “All eight teams in the finals went for it. It was a fast heat. For our girls to be a part of it, we couldn’t be more happy. All four of them swam really well.”

Freeport, with Kira and Kasey Schrecongost, Isabelle Barton and Mary Anne Altman, also was a part of the finals heat, and it placed seventh (3:38.41).

Miller swam her final individual high school race in the championship heat of the 500 free, and she took third with a career-best finish of 4:56.27.

“It was a great way to go out, getting a best time,” said Miller, who will join the triathlon team at Duquesne.

Kasey Schrecongost made her PIAA debut Friday as part of Freeport’s 200 medley relay, which placed third.

She took center stage Saturday with the 400 free relay as well as individual swims in the 100 free and 100 backstroke.

Schrecongost ended up with a pair of state medals as she placed fifth in the 100 free (52.79) and seventh in the 100 back (57.82).

As she warmed up for the 100 free, one of her favorite songs, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, played throughout the Natatorium.

“I was jamming out to it before my 100 free,” Kasey Schrecongost said. “This is my good luck song. It playing was a sign. It really pumped me up, and I went for it. I was able to get a best time. I was so excited. All of the girls in that race were older, and they were so fast. It makes for great competition. But I had confidence. I knew I could do this.”

On the boys side, Cavaliers teammates Landon Seman, a senior, and junior Justin Tucker shared the pool for the championship heat of the 500 free.

Tucker came in seeded third overall, and that is where he finished, taking bronze in a personal-best time of 4:36.01. He swam 4:39.46 in placing second at WPIALs.

“It’s a pretty good feeling to accomplish what I did and what the team did. We’re going to be moving back up to triple-A next year, so it makes it a little harder but a lot of fun. It’s exciting to know that next year, I have the chance to make more finals and win more medals. I have so much pride in myself and in my teammates for all that we did here at states and all through the season.”

Tucker added the bronze medal in the 500 to the fifth-place medal he won in the 200 individual medley Friday.

Seman swam a 500 personal best (4:46.73) in the prelims, dropping nearly four seconds from his seed time. He came back in the evening and placed eighth overall (4:47.63).

“I am happy I was here and happy I was pushed the way I was all season,” Seman said. “It really paid off in the end at WPIALs and then at states. I am super glad it happened. It was awesome to share the medals podium with Justin.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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