Pine-Richland swimmers seize opportunity
Sunday, January 28, 2018 | 11:45 PM
The team results for the boys and girls swimmers at Pine-Richland have been mixed.
Both started hot, but once the Section 2-AAA schedule opened, the Rams cooled off.
While the outcomes for the boys (4-4) and girls (4-4) have been inconsistent, that wasn't necessarily unexpected because of all the roster turnover for coach Pete Barry's program.
But with that came opportunity, and many swimmers seized it with WPIAL qualifying times.
“We have more qualifiers right now for the WPIAL district meet than we did last year at this time,” Barry said. “Last year, it came down until the end of the season for a lot of kids to hit their qualifying time. This year, we had a lot of kids hit their time at the beginning of the season to qualify.
“There's been some surprising times put in by a few kids on our team, and we also have a few more that are really close. With three meets left, I expect that the number of WPIAL qualifiers on our team will only go up.”
For the boys, senior Alex Steger has led the way by qualifying for the WPIAL individual championship meet that will take place March 1-2 in five events: the 100-yard butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 IM and 500 freestyle.
Amaan Kazi and Jonathan Kelly, both of whom made it to WPIALs as part of the boys relay groups last season, qualified again this season. Kazi hit his time for the 100 breast and 200 IM and Kelly in the 100 IM and 100 breaststroke.
Two other boys qualified for WPIALs for the first time: Max Campbell in the 100 butterfly and sophomore Jacob Garretson in the 200 freestyle.
On the girls side, Alyssa Schonbachler has qualifying times in the 100 IM, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle.
In addition, Rylie Frye (200 IM, 100 backstroke) and Jaclyn Lenhart (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle) eclipsed qualifying standards.
Freshman Abby Flood also has made an impact in her first year on varsity, making the qualifying standard in the 200 IM.
Barry said another aspect of the team's collective personality has stood out.
“This isn't the most naturally talented group that I've ever worked with. Don't get me wrong. These kids have talent. But these kids just come together and really work their butts off,” Barry said.
“They show that hard work pays off. Talent isn't everything. You have to have the work ethic, and these kids are showing that they do, day-in and day-out in the pool.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.