Deer Lakes’ Morrison looks to add PIAA gold to medal collection

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 6:35 PM

Deer Lakes senior Adam Morrison owns two WPIAL gold medals in the Class AA boys 500-yard freestyle. He won his second straight title Feb. 28 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Now, Morrison has his sights set on the top prize in the state at the PIAA swimming championships at Bucknell.

He is the No. 3 seed in the 500 free Saturday afternoon and is ready to battle.

“I really can’t wait to see the competition,” Morrison said. “It’s going to be such a good year at states. There’s different competition this year. I have to change my mindset a little bit. Luke Mikesell is back, of course. It should be a good battle.”

Last year’s 500 runner-up, Mikesell, a senior from Clearfield in District 9, is the top seed (4 minutes, 33.06 seconds), followed by Susquehannock (District 3) senior Logan McFadden (4:35.99), Morrison, Indiana junior Kyle Thome (4:41.52) and Deer Lakes senior Noah Loper (4:44.59).

Friday’s 200 free features Mikesell as the top seed (1:39.72), followed by Thome, the WPIAL champion (1:41.50), Morrison (1:42.68) and Loper (1:43.72).

“I can’t wait for states,” Loper said. “I feel I can drop another two seconds. If I can nail those turns down, that will help me a lot more.”

Friday’s action begins early with the boys preliminaries at 7:50 a.m. and the girls prelims at 10:25. The top 16 finshers in each event after the prelims advance to the evening session’s consolation and championship finals. The top eight will compete for the title.

Friday’s boys finals will begin at 4:05 p.m. with the girls finals to follow at 6:40.

States follows the WPIAL event format. Friday, in addition to the 200 free, will feature the 200 medley relay, the 200 individual medley, the 50 free, the 100 fly and the 200 free relay.

Saturday’s slate of events – the 500, along with the 100 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 free relay – will start with the boys prelims at 7:50 a.m. and the girls prelims at 10:25. The boys finals will be at 4:25 p.m., and the girls finals will follow at 7:05.

Highlands senior Rachel Blackburn enters her final state meet seeded 11th in Saturday’s girls 100 breast. The IUP commit finished runner-up at WPIALs with a personal-best 1:06.10.

“Going into this last meet, I’ve set some very high goals and expectations for myself,” Blackburn said. “I’d like to be able to go a 1:05 in my 100 breast and find my way into that last heat of finals really to just leave my mark one last time.”

She also will swim the 100 fly Friday.

Knoch is well represented at states, led by senior Braden Zukowski, the No. 11 seed in the boys 100 breast (1:00.23).

“I have a great shot to do well on Saturday,” said Zukowski, who also will swim the 200 IM on Friday.

“The people around me in my heat should make it very competitive. I hope I am able to break a minute and return for that championship heat.”

Knights junior Zach Wilson will compete in the 50 free and 100 back. Also in action are Knoch’s 200 medley relay (Wilson, Zukowski, sophomore Caden Traggiai and junior Lachlan King) and 200 free relay (Wilson, Zukowski, Traggiai and sophomore Nick Ferraro).

Freeport sophomore Alexis Schrecongost (200 free, 100 breast, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), junior Brooke Welling (200 free, 100 free, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), junior Madison Moretti (200 free relay, 400 free relay) and freshman Aimee Heasley (200 free relay, 400 free relay) will be busy over the two days of PIAA action.

“They’re excited, but also a little nervous and anxious,” Freeport coach Nikki Heasley said. “All together, they’ve been working hard preparing.”

Welling originally was the first alternate in the 100 free, but a swimmer above her scratched out of the event, paving the way for her to compete.

“She’s excited to have the opportunity to go after another best time in the 100,” Nikki Heasley said.

Burrell freshman Payton O’Toole makes her PIAA debut in the 200 free.

Knoch senior Aryanna Napora is back at the PIAA Class AA diving championships after not qualifying in 2019.

After a fourth-place finish at WPIALs on Feb. 22 at North Allegheny, Napora hopes to make her mark and reach the finals.

Class AA girls diving is Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The 24-diver field will be cut to 20 after the first five dives and trimmed to 16 for the finals after three more dives.

The final three dives will determine the champion.

“I am really excited for this trip to states,” said Napora, seeded 17th. “My coach and I always say consistency is what gets me through meets. We’ve been working hard with that.

“Being here before and knowing what the process is takes a lot of the stress away,” Napora said.

Napora placed 18th at states as a freshman and 16th two years ago.

Knoch sophomore Kevin Golden, seventh at WPIALs, makes his PIAA debut Friday afternoon at 12:30. He is seeded 19th for the Class AA boys competition.

Editor’s note: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the PIAA announced Thursday that the Class AA state swimming and diving championship meet has been postponed.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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