Mt. Pleasant’s Gardner, Belle Vernon’s Shahan lead area swimmers into PIAA meet

Monday, March 9, 2020 | 5:27 PM

After repeating as WPIAL Class AA champion in two events, Belle Vernon junior swimmer Ian Shahan will be out to defend his PIAA titles this week at Bucknell.

Shahan is seeded first in the boys 100-yard butterfly at 49.02 seconds and 100 freestyle (44.68). He improved his WPIAL records in both.

“I am going into states with the goal of lowering my times,” he said. “We also have good seeds for our relays.

“I am excited to see how high we can place.”

Shahan anchors the 200 freestyle relay team of juniors Garrett Ursiny, Cody Danto and Sam West (1 minute, 28.96 seconds) that is seeded third.

The 400 freestyle relay team of Ursiny, Danto, West and Shahan (3:19.65) also is in medal range.

On the girls side, Mt. Pleasant senior Heather Gardner is looking for her first gold medals after sweeping WPIAL titles for the third year in a row.

Gardner is seeded first in the 50 freestyle (23.62) and fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.87). She was runner-up in both last season and second in the 50 freestyle in 2018.

“I would like to end my high school career by winning two state titles and finishing strong in all my races,” said Gardner, a Liberty recruit. “I think the team is going to do very well.

“I definitely can see us making the podium in our relays.”

Gardner anchors the 400 freestyle relay team of freshman Reegan Brown, senior Cally Hixson and freshman SaraJo Gardner (Heather’s sister), which is seeded eighth (3:40). She also swims the last leg for the ninth-seeded 200 free relay team of sophomore Ashlyn Hornick, freshman McKenna Mizikar and Hixson (1:40.09).

The Vikings placed second in the WPIAL championship, their best finish, coach Sandra Felice said.

In Class AAA, Norwin senior Ethan Tulenko is seeking his first gold after topping the podium twice in the WPIAL meet.

Tulenko is seeded fourth in the boys 200 freestyle (1:40.07) and 50 freestyle (20.78).

“I think a sweep is possible with the training we are doing,” said Tulenko, who plans to compete for George Washington next season. “My coaches have developed a training plan that will set me up for success.”

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