One sweet medley
Butler freshman Goettler breaks 200 IM record
By Derek Pyda
Eagle Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH — Laura Goettler walked into the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool Thursday morning hoping to lock up a bid to the state meet.
She came out of it with so much more.
Butler's freshman phenom swam her way to victory in the Class AAA girls 200-yard individual medley with a district-record time of 2 minutes, 1.78 seconds.
Goettler sliced 7½ seconds off of her seed time, taking down defending champion Abby Hay of Peters Township in the process. The latter finished in second place with a time of 2:03.06.
“I didn't expect this at all,” Goettler said after receiving her first-place medal. “I was going for a 2:04, so this is a really nice surprise.”
Goettler's best event is the breaststroke, which is the third leg in the individual medley.
“What we were thinking coming in was to have Laura be more aggressive than usual in the first two strokes (butterfly and backstroke),” said Golden Tornado coach Dave Bocci. “She needed to hang with her (Hay) and she was able to do that.”
Hay held a slim lead as both swimmers transitioned to the breaststroke and that's when Goettler hit another gear. She opened up a sizeable lead and held onto it through the fourth and final stroke, the freestyle.
“I just tried to focus on swimming like I have been in practice,” said Goettler. “My adrenaline was running high and it carried me through the race.”
Goettler's effort bettered the previous WPIAL standard of 2:01.92, achieved by Mt. Lebanon's Kaitlynn Orstein in 2004.
“Sometimes, words can't describe what you see,” said Bocci. “This means everything for the school, the athletic department, Laura's family. Her win wasn't so much about execution as it was about just wanting it more. It was amazing.”
Goettler earned her spot at the state event in remarkable fashion.
“It feels pretty good,” she said. “It's probably going to take a while for this to sink in.”
Hoping to join Goettler in the PIAA meet at Bucknell University later this month is Seneca Valley junior Sophia Gaguzis, who went a personal-best 1:53.32 in the 200 freestyle to place fourth. Only the top three spots are guaranteed to advance, but Gaguzis' effort could fall in the top 16 non-automatic qualifying times from across the state.
freshman Laura Goettler swims the girls 200-yard individual medley during her
record-breaking victory Thursday, March 2, 2017, at the WPIAL Swimming
talking with my coach (Brian Blackwell) and he thinks I've got a pretty good
shot,” said Gaguzis, who was seeded eighth (1:58.41) in the event coming in.
She finished sixth in the event here last year.
“I wanted to improve my time and get a higher place on the award stand and I did that.”
Gaguzis later teamed with Hannah Fernandes, Alyvia Meanor and Marleah Schlick to place fifth in the 200 freestyle relay.
Fernandes took home a medal by taking eighth in the 50 freestyle.
Seneca Valley freshman Owen Blazer had a record-breaking performance in his first WPIAL meet. His 7th-place time of 51.99 in the 100 butterfly knocked Eric Martin's 52.1 from SV's record board. The standard had stood for 21 years.
“I was swimming a 53 high,” Blazer said. “I started lifting weights and was able to drop two seconds off my time. If it's good enough for states, we'll see.”
Butler's Alex Deemer broke his older brother Ryan's school record in the 200 freestyle, swimming the event in 1:43.45.
“The old record was 1:44.1,” said Bocci. “And Joe Deemer was sixth in the 100 butterfly (51.8). I feel very confident that can get him to states.”