Pine-Richland swimmers look ahead to bright future after WPIAL performance

Monday, March 15, 2021 | 1:02 PM

A trio of young Pine-Richland swimmers traveled to Upper St. Clair on March 7 to test themselves against the best in the WPIAL and came home with some solid results to cap off a year in which six new school records were set.

Sophomore Delaney Allen placed fourth in the 50 freestyle, junior Trent Vacula scored two podium finishes with a sixth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 500 freestyle, and sophomore Matthew Carper placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke at the WPIAL Class AAA championships.

Allen, who broke the school record in the 50 freestyle (24.32) earlier in the year, backed up her No. 4 seed with a fourth-place finish. She also placed 14th in the 100 freestyle.

“For a sophomore to be able to step into a season where nothing was normal and do what she did was impressive,” Pine-Richland coach Pete Barry said. “Nothing rattled her. She was fine and it was game on from the get go.”

Carper set a new school record with a personal best time of 58.56 seconds in 100 breaststroke to go along with finishing 15th in the 200 IM. It was the first time he broke the one minute barrier in the 100 breaststroke.

“He wanted to just break a minute, and my assistant coach and I had a talk with him before the race and told him that goal wasn’t just to break a minute. It was to do it with command,” Barry said. “You don’t want to just break it by a 10th of a second. You want to make a statement. He did that and got a 58.86. For a sophomore that’s not too bad.”

Vacula qualified for the PIAA meet in the 200 IM last year, but with a shrunken field for states because of covid protocols, he fell just short this year. He would have made it had it been a normal field, but Barry said they didn’t have any complaints considering he earned a pair of top-eight finishes.

“He didn’t best his time (in the IM) from last year,” Barry said. “He was about 0.7 seconds slower, but he rebounded and came right back and set a personal record in the 500 (freestyle) by over four seconds and did really well.”

Barry commended both the PIAA and WPIAL for putting on championships in a difficult year.

“In December a lot of us coaches weren’t even sure if a WPIAL or PIAA meet was even going to happen,” Barry said. “My hat’s off to the PIAA to be able to pull off a state meet and the same thing with the WPIAL. Thankfully, Coach (Dave) Schraven and Upper St. Clair stepped up to host the meet and give these kids that put in the work a great experience. They pulled off a miracle.”

The Rams return all three swimmers and a pair of divers — Maddie Alexander and Dylan McCabe — who qualified for WPIALs. Alexander placed 11th in the Class AAA girls meet and McCabe was 13th in the boys meet Feb 27.

Barry said that next year should be an exciting year for Pine-Richland swimming and diving.

“The kids did a great job and I don’t know if they really know how good of a job they did with the variables they can control and the ones they can’t,” Barry said. “They put in the work when they had the opportunity to do that work. To be able do that in a challenging year and get results makes for a future that his really bright.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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