Snow disrupts PIAA schedule for Franklin Co. swimmers
Winter Storm Stella will not be looked at kindly by swimmers who qualified for the PIAA Championships.
The meet was scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday at Bucknell University, with some registration and practice taking place Tuesday evening.
But because of the storm, PIAA had to work with Bucknell to come up with a new schedule. Now, the championships will be held Thursday through Sunday - which will cause scrambling for motel rooms - but that's not the biggest issue.
Because of a smaller window, instead of each event having prelims for all 32 swimmers early in the day and then a consolation heat and a final for the top eight later, all swimmers will now get only one chance to swim in each event. The best time is the winner and the top eight will earn a medal and All-State distinction.
"Now, you only get one shot at it," Chambersburg boys coach Chad White said, "and that means trying for school and personal records, too."
James Buchanan coach Lori McCullough said, "It's a little disappointing, because we'll only have half the opportunities to swim. It's always a great experience to get that first swim in, and then come back at night and swim well again."
PIAA also postponed the diving competition. Class 2A will be held March 25 and 3A on March 26, a Sunday, at Bucknell. Chambersburg's Nick Cover is seeded No. 5 in 3A boys.
The other factor is that with the snow closing schools for two days, practice schedules are disrupted. McCullough took her team to Lewisburg on Monday, a day early, just to beat the snow, but now she's trying to find a place to train.
"We'd really like for our kids to get some time in the water," she said. "We don't know if we can get in at Bucknell, so we've been looking for a community pool or something."
During the extra time before the meet, McCullough said she will be giving her team some mental training, and trying to have fun.
"We brought along a game of Risk; maybe we'll get to finish it, but maybe not," she said.
Of the 10 Franklin County swimmers who qualified, three have earned a total of five top-10 seeds.
JB's Rachel Kimmel has the fourth-best time in the 100 breaststroke in 2A, while teammate Annabelle McCullough is seeded sixth in the 100 butterfly and 10th in the 100 freestyle. In 3A, Chambersburg's Jacob Greenwood is ranked eighth in the 500 free and 10th in the 200 free.
The other Trojan qualifier, Avery Barley, is 15th in the 100 backstroke.
White said, "The guys had a YMCA meet this past weekend and looked good. I think they're on track for good swims at states."
Greenwood and Barley got a taste of states a year ago as freshmen, when Greenwood placed 14th in the 500 and Barley was 15th in the backstroke.
"A pool is a pool, but this is the fastest pool in the state," White said. "They were both nervous last year, but still made the finals, so this year I hope they can focus only on the swimming."
Coach McCullough is thinking big for her Rockets.
"Both Rachel and Annabelle are excited," she said. "I think a realistic expectation is that we have a chance of winning if we have a good lane. We think a top three would be spectacular."
McCullough also thinks Nick Garbinski (15th in the 50 free) has a chance to medal because the times are so close in that event.
Among Shippensburg's three swimmers in 2A, Sam Nonemaker - 19th in the 200 free - holds the highest seed.
PIAA swimming championships
Where: Bucknell University, Lewisburg
When: Thursday (Class 2A) - Girls at 4, boys at 7:30; Friday (2A) - Girls at 10:45 a.m., boys at 3:30; Saturday (Class 3A) - Girls at 3:15, boys at 7; Sunday (3A) - Girls 10:45 a.m., boys 3:30
2A qualifiers (seeds in parentheses): Girls - Rachel Kimmel, James Buchanan, 100 breaststroke (4th), 200 IM (15th); Annabelle McCullough, JB, 100 butterfly (6th), 100 freestyle (10th); Makenna Morris, Shippensburg, 500 free (23rd), 200 IM (28th); Madison Osanitsch, Ship, 500 free (22nd); JB 200 medley relay - R.Kimmel, McCullough, Sarah Kimmel, Annaleise Hissong - (11th), JB 200 free relay - R.Kimmel, McCullough, S.Kimmel, Hissong -(15th); Boys - Nick Garbinski, JB, 50 free (15th), 100 free (24th); Sam Nonemaker, Ship, 200 free (19th), 500 free (21st)
3A qualifiers: Boys - Jacob Greenwood, Chambersburg, 500 free (8th), 200 free (10th); Avery Barley, Chambersburg, 100 backstroke (15th)