Damich defends WPIAL titles
In defending his WPIAL title, Drew Damich adopted the strategy of the hare. The Chartiers Valley junior, like a jackrabbit, attacked the water at the University of Pittsburgh Trees Pool and forced the rest of the 200-yard freestyle field to catch him.
They didn’t. Damich duplicated his gold-medal performance of 2013 and won the 2014 event in 1:42.51 time, a scant .26 seconds ahead of silver medalist Jerod Kehl of West Allegheny.
“I was out fast,” Damich said. “I wanted to get far enough ahead that nobody could catch me.”
Damich knew Kehl and others could catch him. When Kehl used to swim at Montour, their races were always close. So Kehl’s showing did not surprise Damich.
“He’s been edging up on me all year so I expected a good race from [Kehl],” Damich said.
Damich anticipated another showdown in the 500-yard freestyle because Kehl entered the race seeded first with a time of 4:37.66. Damich came into the race with the meet’s second-best mark of 4:42.26.
“I had my work cut out for me,” Damich admitted. “I had a lot of work to do but I was psyched for [the 500].”
On adrenaline Damich raced. He finished first in 4:35.88. Kehl secured second in 4:36.96. Damich’s teammate, Brody Schmidt, took third with a 4:46.75 time.
As he was in the 200, Damich was the defending champion in the 500 free. “There is a lot of pressure but you have to learn to let that go,” he said of being a defending champion. “At WPIALs, you never know what can happen because some people are tapered and some people are not.
“But, I look at it as if it’s the first time. I’m thrilled,” he said of repeating his titles. “It’s amazing every time.”
Thanks to Damich, the Colts finished third in the team standings with 159 points. Mars won the AA team title with 233 points. Quaker Valley finished as the runner-up with a 170.5 score.
Damich anchored the Colts’ winning 200 free relay. Schmidt led off followed by Josh Rosato and Paul Novelli. The foursome won in 1:28.03.
In addition to his third place in the 500, Schmidt finished fifth in the 200 free.
CV’s 400-free relay team captured the silver medal with a 3:14.14 time.
SF girls second
South Fayette finished runner-up to West Allegheny, 227-199, in the team standings. The Lady Lions were champions for the first time in school history in 2013.
The Lady Lions closed the meet on a positive note; winning the 400-yard freestyle relay. Tianna Marrese, Sydney Briner, Sophia Hestad and Maddie Bartrug combined to win the 400 in 3:37.09. Bartrug, Jocelyn Colussy, Sarah Benton and Marrese combined for a new school record in winning the 200 free with a 1:39.89 time. The medley relay of Hestad, Colussy, Briner and Benton took tenth.
Other top finishes for the Lady Lions included: third places by Marrese in the 50 and 100 free as well as fourth place by Bartrug in the 100 free.