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Westmoreland athletes of the week: Hempfield’s Gavin Mayo, Latrobe’s Rylee Jackson

April 2, 2018

Gavin Mayo

School: Hempfield

Sport: Swimming and diving

Class: Junior

Claim to fame: Mayo finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle in 20.81 seconds at the PIAA Class AAA championships March 14 at Bucknell. Mayo also was part of Hempfield’s 200 freestyle relay team that finished 13th (1:26.94).

“I’m really happy with how I did at states. I got my second-best time in the 50 free, and I was very happy with it. I’ll take it,” Mayo said.

What was your mindset heading into the PIAA meet?

I was hoping to lower my time from WPIALs. I wanted to give it all I got with my last race of the season.

What did you learn from the PIAA meet last year?

Last year was my first time going to states, and it was a new experience for me. I was trying to get used to the nerves that come with a big meet like that. That really helped me out this year.

What do you need to improve on during the offseason?

I need to work on my turns a little and get faster with my underwaters. Over the summer, I’ll be working on fixing my stroke and getting faster underwater.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?

Keep swimming because I almost stopped swimming last year. If I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My coaches told me to stick with the sport, and I enjoy the sport again. This is my first year swimming year-round. I run cross country and track as well, so I wasn’t used to being in the water. But after going to states last year, it made me love the sport.

What is your favorite television show?

“Prison Break.” Every single episode is a new thing thrown at you, and it’s unpredictable.

Rylee Jackson

School: Latrobe

Sport: Swimming and diving

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Jackson finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.86 seconds at the PIAA Class AAA championships March 14 at Bucknell. At WPIALs, Jackson finished third in the 50 free and 100 free.

“Going into states, I was ranked higher than I placed. However, I swam my second-fastest time in prelims. I was excited to medal at states,” Jackson said.

What are your college plans for next year?

I want to go West Virginia Wesleyan and major in biology. I fell in love with the campus. It’s a mini-Bucknell. I fell in love with the coach when we first met. With playing a sport for four years in college, I wanted to go somewhere where I liked the person I’m going to interact with the most during the time.

What was your favorite event?

(The) 50 free. It’s the hardest, and you can lose some time quickly with one mistake. It’s a quick little sprint down and back.

What’s your earliest memory in the pool?

I was 10 or 11 when I swam my first AMS meet at Hampton. I swam my first 50 free, and I instantly knew that was going to be my race.

What do you need to work on as you get ready for the collegiate level?

I would like to dig deeper into my technique and train for sprinting. I trained mid-distance and stroke at Latrobe. Hopefully, we will see some improvement with that.

How do you prepare yourself for a race?

I eat extremely healthy for at least two weeks, and I work on really staying hydrated. Stretching is a huge thing that we do.

— Andrew John