Hempfield’s Mayo looks to improve times at PIAA meet

Monday, March 12, 2018 | 9:24 PM

Hempfield junior Gavin Mayo swam a personal best of 20.73 seconds in the boys 50-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AAA championships March 1.

He finished as the runner-up to North Allegheny senior Mason Gonzalez (20.06).

Mayo's time has him as the fourth seed in the 50 free at the PIAA meet, and, he said he is confident he can make waves when things get underway Wednesday morning at Bucknell.

“I was happy with my 50 at WPIALs,” Mayo said. “I think I saved a little bit for states, and I know I can go faster and get another personal best.”

Mayo said his confidence is born out of his inaugural trip to states last year as he helped the Spartans' 200 medley relay place 10th. He also tied for 16th in the 50 free and was a part of the 200 free relay that came in 18th.

“States is an amazing and pretty competitive experience,” Mayo said.

He hopes to move up the board in the 100 free where he is seeded 21st.

Mayo will join several dozen other area swimmers and divers at states which run through Saturday.

For both the AA and AAA meets, preliminary heats, which start at 8 a.m. each day, will feed into consolation and championship finals in the evening. The AAA meet will be Wednesday and Thursday with AA on Friday and Saturday.

The top 16 from the prelims in each event will return for the consolation and finals swims. The fastest eight clinch a medal and will be in the running for the state title.

Those individuals or relays slotted ninth through 16th will come back in the consolation heat.

The four diving competitions will bridge the gap between the swimming prelims and finals. The AAA boys will be 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, with the AAA girls at 2:35 p.m. Thursday. Diving in AA will have the boys compete Friday at 12:45 p.m. and the girls in action Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

Eleven rounds again will be used to determine the champions.

Also hoping for big things at states are Belle Vernon's Ian Shahan and Robert Spekis. Both are seeded fourth or better in both of their individual swim events.

Spekis, a junior, captured WPIAL AA titles in both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, and he is seeded second in the 100 breast (57.80) and fourth in the 200 IM (1:58.48). He was 14th in the 100 breast at states last year.

Shahan, a freshman, makes his PIAA debut as the No. 3 seed in both the AA 100 butterfly (51.65) and 100 backstroke (52.20). He captured the WPIAL title in the 100 back and was runner-up in the 100 fly.

Mt. Pleasant sophomore Heather Gardner swam to WPIAL gold in the AA girls 50 free, and her time of 23.25 held up as the top time heading into states. She also is seeded fourth in the 100 breast (1:04.24) after claiming the title at WPIALs.

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

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