Upper St. Clair’s Josh Matheny betters his national record in winning PIAA breaststroke title

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Saturday, March 20, 2021 | 10:23 PM


As a sophomore, Josh Matheny wowed the crowd at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium and many others watching on television with a time of 52.52 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke.

That time at the 2019 PIAA Class AAA championships put him in the National Federation of State High School Associations record books.

His record was there for the taking when he hit the water for the 100 breast Saturday night at Cumberland Valley High School.

And take it Matheny did.

The Indiana University commit and Olympic Trials qualifier swam to a new national-record time of 51.84 seconds, easily outdistancing the field.

“The biggest thing for me was that it was my final race as a high school swimmer, and it was important to me to leave with a bang,” Matheny said. “I just wanted to go as fast as I possibly could. I wasn’t worried as much about the time. I just wanted to execute my race properly, and the time kind of took care of itself.”

When Matheny finished, the rest of the field still had a third of the final 25 yards to go.

His time was 3.58 seconds faster than runner-up Logan Smith, a junior from Cedar Crest in District 3.

“It’s always exciting to look up on the board and see a time that kind of makes everyone’s heads turn,” Matheny said. “As a senior, it made it even a little more special.”

In addition to his new national mark, Matheny also became just the second PIAA swimmer in the last 50 years to win the same event at states four times.

Hershey’s David Nolan accomplished the feat in the 200 individual medley, winning three in Class AA and one in Class AAA from 2008-11 before moving on to Stanford.

Matheny collected two other PIAA gold medals Saturday night. He won the 200 IM in 1:47.54 and was part of USC’s first-place 200 medley relay with Ganesh Sivaramakrishnan, Jason Zhang and Ryan Senchyshak. The group finished in 1:31.42.

For his accomplishments, Matheny was named the Class AAA boys Swimmer of the Meet.

There is no rest for Matheny as he will compete at a long course meters meet in Indianapolis next week as part of his ongoing preparation for the Olympic Trials in Omaha in June.

The Panthers medley relay dropped nearly two seconds from its seed time.

“We were thinking about a shot at (the state record), but realistically, we just wanted to see how fast we could go,” Zhang said. “We got to where we wanted to be. Seeing how fast we can go gives a boost to everyone on the team. It shows how ready we are. We had a good couple weeks of work. We were working on our starts and just fine-tuning a lot of the little things.”

Also bringing home WPIAL titles were North Hills junior Joshua Bogniard in the 100 backstroke (49.07) and Butler senior David Bocci in the 100 butterfly (49.01).

They were the first state titles for both.

Bogniard’s time Saturday was one one-hundredth of a second faster than his seed time (49.08) recorded at WPIALs.

Bocci elevated his 100 fly time from WPIALs by seven one-hundredths of a second, but it still was good enough to bring home the gold.

He placed fifth in the event last year.

“All four guys ahead of me last year were seniors, so right after that, I had the mindset of, ‘Hey, I can win this next year,’” Bocci said. “There were guys who weren’t seniors who weren’t even a second behind me who would be back too, so I knew I needed to work really hard to be ready. I just swam with a lot of confidence.”

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

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