PHILADELPHIA >> Ivan Escott is ready to finally get his feet wet.
On Thursday afternoon, the Boyertown senior claimed a pair of medals during the opening day of the District One Class AAA Championships at La Salle University’s Kirk Natatorium.
He’ll be joined by Pottsgrove’s Mikey Prior and Patrick Agnew — both gold medal recipients in Class AA — as the automatic qualifiers to swim at the PIAA Championships later this month at Bucknell University.
Escott made the trek up to Bucknell last season as an alternate in the 200-yard freestyle, yet never once got to dip his feet into the water at Kinney Natatorium. On Thursday, he completely washed away that memory.
“Made the trip, but I didn’t swim,” recalled Escott, an Eastern Illinois University commit. “I’m ecstatic. I never swam at Bucknell before, but it seems like such a great atmosphere.”
Escott claimed fourth place in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.31, good for nearly two seconds off his qualifying time. That came less than an hour after he took sixth place in the 200 free with a time of 1:43.75.
Admittedly, he was on his last leg in the late stages.
“The (200) free was so tiring,” he said. “That last 50, my legs pretty much just shut down. It was my slowest split, so to be able to pull it out is awesome.”
For his career, Escott has swam at districts all four years. Just not with Boyertown, though. He transferred from Class AA Pope John Paul II prior to his junior season, a decision that he says has paid dividends in his personal career.
“I think moving up to AAA and moving schools helped me to really grow as a swimmer,” he said. “I was the only one that made districts for PJP my sophomore season. So I just wanted a stronger program, stronger practices. That’s what I got.”
In Class AA action, Prior defended his title with a golden finish in the 200 individual medley. He cut nearly five seconds off his qualifying time — and another two off last season’s gold-medal time — with a personal-best 1:59.60.
Two events later, Agnew followed up Prior’s flourish with a gold medal of his own, claiming first in the 50 free with a time of 22.22.
“Mikey’s race got me real fired up for mine,” said Agnew, a junior. “As soon as I saw him do well, I knew it was a good day. That same thing happened last year. I got pumped up after watching him do well.”
Pottsgrove posted double gold-medalists for the second consecutive year. Last season, Prior claimed his gold in the 200 IM while Kevin Basch (now at University of Delaware) topped the charts in the 500 free. Prior, making his third consecutive trip to Bucknell, admits he owes a lot to Basch.
“He was really talented, but he made it look so easy,” recalled Prior of Basch. “He made it look so effortless. So I knew I’d constantly need to try hard to keep up with him.”
Against the Clock
Although only three members of Pioneer Athletic Conference schools earned automatic bids to swim at states, several others will be watching as the district meets unfold around the rest of the state. The top five finishers in AAA action automatically qualify for states while only the top two in Class AA move on. The rest go to time considerations, based on their times as compared to the rest of the state.
In Class AAA, Spring-Ford’s Noah Cancro finished seventh in the 50 free with a time of 21.70 while teammate Carson Huff was 13th in the 200 IM with a 1:59.26. Boyertown senior Patrick Lance finished ninth in the 100 fly with a time of 51.99. Entering the meet as the second seed in the event, Lance could be a dark horse to watch if his name gets called at Bucknell.
In AA action, Upper Perkiomen’s Joel Williams was third in the 100 fly (56.47) while teammate Kevin Himmelwright was fourth in the 200 free, cutting over six seconds off his qualifying time with a 1:49.68. Cameron Junk was fifth in the 200 IM with a 2:05.69, cutting almost eight seconds off his time.
Defending champ Lower Moreland currently stands atop the Class AA standings with 272 team points followed by Springfield-Montco (166.5) and Holy Ghost Prep (145). Pottsgrove sits in fifth place with 102 team points followed by Upper Perk with 94.
In Class AAA, North Penn stands atop the leaderboard with 165.5 points followed by Conestoga (85) and Upper Dublin (79). Boyertown is tied with Pennsbury at eighth (50).