Pine-Richland swim teams poised for another record-breaking season

Sunday, December 19, 2021 | 11:01 AM

The record boards at the Pine-Richland natatorium had plenty of changes after last year with several new school marks set.

Many of the record breakers are returning, and the Rams are looking forward to another exciting year in the pool.

“I have 16 seniors this year, so it’s going to be a big year for them,” Pine-Richland swimming coach Pete Barry said. “They’re all back and ready to go. For the last two years, we have talked about how our underclassmen were leading the way. Now those underclassmen are seniors and they are still leading the way.”

On the girls side, the Rams’ highest returning finisher at WPIALs is Delaney Allen.

Allen, a junior, set a school record in the 50 freestyle (24.32) and finished fourth at WPIALs. She also swam the 100 freestyle at the WPIAL meet, placing 14th. It was a strong season to build from.

“Delaney is looking good in the water right now. She’s swimming strong,” Barry said. “I have high hopes for her to break that 50 freestyle record that she set and possibly go after the team record in the 100 freestyle.”

Elizabeth Shaffer placed 16th in the 100 breaststroke last year.

Looking to join Allen and Shaffer at WPIALs is senior Mila Cribbs.

Cribbs qualified for WPIALs as a freshman and sophomore, but with smaller fields last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, she did not qualify. Her specialty is the backstroke.

“On the club side this fall, she got down to a minute in the 100 backstroke,” Barry said. “We’re hoping to get her back down under a minute. We’d like to get to her down to a high 57 or low 58 to possibly get her out to states.”

Barry said to keep an eye on freshman Sarah Ann Shaffer. She’ll be competing in the breaststroke.

On the boys side, Trent Vacula, Matt Carper and Justin Bogacz return as WPIAL individual qualifiers. Those three along with Will Laubacher made up an 200 individual medley relay team that finished 10th at WPIALs. They set a school mark for the event at 1:42.51.

Carper broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke (100.22) and finished sixth at WPIALs. He’ll be focusing on breaststroke once again, but will also swim the IM, and Barry feels he can be strong in that event as well.

“We’re hoping to get him under two minutes in the IM,” Barry said. “If we go back to a normal state meet, if he can get down to a 1:57, he could make an at-large bid at states.”

Bogacz finished 10th in the 100 fly at WPIALs.

Vacula was sixth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 500 freestyle at the WPIAL meet. He could join his teammates as a record breaker this winter.

“We’re hoping he can take down the 200 IM record,” Barry said. “He could possibly swim the 100 breaststroke as well. We’ll just have to see how the season goes. Trent is pretty versatile. I can swim him in almost any event.”

The Rams return a pair of divers who qualified for WPIALs last year. Maddie Alexander placed 11th in the girls meet and Dylan McCabe was 14th in the boys meet.

Emily Smallwood will look to join Alexander as a qualifier for the 2022 WPIAL meet.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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