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La Salle claims 5th straight PIAA Class AAA crown; Upper Dublin takes 2nd

LEWISBURG >> Jake Sannem, said La Salle coach Stephen Duncheskie, is what you call a rare breed, “a very good swimmer but also a complete gentleman as well.”

The Explorers seem to have a lot of those kinds of guys.

Propelled by Sannem’s state-record swim in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday and with stellar swims by several others, La Salle battled to its fifth straight state crown in Class AAA, capping an impressive two days at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

“That was pretty incredible,” Sannem said of the team’s performance, which included 252 points, enabling the Explorers to stay ahead of hard-charging Upper Dublin (207). “From the beginning of the season, we knew that this was something we really wanted. We went at it in practice and to see all the hard work pay off, it’s pretty incredible.”

Sannem never stops working. In fact, moments after the celebratory plunge into Kinney’s depths, he was doing warm downs, keeping on pace for an upcoming meet that could provide him some Olympic Trial Cuts.

He created something special in the 500 free, racing to a blistering 4:19.64, winning the race by eight seconds and surpassing the previous record of 4:22.21, set by St. Joseph Prep’s Matt Belecanech in 2009.

“It was pretty cool once I saw everybody cheering for me on the sides,” Sannem said. “That just got me going and I was pumped to get it done.”

Teammate Joseph Vizza earned the silver in the 500, with teammate Greg Brocato having done the same in the 100 free the race before. Jacob Lubinski earned seventh in the 100 back, Sean Finlay earned fifth in the 100 breast, and the 400 free relay provided a nice climax, swimming to the silver.

“Each year it gets harder and harder,” Duncheskie said of the title, so many now that it has become a dynasty. “Like every team here, it’s a lot of mornings, it’s a lot of afternoons, a lot of weekends. Swimming’s a sacrifice, make no mistake about it.

“It’s a training sport,” the coach said, drenched from that celebratory plunge, “and what these kids put aside in order to achieve their goals, this dip into the pool makes it all worth it.”

Upper Dublin’s Michael Jensen, crowned Swimmer of the Meet, followed up his state record in the 200 free with another spectacular swim in the 100 free on Thursday, going 42.69 to earn gold. Teammate Wyatt Amdor raced to gold in the 100 breast with a winning time of 54.82, helping the Cardinals surge to state runner-up honors.

“This whole meet, we did outstanding,” Amdor said. “I think there’s something unique about what we have going on at Upper Dublin is that it’s not always about the studs, it’s about everybody. And each and every day, we’re there to support each other like a family.”

True to form, the Cardinals combined their efforts in the final event of the night, as a team of Ogden Leyens, Alex Flynn, Scott Luttmann and Jensen raced to a state record. Amazingly, breaking three minutes, the Cardinals went 2:59.58, topping Upper Dublin’s previous record of 3:00.23, set in 2013.

It was also quite a finish for North Penn senior Corey Smith, who capped off his career as a Knight with a sixth-place medal in the 100 back (50.44).

“I laugh thinking back to when I was a freshman,” said Smith, who helped lead the Knights to 12th in the team standings, in a field of 51.

“I was about this tall,” Smith said, gesturing low, “about 120 pounds maybe. I definitely changed a lot, got a lot faster.”

Also locally, Souderton Area’s Cristian Musterait followed up a silver medal on Wednesday with a fourth-place medal in the 100 free on Thursday, helping Big Red place eighth in Class AAA.

Hatboro-Horsham’s Andy Thomas was sixth in the 100 free, and Wissahickon’s Doug Boehme earned sixth in the 500 free.

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