Hempfield swimmer Mayo sets sights on PIAA success

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 6:36 PM

Hempfield swimmer Gavin Mayo is among favorites in the boys 50-yard freestyle at the PIAA Class AAA championship meet Friday and Saturday at Bucknell, but also might shine in another event.

“Backstroke is an event Gavin has been playing with over the last few years,” Hempfield coach Kevin Clougherty said. “His technique has really come together in the last few months, and it might turn into something that gives him success not only this year, but down the road when he’s competing in the ACC.”

Mayo, a senior and North Carolina recruit, is seeded third in the 50 freestyle (20.60 seconds) after winning the WPIAL title Feb. 28-March 1 at Pitt. He ranks eighth in the 100 backstroke (51.17), in which he placed fourth in the WPIAL.

“My goals are to swim as fast as possible and have a good last high school meet,” Mayo said. “I’m preparing by doing the same stuff I did for WPIALs: trying to get plenty of sleep and eating healthy foods.

“Also paying attention to details.”

Clougherty said that focus helped Mayo earlier after he missed training because of shoulder pain.

“He’ll spend 20-30 minutes after practice most days working on relatively small things such as hand positioning during his start or foot release off of his walls,” Clougherty said. “The goal is that many small things, added to his natural athletic ability, can have big returns.”

Mayo said the shoulder problem, which required physical therapy, was a sign that his stroke was not efficient.

“In a way, it was a good thing because (the stroke) is fixed now,” he said.

Among other medal contenders are Penn-Trafford seniors Paige Kalik (493.65 points) and Logan Sherwin (557.65), who are seeded third and fourth in girls and boys 1-meter diving, respectively. Kalik, an Akron recruit, and Sherwin, a Chicago recruit, placed first and second at the WPIAL championships.

“Logan and I are excited for states,” said Kalik, a two-time WPIAL champion. “It’s our last time diving as Penn-Trafford Warriors, so it’ll be a bittersweet weekend.”

Mayo also expects to be sentimental.

“It feels weird that this will be the last time I compete in high school,” he said.

On the boys side, other seeded competitors include the Hempfield 200 medley relay team of Mayo, senior Todd Wilson, senior Nolan Steeley and sophomore Brian Wilson; Penn-Trafford sophomore Austin Prokopec (200 freestyle); Franklin Regional senior Mason Fishell (diving); the Hempfield 200 freestyle relay team of Mayo, sophomore Will Falcon, Todd Wilson and Brian Wilson; the Penn-Trafford 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams of senior Luke Babik, sophomore Ben Yant, junior Nicholas Graziano and Prokopec; and the Franklin Regional 400 freestyle relay team of junior Andrew Harris, senior Axel Schon, freshman Owen Holm and senior Patrick Cavanaugh.

Among girls, seeded are the Franklin Regional 200 medley relay team of senior Abbie Ramey, junior Evelyn Siler, freshman Annika Albright and senior Baylee Horvath; Hempfield senior Zoey Wilson (200 freestyle); Ramey (200 individual medley); Penn-Trafford junior Corina Paszek (200 individual medley); Penn-Trafford senior Hannah Muro (50 freestyle and 100 backstroke); the Franklin Regional 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams of Albright, Horvath, senior Laura DiNunzio and Ramey; the Hempfield 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams of sophomore Maddy Cisco, junior Francesa Nemetz, freshman Jordan Crupie and freshman Emma Martz; Crupie (100 backstroke); and Latrobe senior Carrie Lenz (100 breaststroke).

History could be made in the boys 100 breaststroke, where top-seeded Upper St. Clair sophomore Joshua Matheny (54.70) is chasing the meet record set by Haverford’s Brendan Hansen (53.67) in 2000. Hansen is a six-time Olympic medalist.

Matheny, the reigning Junior National Champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, set a meet record in the 100-yard breaststroke at the WPIAL championship.

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