Knoch’s Cummings takes advantage of sole high school season

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Thursday, February 14, 2019 | 1:30 AM


Matt Cummings is making the most of his first and only high school swimming season.

The Knoch senior, a Lafayette commit and a member of the acclaimed Racer-X club team, has produced top times in several events, and it has paid dividends for not only himself but also his Knights team.

“I was committed to college, so I wanted to have fun my senior year, and high school always is a fun time,” said Cummings, who is set to compete in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke at WPIALs.

“I am pretty happy with where I am at right now. I can’t complain.”

Cummings said he’s enjoyed the different aspects of training with being at Knoch’s practice two to three days a week and at club practice two to three days a week, as well.

The most recent WPIAL performance lists were released Friday, and he’s ranked sixth in the 200 IM at 2 minutes, 4.09 seconds recorded in a Feb. 6 tri-meet with Deer Lakes and Freeport. He is seventh in the 100 breast (1:03.35).

“Matt’s a natural swimmer, whether he’s swimming high school or club,” Knoch coach Rick Hassler said. “The sky’s the limit for him at WPIALs. He could swim any of several events at WPIALs and do well.”

Cummings said with extra rest and preparation, he expects to go faster at WPIALs and challenge the other top swimmers in his events. WPIALs are set for Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

“I know those others aren’t fully rested, shaved and tapered, but it’s still nice to know where everyone is at, how they are doing and where I am ranked,” Cummings said.

Cummings recorded season-best times in the 200 and 500 frees in last Tuesday’s Section 3-AA meet against Northgate. He won the 500 with a time of 5:05.99 and was second to Northgate’s Luke Tomczak in the 200 by 10 one-hundredths of a second (1:51.98 to 1:52.08).

Northgate edged Knoch, 92-88, in a close battle for the boys section championship.

“We came up a little bit short, but everyone on the team showed up and performed,” Cummings said. “We were the underdogs, and we almost had them. It came down to the very end.”

Cummings was a member of the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays. The 200 medley relay of Cummings, Zach Wilson, Michael Phillips and Braden Zukowski recorded a time of 1:42.81, the third- fastest time in boys AA this season.

The 400 relay of Wilson, Zukowski, Cummings and Caden Traggiai finished at 3:27.59 and also ranks third overall.

Wilson won the 100 backstroke and the 50 freestyle, and his 100 back time of 54.75 is a school record. The time also ranks him second only to Belle Vernon’s Ian Shahan (52.46) on the WPIAL performance list.

Wilson is seventh in the 50 free (22.61) and eighth in the 100 free (49.50).

Zukowski added wins against Northgate in the 200 IM (2:03.96) and the 100 breast (1:05.69). His season best in the 100 breast (1:04.24) has him ranked 10th.

Phillips’ highest rank is 17th (1:05.97) in the 100 breast, and he has recorded a number of qualifying marks. Traggiai has qualified in the 100 back (1:03.14).

On the girls side, junior Claire Lindsey will return to WPIALs after not competing at the high school level last year.

Lindsey placed seventh in the 100 breast (1:09.21) at WPIALs as a freshman and qualified for states. This year, she has qualified in the 100 breast and 200 IM.

She captured the 200 IM against Northgate and earned her qualifying cut.

“Claire understands that we’re going to get into some serious work here before WPIALs,” Hassler said.

Senior Lindsey Fanton has battled back from a knee injury that robbed her of her soccer season to qualify for WPIALs in the 200 IM and 100 fly.

She hopes to move up the ladder this year after earning a medal in the 200 IM (seventh) and just missing a medal in the 100 fly (ninth) at WPIALs in 2018.

“She’s back to 100 percent and is swimming well,” Hassler said. “She’s rounding into shape and is more confident.”

Senior Abby Bielstein has qualified for WPIALs with season bests in the 200 free (2:10.36) and 500 free (5:47.25).

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

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