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Penn Hills’ Gregory wants to leave mark on WPIAL record books

Andrew John
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn Hills’ Kimani Gregory waits to compete in the 200 medley relay against Fox Chapel Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 at Penn Hills.
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Penn Hills’ Kimani Gregory competes in the 200 IM against Fox Chapel on Jan. 16 at Penn Hills.

Penn Hills senior Kimani Gregory has his sights on leaving his mark in the WPIAL record books when he races for one final time in the WPIAL Class AAA swim championships at Pitt’s Trees Pools on Feb. 28 and March 1.

Gregory, a North Carolina State commit, will try to win the 100-yard butterfly for the third year in a row and 100-yard freestyle for the second year in a row.

“If I go 43 (seconds) in the 100 free that would be really nice to go into states with. To beat my best time in the 100 fly and get a WPIAL record would be pretty awesome,” Gregory said.

Last season, Gregory finished second in the 100 butterfly at the PIAA meet in 48.03, which was just behind Conestoga’s Brendan Burns (47.04).

In the 100 freestyle, Gregory finished third in 43.76. North Allegheny teammates Mason Gonzalez and Jack Wright finished first and second with times of 43.03 and 43.56.

At WPIALs, Gregory defended his 100 butterfly title by winning with a time of 48.25. Gregory set a new WPIAL record in the 100 freestyle with a time 44.09.

He is expecting to battle against North Allegheny senior Jack Wright in the 100 freestyle and Seneca Valley junior Owen Blazer in the 100 butterfly.

“Those are guys that I’ve had a chance to swim against my entire life. It’s a normal feeling to be able to compete against them. Those are competitive guys,” Gregory said.

“Those are guys that when I’m practicing I have to think I’m racing against. It’s not just my teammates. It’s the reason why I get up, go to practice, train hard and rate my performance.”

At WPIALs, Gregory will lead off the Indians’ 200 freestyle relay team and will swim the butterfly in the 200 medley relay; both have podium potential.

Both relay teams will comprise of, in no particular order, Gregory, senior Glenn Hanna, sophomore Michael Lintelman and senior Tommy Natalia.

“Last one, fast one. I’m trying to leave my mark. I want to be a lion outside of the cage in the jungle,” Gregory said.

Even though his focus is on his races, Gregory is willing to admit he will have mixed emotions as he participates in his final WPIAL championship.

“I think it’s going to be a little difficult. I think WPIALs is a place where everyone has a chance to compete on a bigger stage. The stands are packed and everyone wants to watch someone race,” Gregory said.

“It will feel different once it’s over, but it won’t feel like I’m saying good bye because I have another four years. I’m beginning a new chapter in the book after WPIALs. I have to turn the page and start writing that.”

Hanna, who has the greatest chance to reach the podium with Gregory, qualified in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Last year, Hanna finished 12th in the 50 freestyle in 22.00 seconds, while finishing 18th in the 100 freestyle in 48.56.

Junior Colleen Hoolahan has qualified in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Last year, Hoolahan finished 19th in the breaststroke in 1:09.86.

Michael Lintelman has qualified for the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

The Indians are hopeful to have girls relay teams in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle. Senior Emma Lintelman is still looking to qualify in the 500 freestyle and 200 IM.

“We just need to focus and do what we’ve been doing all season,” Penn Hills coach Cheryl Ciorra said.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.