York Suburban’s Carson Gross said the experience of being a defending state champion will likely help her when the Trojans, and other YAIAA swimmers, head to Bucknell University for this week’s PIAA championships.
However, Gross, who a little more than a week ago set a District 3 Class AA record in the 100-yard freestyle, added that there is something else that may assist her entering states.
“I think not being seeded first helps me a lot too because I don’t feel pressured. I am really happy I am not seeded first,” the senior said during a recent workout.
Gross enters states as the No. 2 seed in the 200 free — the event she won gold in 2015 — but is only .10 from the top spot. She is ranked third by less than a second in the 100 free and is part of the Trojans’ 200 free relay, teaming with Keelie Walker, Madie Devaney and Cara Zortman to be seeded second entering states.
The Class AA championships, which is Friday and Saturday, has many YAIAA competitors.
The Suburban girls are also seeded ninth in the 400 free relay with Havannah Suarez teaming with Gross, Devany and Jenna Hufnagle.
Speaking of Hufnagle, the junior is excited to be back at states coming off her silver medal in the 100 butterfly at districts, when she finally broke the one-minute barrier.
“I really wanted to break a minute and it was great. I am hoping to go faster and final (at states),” she said. “This year I know what’s going on at states, I am more prepared. I have the base behind me so I am ready.”
Matt Spinello is one of six Suburban boys that reached states. After taking silver at districts in the 100 free, the senior is a No. 10 seed entering this weekend.
“There’s definitely room for improvement, little stuff here and there. I think I can definitely drop a tenth or two off my 100 time,” he said.
Like the girls’ squad, the Trojan boys also have three relays heading to states, including the 400 free that is seeded fourth, the 200 free that is ninth and medley that’s 11th. Aidan Fryar is a sixth seed in the 50 free and Karl Schmittle is 15th in the back.
With his teams having all six relays qualify for states, Suburban coach Craig Brennan is especially proud that five of his 13 swimmers will experience their first state meet. Suarez, Maddy Abel, Trent Golden, Devon Lonergan and Ethan Staub will make their PIAA debuts.
“I am really impressed,” said Gross. “At the start of this year it was a different team. We were like a really, really young team. It was a different feeling and I think everyone came together so well by the end.”
PIAA hot takes
The 2016 PIAA swimming and diving championships begin today at 8 a.m. with Class AAA boys' preliminary rounds. Also on the schedule is the Class AAA girls' preliminary rounds (10:45 a.m.), the Class AAA boys' diving championships (1:15 p.m.) and Class AAA boys' and girls' consolations and finals (5:05 p.m. and 7:35 p.m., respectively). The 2016 PIAA swimming and diving championships last through Saturday at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. Here's key storylines to keep an eye on during the four-day competition:
- Eastern York’s Madison Nalls is a high seed in two events, ranked fourth in both the 200 and 500 free.
- A pair of locals will square off once again during the girls' Class AA diving championships on Saturday. Two-time District 3 champ Erica Sarver of West York and YAIAA champ Lindsey Pope of Northeastern are seeded fourth and fifth, respectively.
- West York’s Taylor Hoover is a sixth seed in the 200 IM and is 15th in the 100 free. She is also on the Bulldogs’ medley and 400 free relays.
- Teammates Meghan French (200 and 500 free), Maelyn Elder (100 fly, 100 back), Claudia Keller (100 back) and Maddi Stoner (relays) will be there as well. Lauren Mummert of Northeastern qualified in the 500 free
- Gettysburg is well represented in AA boys led by Jared Herr, the No. 7 in the 500 free who is also in the 200 free. Teammates Logan Hyde (500 free), Chandler Desotelle (200 free) and Nico DeAngelo II (100 free) will also be present during the four-day competition.
- Dover’s Casey Marshall will swim in the 100 fly and backstroke, plus on the Eagles’ 400 free relay.
- The two-day Class AAA competition gets started with Wednesday morning's preliminaries. Dallastown senior Kacey Oberlander is a high seed in two events, No. 3 by a close margin in the 100 back and No. 4 the 200 IM.
- The Wildcats' boys have Spencer Hill returning for a final run at states. The senior is the second seed in the 100 fly, less than a half-second from the top spot. He is also 10th in the 100 back.
- Teammate Jacob Stoner is a seventh seed in the fly and 12th in the 50 free. Logan Brockway (200 IM, 100 back) will also be at states, as will the Wildcats' 200 and 400 free relay teams.
- Central York’s standout sophomore Alec Peckmann is hoping to medal in both the 200 free and 100 free, while fellow Panther Jesse Tate is in two individual events (100 fly, 200 IM). The two are on the Panthers' 200 free relay. Central’s Garrett Sommer will compete in AAA boys’ diving.
- Only a freshman — Alex Sun of Red Lion — swims in the IM and backstroke. Lions' senior Dylan North will chase down his final 500 free.