Penn Hills' Gregory brothers claim WPIAL gold
Penn Hills' Gregory brothers — senior Isaiah and sophomore Kimani — headlined the Indians swim team as they each came home with their first WPIAL titles at the championship meet March 2-3 at Pitt's Trees Pool.
They and their fellow Indians will compete in seven events at the PIAA championships this week at Bucknell University.
Kimani captured the 100-yard butterfly title after a photo finish. He touched the wall 0.01 seconds ahead of Hempfield's Zack Rulli with a time of 50.17 seconds. Kimani also finished second at 44.91 in the 100 freestyle, which was won by North Allegheny's Mason Gonzalez in a WPIAL-record time of 44.17.
“I looked up at the board as soon as I finished and I heard the announcer say, ‘you're winner, lane six,' and I just went off. I have been training for this all year. It was about just believing in myself more than having negative vibes around me,” Kimani said.
“Winning by 0.01, which is by a finger nail or even less than that, just made me think if I did this and improve on my best from last year, I can do the same thing (at states).”
Isaiah won the 100 breaststroke in 57.35 to edge North Allegheny's Brett Edwards (58.52). Isaiah also finished second in the 50 freestyle (20.76), which was also won by Gonzalez (20.05).
“WPIALs was a blast, especially since it was my senior year. It had to be a good one. My motto for it was ‘Last One, Fast One.' My 50 free, I got a best time so I was really happy. I wasn't really worried about place or how I finished. I was more worried about the time itself. It just so happened that it got me second, and that's what I wanted to do and medal,” Isaiah said.
“The 100 breast was a dream come true. It was long time coming. It wasn't the best time, but it was always something I wanted to do. I wanted to win an individual and it being the 100 breast, which is my favorite stroke.”
Junior Stephanie Sipple qualified for states in both of the events she participated in at WPIALs. She was third in the 100 butterfly (57.14) and seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:08.21).
“For my 100 fly, I was a little disappointed with my time but I did get third, which meant I automatically made it to states. That's all I really had to do because I know what I need to do better to drop time in that,” Sipple said. “I will keep practicing what I did wrong, and hopefully whenever it comes down to it I will be able to carry through with those changes and drop the time I want to get.”
The Penn Hills boys 200 freestyle relay of the Gregory brothers, as well as sophomores Glenn Hanna and Tommy Natalia, also advanced to the PIAA meet after placing sixth in 1:27.45.
The Gregory brothers and Sipple have their sights on the PIAA podium.
“I would be speechless and beyond happy to be honest. It has always been something that I wanted to work toward,” Isaiah said.
Sipple added: “That would be the greatest feeling in the world to be up there. I would be able to be proud of what I accomplished because of the work I have put in this year. That will make it all worth it.”
Andrew John is freelance writer.