Deer Lakes’ Morrison leads strong cast of returning A-K Valley swimmers, divers

Sunday, December 8, 2019 | 6:48 PM

Adam Morrison is the hunted.

The Deer Lakes senior swimmer made his mark last March at the WPIAL Class AA championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool by winning the boys 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4 minutes, 40.05 seconds.

He followed the WPIAL gold in the 500 with a third at states (4:41.95).

Morrison also earned WPIAL silver in the 200 free and a sixth-place medal in the event at states.

The championship-meet veteran returns for one more shot at glory, and, he said, he is ready to produce better times this season.

“I know I am in position to do well, but there is good competition coming back and also coming up,” Morrison said. “I know I am going to have to push myself every day. It’s going to be a great challenge. I am really looking forward to it.”

The 2018-19 season was one of top accomplishments at the WPIAL and PIAA level for a number of Alle-Kiski Valley swimmers and divers, and a number of them are back. They join a plethora of veterans and newcomers ready to take their skills and expectations to the next level.

Dual meets begin this week for Class AAA teams Fox Chapel, Kiski Area and Plum, as well as Deer Lakes, Highlands, Knoch, Springdale, Burrell and Freeport in Class AA. The meets are part of a big December, which will see some of the top swimmers in the WPIAL also compete at this weekend’s USA Swimming Junior Winter Nationals in Atlanta and the 58th annual Christmas Meet at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

“The Christmas Meet is one of the faster meets of the season,” said Highlands senior Rachel Blackburn, who knows all about big swims at Trees Pool. She finished second last year in the WPIAL Class AA girls 100 breaststroke at Trees Pool and went onto place 12th at states with a personal best of 1:06.28.

“It’s pretty intense. It gives WPIAL swimmers a good start at Trees Pool before WPIALs. You get a pretty good idea of where you stand and what you need to work on,” said Blackburn, who recently signed to swim at IUP.

The A-K Valley was represented at states last season in 15 boys and girls events.

In girls Class AAA, there will be a new PIAA champion in the 200 individual medley and a new WPIAL champion in the 100 breaststroke as Fox Chapel’s Zoe Skirboll, who burst onto the scene season year as a freshman, decided not to swim at the high school level this year.

She said the decision was a tough one, but she will focus her attention on training for the U.S. Olympic Trials set for June in Omaha, Neb.

But Foxes seniors Grace Gackenbach and Leia Ross and junior Vivian Shao are back after placing 10th with Skirboll in the 200 medley relay at states. The team set a school record (1:46.12) in the event at WPIALs.

Fox Chapel junior David Manelis is hoping for PIAA diving gold after taking second in Class AAA last year (487.45 points).

Deer Lakes senior Noah Loper was fifth at WPIALs and sixth at states in the Class AA 500 freestyle. He added an 11th at states in the 200 IM (1:59.88).

Also back after competing at states last year are, from Freeport: sophomore Alexis Schrecengost (100 breast, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay) and juniors Madison Moretti (200 medley relay, 400 free relay) and Brooke Welling (400 free relay); from Knoch: senior Braden Zukowski (100 breast, 200 IM, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay), junior Zach Wilson (200 medley relay, 200 free relay) and sophomore Caden Traggiai (200 free relay); from Plum: senior Delanee White (200 free relay) and sophomore Elizabeth Glasspool (200 free relay); from St. Joseph: sophomore Samuel Wygonik (500 free); and from Deer Lakes: senior AJ Dorman (200 free relay).

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at

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