Hampton swimmers save best for last at WPIAL championships

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 1:30 AM


Hampton swimmers peaked at the right time for the WPIAL championships, and one of them was rewarded with a trip to states.

Drew Scheib qualified for the PIAA Class AAA championships at Bucknell March 15-16 in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. The junior finished third in the free (1 minute, 43.49 seconds) and seventh in the fly (51.19).

“I’m pretty pumped about the (200 free), especially,” he said. “I was thinking more along the lines of trying to podium it.”

Coach Morgan Zweygardt couldn’t say enough good words about the junior’s consistent effort.

“It’s so deserved,” she said. “Like I’ve said before, he works so hard, but it is some validation because he kind of started as an underdog. Nobody knew his name.

“He barely got one WPIAL cut his freshman year. To now be up there with some of those bigger names in the WPIAL, it’s all the stuff he’s worked for, and I know as a junior he’s pretty excited.”

Scheib had to wait until Sunday to learn he made the cut in both events as times from around the district meets rolled in.

Not one of the boys team qualifiers graduate. The team placed 15th out of 24 teams on Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

“All the other teammates, they practice hard,” Scheib said. “They push me to do my best, and they’re just good teammates to have.”

Junior Matthew Belch finished 13th in the 100 fly (53.24) and 20th in the 500 free (4:56.45). The fly time was a personal best by more than two seconds.

Other finishes included freshman Will Retsch (17th) and sophomore Richie Donato (20th) in the 200 IM, Retsch (17th) in the 100 backstroke, Donato (20th) in the 100 breaststroke, and sophomore Ethan Apaliski in the 100 breaststroke (15th) and diving (15th).

Additionally, the 200 medley relay of Retsch, Apaliski, Belch and Scheib finished 12th, and the 400 free relay of Scheib, Belch, Donato and Retsch finished 11th.

“What’s exciting is I have another year of all of them,” Zweygardt said. “They all swam fantastic and hit their best times.”

“I think all the boys had best times in everything they did,” Scheib added. “So great job to everyone. I’m surprised, and I’m proud of them.”

The 200 medley relay (1:38.85) finished one second off the school record, and the 400 free relay’s 3:18.62 was only a few seconds behind.

“The relays, I’m really hyped for next year,” Scheib said. “We have a freshman and a couple guys that are going to be juniors. They’re only going to grow. I’m excited. I’m hoping that some records break.”

Sophomore Catie Kress continued to make strides on the girls side, finishing 11th in the 500 free and 14th in the 100 backstroke. Next year, she will hope to make the next step to a top-10 finish and possibly a state placement.

The girls finished 25th out of 27 teams.

“Even if we didn’t have high places in everything, they were all going best times, so I can’t at all complain,” Zweygardt said. “It’s not all necessarily about the place. It’s how they do for themselves.”

The top relay team on the girls side was the 400 free, which placed 17th and featured Kress, senior Lia Appel, freshman Isabella Donato and junior Rosy Oh.

Oh had a solid performance in the 100 and 200 freestyle and will look to be a leader next year. Appel finished her high school career as a four-year WPIAL qualifier with a 26th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.

“Really, they met my expectations and exceeded them in the best way possible,” Zweygardt said. “I knew they could do it, but it’s great to see it actually happen.”

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