MORGANTOWN — Friday was the biggest night yet in McKenna Moore’s high school swimming career.
Moore took center-stage in the 500 free finals at the WVSSAC State Swimming Championships at the WVU Natatorium, shaving nine seconds off her personal record. Her time (5:26) earned her runner-up honors for the race.
“Knowing it’s difficult for one person to maintain speed from prelims to finals, and for her to come in second. It was her third event of the day, she swam a relay and 100 butterfly literally twenty minutes before,” Morgantown coach J.C. Pettit said.
“To have her drop nine seconds off her personal best to finish the day is unbelievable. It’s amazing an individual can do something like that, and she set a standard that other people should look up to.”
It was a Cinderella story to cap her junior season, and she had put on her best career performance at the biggest meet of the year. But for Moore, there was one thing missing — her mother waiting for her on the deck after the race to congratulate her.
“She’d always say ‘that’s my girl’ after my races. She was always so proud of me. I’m just doing this for her. She’s my life,” she said.
Moore’s mother, Trina, was a parent volunteer for the MHS swim team and an integral part of her daughter’s life. In June 2018, she lost her battle with breast cancer. This year’s state meet was the first without her for Moore and the team.
“She was the last off the deck, picking up trash and cleaning afterwards last year,” Pettit said. “I don’t think she wanted it to end.”
According to those around the program, Trina Moore was an inspiration to the program, through both her infectious personality and her courageous fight against the disease, which would eventually take her life.
“We actually had these shirts made for her,” Pettit said in reference to his outfit Friday night, which was a tie-dye T-shirt with ‘Team Trina’ written across the chest, paired with a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.
“She was an in your face type person. She never knew a stranger. It’s a shame we had to lose someone like that.”
There are likely no words that can accurately describe the impact of Trina’s loss, but she continues to be an inspiration and role model for her daughter from beyond the grave.
Every time Moore steps in the pool, her mother isn’t far from her mind, letting her know that she’ll never lose faith in her girl. Friday night was no different.
“I’m always keeping her in mind. I know she’s up there saying ‘that’s my girl,’ ” Moore said. “I miss her so dearly, but we have to keep going. I know she’s always looking down on us, so I always keep her in mind and do my best to make her proud.”
The state meets marked the end of an era for University girls’ swimming.
Senior Jacqueline McCutchan made a larger mark than any other athlete in the program, laying claim to five school records over the course of her career. She finished off her high school career with a bang at the state meet, earning runner-up honors in the 50 free (24.57) and 100 Butterfly (57.38). Her 100 Butterfly performance re-set her previous record in the event.
“She’s been a strong member of our team, and a great leader. I’m super proud of her and she’s done an excellent job,” UHS coach Joanna White said. “She has a wonderful work ethic, and I think she’s going to really well with that.”