Emily Sykes made the trek up to the PIAA Class AAA Championships this weekend with a pretty simple goal in mind.
Better times — the hardware is just an added bonus.
On Saturday, the Methacton senior kicked off her final trip to states in style. Sykes posted a career-best 2:01.48 in the 200-yard individual medley, good enough for a fourth-place medal.
Along with Sykes, Owen J. Roberts’ senior Morgan Hansen and Phoenixville’s Maddie Cooke also took to the medal podium by the conclusion of the opening day’s heats.
“My goal for life has always been to get below two minutes in the 200 IM,” said Sykes over the phone afterward. “So to keep getting closer to that pinpoint of two minutes is really exciting. I’ll definitely take it.”
Avon Grove’s Olivia Paoletti defended her title, claiming the event with a time of 1:59.20.
A University of Tennessee commit, Sykes cut over two seconds off her qualifying time of 2:03.52 and bettered her fourth-place mark from last year’s state championship time of 2:03.86. Her time also lowered her school-record time in the event.
“It means so much, especially with that being the last (200 IM) of my high school career,” said Sykes. “Just to lower that mark a little bit more before I head off to college is really special.
“The emotions still haven’t hit me yet. I’m not too sure when they will — probably once everything is said and done.”
Hansen finished seventh in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.60 for just her second career individual PIAA medal. Entering states as the ninth-seed, she cut nearly a second off her district cut and finished right on the heels of North Penn’s Claudia Thamm (55.22).
Cooke narrowly earned her way onto the podium in the 50 free, where she posted a 23.64 for her eighth career PIAA medal. She finished just .05 ahead of Downingtown West’s Riley Rochon, cutting .38 off her qualifying time in the process.
The Penn State commit was also part of the Phantoms’ 11th-place finish in the 200 medley relay. The contingent, including Kathryn Bland, Emily Fabius and Katya Hayward, finished up at 1:46.88, almost two seconds off their district cut.
Day Two back at Bucknell will boast the feature presentation — the 100-yard breaststroke with Sykes seeded at No. 5 and Cooke at No. 9. Phoenixville’s Caroline Turner will take to the diving board in the afternoon.
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On the boys side, Boyertown senior Ivan Escott posted a 15th-place finish in the 100 fly while Spring-Ford’s Noah Cancro was tied for 16th in the 50 free at the conclusion of day one.
Escott, hitting the water at Bucknell for the first time in his scholastic career, posted a 51.13 in the 100 fly, finishing just .02 behind Lower Dauphin’s Jace Fry for 14th. The Eastern Illinois University commit cut plenty off his qualifying time of 51.31. He also took 28th in the 200 free with a cut of 1:45.03.
Cancro touched dead even with Hempfield’s Gavin Mayo at 21.43 in the 50 free, cutting .27 off his seeding time.
Boyertown senior Patrick Lance took 20th overall in the 100 fly, touching the wall at 51.40, cutting .41 off his district qualifying time.
Lance will have another go in the 100 free on day two Sunday while he and Escott will both compete in the Bears’ 400 free relay.
Cancro will finish up his state championship weekend seeded at No. 26 in the 100 breast Sunday.