Seneca Valley’s Daniel Simoes captures PIAA gold in 200 IM

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 | 11:26 PM

Daniel Simoes placed second in the 200-yard individual medley at last year’s PIAA Class 3A championships at Cumberland Valley High School.

He was runner-up to Upper St. Clair standout and current Indiana University freshman Josh Matheny.

A move back to Bucknell for this year’s state meet also brought gold to the Seneca Valley senior.

Simoes captured the state championship Wednesday evening with a time of 1 minute, 48.87 seconds, outdistancing the field which included runner-up Takoda Heckman, a junior from Wilson in District 3.

Heckman finished with a time of 1:49.73.

“I had been working towards this all season,” Simoes said.

“It was the main goal in mind. There were a lot of kids here this year in the 200 IM who weren’t here last year. The competition was really good, and it pushed me to be at my best.”

Simoes finished second to teammate Haihan Xu at WPIALs with a time of 1:51.09, and he lowered that to 1:50.69 for second place after the preliminaries Wednesday morning.

When he touched the wall to finish the championship heat and looked up on the board, Simoes said there was a mix of excitement and relief.

“I was pretty nervous for the race, but it was just so exciting to meet that goal I’ve been working so hard for.”

Xu added a fourth-place finish in the 200 IM at states to the WPIAL title he won March 3 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Simoes and Xu later teamed with seniors Kevin Donaldson and Zach Lozowski to finish second in the 200 free relay. Their time of 1:23.31 was just 13 one-hundredths of a second behind champion Liberty from District 11.

Those performances were some of the top highlights for WPIAL swimmers in a first-day finals experience not soon to be forgotten by the swimmers, coaches, spectators and PIAA officials.

Issues with the timing system plagued the PIAA boys finals, which began close to an hour past the original start time.

Several additional delays stalled the swimming as PIAA officials worked to correct the problem. Officials also spent time working out placement problems in certain events, but ultimately they were able to correct those issues.

The delays pushed the start time for the girls events to 8:05 from an original start time of 6:50.

Issues resurfaced right before the finals of the girls 100 butterfly.

Fox Chapel’s Sophie Shao stood on the bulkhead next to the starting block for nearly 10 minutes as PIAA officials worked out a problem with the timing system.

“I wasn’t thinking about too much,” Shao said. “I was just looking around, and I said, ‘Dang, this is a fast group this year.’ (Hatboro Horsham freshman) Annie (Jia), oh my God. She is amazing.”

Shao attempted to win her third straight 100 fly state title, but Jia was just too strong and claimed the championship with a PIAA record time of 52.04 seconds.

The time also is a new Bucknell pool record, surpassing the previous top mark of 52.99 set by Hershey’s Kathleen Nolan at the 2009 PIAA championship meet.

Shao’s time of 54.22, slightly higher than the WPIAL record of 53.85 she set March 3 at Pitt’s Trees Pool, is the exact time she swam at states as a freshman.

“That was amazing competition overall,” Shao said. “Annie is insane, and she’s only a freshman. I am speechless.”

Wednesday was another full day for Shao who had six total swims, including the prelims and finals of the 200 individual medley.

Shao, a first-time WPIAL champion in the event with a time of 2:02.51, finished third in the championship heat with a 2:03.09.

The Foxes’ 200 medley relay of Shao, junior Talia Bugel, senior Ariana Pasquella and senior Rei Sperry kicked off the girls finals with a second-place finish in a time of 1:44.09.

They maintained their seed placement coming out of the preliminaries earlier in the day and trimmed a half second off their prelim time (1:45.12).

The quartet set the school record of 1:43.90 in winning the WPIAL title two weeks ago.

The Mt. Lebanon girls 200 medley relay of juniors Vivian Roy, Marley Reese and Adrienne Hagins and freshman Sylvia Roy landed in third (1:45.53).

Upper St. Clair senior Ganesh Sivaramakrishnan was second after the prelims of the boys 100 fly, and he also was second after the finals (48.28).

The WPIAL champion came in seeded second to the eventual PIAA titlist, Liberty senior Patrick Gilhool (47.69).

Sivaramakrishnan also teamed with fellow Panthers seniors Will Perham, Ethan Neal and Ryan Senchyshak to take third in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:32.66.

Day 2 of the PIAA Class 3A championships kicks off Thursday morning with prelim swims in the 100 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay. The boys prelims begin at 7:50, with the girls to follow at 10:25.

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

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