Plum swimmers gearing up for WPIAL championships
Plum pulled off a few surprises at last year's WPIAL swim meet, setting a school record and sending a swimmer to states.
Coach Shawn Haupt is hoping his swimmers will rise to the occasion again this year.
“We feel good about what we're doing. Everybody's done real well in their events, and their times have come down,” Haupt said. “We have much better seed times for most of those events than we did last year.”
Thirteen swimmers from Plum — seven boys and six girls — will compete in 16 different events at the WPIAL swimming championships Feb. 27 and 28 at the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool.
Plum's boys and girls both placed 18th at the WPIAL meet a year ago.
The Plum girls made a splash at the 2013 WPIAL championships by setting a school record with a time of 1:41.59 in the 200-yard freestyle relay, placing 10th in that event.
Two swimmers from that record-setting relay — senior Katie Gore and sophomore Hannah Adamski — are back for this year's event. They'll be joined by sophomore Victoria Metz and freshman Gabby Labovick.
Can they top last year's performance?
“I don't know about setting a record or anything like that,” Haupt said. “It's going to take some serious (time) drops, but they're competitive, and they love to prove people wrong, so you never know.”
The 200 free is one of three relays Plum's girls will swim at Trees Pool.
Gore, junior Rachael Adamski, Metz and Labovick make up Plum's 400 free relay. The 200 medley relay consists of Metz (backstroke), Gore (breaststroke), senior Nicole Thompson (butterfly) and Hannah Adamski (freestyle).
The Lady Mustangs placed 14th in the 400 free relay and 20th in the 200 medley relay at last year's WPIAL meet.
In her final WPIAL meet, Gore will swim in all three relays as well as the 100-yard breaststroke. The Clarion University recruit was 23rd in the WPIAL in the breaststroke as a junior.
Metz will swim three relays and the 100-yard butterfly.
Hannah Adamski, a PIAA qualifier in the 50 free as a freshman, has a chance to go back to the state finals. At last year's WPIAL meet she was 12th in the 50 free and 16th in the 100 free, and she could move up in both events.
“Hannah's pretty much our best shot at advancing to states,” Haupt said.
“We're quite happy with where she's at. She's going to be seeded a lot quicker, and that's what we want, to get her into a faster heat. Last year she was seeded lower, and she kind of dusted everyone in her heat.”
On the boys' side, Haupt has high expectations for juniors Lucas Cerchairo and Nick Figurelli.
“I look for Lucas Cerchairo to have a huge meet. I don't know about making states, but he's just been dropping time all season in huge chunks,” said Haupt.
“Nick Figurelli is one of the captains of the boys' team, and he's probably the hardest worker on the team.
“The kid's never missed a single practice. He's swimming at the peak of his season right now, and he's been hitting some of his best times.”
Figurelli was 28th in the 200 free and 35th in the 100 breaststroke last year, and he'll swim those two events again. Cerchairo will look to improve on last year's 22nd place finish in the 100 butterfly and his 29th place finish in the 200 individual medley.
Senior Shane Ging will again compete in the 100 breaststroke (15th in 2013) and 50 free (26th in 2013).
Other Plum swimmers in individual events include junior Brendan Sante (100 backstroke) and freshman Nick Workman (100 butterfly).
The Mustangs' three relays all finished in the top 18 at last year's WPIAL meet.
“I feel our boys' 400 free relay can be a really good relay,” Haupt said.
“They've all been swimming personal bests and are quick right now at the end of the year.”
Plum's 400 free relay consists of Figurelli, Cerchairo, Ging and junior Will Starr. The 200 free relay is Sante, Starr, Workman and junior Mitch McGowan.
Making up the 200 medley relay are Sante (backstroke), Figurelli (breaststroke), Cerchairo (butterfly) and Ging (freestyle).
Plum's swimmers are well into the tapering process, lowering practice yardage each week to gain rest and build up strength for the WPIAL meet.
“Right now, our kids are averaging between 4,000 and 5,000 yards a week. We're bringing the workload down, and by the week of the WPIAL meet they'll be doing barely 3,000 yards,” Haupt said. “The kids are starting to feel better, and they're not as sore. We're almost there.”
Dave Schrecengost is a freelance writer.