By John Lohn
STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania, March 17. ONE thing is a guarantee in the Keystone State. You’re going to see some fast high school swimming, particularly at the state championship competition.
Last weekend was no exception, as Penn State University played host to the swiftest swimmers in the state. By the end of the three-day affair, the thousand-plus spectators in attendance went home satisfied.
While talent was evident everywhere, the Class AAA female competition was dazzling, with Kaitlyn Orstein, Jessica Lewis and Kelsey Morrisy delivering the most fireworks.
Orstein, bound for Tennessee, took home titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke for Mount Lebanon, which is coached by Don Wagner, the former head man at the University of Alabama.
Orstein notched a state record in the I.M., clocking 2:01.03 and a victory over West Chester East’s Kelly Nelson, an Olympic Trials qualifier, and Gettysburg’s Tricia Weaner, a Junior National Team member. Orstein stroked 1:03.04 for her breaststroke triumph.
In the sprint-freestyles, Lewis and Morrissy continued their four-year battle, with each standout winning an event. Lewis, from Parkland and headed for the University of Virginia, claimed the 100 free in 50.29.
Hatboro-Horsham’s Morrissy, bound for North Carolina, posted a state record in the 50 free with a time of 23.10. The mark broke the year-old record held by Lewis and just held off Michelle King from Spring Grove (23.11). Morrissy was also second in the 100 free in 50.60.
Cassy Larussa won the 200 freestyle (1:51.04) and 500 freestyle (4:53.21) for Emmaus, which claimed the Class AAA girls team title. Larussa also helped Emmaus win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:36.21.
Other Class AAA champs included Boyertown in the 200 medley relay (1:47.27), Pennsbury’s Lindsey March in the 100 butterfly (55.10), Weaner in the 100 backstroke (55.77) and the State College 400 free relay (3:3070). Katie Gifford (Souderton) was the one-meter diving champion.
Emmaus won the event with 156 points while State College was second with 126 points, followed by Parkland (111) and West Chester East (90).
In the Class AAA boys meet, North Penn repeated as champion, despite not winning a single event. The Knights’ triumph supplied their sixth state crown in eight years. North Penn has not lost a dual meet since 1987, compiling 240-plus consecutive victories. Parkland placed second, 36 points behind the Knights.
North Penn picked up silver in the 200 medley relay and bronze in the 200 and 400 free relays. It also relied on a silver medal from Adam Reynolds in the 100 breast and countless nickle-and-dime points.
Souderton, which finished third in the team standings, registered victories in the freestyle relays, as Zach Swartz anchored the Indians to a time of 1:26.54 in the 200 free relay and to a time of 3:11.10 in the 400 free relay. Swartz also took gold in the 50 free (20.76) and 100 free (46.15).
Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s Matt Golebiewski, a junior, doubled in the 200 free (1:39.72) and 500 free (4:31.07) and helped Southeastern Pennsylvania (District One) win eight of the 12 events contested.
Ridley’s Josh Bonner, who scored a state-record 358.70 points in a six-dive event in January, captured his second straight one-meter diving title. Championships were also secured by Parkland in the 200 medley relay (1:35.71) and Butler’s Josh Barthlow in the 100 fly (50.83). Chris Keister, from State College, won the 200 I.M. (1:55.60) and the 100 breast (57.58).
In the Class AA girls meet, Oakland Catholic won its fourth straight championship and fifth in six years. The Eagles won the 200 free relay (1:39.20) and 400 free relay (3:35.33) and received gold-medal efforts from Mallory Dietrich in the 200 I.M. (2:04.96) and 100 fly (56.71).
Ruth Seiffert (Garnet Valley) took top honors in the 200 free (1:53.58) while Caroline Byron (Bishop Hoban) doubled in the sprint freestyles, going 23.61 in the 50 and 51.38 in the 100. Katie Waldron (Warrior Run) won the 500 free (5:06.37) and Mary Catherine Mahon (Merion Mercy) took the 100 back (59.34).
Sari Cattoni won the 100 breast for Bradford (1:05.97) and helped the school win the 200 medley relay (1:50.57). The diving competition was won by Kate Hynes (Brookville).
In the Class AA boys meet, Hershey won its second straight championship, totaling 174 points. Shady Side Academy was second with 111 points, followed by Dover (84) and Garnet Valley (70).
Hershey opened the meet with a win in the 200 medley relay (1:37.28) and capped the competition with a first-place showing in the 400 free relay (3:10.88).
Andrew Thorn (Lancaster Catholic) prevailed in the distance-freestyle events, winning the 200 free in 1:41.80 and the 500 free in 4:34.43. Alex Goldsmith (Susquehanna) won the 200 I.M. in 1:55.99 and Brett Murphy was triumphant in the 50 free (21.23).
Stan Czarnecki finished first in the 100 fly (50.41) and 100 back (52.58) and Shady Side took first in the 200 free relay (1:27.69). Caleb Courage was the victor in the 100 free (45.84). John Cremo (Mechanicsburg) won the 100 breast in 1:00.13. Derek Hock (Hopewell) won diving.
For the next two years, the meet will be held at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium, a facility built two years ago. The decision to move from Penn State has been met with mixed reviews.
Although the meet is moving to a newer complex, seating will be reduced by roughly 300 spectators. The competition annually features standing-room only crowds and a stampede-like rush for premium seating once the doors open.
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