Deer Lakes juniors Morrison, Looper start final kick to WPIAL swimming championships
Adam Morrison owns the top time in the WPIAL boys AA 500-yard freestyle this season with a time of 4 minutes, 51.93 seconds recorded at a meet with Shady Side Academy on Jan. 22.
While the Deer Lakes junior is happy with his time, he said he can go faster, with increased rest and other preparation, before the WPIAL championships Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
He also realizes others in the event will drop time to make the chase for the title competitive.
“I do know there will be some good competition, and I know they will have very good performances when the meet comes around,” said Morrison, who hopes to move up the ranks after placing fourth in the 500 at WPIALs one year ago.
Morrison’s top 500 time this year nearly matches his best from last year (4:51.20), recorded at WPIALs. He went into the event with a seed time of 5:04.21.
“You normally know there is going to be a drop in time,” he said.
Morrison also heads into WPIALs chasing the championship in the 200 freestyle. He finished as runner-up in the event last year (1:46.70) to current Mars senior Andrew Pierre (1:44.15).
Morrison ranks third on the WPIAL performance list in the 200 freestyle (1:47.94) behind WPIAL-championship veterans Zachary Bell, a senior from New Castle, and Ian Shahan, a sophomore from Belle Vernon.
Shahan is the defending WPIAL Class AA champion in the 100 backstroke.
Morrison again forms a 1-2 punch with fellow Deer Lakes junior Noah Loper at or near the top of several WPIAL categories.
Loper is in the top 10 in almost every individual event. His highest ranking is in the 200 individual medley where he is second to defending champion Robert Spekis, a senior from Belle Vernon. Loper’s season-best in the IM is a 2:04.0 established against North Catholic on Jan. 10.
“Very often I am checking those lists to see who is up there and the competition coming into WPIALs,” Loper said.
Loper earned a medal in the 200 IM at WPIALs last year as he placed eighth (2:03.26), but he also recorded a memorable swim in the 500 free as he cut almost 20 seconds off his seed time and finished second to Pierre with a time of 4:48.26. He arrived seeded eighth.
“I’m really looking forward to (WPIALs) and what times I see up on that board,” Loper said. “It pushes me to go faster knowing that someone is after me.”
Loper said he’s undecided if he will return to the 200 IM for WPIALs this season or transition over to the 200 free. He cut a 1:49.09 in the 200 free Thursday at East Allegheny.
“It’s nice to know I can choose whatever I want (between 200 IM and 200 free) and whatever has the best chance of me getting to states,” Loper said.
Morrison and Loper said they know to expect the unexpected when it comes to the WPIAL championships.
“There’s a lot of new talent coming up,” Morrison said. “I did see that there are some people that I’ve never heard of ranked higher than Noah and I in some events. There are some new freshmen who are going to give Noah and I and others a run for our money. There’s a lot of talent. I think it’s going to be a really fast year (at WPIALs).”
In addition to their individual-event pursuits, Morrison and Loper have their sights set on helping the boys 200 free relay improve on last year’s seventh-place finish.
A.J. Dorman, a junior, returns to the team. Freshman Adam Loper, Noah’s brother, joins the group.
“They’re looking really good,” Deer Lakes coach Diane Salvatora said. “They’ve been working really hard on their starts and turns. We expect big things from them.”
Morrison, the Loper brothers and sophomore Dylan Hlavenka are hoping for big things in the 400 free relay with a shot for a top-eight medal.
Individually, Dorman broke through with a WPIAL-qualifying cut in the 50 free Thursday against East Allegheny.
“He’s worked so hard,” Salvatora said, “and he deserves to be at WPIALs (in the 50 free).”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.