LEWISBURG — You want your senior captain to take charge. On Sunday at Bucknell University, that’s exactly what Jacob Deckman did.
The Cumberland Valley swimmer, staring at his final swim in a varsity event at the PIAA Class 3A Boys Swimming Championships, made the decision to swim the starting leg of the 400 free relay.
Deckman is generally the anchor, but he was riding a confident high after his individual 100 free came in a tenth of a second shy of his PR — he swam a 46.32 for ninth, missing out on a medal by .04 seconds to Carlisle’s Devon Chenot.
And CV was rewarded by his decision-making, jumping from the No. 10 seed out of Heat 2 into a sixth-place medal with a 3:09.94.
“The biggest thing that went right in that was Jacob led off,” Eagles coach Mike Gobrecht said of his senior, who wanted to get out into clean water with an early lead. “He wanted to lead off, and that was his decision as team captain.”
“It made us feel more confident going into our own legs,” said Kyle Farrow, one of two freshmen on the relay.
Deckman set up Farrow nicely, ending his leg in a narrow second to Conestoga. Farrow’s split over the next 100 narrowed the gap by a few hundredths, and junior Jack Dengler got CV within a tenth. Conestoga’s Brendan Burns pulled ahead in the anchor leg (they finished tied for fourth), but the Eagles’ time was enough to eventually jump three others in the final heat.
“I think we knew going into that heat, that if you win the second-to-last heat, your odds are you’re going to get yourself a medal,” Dengler said.
“I think all of us were really just trying to take it out that first 50 and just hold on,” said Deckman, who is the proud owner of four District 3 golds in the 400 free relay.
The Eagles, who finished the day 12th in team standings with 58 points with the diving championships set for March 26, got an extra boost in the relay thanks to a disqualification as well.
Heavy favorite North Allegheny blasted the field with what appeared to be a PIAA-record shattering 2:58.00, but anchor Mason Gonzalez, who dominated both days in 3A, got off the block too early. An extra pause would hardly have impacted the record chase, what with the 2:58 being 1.58 faster than Upper Dublin’s record set last season.
“Both of us just being freshman, it just feels good just to get the medal,” said Skiles, who swam CV’s anchor leg.
Carlisle’s Chenot redeems himself
Devon Chenot missed the state championships last year in a disappointing sophomore season.
The entire 2015-16 season nagged at him during the year and after. He didn’t want to swim in YMCA events after the varsity season, and when it was time to train again later in the spring, he wanted nothing to do with the pool.
But eventually he got himself back onto the blocks, driven every day by his sophomore slump.
The struggles paid off for Chenot this year, with a pair of individual medals over the two days at Bucknell. Chenot, a 50 free medalist Saturday, added an eighth-place medal Sunday in the 100 free, clocking in at 46.28 to narrowly get on the podium.
“It makes me feel a lot better, because after last year I wasn’t even sure I wanted to swim anymore,” said Chenot. “So the fact that I came back and I got here makes me very happy.
In a way, the medals are a relief for the junior, who still has YMCA events in the coming month to contend in.
“When it was time to get back in, I honestly didn’t want to,” he said. “Now it’s the end of the season and you’re tired, but it’s not as stressful as last year.
“(This weekend’s finish is) a motivator. I thought about last year pretty much every day this year. … I’m definitely gonna go back and work as hard as I can.”
Chenot, who swam out of Lane 2 and missed his seed time by .29, edged a local-heavy field in the 100 free to open Sunday. Deckman finished ninth out of the third heat, with Skiles tying for 22nd in 47.50 and Thundering Herd teammate Isaiah Bell finishing 29th (48.17).
“It wasn’t the time I was hoping for, the place I was hoping for, but I’m not gonna complain about it, but it’s been an amazing year,” Chenot said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Jack Dengler was the only other individual swimmer for the local contingent Sunday, placing 21st (52.58) in the 100 back. Carlisle ended the day 25th in the team standings with 22 points.