Gateway’s Hunter Raymer swims to WPIAL gold medal, eyes success at PIAA meet

Gateway’s Hunter Raymer swims to WPIAL gold medal, eyes success at PIAA meet

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Sunday, March 13, 2022 | 12:01 PM


Hunter Raymer was no stranger to big swim meets before the WPIAL Class 3A championships March 3 and 4 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

But the Gateway freshman is still marveled at the spectacle that is the WPIAL meet, with its packed pool deck, boisterous spectator section and intense races over the two days.

On Day 2, Raymer put his stamp on Gateway swimming history as he laid claim to the 500-yard freestyle championship.

He clocked a winning time of 4 minutes, 35.83 seconds, close to eight seconds better than his seed time and almost three seconds better than runner-up Luke Hartman, a freshman from Central Catholic.

“The suspense was killing me,” Raymer said about the time and preparation leading up to his title-winning swim.

“I just had to get in and get the race over with and try my best.”

The 4:35.83 also set a new school record, surpassing the 4:40.92 senior Drew Holmes established in 2020.

“I felt a lot better than I did the first day, especially with all the pace work I was doing,” said Raymer, who swam the 200 individually medley, as well as the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay on Day 1.

“I wasn’t happy with my times, so I went home and let it sit in my gut and get ready for my 500. I just refocused and went out and swam my race.”

Raymer enters his 500 preliminary swim Thursday at the PIAA championships as the No. 5 seed. The top seed is Owen J. Roberts junior Logan Richards.

“I know with the extra work in practice, I can drop more time,” Raymer said.

Raymer just missed a spot at states in the 200 IM after taking 11th overall at WPIALs in a time of 1:58.06.

But he helped both the Gateway boys 200 medley relay and 200 free relay earn trips to states.

The 200 medley relay of Raymer, along with Holmes, senior Gabriel Sha and junior Primo Brodt-Jenkins, punched its ticket to states with a sixth-place WPIAL finish in a school-record time of 1:36.57.

The same four returned in the 200 free relay and qualified for states with a fifth-place WPIAL finish in a time of 1:27.28. Gateway coach Sherry Sonetti said the relay is in position at states to surpass the school record (1:26.29).

“Both boys relays have big goals at states,” Sonetti said.

Holmes’ individual results at WPIALs were mixed, as the Bloomsburg commit felt the sting of a disqualification in the 50 free before returning on Day 2 to place second overall in the 100 free.

His 100 free time of 45.39 was just nine one-hundredths of a second behind champion Daniel Simoes, a senior from Seneca Valley.

“Drew came out of WPIALs pretty well,” Sonetti said.

“He knew exactly what he did in the 50, and he, of course, was devastated with that. But we had a good talk, and he understood his teammates were counting on him to refocus for the 200 free relay. He put it behind him and swam great in the relay and then came back the next day and really swam well in the 100 free. He really stepped up to the plate.”

The girls 200 free relay of senior Summer Raymer, junior Morgan Holmes and sophomores Mallory and McKenna Brown placed eighth at WPIALs in a time of 1:40.01, and Sonetti said the quartet swims at states with a shot at the school record of 1:39.56 set 19 years ago.

Morgan Holmes swam to a third-place finish in the girls 50 free (24.25) at WPIALs, and she will look to drop time in the event at states.

Summer Raymer, a Youngstown State commit, wraps up her high school career in states, and she will swim the 500 free one final time. She clocked a 5:07.21 at WPIALs, which landed her in fourth place overall.

“I think everyone has a little bit more to give and should get their best times, especially with them being really rested,” Sonetti said.

“I am so excited we get to take eight kids to states this year. We only had one last year with Drew.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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