Plum swimmers hope to build on positives from December

Michael Love
| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Plum varsity boys and girls swim teams open the section portion of their 2013-14 season Thursday at 6 p.m. at Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic, and head coach Shawn Haupt hopes his squads can build on positive December performances and workouts.

Haupt likes what he's seen from his teams after one month of the season.

“We had a pretty good guys team last year, and I think this year's team is even stronger, even though we lost some key swimmers,” Haupt said.

“The guys that came in have really stepped up, and we are a deeper team. They are swimming a lot faster than I expected early.”

Haupt said the girls squad is young and improving.

“They aren't as deep as they have been in recent years, but they give great effort and are swimming for each other,” Haupt said.

“They work hard and feed off each other. They go into every meet with a winning attitude.”

The Mustangs faced a challenging four-meet nonsection schedule in December, and both teams finished 2-2 with wins over Deer Lakes and Highlands and losses to Westmoreland County powers Hempfield and Penn-Trafford.

In addition to the team goals and results from December, swimmers from both teams qualified for the WPIAL championships.

Hannah Adamski qualified in the 50 and 100 frees. She went to states in the 50 free last year.

Katie Gore punched her ticket to WPIALs in the 100 breast.

On the boys side, Lucas Cerchiaro (100 fly and 200 IM), Shane Ging (100 breast and 50 free), Nick Figurelli (100 breast) and Nick Workman (100 fly) already are set for individual swims at WPIALs.

“I am not surprised by the swimmers who have qualified so far, but I am pleasantly surprised at the different individual events we have qualified in,” Haupt said.

“It's more than I thought we would have at this point.”

Haupt said he was happy, in particular, with the way Cerchiaro has competed so far.

“Lucas had the 100 fly and barely made it in the 200 IM last year,” Haupt said.

“He crushed both early this year. He's close in a couple of others. He could go after a sweep of all the individual events this year. He's a very versatile swimmer. In high school swimming, that's key. If you are versatile, you're helping the team. He can swim everything and place in the top two.”

Haupt said qualifying in all the individual events is nice and a great accomplishment for a swimmer to have, but he doesn't put too much stock in it.

“Our lineups are based on how we can fare against other teams, not so much about putting swimmers in events so they can qualify for WPIALs. It's about what's best for the team first. It's always interesting to go over strategy for different meets.”

Five of the six relay teams have punched their tickets to WPIALs. Haupt said the girls 400 free relay has yet to qualify but should do so soon.

With no school because of the holiday break, the Plum teams just completed a string of practice sessions, that, Haupt said, helped them work through some things from the first four meets and prepare for the stretch run in section leading up to the WPIAL championships in late February.

“The first couple weeks before Christmas are busy with meets and other school activities,” Haupt said.

“We saw where we are at, and this was a very important part of the season. They put in a lot of hard work, and these practices can make or break a season every year. They don't have to worry about school, so they can concentrate more on practices and improving in the pool.”

Plum also will host Allderdice in section action Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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