Plum swimmers ‘can’t wait’ for WPIAL championships
Friday, February 14, 2020 | 7:00 PM
With the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool fast approaching, Plum coach Shawn Haupt has double vision.
He looks back over the past two months of the season and sees numerous impressive swims, including WPIAL-qualifying performances from 11 individuals and all six relays.
The veteran Mustangs coach also has his eyes focused with excitement to what can be accomplished at WPIALs.
“WPIALs is like a holiday,” Haupt said. “The anticipation for that day, they can’t wait to get there. The roller-coaster ride to get there can be tough because they have highs and lows throughout the season. There are days they think they are on track, and other days they think they’re never going to be good again. They’re getting to where they should be, and they see their times coming down. They see the light at the end of the tunnel. With more rest, they are going to feel better, and everything, hopefully, should fall into place.”
Plum capped the regular season and the Section 3-AAA slate with a senior-night meet against Gateway. The Mustangs girls won 96-72 to finish 4-2 in the section, and the boys lost 96-74 for a final section mark of 3-3.
Delanee White, one of 11 seniors honored before the meet, recorded a WPIAL-qualifying mark (1 minute, 17.99 seconds) on Thursday in the 200-yard individual medley. It was her final chance to get the cut.
She added that to the 100 backstroke cut she posted last month.
“We knew she could do it,” Haupt said. “She dropped seven seconds within the (high school) season, but we knew she had swum faster for the (YMCA team). To do it in her final shot on senior night, and to see her eyes light up when she saw she got it, was such a special moment.”
Representing the boys team in individual events at WPIALs are senior Joey Decheck (50 and 100 freestyle); juniors Aaron Frederick (50 and 100 free), Jordan Rogers (100 free) and Logan Minick (500 free); and sophomore Sam Schohn (100 breaststroke).
Joining White at WPIALs from the girls team are seniors Cara Gettings (200 free, 500 free) and Molly Giles (100 breast, 200 IM); junior Charlotte Jones (100 back, 100 butterfly); sophomore Elizabeth Glasspool (100 fly, 200 IM); and freshman Nina Ricciuti (200 free).
Decheck, who will join brother Justin at Gannon next year, feels good about his chances in the 50 and 100 frees. He earned WPIAL cuts in all individual events except for the 100 breaststroke.
“I am really shooting for that school record in the 50,” Decheck said. “It’s within my reach. I know I can do the little things to go faster.”
Decheck swam a season-best 22.41 against Penn-Trafford on Dec. 9. The school record is 21.56 set by David Starr in 2011.
Haupt said Glasspool has a good shot at bettering her own school record of 59.12 in the 100 fly set at WPIALs last year. Jones also is chasing the record.
“The two of them are going to be neck and neck,” Haupt said. “It’s going to be a battle. I wouldn’t be surprised if both beat the record.”
Jones, also a member of the Fox Chapel Killer Whales club team, rejoined her Plum teammates this season after choosing not to compete for the Mustangs last year. She said she has gained new perspective on her place in the sport and is happy to be back in the high school mix.
“I was a little nervous at first, but my teammates were wonderful in welcoming me back,” Jones said.
While the Plum swimmers have progressed throughout the season, they have done so with continuing thoughts toward Thomas Dojonovic, a teammate who died in late June, just a couple of weeks after concluding his sophomore year.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Haupt said. “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions with good and bad days for everyone, swimmers, coaches, everybody. Every meet, they incorporated his initials into a cheer, and they put his initials on a shirt. I think those are nice ways to remember him throughout the year. Ultimately, everyone is trying to move on, but they don’t want to forget.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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