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La Salle’s Sannem comes through with 200 free gold at PIAA Championships

LEWISBURG >> He was silver medalist as a freshman, silver medalist as a sophomore, silver medalist as a junior.

On Saturday night at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium, the time had finally come for La Salle’s Jake Sannem in the 200-yard freestyle.

“It’s kind of cool because each of those years, they were all teammates of mine,” Sannem said of  Chris Devlin and Michael Jensen, former Cardinal standouts. “They were on the Upper Dublin high school team but I train with Upper Dublin Aquatic Club when I’m not at La Salle, so it was nice to be able to train with those guys.

“And now I feel like it’s my time to step up,” Sannem said with a big smile, “and kind of inspire some of the younger swimmers to keep a great tradition in the 200 free.”

That he did, racing to a sparkling time of 1 minute, 34.76 seconds during a fast night at the pool in Class AAA competition.

Sannem, already the defending state title holder in the 500 free, trimmed four hundredths of a second off his 200 seed time and was close to a second faster than he was in the event in 2016.

“Each year you can’t predict how your season’s gonna finish — it just depends who is there,” said Sannem, instrumental in the Explorers’ last three state titles and a major reason they amassed 107 points on Day One, second only to North Allegheny (179). “I knew I was gonna have a good shot to kind of make sure I could maybe clinch that title and I’ve been working really hard in practice, especially the second half of the race.

“Everyone can go out and swim a personal-best 100 but you gotta make sure you can bring it back so I tried to really have some opening speed and made sure I could close it well too.”

Sannem was able to hold off Hatboro-Horsham’s impressive junior, Andy Thomas, who came on strong Saturday and dropped nearly three seconds off his seed time to go 1:36.47.

“That was absolutely insane – dropping three seconds off of districts is more than I could ask for,” Thomas said. “Just being there next to Jake Sannem is an awesome thing to do and just holding onto his hip the entire race and just try to finish at his feet.”

The times posted by Sannem and Thomas — along with North Allegheny’s Eben Krigger and Jack Wright — drew National Federation of High Schools Honor Roll distinction.

“We all took it out extremely fast,” Thomas said, “which was a little rough. I think I was just excited to be next to Jake and we all took it out really quick — all three of us (along with Krigger). We took it out with 46’s — Jake was a 45, so it was a good race, a good meet.”

Both Thomas and Sannem went on to help their 200 free relays make it to the medal stand. A Hatter foursome of John Scully, Luke Emig, Thomas and Tim McPoyle each swam a lifetime best in the event to earn the silver.

“We killed it in this relay,” said Thomas, who goes at it in the 100 breaststroke Sunday.

Sannem led off for the Explorers in the 200 free relay, followed by Sam Grossi, Liam Smith and Liam Duffy for a bronze medal in 1:24.24. Sannem now focuses in on defending his 500 free title on Sunday.

“I really enjoy training for the 500 and I’m excited for what it entails,” the senior said. “It’s gonna be a good race between a lot of different guys. We have some new freshmen swimming it, two guys on our team that are swimming it at states for the first time, so I think it’s gonna be a good swim for La Salle as a team.”

Meanwhile, North Penn freshman Sean Faikish raced to a silver medal in the 200 IM (1:49.84) and teammate Noah Jamieson was a bronze medalist in the 100 fly (49.85), helping the Knights to get to the No. 3 spot in the team scoring with 92 points.

Souderton Area, powered by Cristian Musterait’s silver-medal finish in the 50 free (20.44), is currently in fourth place with 79 points. Big Red also made it to the medal stand in the 200 free relay, with a foursome of Storm Krader, T.J. Yaglenski, Jake Kramer and Musterait cranking out a 1:24.81 to get fourth.

An entertaining 200 medley relay got things started in the boys session, with Souderton (1:33.76, Storm Krader, T.J. Yaglenski, Musterait and Jake Kramer), North Penn (1:33.77, Ryan Hartmann, Faikish, Jamieson, Ryley Fein) and La Salle (1:33.84, John Klein, Evan Parkhill, Jacob Lubinski, Andrew Pave) touching third, fourth and fifth.

Also from the area, North Penn’s Aidan Daly raced to an eighth-place medal in the 200 free with a 1:40.88 and La Salle’s Liam Smith placed 16th in the same event, going 1:42.27.

Point scorers in the 200 IM included Upper Dublin’s Matt Jensen (11th, 1:53.02) and La Salle’s Liam Duffy (16th, 1:55.34), and in the 50 free, Central Bucks West’s Brad Johnson (21.11), Upper Dublin’s Alex Flynn (21.27) and Spring-Ford’s Noah Cancro (21.43) touched ninth, 13th and 16th (tie).

In the 100 fly, La Salle’s Jacob Lubinski (50.20) and John Klein (50.29) medaled in sixth and seventh, and Jensen of Upper Dublin raced to 11th in 50.82.

Also earning a medal in the 200 free relay was CB West (1:25.84, Dale Johnson, Evan Washington, Peter Baltes, Brad Johnson), with North Penn (1:25.85, Jamieson, Hartmann, Daly, Fein) and Upper Dublin (1:25.93, Alex Flynn, Joe Gewartowski, Kyle Pro, Matt Jensen) scoring points with 9th- and 10th-place finishes.

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