Fox Chapel girls relay squad takes home silver at PIAA

Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 10:28 PM

LEWISBURG — Talia Bugel couldn’t contain her excitement after she and her Fox Chapel teammates finished the 400-yard freestyle relay final Saturday afternoon at the PIAA Class 3A championships at Bucknell.

The Foxes quartet — Bugel, sophomore Sarah Pasquella and seniors Payton O’Toole and Sophie Shao — was second after the preliminaries earlier in the day.

While it fell just short of a PIAA title, it maintained its silver-medal position and lowered the school record by the slimmest of margins.

It finished with a time of 3 minutes, 28.05 seconds, one one-hundredth of a second better than the previous best of 3:28.06 set at WPIALs earlier this month.

“I didn’t know we broke the record,” said Bugel, who will swim in college at Bucknell.

“I was just happy we got second because we really wanted it. Three of us are seniors. I was kicking so hard, I thought I was going to throw up. We all put our 100 percent effort into it. When we walked down (from the blocks) and they told us we had the record, we were so happy.”

With the 34 points earned by the 400 relay, the Fox Chapel girls rose to eighth overall (113 points) in the final team standings.

Bugel also capped her PIAA individual career Saturday with an eighth-place medal in the 100 backstroke. She finished with a time of 57.17.

She also was eighth in the 100 back last year and just missed a state medal in the event in 2021 (ninth) and 2020 (10th).

“This weekend felt like a smooth transition for me to swimming at Bucknell,” Bugel said. “This is the most medals (three) I’ve ever gotten (at a single state meet).”

Bugel also helped the 200 medley relay kick off Friday’s finals with a bronze medal.

“We are all so happy with how we swam,” Bugel said.

A computer issue delayed Saturday’s girls finals between the 100 back and 100 breaststroke.

After about a 10- to 15-minute wait, swimming resumed, and Pasquella captured her first individual state medal.

She placed seventh in the 100 breast with a time of 1:04.87.

“I was really excited to be able to stand up there on the medals podium,” said Pasquella, who also took second in the 50 free consolation final and 10th overall Friday.

“I really worked hard for this. I am happy with how much progress I made this year.”

On the boys side, Foxes sophomore Christian Dantey swam in an individual consolation final for the second time. He tied for 11th overall in the 100 breast with a time of 57.48 seconds.

Fellow Fox Chapel sophomore Owen Howell swam with Dantey in the 100 breast consolation, and he placed 14th (57.60).

It was a quick turnaround for Howell and Dantey as they teamed with senior Emmanuel Drappatz and junior Henry Koloc to take 16th in the 400 free relay (3:13.25).

Hagler scores PIAA diving medal

Fox Chapel sophomore Jackson Hagler made his state diving debut last year and took 19th overall.

He returned to Bucknell on Saturday hoping to move up the standings and reach the Class 3A medals podium.

Mission accomplished on both fronts.

Hagler scored 45.10 points on his sixth and final dive, and he landed in eighth in the final standings with 242.35 points.

He joined Seneca Valley junior Isaiah Clerkley (second) and Seneca Valley senior Jeremiah Laslavic (fifth) as medalists from the WPIAL.

“I am really pleased with how I did,” said Hagler, who finished six points clear of ninth place. “I did the best I could, and it turned out well.

“My last dive (inward 1½ tuck with a 2.2 degree of difficulty) was one that I knew I could hit consistently, and it gave me confidence I could score well enough to keep me in contention for a medal. It was going well in warm-ups, and I knew if I kept my mind clear I would do well.”

Hagler qualified for this year’s PIAA meet with a fourth-place finish at WPIALs.

He said last year’s experience at Bucknell helped him in his preparation and approach to Saturday’s return performance.

“It helped calm my nerves and let me know it is such an honor to be here,” Hagler said. “I am really excited for the future and what I can accomplish.”

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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