Penn Hills’ Gregory looks to build off strong performance at junior championships
A shoulder injury might have been a blessing in disguise for Penn Hills swimmer Kimani Gregory.
Gregory, a senior, came back to make the “A” finals in three events at the East Speedo Winter Junior Championships held Dec. 5-8 in Greensboro, N.C. The West meet was in Austin, Texas.
He placed third in the men’s 100-yard freestyle (43.95 seconds), fourth in the 50 freestyle (20.01) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (48.03).
He followed up with first-place in the men’s 100 freestyle (45.16) and second place in the 50 freestyle (20.11) and the 200 butterfly (2:54.50) at the Pitt Christmas Meet at Trees Pool.
Gregory, who will compete for North Carolina State next season, said the injury forced him to swim flat and breathe on both sides.
“He’s feeling the water,” said Jim Skirboll, Gregory’s coach with Racer X Aquatics.
Gregory, the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion in the 100 butterfly and the 100 freestyle, hopes to cap his high school career with PIAA titles. He placed second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 freestyle last season.
“He has put in hard work all year,” Penn Hills coach Cheryl Ciorra said.
North Carolina State coach Braden Holloway expects Gregory to contribute right away to the Wolfpack, who placed fourth at the 2018 NCAA Division I championship and earned the ACC crown for the fourth year in a row.
“We are graduating some great leadership and men (who) specialize in the sprints,” Holloway said. “Kimani will help our transition and keep us going right where we left off.
“Kimani will play these immediate impacts not just individually, but on our relays, as well.”
Holloway said Gregory will not only fit in athletically, but with his personality.
“He is full of contagious spirit,” Holloway said.
Skirboll said Gregory has a good attitude.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.