By John Lohn
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, February 27. HEADING into the second day of the Eastern Interscholastic Championships, there was little question that the girls from Germantown Academy would walk away with the team title. Still, the lack of suspense didn’t prevent the Patriots from punctuating the event at La Salle University in stylish fashion.
En route to 634 points, Germantown Academy capped the competition with a national high school record in the 400 freestyle relay, thanks to the efforts of Katie Riefenstahl, Sara Coenen, Teresa Crippen and Alicia Aemisegger. The quartet clocked 3:22.34, well under the former record of 3:23.85, set last fall by Pioneer High from Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the collegiate level, Germantown’s time would have placed second at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and third at the Big East Championships.
Riefenstahl led off in 50.89 and was followed by a 51.10 split from Coenen. On the third leg, Crippen cranked out a split of 50.78, setting the stage for Aemisegger to bring the relay home with a 49.57 effort. The Patriots finished nearly seven seconds ahead of the Peddie School, which produced a splendid time of 3:29.15 for the silver medal. Peddie was second in the team standings with 515 points.
“It’s something we worked for all year,” said Germantown Academy coach Dick Shoulberg of the relay record. “I knew they would do it.”
The winner of the 200 individual medley on the opening night of action, Aemisegger added gold in the 500 freestyle on Saturday evening by leading a top-four sweep for the Pats. Bound for Princeton University, Aemisegger set a meet record with a time of 4:43.60 and was followed to the wall by teammates Lauren Sylvester (4:54.38), Claire Crippen (4:55.84) and Abaigeal Reilly (5:04.15).
Riefenstahl and Teresa Crippen also secured individual crowns, with Riefenstahl registering a swim of 50.94 in the 100 free, ahead of Coenen’s second-place time of 51.68. As for Crippen, she prevailed in the 100 backstroke with a mark of 55.43, more than a second swifter than the 56.40 of Peddie’s Annie Fittin. The other individual triumph was taken by Peddie’s JiYoung Lee in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.37).
Nine points behind Mercersburg after the first day of action, Germantown Academy came back to take top honors on the boys’ side. The Patriots totaled 350 points to place ahead of Mercersburg Academy (313) and the Peddie School (305.5). The lone victory of the night for Germantown was supplied by Reece Chandler in the 500 free (4:35.65). A second-place swim was collected by Ryan Peart in the 100 breast (59.88) and the foursome of Brett Karbach, Matt Cox, Ted Bonus and Chandler placed third in the 400 free relay (3:12.44).
“We’re ecstatic about our boys,” Shoulberg said. “We only have nine of them, but they never gave up.”
Mercersburg’s Basil Kaaki was the victor of the 100 freestyle behind a performance of 46.77, just ahead of the 46.83 from Fork Union Military Academy’s Will Trainor. Hargrave Military’s Andrew Hetzner won the 100 backstroke in 52.80 and Cathedral High’s John Azar prevailed in the 100 breaststroke with an effort of 57.29. Malvern Prep claimed top honors in the 400 free relay (3:12.12) to nail down fourth place in the team race.