Several A-K Valley swimmers earn spots in PIAA meet

Sunday, March 1, 2020 | 5:44 PM

The PIAA released its preliminary psych sheets Sunday morning for the state swimming and diving championships March 11-14 at Bucknell, and the Alle-Kiski Valley is well represented.

Each event will consist of 32 entries. In Class AAA, automatic bids went to 10 district champions, with the other 22 going to the remaining top times throughout the state.

Eight automatic berths went to Class AA champions with 24 additional time qualifiers.

Two local WPIAL champions — Class AAA girls 100-yard butterfly winner Sophie Shao, a freshman from Fox Chapel, and Deer Lakes senior Adam Morrison, the Class AA boys titlist in the 500 free — secured automatic trips to states Thursday and Friday at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

Several other A-K Valley individuals and relays were confident their times would land them at-large bids, and others waited anxiously to see if they would be included.

Earning trips in girls Class AA were Highlands senior Rachel Blackburn (100 butterfly, 100 breast), Freeport sophomore Alexis Schrecongost (200 free, 100 breast), Burrell freshman Payton O’Toole (200 free), Freeport junior Brooke Welling (200 free) and the Freeport 200 and 400 free relays.

“It was just a relief to find out I had qualified in both,” said Blackburn, who finished as the runner-up in the 100 breast and took fourth in the 100 fly. “I am really happy for the 100 fly because it was the first time I swam that at WPIALs.”

Time qualifiers in boys Class AA were Morrison (200 free), Deer Lakes senior Noah Loper (200 free, 500 free), Knoch senior Braden Zukowski (200 individual medley, 100 breast), Knoch junior Zach Wilson (50 free, 100 back), the Knoch 200 medley and free relays and the Deer Lakes 200 free relay.

Shao also will compete for Fox Chapel in the Class AAA girls 100 breast, and freshman Talia Bugel (100 back), senior Leia Ross (100 back) and the 200 medley and 400 free relay teams will represent the Foxes.

Rounding out the state qualifiers are, from boys Class AAA, Plum senior Joey Decheck (50 free, 100 free) and Kiski Area freshman Levi Hansen (500 free).

Over the next couple of days, the PIAA will accept requests from individual qualifiers to scratch out of events.

In advance of receiving those scratches, three alternates were designated for each event with the possibility of moving into the main field of 32.

Welling is the first alternate for the girls Class AA 100 free, and O’Toole is the second alternate for the 500 free.

In boys Class AA, the Deer Lakes 200 medley relay is the third alternate, and Knoch sophomore Caden Traggiai is the third alternate in the 500 free.

Fox Chapel senior Grace Gackenbach (500 free) and the Foxes girls 200 free relay are Class AAA third alternates.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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