Throughout the entirety of the second day of WPIAL Class AA championship swimming action at Pitt’s Trees Pool, both the boys and girls teams for Northgate and Indiana were jockeying for pole position in the standings, trading off the Nos. 1 and 2 spots with each passing event.
Both meets were decided in the final event — the 400-yard freestyle relay. Once the waves had settled and the pool emptied, the schools split the trophies, with the Northgate girls earning first place and the Indiana boys taking home a championship.
For Northgate, it marked the school’s first WPIAL Class AA team championship for the girls, just one season after winning the program’s first boys title. The Flames refused to be extinguished, tallying a team score of 225 points to narrowly edge Indiana’s 220.
The victory was, without a doubt, rewarding for Northgate coach Jess McKelvey, although she did have another word for the way it finished.
“Stressful. But amazing. I knew they could do it, and I knew when I put those four girls together in that relay, they would get it done. I have a lot of really good freestyle swimmers, and they came through when we needed it,” McKelvey said.
“It’s awesome. I’m super proud of the boys, as well as the girls. This team swims for each other, and magical things can happen when you have that belief in each other, for sure.”
The Northgate girls swam a 3:35.89 in the 400 free relay to defeat the Indiana girls’ time of 3:37.86.
On the boys side, however, Indiana’s 400 free relay chiseled out a time of 3:15.29 to beat Shady Side Academy (3:17.13) and Northgate (3:18.04), granting the Little Indians the WPIAL Class AA team crown with their final point total of 211.5. Northgate finished right on their heels with a score of 193.
“It’s so awesome to accomplish this. I couldn’t be more proud of all our kids, really. They swam their hearts out. With the boys, we only came in with seven boys altogether, so obviously it’s pretty special to come away with the first place finish,” Indiana coach Garet Weston said.
“Every swimmer did their part. I actually had two boys that gave up individual events to swim in a relay, and it just goes to show that they will do whatever they need to do to be successful. It was a great team win.”
The second day of the WPIAL Class AA championships also saw a couple of records fall, as Belle Vernon swimmers Ian Shahan and Robert Spekis each etched their names in the WPIAL record books.
Spekis broke his own record from last season in the 100 breaststroke, winning in 56.99 seconds, beating his time of 57.80 from last season.
In the 100 free, Shahan clocked a time of 45.48 to beat Blackhawk’s Mark Stepanian’s 10-year-old record mark of 45.97. Second-place finisher Connor McBeth of Neshannock also topped Stepanian’s mark, racing to a time of 45.80.