LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Maggie Gruber of Mars High School and Drew Damich of Chartiers Valley have distinctly different approaches to their PIAA swimming gold medals.
By and large, Gruber has looked at her medals as baubles, nice shiny objects that speak to a job well done only if the time matched the victory. Damich? A gold medal means a win ... and he likes to win.
Maybe it has something to do with volume as much as philosophy. Gruber is used to collecting gold medals at the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. With her victory Wednesday night in the Class AA girls 100 butterfly at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium, Gruber claimed her fifth PIAA swimming championship in the past three seasons, including a fourth butterfly title.
That puts Gruber into a rare class of WPIAL swimmers:
Only a handful of WPIAL swimmers have won more than five career PIAA swimming championships.
But Gruber cares mostly about swimming her best time, and her winning mark of 54.35 was nearly a second short of her PIAA record of 53.50 a year ago, initially dimming the otherwise spectacular accomplishment of winning the same event four consecutive years. (Gruber shared the 2010 100 butterfly title with Victoria Gillespie of Nazareth Academy).
But, as the idea of being a four-time champ sunk in, Gruber brightened.
"I am proud of how far I've come," Gruber said. "Having those four titles will be something no one can take away from me."
Gruber and Damich were the lone winners from the WPIAL in the first round of the four-day event at Bucknell.
Damich cruised to a dominating win in the boys 200 freestyle.
His time of 1:40.52 easily outdistanced Fleetwood's Matt Leenhouts (1:42.07).