Mt. Pleasant girls, boys shine on Day 1 of WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships

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Thursday, February 29, 2024 | 9:28 PM


Mt. Pleasant’s attempt to claim a third straight WPIAL Class 2A team championship started with a bang Thursday afternoon at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

The Vikings 200-yard free relay, anchored by a WPIAL record-holder in junior Lily King and also featuring juniors Kiersten O’Connor, Kaylie Korpiel and Maddie Barrick, rallied past Freeport in the last 25 yards to repeat as champion with a time of 1 minute, 47.23 seconds.

The Yellowjackets’ combination of freshman Kasey Schrecongost, junior Kira Schrecongost, senior Caitlyn Brennan and junior Mary Anne Altman was not far behind in second (1:47.84).

“I was hoping to be able to bring it back, but I was also confident in our girls to get the relay in a good place to where I could be able to bring it back,” King said.

“Everybody had their best splits. I was very proud of everybody.”

It was the opening salvo to a strong first day for the Mt. Pleasant girls.

While Quaker Valley holds a 29-point lead over Mt. Pleasant atop the team standings after Day 1, the Vikings hope to rally Friday with strong swims when the Class 2A meet resumes at 3 p.m.

King made it 2 for 2 in WPIAL titles as she defended the 200 freestyle in a WPIAL-record time of 1:46.01.

“I had enough time to cool down and get some water in my system and rest for a little bit before I went back to do (the 200 free),” said King, who is the No. 1 seed and defending champion in the 100 free Friday.

“A lot this season I was in a faster place in certain points than I was last year, so we were hopeful it was going to turn out how it did. I was very happy with it.”

O’Connor added to the first-day haul for the Mt. Pleasant girls as she defended her 50 free title from a year ago in a time of 23.61, slightly faster than her 23.71 winning time last year.

“There’s definitely more pressure (this year), but I always just try to go into my race not worried about what the outcome is and just trying my best,” she said.

“Overall, I am just trying to better my time, keeping in the back of my mind that I am trying to defend my first place. This feeling is so rewarding after a tough season of conditioning and meets. I am just so lucky to be out here with my team.”

The Mt. Pleasant boys 200 medley relay made it a clean sweep in the opening event as senior Logan Snively, juniors Joseph Gardner and David Mutter, and sophomore Gunner Probst combined to set a WPIAL record in a time of 1:34.15. The previous record lasted for one year. North Catholic won in 1:35.80 last year.

“We had our eyes set on that for a while now,” said Gardner, who added an individual third-place finish in the 200 IM (1:56.36). “The past two years we came into the meet as the No. 1 seed, but we weren’t able to get it done. Last year, we got second, so this year, winning and getting the record was something we knew we could do. It was just awesome.”

Mutter recorded a WPIAL record-setting swim in the 100 butterfly, producing a time of 48.30, more than 2 seconds ahead of runner-up Zach Schuster, a senior from Northgate.

His attempt for a fourth Mt. Pleasant WPIAL title in as many events to start the meet fell short by a full 3 seconds. He swam to a 1:41.24, but Indiana junior Preston Kessler defended his title and set a WPIAL record in a time of 1:38.26.

“My body felt weak before my (100 fly) race. I’ve felt that before with some of my races, but when I dive in, everything changes,” Mutter said. “My body wakes up, and I just go. I just swim my race.”

Indiana owns a 42-point lead over Mt. Pleasant for the top spot in the WPIAL Class 2A team standings.

Only the WPIAL champion in each event advances to the PIAA championships March 13-16 at Bucknell University. The other at-large bids to states will be determined by comparing times recorded at each district or regional meet.

The preliminary qualifying lists for both Class 3A and Class 2A are expected to be released on the PIAA website Sunday in the early afternoon.

The top eight finishers in each event Thursday and Friday earn medals.

Franklin Regional senior Holden Thomas had his sights set on unseating North Allegheny’s William Gao as boys Class 3A 100 fly champion.

But despite a time of 49.62, a second and a half faster than his seed time and close to the FR school record, Thomas was not able to secure the title. Gao defended his 2023 crown in 49.02 seconds.

“William is a really good swimmer and a great guy,” Thomas said.

“He is definitely fun to race against. I thought I did pretty good. There were some aspects of my race where I knew I can improve. Hopefully, I will do that for states.”

Thomas switched his first-day swim from the 50 free. He was fourth in that event last year.

“I looked at the rankings, and I was ranked equally in both,” Thomas said. “But I felt I had more room to improve in the 100 fly. The 50 is the quickest event there is. I believe I did improve with my 100 fly swim.”

Latrobe junior Lauren Bell earned silver in the 100 fly.

She was a hair slower than her seed time, but she finished in 56.48 to hold off North Allegheny sophomore Dani Hinkson for second.

Everyone in the 25-swimmer 100 fly field was looking up at North Allegheny senior Natalie Sens, who claimed gold with a time of 54.74.

The WPIAL championships continue Friday with the 100 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breast and 400 free relay. Class 3A begins at 9:45 a.m, and Class 2A starts at 3 p.m.

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 mlove@triblive.com.

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