McBeth captures more gold at WPIAL swim meet

Neshannock High swimmer Conner McBeth won two more gold medals Saturday at the WPIAL Class 2A Swimming Championships at Upper St. Clair High School.

Neshannock High swimmer Conner McBeth added to his medal collection Saturday.

McBeth, a senior, won two gold medals at Upper St. Clair High School in the WPIAL Class 2A Swimming Championships. 

His first gold medal came in the 50 freestyle, which included a pool record and a WPIAL record. He shared first place with Belle Vernon’s Ian Shahan in the event in 20.36.

That medal marked four straight gold medals for McBeth in the WPIAL championship event in the 50 freestyle.

In addition, McBeth’s 50 freestyle time surpasses the current PIAA meet record and also is an All-American High School time.

McBeth won his second gold medal of the day in the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 44.87. He finished his district swimming career with two gold and two silver medals in that event. 

The 100 freestyle time also is an All-American High School time.

For his efforts, McBeth was named the Lawrence County Athlete of the Week, as voted on by the New Castle News sports staff.

McBeth is a son of Jeff and Karen McBeth.

“He really rises to the occasion for big meets,” said Karen McBeth, who doubles as the Neshannock High swim coach. “It’s been an amazing ride to watch him excel.”

McBeth, a senior, swims independently because Neshannock doesn’t have a varsity team. Karen McBeth, though, serves as the coach for any Lancers swimmer. 

“The 50 freestyle was probably the most exciting race of the meet,” Karen McBeth said. “They were neck and neck, and they touched at the same time. It was kind of unheard of. To end up tying is just crazy. I don’t think anybody expected them to tie.

“Conner was very strong in the 100 freestyle. There was a three-second gap with his time and the next fastest swimmer. For the most part, he was out in front the whole race.”

Conner McBeth will continue his academic and swimming career at West Virginia University.

Conner McBeth was able to not only conquer the opposition this year, but the difficulties COVID presented.

“With COVID, everyone has had a little bit of a tough time to find pools open,” Karen McBeth said. “With COVID restrictions there’s restrictions in the lanes, it’s hard to find available spots.

“COVID was a step back for everybody. Swimming is something you have to maintain five or six days a week. A swimmer just can’t show up and dominate. He has done lifting and dry-land routines.”

Conner McBeth also works with current Moon coach Jeff Berghoff. Berghoff works with USA Swimming/AMS Aqua Club, as well as Steel City Aquatics. Berghoff has worked with Conner McBeth each of the past two summers.

“When I first started working with Conner, he was very raw,” Berghoff said. “He has a lot of natural gifts and skills.

“We do a lot of detail work, working on his flip turns, starts, breakouts. Things that could help push him to the next level. He’s cleaned it up tremendously. Those things have helped him to continue to maintain at a high level. Winning six gold medals out of eight opportunities is pretty incredible.”

Conner McBeth’s stellar Saturday caught Berghoff’s attention.

“That was a tremendous weekend for him,” Berghoff said. “He was right on. Right where he wanted to be.

“He wanted to swim well enough to get the gold medals. He had a great race in the 50.” 

Conner McBeth also trains under YMCA swim coach, Anita Murphy, at the Lawrence County YMCA because Neshannock does not have a pool or a team to train with.

“I’m very pleased. I’m not surprised,” Murphy said of Conner McBeth’s performance. “His mindset is he was ready to race.”

Murphy said she was still able to get quality work in with Conner McBeth throughout the COVID period.

“It’s definitely been crazy because of COVID,” she said. “Like most teams because of the stoppages being shut down, we’ve done a lot of ultra short race training. He’s made a lot of improvements and he’s done a lot of lifting.”

The PIAA Class 2A High School Swimming Championships will be held at Cumberland Valley High School on March 19.

rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com

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Sports Editor

Ron Poniewasz Jr. is the sports editor at the New Castle News. Email him at rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com.

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