By John Lohn
STATE COLLEGE, Penn., March 17. ANNUALLY one of the premier scholastic meets in the nation, the Pennsylvania State Championships, held at Penn State University, did not disappoint over the weekend.
In addition to several eye-popping individual performances, the depth of the meet was a highlight, as the Keystone State retained its status as a swimming power.
In the Class AAA (large school) competition, Cameron Hollinger and Patrick Mellors put on a show on the boys side while Jessica Lewis dazzled in the female competition.
Headed for the University of Georgia, Hollinger claimed a pair of state records while raising his career championship county to seven individual crowns.
Popping a 1:38.57 mark, the Penn Manor senior cruised to victory in the 200 freestyle, an event that featured five swimmers under 1:42.00 and three under 1:41.00.
As a complement, Hollinger blazed a 44.69 mark in the 100 freestyle, winning the event by nearly two seconds. After winning the 500 free title as a freshman, Hollinger captured the 100 and 200 free events in each of the last three seasons.
As for Mellors, a member of the U.S. Junior National Team, the junior from Pittsburgh Central Catholic broke the state record in the 200 individual medley on the first day of competition, hitting the wall in 1:49.58. A day later, Mellors went 4:28.45 en route to victory in the 500 free.
The team title at the Class AAA level went to North Penn for the 10th time overall and the fifth time in seven years. The second-place finisher the last two years, behind Wilson, North Penn won all three relays and accumulated 177 points, well ahead of Parkland (137) and Wilson (124).
After winning the 200 medley relay in 1:34.20, North Penn took the 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.13 and the 400 freestyle relay in 3:08.49.
Other event winners included McDowell's Jared Poniatowski in the 50 free (20.73), Andrew Weinert of Parkland in the 100 butterfly (51.67), Patrick Schirk of Owen J. Roberts in the 100 backstroke (50.60) and Aaron Burns of Wilson in the 100 breaststroke (57.56).
In the Class AAA female competition, Jessica Lewis powered Parkland to the team title by winning the sprint freestyle events and anchoring a pair of relays to gold-medal finishes.
Parkland finished the competition with 159 points, consequently winning the team title for the second time in three years. State College was second with 145 points and Emmaus and Mount Lebanon placed third with 92 points each.
Although she was unable to dip below 23 seconds in the 50 free and 50 seconds in the 100 free, Lewis posted stellar times en route to victory. In the 50, Lewis outdueled Kelsey Morrissy of Hatboro-Horsham, 23.19-23.23. In prelims, Lewis went a state-record time of 23.13.
In the 100 free, Lewis again topped Morrissy, clocking 50.42 to 50.55. Lewis broke the state record in trials with a 50.21 mark. On the relay front, Lewis propelled the Trojans to a win in the 200 medley relay (1:46.98) and a triumph in the 200 freestyle relay with a state-record time of 1:36.07.
Molly Crispell of State College won the 200 free in a sizzling 1:50.10 while Kaitlyn Orstein of Mount Lebanon doubled in the 200 I.M. (2:02.13) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.27).
Kelly Nelson, from West Chester East, went 55.39 to win the 100 butterfly and Emily Christy, a freshman from Spring-Ford, won the 500 free in 4:53.10. The 100 backstroke went to Ashley Yeager of Cumberland Valley (57.59) and the 400 freestyle relay was captured by State College in 3:30.58.
In the Class AA (small school) male competiton, Hershey, despite not winning an event, took the team title, downing Radnor, the defending champion by a score of 142-118. Garnet Valley finished third with a score of 103 points.
The swim of the meet was delivered by Brett Murphy of Shady Side Academy. After being disqualified in the 200 I.M. due to a butterfly kick on the breaststroke leg, Murphy bounced back to win the 100 freestyle in 45.50. Murphy also anchored Shady Side (3:12.88) to a win in the 400 free relay, splitting 44-high.
Radnor, which received a win from Victor Johnson in the 50 freestyle (21.32) took top honors in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:39.21. Meanwhile, Ryan Reeser of Garnet Valley claimed first place in the 200 freestyle (1:42.65) and anchored his school to gold in the 200 freestyle relay (1:28.72).
Tom Gilbert of Conrad Weiser won the 200 I.M. (1:55.73) and added a triumph in the 100 backstroke (51.95). Andrew Engle of Manheim Central was the 100 butterfly champion, clocking 50.16, a time faster than the Class AAA winning mark. The 100 breaststroke, meanwhile, went to T.J. Storn of Lewisburg in 1:01.06.
In the Class AA female competition, Oakland Catholic won two relay events and emerged with its third consecutive title and fourth in five years.
After winning the 200 medley relay in 1:49.87, the Eagles took the 400 freestyle relay in 3:34.81. Oakland also received individual gold from freshman Mallory Dietrich, who won the 200 I.M. (2:04.84) and the 100 breaststroke (1:04.19).
Erin Cutrell of Greensburg Central Catholic won the 200 freestyle (1:51.06) and the 500 freestyle (4:53.66) while Kristin Brown of Bermudian Springs won the sprint events with a 24.29 effort in the 50 free and a 52.39 mark in the 100 free.
Jessica Stephens of Bloomsburg won the 100 butterfly in a state-record time of 55.56 and Bishop Hoban won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:39.03. Aubra Thomas of Keystone Oaks accounted for the other win of the meet, taking the 100 backstroke in 57.81.