PIAA CHAMPIONS

                                           WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS…THIRD PLACE

                                            SECTION V CHAMPIONS

                                            DUAL MEET RECORD…10-0

                                            MOON INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS           

                                                     DUAL MEET RESULTS

                                           GATEWAY  49               NORWIN  27                                                                                

                                           GATEWAY  89               PLUM  83

                                           GATEWAY  101             HIGHLANDS  70

                                           GATEWAY  117             LATROBE  54

                                           GATEWAY  58               STEEL VALLEY  18

                                           GATEWAY  104             FRANKLIN REGIONAL  68

                                           GATEWAY  107             PENN HILLS  65

                                           GATEWAY  50              SHALER  26

                                           GATEWAY  56               McKEESPORT  19

                                           GATEWAY  57               CHURCHILL  19

            The 1985 Girls’ Swim Team had many new faces and challenges.  Larry Petrillo returned as head coach with two new assistants, Rich Hrenko, a Gateway graduate and football quarterback and Jani Riggs, a graduate and swimmer from Franklin Regional.  They brought not only a new training regimen to the four lane “Swamp” which included weight training and stretch cord circuits, but a change in practice expectations and requirements.  Also joining the team were ten freshmen who gave the Gators more depth for the dual meet season.  Included in this class were eventual WPIAL qualifiers, Anne Spaeder, Kathleen Lynch, and Jeanne Truschel and eventual letter winners Laura Hanlon and Jill Straffin.  The returning members from the 1984 team included sixteen letter winners, ten WPIAL qualifiers and four PIAA competitors.  The PIAA competitors were: Michelle Chow, State champion in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, Donna Ledgerwood, Celeste Makiel, and Jennifer Quel.  This team even had three divers who could only compete at away meets and save the Gators from being thirteen points behind from the start.  The team goals focused on winning the section which meant beating a very strong Plum team at their pool and qualifying more swimmers to the WPIAL championships.  The team responded well to all the training demands, dual meet pressures and meeting the qualifying standards for the WPIAL championships.  The highly anticipated Plum meet with both teams vying for the section title proved the competitiveness of this year’s team.  Swimming at the Plum pool and with a total team effort, the Gators did not take the lead in the meet until the second to last event and cinched the victory with a win in the 400 Free Relay composed of Michelle Chow, Donna Ledgerwood, Celeste Makiel, and Anne Spaeder.  The 1985 team did not have another close meet and finished with a perfect 10-0 record and won the Section V title accomplishing one of their goals.  This team in laying the foundation for the future had 21 letter winners and qualified nine swimmers and two relays to the WPIALS.

                                                WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Having completed a successful dual meet season with many personal best swims by all of the girls, the nine qualifiers looked forward to placing high in the team standings and qualify for the PIAA championships.  Of the nine qualifiers there was one senior, two juniors, three sophomores, and three freshmen.  Seven of the girls qualified in multiple events.  The girls scored in eight of ten events finishing in third place behind perennial powers Bethel Park and North Allegheny.  The high team standing was savored more because of the one point finish above the fourth place team, Plum.  Many of the swims at this meet were personal bests and team records were set in two events.  First place finishers and qualifying for the PIAA meet were: Junior Michelle Chow in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles for the third consecutive year in both events; a great swim by Freshman Anne Spaeder surprised everyone and set a team record in the 200 Individual Medley; and the 400 Freestyle relay comprised of Senior Donna Ledgerwood, Sophomore Celeste Makiel, Anne Spaeder, and Michelle Chow.  A second place finish was won by Celeste Makiel in the 500 yard freestyle and she also finished third in the 200 yard freestyle setting a team record.  Both of her swims qualified her for the PIAA meet.  Anne Spaeder finished fifth in the 500 yard freestyle, qualifying for States.  Freshman, Jeanne Truschel finished sixth in the 100 yard breaststroke and qualified for States.  The 200 Medley Relay comprised of Junior Jennifer Quel, Jeanne Truschel, Sophomore Nicole Pagliari, and Donna Ledgerwood finished sixth and qualified for  the PIAA State meet.  Also competing and adding to the third place team finish were: Jennifer Quel in the 100 yard backstroke; Sophomore, Jennifer Shellhammer in the 500 yard freestyle, and Freshman Kathleen Lynch who competed in the 200 yard Individual Medley and the 100 yard Breaststroke.  As a result of their strong swims, the Gators will take seven girls to the PIAA State championships and compete in eight events.

                                              PIAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

            The final challenge for the Lady Gators came in March at the PIAA State Championships in State College.  Their goal was to swim a best time and hopefully score in the top 12 in their eight events.  The team standings were not even given much of a thought. The coaches and qualifiers were anticipating a high seed among the state qualifiers for Michelle’s two events and in the 400 Freestyle relay and we were anxious to see where our other qualifiers placed.  During the coaches’ meeting prior to the meet, a coach from Bethel Park, whose team was one of the favorites to win the team title, informed Mr. P. that the Gators were seeded first.  Mr. P. thought he was referring to the 400 Free Relay, but was quickly corrected.  He meant in the “team standings”!  When the girls were told this, the effect was an overwhelming surprise and each swimmer had a stunned look.  The Gator girls had never been in this position nor had this type of pressure with so much opportunity and so much at stake.  Each girl felt the pressure to swim her best and score some team points.  The PIAA competition is intense and each girl responded with great swims.  Led by Michelle Chow’s third consecutive wins in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle, the girls kept themselves in the hunt for the team championship.  Celeste Makiel finished eighth in the 200 Freestyle and twelfth in the 500 Freestyle. Anne Spaeder took a fifth in the 200 Individual Medley and  tenth in the 500 Freestyle.  Non scoring Gators who finished in the States top 25 were: Jeanne Truschel in the 100 Breaststroke and the 200 Medley relay of Jennifer Quel, Jeanne Truschel, Nicole Pagliari, and Donna Ledgerwood.


             Prior to this last event, the team scoring had the Gators in third place behind Emmaus and North Allegheny.  The relay qualified third in the preliminary swim, one second behind Emmaus and .2 of a second behind North Allegheny.  The Gator girls, Donna Ledgerwood, Anne Spaeder, Celeste Makiel, and Michelle Chow prepared themselves for the swim of their lifetime.  They had to win the event to win the team championship!!  Having Michelle, the 100 yard champion at anchor, was an incentive for the other girls to keep the other teams close for the relay to have a chance to win the gold.  The season long physical and mental preparations combined with the competitive nature of each girls to stay focused on their race was rewarded.  Each swam their best time as they raced for gold.  The relay dropped three seconds from their earlier swim to not only win the event, but score enough points to pass Emmaus and North Allegheny for the PIAA Team crown.  THE FIRST PIAA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP FOR A GIRLS’SPORT AT GATEWAY.


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