Plum girls freestyle relay sets a school record at WPIALs
The members of the Plum girls 200 free relay team knew the school record was within their grasp, and that they had a chance to get their names on the record board with a strong swim at the WPIAL AAA championships.
Seniors Channing Nolan and Mia Pietropola, junior Katie Gore and freshman Hannah Adamski came together on day one, and the quartet dropped more than four seconds from their seed time.
Their time of 1:41.59 put them in 10th place overall, and it set the new record they were looking for.
“It was very exciting to have this team come together,” Pietropola said.
“This was a one-time chance for us because two of us are leaving. We wanted our names on the board, and we put all our effort into it.”
The quartet finished less than a second from eighth place and a WPIAL medal.
The previous Plum school record for the girls 200 free relay was a 1:41.83 set in 1992.
“It was an amazing feeling to break the record,” Nolan said.
Gore was pleased to be a part of the record-setting relay and help Nolan and Pietropola go out with this accomplishment.
“I am going to miss them so much, and it's so great to have our last year together end with a school record,” she said.
Adamski's first WPIAL experience included two individual and two relay events, and for her, a school record so early in her career, she said, is very special.
“The 50 free was my first event, and it helped me settled down for the 200 free relay,” Adamski said.
“The other girls really helped me calm down before my races.”
Haupt was impressed with the way the relay cut time and made good on their goal.
“When the WPIAL heat sheet came out and they saw they were placed in the middle of the field, which is a little different for us, they were excited about that, Haupt said.
“The next thing I knew, they were telling me that they thought they could get that record. I thought it was a possibility, but they put their minds to it and worked hard. They were fired up for that race more than any other race those two days.”
“I told them that it would take all four of them to achieve personal bests, and they did it. I couldn't be more proud.”
Adamski came very close to qualifying for states in the 50 free.
The top three finishers in each individual and relay event at WPIALs qualified automatically for states, and the PIAA selected additional qualifiers from the 12 districts based on top times to fill out the entry lists.
Adamski finished 12th in the 50 free with a time of 24.70. The top 11 WPIAL finishers qualified for states, including Hampton's Kristen McKnight and Upper St. Clair's Betsy Erlanger, who tied for 10th with a time of 24.69.
“She handled herself really well,” Haupt said.
“We were a little worried about her nerves, because she hadn't been to a big meet like WPIALs. But she was able to rise to the occasion and was one of our top swimmers at WPIALs. She really focused on swimming this season, and obviously it paid off.”
Nolan also was gunning for the school record of 59.29 in the 100 fly.
When the water settled, Nolan found herself in 21st with a time of 59.89. It was short of the school record, but she broke one minute in the 100 fly for the first time in her varsity career.
“My personal goal for her was to break a minute,” Haupt said.
“Of course, you want to see her break the record. She had finished her races well all year, but she just hadn't gotten out quick enough. She got out quicker (at WPIALs) than she's ever been, but it just wasn't quick enough. But she broke the minute, and I couldn't have been any more proud. Once she got her name on the (record) board for the relay, she kind of forgot about the fly.”
Senior Luke Frederick earned a medal in the 100 breast at WPIALs in 2012, and he was shooting for a repeat performance this year and also a time faster than one minute.
In the end, Frederick raced to a time of 1:00.80, and he placed 10th overall.
The top eight finishers all had times under one minute and those eight qualified for states.
Penn-Trafford junior Anthony Sekowski, the eighth-place finisher, had a time of 59.78.
Frederick also dropped time in the 200 free and took 13th with a time of 1:46.93.
“Luke had a good meet,” Haupt said. “His splits in the relays were phenomenal. His 200 free was a personal best. At the end of the day, he really wanted to break the minute mark in the 100 breast. He came so very close. That was a tough one.
“But to his credit, Luke turned around with that disappointment and swam a 48.2 split in the 400 relay. That is very fast for him. He didn't let the (100 breast) affect the relay. He is the captain of this team, and he stepped up and finished strong.”
Frederick led off the 400 free relay that included sophomores Lucas Cerchairo and Nick Figurelli and junior Shane Ging. The quartet placed 13th with a time of 3:20.40 and dropped more than 11 seconds from their seed time of 3:31.63.
Haupt said he was proud of his sizeable group of WPIAL swimmers overall.
“We talk about a lot of that stuff at the beginning of the season,” he said.
“Plum swimming has been kind of under the radar with one good swimmer here and there. I looked at it this year and told them they have a good team that can compete with the best of them. They bought into that, and the WPIAL meet was no different. Everyone swam well, and there were a lot of best times.”
The season isn't over for a number of Plum swimmers, as they will take part in the YMCA district, regional and national meets over the next several weeks.
The western Pennsylvania district meet is this weekend.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388- 5825 or at email@example.com.