PHILADELPHIA >> The North Penn girls came into La Salle University’s Kirk Pool having won the past four district championships.
Kailyn Evans exemplified their drive and desire for a fifth.
“We knew that on paper,” the senior said, “we weren’t going to win this meet, so we had to come in and attack it from the start.”
Evans swam the fastest ever time in the 200-yard intermediate medley, breaking a 15-year-old record, to help power the Knights to the lead in Class AAA after Day One of the District One Championships.
The North Penn boys followed up in the evening with an overwhelming performance, their 199.5 points putting them in prime position for their third district crown in four years.
“Less events tomorrow but that means more opportunities for us to go all out,” said the Knights’ Noah Jamieson.
Evans, clocking a winning time of 2:00.17, replaced the previous 200 IM mark (2:01.64) that was set back in 2002 by Tricia Harm of then Council Rock. The Avon Grove duo of Olivia Paoletti (2:01.57) and Emma Brinton (2:03.39) were the closest competition of the present day.
“I’ve been swimming against all of those girls for so many years,” said Evans. “I looked at the record and I said ‘OK, maybe I’ll go for it.’”
Evans’ 20 gold-medal points helped bring the North Penn total to 196 after Day One, leading the 145 by challenger Avon Grove. Upper Dublin sits in third with 125.
The other record setter in the morning session was Pennridge’s Morgan Scott, who broke her own 200 free record of 1:49.95 (2015), upgrading it even further to a 1:48.43.
“I had a really hard practice (on Wednesday), probably one of the hardest I’ve had ever, so I was really exhausted coming in but really thankful for the time I got,” Scott said.
The junior held off two of Upper Dublin’s finest — Abbie Amdor (1:50.06) and Ellie Braun (1:52.09) for the highest spot on the medal stand.
“Having freshmen in that race and girls that I know from club swimming was a lot of fun,” Scott said. “I have a lot of confidence now because of my success in the 200 and the (200 free) relay — we automatically made states, so I’m really pumped for (Friday).”
The Lower Moreland boys have a three-peat brewing in Class AA while Villa Maria leads the AA girls after Opening Day with 298 points, ahead of Nazareth (173), Springfield (170) and Gwynedd Mercy (161).
Said GMA’s Steph Szekely (200 free), who was one of two gold medalists for the Monarchs along with Annie O’Dare (200 IM): “I’m just glad that the whole team’s hard work is finally paying off.”
In the evening, North Penn began with a win in the 200 medley relay and never stopped.
“I just came here this year to North Penn (from Chicago) and I’ve never been on a team where we’re all similar sizes, ages and there’s such a great sense of team camaraderie,” said Jamieson, who medaled in three events. “And I’ve never been on a team that was this close before.”
The buzz of a district title already started to swirl around, down on the deck.
“After both relays today everyone was hugging and there was a lot of high-fiving. Right from the start, we were able to really get some momentum into our meet,” Jamieson said.
Jamieson swam to a silver in the 100 butterfly, took care of the fly leg on the gold-medal medley relay, and led off the silver-medal 200 free relay.
“It was definitely something to feel good about but I attribute it to the team and the coach (Jeff Faikish),” Jamieson said. “North Penn training is the hardest I’ve done in my life and I think that’s 100 percent because of this team, because we push each other in the pool and because of our coach, who is constantly pushing us.”
The Knights kept pushing right to the wall on Thursday, with Sean Faikish earning a silver in the 200 IM and Aiden Daly swimming to silver in the 200 free, followed by teammate Ryley Fein, who tied for third. The foursome of Ryan Hartmann, Faikish, Jamieson and Fein were unbeatable in the medley, holding off Conestoga.
“I feel that tomorrow is gonna be an even better day,” Jamieson said of the Knights, who lead Souderton Area (110), Conestoga (109), Hatboro-Horsham (103) and defending champ Upper Dublin (101) by a comfortable margin.
The Hatters got quite an opening day from Andy Thomas, who won the 200 free by over two seconds and then propelled the free relay to a gold, joining John Scully, Luke Emig and Tim McPoyle in the final event of the night.
“Today felt really great. I felt like I could have done better in the relay but other than that, it was a really good day today,” Thomas said. “My time now is already better than my states time so that’s really exciting. I’m excited to see what I can do at states.”
Top Photo: North Penns Kailyn Evans competes in the 200 year IM during the District 1 Swimming Championships at La Salle University on Thursday, March 2, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)