North Allegheny's PIAA boys swimming championship celebration on hold
March 20, 2017 12:00 AM
Gateway freshman Olivia Livingston after recently winning a WPIAL championship event.
By Keith Barnes / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Officially, North Allegheny has not won a PIAA Class 3A boys team swimming title since 2010.
In reality, the Tigers were dissuaded from taking their traditional championship victory plunge in the Kinney Natatorium pool at Bucknell University early Sunday night to celebrate their inevitable coronation for the fourth state title in school history after a dominant performance in the finals.
“Honestly, it was a great weekend for us and we are happy and we are winning,” North Allegheny coach Patrick Wenzel said. “It obviously feels a bit bizarre we’re leaving there without getting to have a proper celebration.”
Because the PIAA was forced to rearrange the meet schedule after a winter storm last week crippled much of the central and eastern parts of the state, the competition was held Saturday and Sunday instead of the usual Friday and Saturday. In addition, the PIAA opted for timed finals and eliminated the morning preliminary swims and evening championships, which gave individuals and relays only one chance to post a time and win a medal.
In addition to that, the PIAA also moved the diving portion of the program to next weekend. Since diving scores are incorporated into the overall team total, the team results from the swimming-only portion of the program won’t be made official until after the diving finals, which also will be at Bucknell.
Because North Allegheny has a 271-183 lead over LaSalle College and no one has more than two divers, the Tigers already have won the title. The most points any team can pick up in diving is 37 as fourth-place North Penn has two seeded in the top eight, but the Tigers do not have a diver in the field .
“They are going to drive the trophy to us at some point,” Wenzel said. “We’re going to figure out how we receive and how we will celebrate at that point.”
What also was surreal was how the meet ended. North Allegheny wrapped up the meet with the 400 freestyle relay team being disqualified after what would have been a state record. The Tigers swam a 2:58 that was more than a second better than the previous mark, but the officials called the coaches to the stand and informed them of the disqualification.
“Obviously it was disappointing, but our boys swam so well and, I’ll tell you what, they handled that with grace,” Wenzel said. “They are happy and having a good time on the bus ride home and they’re not as upset as I am for them as a coach.”
North Allegheny took its decisive lead with dominating performances on both days thanks in large part to junior Mason Gonzalez, who won two individual titles and a gold medal in the 200 medley relay.
Gonzalez won the 50 freestyle Saturday and followed that up with a victory Sunday in the 100 freestyle. In the 100 freestyle, Gonzalez posted a time of 43.62 seconds that beat Penn Hills sophomore Kimani Gregory by 0.95 seconds and the Tigers’ Jack Wright by 1.05 in a 1-2-3 WPIAL finish.
He also swam the anchor leg of the disqualified 400 freestyle relay.
Gateway freshman Olivia Livingston had been perfect through the postseason with three races, three titles and three records in the WPIAL and PIAA meet. Her streak came to an end in the first event Sunday when Pennridge junior Morgan Scott caught her on the final lap to win the 100 freestyle with a 49.43 seconds to win by 0.10 seconds.
Livingston came into the meet as the No. 1 seed in the event with a WPIAL-record 49.53 seed time and equaled that time again in the fourth and final heat of the times finals. Her time would have been good enough to win in two of the previous three years.
“I was OK with it because I know how good of a swimmer Morgan is,” Livingston said. “I still have to grow more and I’m only in ninth grade and I have a lot to work on and even my coach has said that and it’s good to have people in front of you to tell you you still have something to work on.”
Sophomore Trinity Ward of Mt. Lebanon, who won a PIAA championship Saturday in the 100 butterfly, finished third with a time of 49.48 seconds. As a freshman, Ward finished seventh in the butterfly in 2016 and, and the second day, competed in the 100 backstroke and finished 11th overall.
Ward and Livingston were the only WPIAL swimmers to win PIAA championships in the girls draw on either day. Sophomore Abby Hay of Peters Township did, however, pick up a silver medal in the 500 freestyle, finishing second to the defending champion, sophomore Anna Kalandadze of Lower Merion, by 7.02 seconds.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.