Deer Lakes’ Morrison takes 3rd in 500 freestyle at PIAA championships

Friday, March 15, 2019 | 12:03 AM

LEWISBURG — Deer Lakes junior Adam Morrison was right next to a pair of history making swims in the boys 500-yard freestyle at the PIAA Class AA swimming championships Thursday at Bucknell University.

Marian Catholic senior Danny Berlitz edged Clearfield junior Luke Mikesell for the state title by 45 one-hundredths of a second, and Berlitz established a new state record with a time of 4:24.07.

While Berlitz and Mikesell were neck-and-neck to the finish line, Morrison, the WPIAL champion, stayed consistent and rolled along to a bronze medal in a time of 4:41.95.

“Going in, I was a little tired,” said Morrison, who swam a total of five times over the meet’s two days. “It’s the last day. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wasn’t sure if I was going to blow it or not. I am just really happy I was able to swim well and hold my place.”

Morrison also earned a sixth-place medal Wednesday in the 200 freestyle.

“Racing against (Mars senior) Andrew (Pierre) again, just like at WPIALs, was great and a lot of fun,” Morrison said. “We always seem to end up next to each other in the standings.”

Pierre edged Morrison for the 200 free title at WPIALs, and Morrison returned the favor in the 500.

On Thursday, as Morrison came in third overall, Pierre was right behind him in fourth with a time of 4:43.01.

Morrison now will turn his attention to the National Club Swim Association Junior National meet that begins Monday in Orlando, Fla. He will swim the 200 and 500 free and a couple of relays.

“Getting the opportunity to swim against the best in the state and pick up a bronze, it puts me in the mindset of I can really accomplish anything if I put my mind to it,” Morrison said.

Fellow Deer Lakes junior Noah Loper finished 11th in the 200 individual medley Wednesday, and he didn’t want to miss out on the championship finals in the 500 as he returned to the pool Thursday morning.

After a prelim swim of 4:46.91 put him in eighth place heading to the finals, Loper moved up two spots and landed in sixth overall (4:46.16).

Loper was the third WPIAL finisher behind Morrison and Pierre. At WPIALs, he took fifth overall.

Knoch junior Braden Zukowski and senior Matt Cummings both qualified for Thursday’s consolation final in the 100 breaststroke.

Zukowski swam a time of 1:00.60 and placed 12th, while Cummings finished 15th in 1:00.92.

Cummings improved more than a half second from his 1:01.24 in the prelims.

Highlands junior Rachel Blackburn returned to states in the girls 100 breaststroke, and she recorded a lifetime best 1:06.28 in the consolation finals to finish 12th, up two spots from 14th a year ago.

Blackburn improved on her 1:06.77 produced in placing second to Mt. Pleasant junior Heather Gardner at WPIALs. Gardner swam a 1:02.77 in the championship finals Thursday evening to place second overall.

“I felt really good and really motivated,” Blackburn said. “I was really trying to push myself through the water as fast as I could. Hopefully, I can build on this and continue to go faster next year.”

Freeport freshman Alexis Schrecongost, who made her PIAA debut Wednesday as part of the Yellowjackets 200 medley relay, also swam in the consolation finals and placed 14th overall.

Her time of 1:07.21 was an improvement from her 1:07.39 in the prelims.

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

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