Reigning PIAA champions prepare to defend titles; WPIAL swimmers earn top seeds

Monday, March 4, 2019 | 9:57 PM

The WPIAL, as expected, will be well-represented at the PIAA Class AAA and AA swimming and diving championships March 13-16 at Bucknell.

Several new WPIAL records were established last Thursday and Friday at Pitt’s Trees Pool, and the fast WPIAL meet produced up to a dozen state qualifiers in certain events.

“Hopefully, everyone can perform well and hold their seeds,” Upper St. Clair swimming coach Dave Schraven said. “The state meet is fast, and it gets faster every year. It can come down to a matter of tenths or hundredths of a second in hitting a goal time or getting a qualifying mark to states. That’s the nature of the sport. We had a couple who were the last to make it in their event, and a couple who were just on the other side.”

Panthers sophomore Josh Matheny is hoping to defend his Class AAA state title in the boys 100-yard breaststroke. He swam a time of 54.55 seconds last year and fended off the challenges of several other underclassmen. He posted a WPIAL record (54.70) in the event last Friday. District 1 champion David Abrahams, a senior from Haverford, is seeded second (56.11).

Also hoping to defend state titles in boys Class AAA is North Allegheny in both the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, Tigers’ junior Rick Mihm in both the 200 IM and 500 free and NA senior Jack Wright in the 200 free.

Wright is seeded first in the 200 free, while Mihm is the top seed in the 500. The Tigers 200 medley relay is the top seed, while the 400 free relay is seeded second.

Gateway junior Olivia Livingston is the two-time defending state champion in the Class AAA girls 50 free, and she again is seeded first after winning the WPIAL title (22.78) a third consecutive time.

She also won her third WPIAL 100 free title in as many attempts (49.97) and is seeded first for states. She hopes to break through after finishing as runner-up last year and in 2017.

Other top seeds include Fox Chapel senior Jonah Cagley (diving) in boys AAA; Butler junior Laura Goettler (200 IM), Mt. Lebanon senior Trinity Ward (100 butterfly), North Allegheny junior Victoria Buerger (100 back) and Fox Chapel freshman Zoe Skirboll (100 breast) in girls AAA; Mt. Pleasant junior Heather Gardner (50 free), Northgate senior Karen Siddoway (100 free) and Ringgold senior Anna Vogt (diving) in girls AA; and the Shady Side Academy 200 free relay, Belle Vernon sophomore Ian Shahan (100 free), the Indiana 400 free relay and Belle Vernon senior Robert Spekis (100 breast) in boys AA.

Class AA swimming and diving kicks everything off March 13-14, and the Class AAA competitors take over Bucknell March 15-16.

The qualifying lists can be viewed on the PIAA website.

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

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