Trib HSSN Boys Swimmer of the Week: Neshannock’s Conner McBeth
Conner McBeth capped a productive 2018 calendar year with a pair of individual championships at the West Allegheny Invitational on Dec. 29.
McBeth, a sophomore at Neshannock High School, and rival Zachary Bell, a senior at New Castle, went head to head for both sprint freestyle titles.
In the 100 free, McBeth (47.95 seconds) edged Bell by two one-hundredths of a second, and McBeth went 21.99 in the 50 free and bested Bell by 38 one-hundredths of a second.
McBeth and Bell both swam season bests in the 100 free at the West A Invite.
“I was pretty proud of the way I swam there,” said McBeth, the defending WPIAL Class AA champion in both the 50 and 100 frees.
McBeth, who swims as an independent because Neshannock doesn’t field a full high school program, is hoping for a repeat performance in both events at WPIALs and is gearing up for the stretch run.
The WPIAL swimming championships are the week of Feb. 25 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
McBeth had competed successfully in club meets large and small for several years before he arrived at his freshman season.
“He’s was really excited to be there because he was able to represent his high school,” said Karen McBeth, Conner’s mother and high school coach. “It was a new experience for him. He was finally at WPIALs, and he wanted to come out on top.”
McBeth’s WPIAL title in the 50 free came in a time of 21.33, and he knocked close to two seconds off his seed time in the 100 free as he was the only one in the event to go below 47 seconds (46.70).
It’s been 10 years since Mark Stepanian from Blackhawk set the WPIAL Class AA records in both events: 20.79 in the 50 free and 45.97 in the 100 free.
McBeth went on to place fourth in the 100 free at the PIAA championships at Bucknell University. He just missed the championship finals in the 50 free, but he won the consolation final heat with a time of 21.49 for ninth overall.
He was the lone freshman in the final top 16 in both of his events at states.
“To progress that far as a freshman was really special to see,” Karen McBeth said. “He came into the season really motivated to lower his times.”
Conner will compete at the Midwestern Athletic Conference meet Feb. 9 at Moon High School.
“He’s just ready to do well at WPIALs again,” Karen McBeth said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.