North Allegheny boys, girls swim teams maintain dominance at WPIAL meet

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Friday, March 1, 2019 | 2:47 PM


The North Allegheny boys and girls swim teams reign again.

The Tigers boys captured their eighth straight WPIAL Class AAA team title and 13th in 14 years Friday at Pitt’s Trees Pool. The NA girls won their 11th straight crown.

“It certainly never gets old,” Tigers coach Patrick Wenzel said. “Each one is so different based on the people who are on the team. We did a lot of different things this year, and I am just excited that everything worked.”

Junior Victoria Buerger (100-yard backstroke), sophomore Molly Smyers (girls 500 free) and junior Rick Mihm (500 free) defended WPIAL titles in their events.

The boys 400 free relay of Joshua Galecki, Branko Kosanovich, Anatole Borisov and Joel Songer won its fourth straight championship. The girls quartet of Smyers, Buerger, Mary Flavin and Lila McGrath was victorious for the second year in a row.

“It’s fun to watch all of the hard work culminate in championships,” Wenzel said. “Everyone contributed. You can’t win the meet with just two or three kids. They all worked towards the same goal.”

Three records fell in the 10 Class AAA races.

Upper St. Clair senior Jack Fitzpatrick started it off with a record in the boys 100 backstroke with a time of 48.20 seconds. He surpassed the previous record of 48.35 set by USC graduate Ryan Dudzinski in 2014.

“I’m not really rested for this meet, so I was kind of nervous going into it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I didn’t know if I was going to go fast. My coach told me to race like it was a 50, and I just kept going for another 50.”

A short time later, Fox Chapel freshman Zoe Skirboll broke the record in the girls 100 breaststroke (1:00.96) that had stood since 2012.

“I was really excited for my time, and it was great to see everyone on the side going crazy,” she said. “It was a best time for me, so it really pumped me up.”

Josh Matheny, a sophomore from Upper St. Clair, then defended his boys 100 breast title and set a record with at time of 54.70, bettering the old mark of 54.82 set by Mt. Lebanon grad Jack Lanphear in 2016.

Two others — Gateway junior Olivia Livingston and Penn Hills senior Kimani Gregory — defended individual titles.

Livingston remains unbeaten in individual swims at WPIALs. She captured her third 100 free championship in as many tries to go with the three 50 free titles already on her resume.

She finished the 100 free with a time of 49.97.

“I definitely now know what I need to work on (for states) to get faster,” Livingston said. “I know I can get faster because I’ve been working so hard this year, and practices were harder and more challenging.”

Gregory took the boys 100 free title with a time of 44.51. He set a WPIAL record of 44.09 last year.

“It was a pretty good time for not being tapered,” Gregory said. “I just wanted to come in and go as fast as possible. I felt I was going faster than I actually was. Even though I didn’t get a best time, there’s still the state meet to go faster.”

The WPIAL champion is the only automatic qualifier to the PIAA championships, set for March 13 and 14 at Bucknell.

The at-large bids from the WPIAL, based on times recorded Thursday and Friday, will be determined by comparing times from the other 11 districts to form the lineups for each individual and relay event.

The PIAA tentatively is expected to release the qualifying lists for each event Sunday afternoon.

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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