Penn Hills’ Gregory, freestyle relay prepare for PIAA championship meet
By: Andrew John
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 1:30 AM
When it comes to the Penn Hills swim team, the main attraction is senior Kimani Gregory.
Gregory lived up to his top billing as expected, but a few other Indians shined as well at the WPIAL Class AAA championships Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
The Indians had two swimmers reach the podium in individual events as well as a relay team. Penn Hills will have four swimmers participate in the PIAA championships March 15-16 at Bucknell.
Gregory, a North Carolina State commit, defended his titles in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle.
In the 100 butterfly, Gregory finished almost two seconds ahead of North Allegheny’s Branko Kosanovich with a time of 47.94 seconds. The time fell just .01 short of Upper St. Clair’s Ryan Dudzinski’s WPIAL record (47.93) set in 2015.
Gregory is now a three-time 100 butterfly champion. Last year, Gregory won in 48.25.
In the 100 free, Gregory edged North Allegheny’s Jack Wright with a time of 44.51 to finish with back-to-back titles at WPIALs.
As a junior, Gregory set a new WPIAL record in the 100 freestyle with a time 44.09.
“It was awesome to be able to leave and know that I accomplished something that was really good heading into college. It was really disappointing to not get the record, but it shows that record will remain for a really long time,” Gregory said.
The Indians’ most surprising finish at WPIALs was in the 200-yard freestyle relay where they finished second with a time of 1:25.88 behind North Allegheny (1:22.92).
The Indians were seeded seventh but believed they lucked out with racing from lane one and having an open lane next to them.
Gregory led off the relay to build an early lead with a 20.21 split. Senior Glenn Hanna, who normally anchors the relay, went second and finished with a 21.06 split.
Sophomore Michael Lintelman (22.52) and senior Tommy Natalia (22.09) maintained the lead to finish second.
“We were all shocked and very happy to beat a school record,” Hanna said. “It was very satisfying. Right now at Penn Hills, when looking at the swim team everyone looks at Kimani Gregory, and now we have a relay that is pretty dominant.”
Hanna will make his first appearance at states in an individual event after finishing fourth (21.46) in the 50-yard freestyle.
Last year at WPIALs, Hanna finished in 12th place in the 50 with a time of 22.00.
“It’s very exciting. I wish I got into swimming at a much earlier age. I’m just glad I can go out there to Bucknell University with my teammates and go out with a bang,” Hanna said.
The 200 medley just missed the podium after finishing ninth in 1:37.41.
Gregory will look to make his last meet for Penn Hills count as he has his eyes to stand on top of the podium.
Last year at states, Gregory finished second in the 100 butterfly (48.03) behind Conestoga’s Brendan Burns (47.04).
In the 100 free, Gregory finished third in 43.76.
“I didn’t swim the way I wanted to in first three years. Being able to go back for a fourth and final time and to be a gold medal winner for my team and my family means a lot,” Gregory said.
“We will be mentally and physically preparing to a T to swim as a fast as possible. We will work our butts off to really push ourselves to win this.”
The Penn Hills seniors will utilize their saying, “last one, fast one,” as they prepare for the state meet.
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