LEWISBURG >> Upper Dublin’s Michael Jensen was racing history, his own history. And he managed to win by almost two seconds.
“That was a big goal of mine,” the senior said after shattering his own state record in the 200-yard freestyle Wednesday night, “and especially to get under 1:34. I’ve been looking for that for a while now.”
Jensen’s time of 1 minute, 33.90 seconds surpassed the 1:35.31 that he swam last year at states, as the senior raced to a second straight gold in the 200 free as the PIAA Class AAA State Championships got underway at Bucknell University.
Later in the evening, the North Penn girls would put forth an overwhelming performance to lead Class AAA with 124 points and Pennridge’s Morgan Scott would race to gold in the 200 freestyle as well as anchor the 200 free relay to a state record.
It all began with Jensen leading off the winning 200 medley relay for the Cardinals, joining Wyatt Amdor, Devon Polak and Alex Flynn for a gold-medal time of 1:30.99.
District One Champion Upper Dublin amassed 100 points on Day One, good for third place in the boys team standings behind North Allegheny (129) and La Salle (138).
For Jensen, anticipation started long before he arrived at Kinney Natatorium.
“I was ready to go all week,” he said, “kind of itching to start racing. This morning was just about making finals, and I was excited to go tonight.”
Jensen beat out La Salle’s Jake Sannem (1:35.44) for top honors. Also in the final were La Salle’s Joseph Vizza (fourth, 1:38.61) and Upper Dublin’s Ogden Leyens (sixth, 1:39.78).
The Cardinals came out firing on Day One.
“When you’re on taper and you’re just resting, you can’t wait to just get to the meet,” Jensen said.
The Explorers, gunning for a record fifth consecutive state crown, were powered by Greg Brocato’s gold medal swim in the 50 free, where he came within half a second of the state record, touching in 20.01 to overcome a tremendous swim by Souderton Area’s Cristian Musterait.
The Big Red junior set a Souderton school record, earning silver with a time of 20.32.
“I had a main goal and that was to break the school record, and all year I’ve been dropping time and that’s all you can ask for,” Musterait said. “It makes me excited for tomorrow (in the 100 free) because everything is just coming together.”
Musterait made a substantial jump from last season, when he made it back for the consolation final in the 50 free.
“More focus, more technique, more practice overall and experience,” he said of what provided him a greater edge. “Experience is a big part of it, especially coming into states as a young kid, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. After coming back, you know the routine.”
La Salle capped things off by winning gold in the 200 free relay, as a team of Brocato, Joseph Vizza, Sean Finlay and Jake Sannem put together a winning time of 1:21.84.
Musterait’s efforts, along with a bronze medal by the 200 medley relay (Storm Krader, Ryan Witoslawski, Brendon Loux, Musterait) have Souderton Area in ninth with 52 points. North Penn got things started with a pair of trips to the medal stand in the diving, as Ian Boland-Bintner (fifth) and Bryce Hoch (sixth) helped push the Knights to 11th place in the team standings.
The North Penn girls 200 medley relay began the night session with a gold-medal time of 1:43.87, as the foursome of Megan Zartman, Erin O’Neill, Claudia Thamm and Leah Brown bested the 1:45.75 by Upper St. Clair.
The Lady Knights followed that up by sending three competitors to the medal stand in the 200 IM – Claudia Thamm, Kailyn Evans and Megan Zartman touched second, third and eighth – as well as getting a silver-medal finish from the 200 free relay team of Evans, Erin O’Neill, Aimee Baur and Brown to put themselves in front of Mount Lebanon (103) and rival Pennridge (92).
“It’s a special group,” North Penn coach Matt Weiser said of his team, which is in position to claim the program’s first state crown since 1990. “It really is a special group of kids. They’ve had their goals in mind all year and really just came up here and have been doing what they need to do, really giving it all they got.
“It’s not over yet. We have another day to go.”
Scott, a silver medalist in the 200 free a year ago as a freshman, raced to gold on Wednesday night for Pennridge, her time of 1:48.87 pushing her past North Allegheny’s Lauren McGrath (1:50.27). She then teamed up with Hannah Zurmuhl, Anna Beno and Brittany Weiss to go 1:32.91 in the 200 free relay, surpassing the previous state record of 1:33.48, set by Hershey in 2013.
“I’m so happy for the seniors we could break the record,” Scott said of Zurmuhl and Weiss. “I want their name to be up there. It means the world to me that they’ve been here with me, helping me go through things. It’s just a blessing, it really is.”
The Rams, with a second-place finish from Weiss in the 100 fly and a fourth-place finish from Zurmuhl in the 50 free, have a shot at their highest-ever finish at states – their previous best was the fourth place they surged to a year ago.
Also making her way to the medal stand was Methacton’s Emily Sykes, who raced to fourth in the 200 IM with a 2:03.86.
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