There were old faces, old names and some new names and new faces climbing atop the podium representing the North zone this year in boys swimming.
The old faces, of course, belonged to the North Allegheny dynasty who captured a PIAA team title for the first time in seven years. North Allegheny essentially led the state meet wire-to-wire. It won the very first event, the 200-medley relay, with freshman Rick Mihm, junior Andrew Zhang and the Gonzalez brothers, junior Mason and senior Maxwell. Their individual depth was on display immediately with senior Eben Krigger, sophomore Jack Wright and Mihm placing 3-4-5 in the 200 freestyle, the first individual event of the meet. Max Gonzalez was fourth in the 200 IM, Zhang won silver in the 100 butterfly and Mason Gonzalez was nearly perfect, winning three gold medals.
As he has all season, Mason Gonzalez was at the center of it all for the Tigers. He won three state gold medals, the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and as part of the 200 medley relay. The disqualification denied him a rare four-for-four PIAA gold medal performance. His time of 19.99 in the 50 freestyle puts him in rarefied PIAA air. Only three swimmers have under broken 20 seconds in the event at the PIAA meet, Hershey's David Nolan and Haverford's Shane Ryan.
In a weekend of dominating swims, North Allegheny was at its best in the 200-freestyle relay. Wright, Mihm, Maxwell Gonzalez and Krigger won with a time of 1:20.95 that broke the 2011 state record held by a Hershey team that featured Nolan.
There were bizarre circumstances surrounding the state meet for NA. They left Bucknell University with an 88-point margin of victory but no state title as they had to wait a week for weather-delayed diving to finish. The 88-point margin of victory could have been larger had it not been a 400-freestyle relay disqualification. The NA 400 freestyle relay would have won the event and set a state record but officials ruled a disqualification.
A newer name was Springdale swimming and specifically senior Kevin Kondrit. The 500 freestyle is the longest event in high school swimming. At the PIAA swimming championships this year, Kondrit probably wished it was a little longer. Kondrit mounted a furious rally over the final 25 yards of the 500-yard race to close a two-length gap and nearly catch the front runner. Ultimately it was Marian Catholic sophomore Danny Berlitz who escaped with gold, with a time of 4:33.66 to win the event over Kondrit by 0.03 seconds, the smallest of margins for a race that goes beyond four minutes. Kondrit has committed to swim at the University of Pittsburgh next season.
In diving, Fox Chapel sophomore Jonah Cagley totaled a score of 525.20 at WPIALs to capture the title. There was yet another surprise in the boys 500 freestyle at the WPIAL Class 3A championships with Pine-Richland senior Ryan Schonbachler holding off a pair of NA swimmers by less than one second in the marathon race to win WPIAL gold.