Upper St. Clair wins WPIAL boys swimming championship at home pool

Sunday, March 7, 2021 | 10:44 PM

Because of covid-19 protocols, Pitt’s Trees Pool was unable to host the WPIAL swimming championships as usual. Upper St. Clair High School stepped in and hosted the two-day event this weekend.

Maybe it was fitting the weekend ended with the Panthers boys swim team capturing their first team championship since 2011 in nail-biting fashion over Seneca Valley.

The outcome was in question until the night’s final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, which Seneca Valley won, but Upper St. Clair’s Josh Matheny came on in the last leg to help the Panthers finish sixth to secure enough points to win the title, 276.5-275 over the Raiders.

Upper St. Clair’s 200-yard medley relay unit set the tone right off the bat in the meet’s first event. Ganesh Sivaramakrishnan, Matheny, Jason Zhang and Daniel Wang not only won that event, but set a pool record with a time of 1 minute, 33.33 seconds.

“We were really looking forward to the meet, and we thought we had a good chance to win that relay and set the stage for the night,” Upper St. Clair assistant coach Mike Densmore said.

Upper St. Clair’s Wang, Sivaramakrishnan, Ethan Neal and Ryan Senchyshak also won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:25.35.

Matheny, an Indiana recruit, added to his decorated resume by winning gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke and taking silver in the 200 IM.

“This was not the main event for him at this stage,” Densmore said. “He should do well where he’s at and also in states getting ready for that.”

Matheny’s winning time of 54.50 in the 100 breaststroke broke the WPIAL record he set last year (54.43).

Seneca Valley junior Daniel Simoes won the 200 IM over Matheny with a pool record time of 1:50.86. Even though the Raiders won the 400 free relay, it was not quite enough for a team championship.

“Going into it (the championship), we knew it was going to be really exciting,” Seneca Valley coach Brian Blackwell said, “with the score of the teams being so close together for the first time in a couple of years.”

North Hills senior Josh Bogniard, who is headed to Ohio State, used two silver medals from last year as motivation for this year’s championships and he did not disappoint.

Bogniard won gold in the 100 free (45.52) and 100 back (49.08). North Hills coach Lucas Marsak thought the second race was Bogniard’s best race of the year.

“That swim was I thought Josh’s best swim of the season. The 100 free, he looked tight at the end. This race (100-back), he was on fire,” he said.

Butler, which finished fourth in the team standings with 189 points, got winning performances from Ben Borvendeg in the 50 free (20.95) and Clarion-bound David Bocci, who set a pool record in the 100 fly (48.94) and won the 500 freestyle (4:31.81).

Gateway’s Andrew Holmes won the 200 freestyle (1:41.43) event.

Upper St. Clair snapped North Allegheny’s nine-year championship streak. The Tigers finished third with 227.5 points.

The PIAA championships are next for the winners from the WPIAL meet, as only the gold medalists received automatic berths to the state meet. The rest of the field, including swimmers from District 7, will be chosen by at-large bids statewide to compete March 20, at Cumberland Valley High School.

Watch an archived video stream broadcast of the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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