Led by Decheck, Taylor, Plum swimmers ready to compete at WPIAL meet
Justin Decheck secured his place at the next level before this season by signing a letter of intent in November to swim at Gannon.
Now, Decheck hopes to conclude his senior campaign with top swims at the championship events, including the WPIAL Class AAA meet Feb. 28 and March 1 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
“I feel like I am at the best point in my entire high school career,” said Decheck, who placed 11th in the 100-yard butterfly and 12th in the 100 backstroke at WPIALs last year.
“I am really ready to make a name for myself at WPIALs this year.”
Decheck said his attitude and confidence level has improved this season, and that has helped get his tendency to overthink or underthink things with his approach to swimming under control.
He finished off the WPIAL-qualifying sweep of the individual events by earning a cut in the 100 breaststroke against Gateway last Thursday.
Decheck said he will return to WPIALs in the 100 fly and most likely transition to the 200 free. He also will be a part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“Justin is right where he needs to be,” Plum coach Shawn Haupt said. “He’s in shape, he’s confident, and he’s ready for that feel-good moment. He’s swimming fast, and he’s doing it sore and tired from a lot of laps.”
On the girls side, senior Devan Taylor, a James Madison commit, is gearing up for one final postseason run.
The 2018 PIAA medalist (eighth) in the 100 breast again will attempt to lower her school-record times in the 200 individual medley (2:09.64) and 100 breast (1:04.13) set last year.
Taylor, fourth in the 100 breast and sixth in the 200 IM at WPIALs as a junior, also competed at states in the 200 IM and took 22nd.
“Devan’s had phenomenal swims in all of her events this year,” Haupt said. “We have a strength trainer working with the kids, and it’s really hit her legs. She’s been swimming sore all year. Once we eliminate that soreness, I think it’s going to pay off for her.”
The PIAA, in the offseason, altered its requirements for qualification to the state championships at Bucknell University. As part of the changes, only the WPIAL champion in each individual and relay event is guaranteed a spot at Bucknell.
The other spots will be determined through the times recorded at WPIALs and compared with those from the other district championship meets to arrive at a field of 32 for each event.
The girls 200 medley relay of Taylor, Delanee White, Alexis Smith and new member Elizabeth Glasspool will head to WPIALs hoping to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish.
Junior Cara Gettings returns to WPIALs in the 200 free. Others who have secured individual qualifying cuts for the Mustangs are Glasspool, White, Joey Decheck, Logan Minick and Delanee White.
Plum was to conclude its section competition Friday against Woodland Hills. The meet was to end past the deadline for this week’s edition.
Haupt said several Plum swimmers were on the cusp of WPIAL-qualifying marks heading into the meet.
Swimmers throughout the region descended on Franklin Regional High School on Saturday for a last-chance qualifier.
“With the decrease in the (WPIAL qualifying) times every year, and not small decreases, it’s been harder and harder to qualify,” Haupt said. “While we have about the same number of WPIAL qualifiers as we normally do, we have had a lot more so close
to (qualifying) times where they already would’ve have qualified in year’s past.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Michael at [email protected]
or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.