Fox Chapel freshman Skirboll claims 200 IM title at PIAA Class AAA championships

Friday, March 15, 2019 | 7:59 PM

LEWISBURG — Zoe Skirboll was confident she could go under two minutes in the finals of the 200-yard individual medley Thursday at the PIAA Class AAA swimming championships at Bucknell University.

The Fox Chapel freshman recorded a time of 2 minutes, .25 seconds in finishing second at WPIALs on Feb. 28.

But she raised the bar in her finals race with a gold-medal winning time of 1:58.75.

“I felt so good in the water,” Skirboll said. “It was a fast swim, and I’m just so happy with it. I looked up (at the scoreboard) and saw that I had won, and I was stunned beyond belief. That heat was filled with super-duper fast girls. I was just so happy to be a part of that race. It was just an amazing experience.”

North Allegheny’s Torie Buerger tied for second with Downingtown East’s Heather MacCausland (2:00.96). WPIAL champion Laura Goettler from Butler took fifth (2:02.24).

Skirboll is the first WPIAL swimmer to win a Class AAA girls state title in the 200 IM since Mt. Lebanon graduate Kaitlyn Orstein won back-to-back PIAA crowns in 2003 and ‘04.

Skirboll came into the championship heat seeded fourth after swimming a 2:01.79 in the preliminaries.

She now will turn her attention to Saturday’s 100 breaststroke where she is the No. 1 seed.

“I am really ready for the 100 breast and to see what I can do,” Skirboll said. “After today, I feel really good about it.”

Skirboll first joined juniors Grace Gackenbach and Leia Ross and sophomore Vivian Shao in the consolation finals of the girls 200 freestyle relay.

The quartet made it through in 12th after the prelims (1:47.78) and finished its second swim with a time of 1:46.91 to place second in the heat and 10th overall.

The team set a school record (1:46.12) at WPIALs and came in as the 10th seed.

“I am so proud to be a part of that relay,” Skirboll said. “It also really set me up for the 200 IM.”

Plum senior Devan Taylor placed 27th in the 50 freestyle with a 24.70 in Friday’s preliminaries.

“I think she was a little stressed as she really wanted that 50 record (23.95),” Plum coach Shawn Haupt said.

Taylor returns to the pool Saturday morning in the preliminaries of the 100 breast. She is seeded 11th.

Last year, she made the 100 breast finals and finished eighth. It will be her fourth state swim in the event.

“I think tomorrow she’s going to be more comfortable,” Haupt said. “Hopefully, that comfort will help get her into the finals.”

Taylor joined senior Alexis Smith, junior Delanee White and freshman Elizabeth Glasspool on the 200 free relay. The quartet recorded a time of 1:51.14 and landed in 26th place.

On the boys side, Plum senior Justin Decheck had a busy morning with a pair of preliminary swims.

He bumped up four spots from the 27th seed in the 200 free and placed 23rd with a time of 1:45.00.

In the 100 fly, Decheck, the 11th seed, swam to a time of 51.57 and finished 21st.

“He knew coming in that he would at least have to go that time (50.84 from WPIALs) to have a shot at it,” Haupt said. “It was slightly disappointing for him, but at the same time, it’s his second-best time ever.”

Saturday’s Class AAA preliminaries in the 100 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breast and 400 free relay begin at 8 a.m. (girls) and 10:50 a.m. (boys).

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

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