LEWISBURG — The other seven swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle final in Thursday’s PIAA Class 2A Swimming and Division Championships might still be looking for Abby Doss.
They did see her on occasion, as she was heading in the other direction.
That’s because Doss not only won her third consecutive gold medal in this grueling event at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium, she obliviated the field, and was named the Female Swimmer of the Meet for the second year in a row.
The Shamokin Area junior (that is not a misprint) won the race in 4 minutes, 52.01 seconds, nearly eight seconds ahead of runner-up Meghan French of Villa Maria Academy.
Doss, who also won her second gold in the 200 individual medley the night before, said, “It’s really great. I like to represent the school and I don’t like losing.”
Her coach, Jess Wolfgang said she didn’t have to do anything to get Abby ready for her big race.
“She is so mentally mature with these things. When it comes to high-level races, she just does her best in this kind of environment. She knows exactly what she needs to do, she knows how to execute.
“She is so positive and ready to go at all times,” Wolfgang said.
In a nice family moment, as Abby was stepping off the podium after getting her gold medal, her sophomore sister, Gabby, was winning heat one (the B final) of the 100 breast stroke.
“The girls are so exceptional and have such a drive, they love this sport, they train all year-round for this,” Wolfgang said. “I’m just proud to be a part of this with them.”
Gabby finished one spot out of a berth in the finals during the morning preliminaries but took her disappointment out with a blistering 1:05.32 to not only win the heat but swim a faster time than the eighth-place medalist.
Abby, who finished more than five seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer in the prelims, said, “I was nervous. I knew I had to really go at it to win.”
She said she wasn’t feeling too great, but her coach reminded her that being mentally ready was more important than how you feel.
“This (race) is 90 percent mental,” she said.
Abby said she saw her good friend, French, the runner-up and thought “she has more left in her and I’m using up all the waves.
“Then I realized she wasn’t getting my waves and at that point I was like ‘I’ve got to push, I have to go out and then I tried to get as far ahead as possible,” Abby added.
Once she was far in the lead, Abby said, “I was going for my best time and technique, working on the turns. Efficiency is the key, the more efficient you are, the less energy you are using.”
Abby said she was glad to see her sister come back and do what she did after she got a late start to her season because of a serious injury.
Wolfgang was also proud of the younger sister.
“Gabby was disappointed, but she entered 17th and came out just one spot out of the finals. Then she got ninth, but her time would have given her a medal,” Wolfgang said.
“The breast is her favorite and it was great to see her do well in that. She’s going to come back here next year and try to dominate,” the coach added.
Meanwhile, Abby said she will train next season with Susquehanna University swimmer Brett Walker, of Lewisburg. The latter will be studying abroad and not be eligible to swim with the River Hawks next season.