Highlands' Bonnett sets state record in claiming 4th PIAA gold medal
Bailey Bonnett had three state championships to her credit — in the 500 free last year and in 2015 and the 200 individual medley captured Thursday.
She hoped to add a fourth gold medal Friday and also chase down a state record.
Mission accomplished on both fronts.
Bonnett was dominant. She went sub 1:01 in her final high school event, the 100-yard breaststroke. The Kentucky commit set the state record with a time of 1 minute, 0.84 seconds, more than two seconds faster than her nearest competitor — Fairview senior Abby German.
“I was just trying to stay calm,” Bonnett said. “I didn't want to get too pumped up and start spinning my wheels. I just tried to count my strokes during my race like I always do.
“When I first touched the wall, I though it said 1:01.8, and I thought that I didn't even get a best time. But then I looked back a second time, and I saw 1:00. I knew then I got a best time. I was just going for a best time, and if that broke the state record, even better.”
Ellwood City senior Taylor Petrak started the day with her second state title of the 2017 championships as she won the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.42.
“Taylor said her block (foot rest) was messed up at the beginning of her race,” Bonnett said. “We were in the same lane, so she told me to make sure it was clicked in. I didn't want it to pop out. It did click back a little bit at the start, but it didn't affect my race.”
Bonnett said when she looks back over her four years, which includes eight WPIAL individual titles, she realizes how much she's grown as a swimmer and how much she's prepared herself to go to college.
“I am looking forward to trying to get more best times as I go along,” she said.
Springdale senior Kevin Kondrit came within three one-hundredths of a second of his first state title as he earned silver in the 500 freestyle.
The Pitt commit swam a personal-best 4:33.69, almost three seconds faster than his WPIAL-winning time of 4:36.34. But he was edged out for the title by Marion Catholic sophomore Danny Berlitz (4:33.66).
“I touched the wall, looked over at the board and saw it was a personal best by close to three seconds,” Kondrit said. “I can't be mad about that. I know I gave everything I had in that race. For Berlitz to be only in 10th grade and go that fast, that's impressive. It's fine walking away with a silver.”
Kondrit took third in the 200 freestyle Thursday.
“When I started my high school career, I didn't think I would end it anywhere near where I did and near the top of the medals stand,” Kondrit said. “The progress I've made in the four events I swam, I'm really happy with that.”
Collin Hurley was in a battle Friday for the top spot in the 100 breaststroke, and the Springdale senior kept pace throughout the race and made a late charge into a third-place finish.
He came in seeded sixth (59.01) and recorded a time of 58.14. As with his 200 IM race Thursday, he finished the 100 breast as the top WPIAL finisher. The WPIAL champ, Knoch's John Wilson, took sixth, and Derry senior Zach Baum came in fifth.
“It definitely was a packed field for the final heat,” said Hurley, who already had taken third in the IM.
“Based on my races, I don't take the first 50 out the fastest. So I knew I had to rely on my back half to try and catch some people. It definitely was a good way to go out.”
Deer Lakes freshman Renee Robson finished her first PIAA meet with a 14th-place finish in the 100 freestyle (53.59). She placed 15th in the 50 free Thursday.
Fellow Deer Lakes freshman Adam Morrison made his state-meet debut Friday, and he finished 28th in the 500 free with a time of 5:00.82.
The PIAA championships continue Saturday as the Class AAA meet kicks off at 4 p.m. with timed finals. The Class AAA races conclude Sunday. Kiski Area freshman Naomee Miller will swim the 200 IM Saturday and the 100 breaststroke Sunday.