Hampton shatters expectations while winning back-to-back WPIAL swim titles

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Saturday, March 19, 2022 | 12:41 PM


Four individuals — Will Retsch, Ben Sheets, Chris Belch and Zach Sutterlin — and all three boys relays at Hampton qualified for the PIAA Class 2A swimming championships, as did Pax Carslaw, a diving specialist.

The leader of the pack was none other than Retsch, a senior who won WPIAL titles in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly to spark the Quakers to their second successive team championship.

“As a team, we did better than anyone could’ve expected,” Retsch said. “Everyone had great swims and a ton of best times.

“As for myself, I was very happy with where it put me going into states and I’m hoping to go even faster. I’ve been doing a lot of recovery work and basic drills to focus on the small parts of my stroke.”

Hampton took first place in the final team standings with 233 points, ahead of Riverside (205), North Catholic (198), Northgate (159) and Mt. Pleasant (147).

“I am very proud of the boys (team),” coach Morgan Zweygardt said. “We knew that if we did what we knew we could do, the pieces would fall into place for a repeat win. Every one of the boys stepped up and contributed. It was absolutely a full team effort.”

Retsch, seeded No. 1, broke the WPIAL record in the 200 IM with a 1:51.81 time. He splashed to a winning time of 1:54.79 last year.

Retsch’s time in the butterfly was a school-record 50.15. He was seeded second in that event.

“Will deserves every bit of the sucess he achieved at WPIALs,” Zweygardt said. “He is a hard worker and a great team leader. We had goals coming into WPIALs, and it is exciting to see them come to fruition.”

Hampton’s 200-yard medley relayers repeated as WPIAL titlists thanks to a 1:36.92 effort, which narrowly missed breaking the meet record of 1:36.11 set by the Talbots last year.

Sheets, a junior, sophomores Dan Bratu and Sutterlin and Retsch competed in the medley relay.

“The boys did exactly what we needed them to do to repeat as medley relay champs,” Zweygardt said. “Our record last year was 1:36.11. While they did not get that record, they were very close, which is phenomenal considering we lost two major parts of that relay. They are a tight group of boys, and it shows in their chemistry for the relays.”

Retsch and Sheets finished first and second in the 200 IM, which caught the attention of Zweygardt, their veteran coach.

Sheets posted a 1:52.55 — topping the previous meet record of 1:53.92.

“It was great to go one-two in the IM with Will and Ben,” Zweygardt said. “It (was) a huge boost for us going into states. The young side of our team showed up and performed, as well, with Chris Belch and Zach Sutterlin having top eight finishes. They (were) looking forward to racing the kids at states and I know they will do a great job.”

Sheets was a silver medalist in the 100 backstroke with a time of 51.83. Chris Belch and Sutterlin placed seventh and 10th in the event in 55.90 and 1:01.59. Sutterlin (2:11.60) also finished 16th in the 200 IM.

Retsch set the pace for three other Hampton swimmers in the 100 butterfly.

Freshman Chris Belch corraled seventh place in 54.09, Michael Belch took 13th in 56.61 and Bratu ended up 20th in 58.05.

The Talbots’ 400-yard freestyle relayers earned third place in 3:16.21 behind the efforts of Retsch, Bratu, Michael Belch and Sheets.

The 200-yard freestyle relayers captured eighth place in 1:34.26 as senior Davis Gindelsperger, Chris Belch, Michael Belch and Sutterlin teamed up in the event.

Gindelsperger also placed eighth in the 50 freestyle in 23.30 and tied for 20th in the 100 freestyle in 51.66.

Michael Belch finished 17th in the 100 freestyle in 51.46; Bratu placed 25th in 53:49.

Senior Ethen Oh (100 fly, 200 IM) and sophomore Vitaliy Pikalo (100 back, 200 free) also were WPIAL qualifiers for Hampton.

One additional state qualifier was Carslaw, a freshman diver who captured seventh place at the WPIAL finals with 281.20 points.

Hampton’s girls team was represented by two individuals and two relay units at the WPIAL championships.

Belle Donato, a senior, competed in the 100 backstroke and 200 IM. Emma An, a junior, participated in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Donato and An also swam a leg in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.

They were joined by juniors Teresa Grimm and Rita Khoury in the 200 medley relay and by senior Danielle Sutterlin and junior Rita Khoury in the 400 freestyle relay.

Senior Annelise Craig and junior Kayla Berkebile placed 15th and 17th at the WPIAL diving final.

The first-place finishers from the WPIAL swimming championships received automatic berths to the state meet held March 16-19 at Kinney Natatorium at Bucknell University. The remaining qualifiers were chosen as at-large bids.

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