LEWISBURG >> All of the races were complete, and spectators, coaches and swimmers began to spill out of Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
Things beginning to calm down, Pennridge’s Morgan Scott could even look ahead a bit to next year.
“It’s gonna be bitter-sweet — next year being my last year,” she said with a smile. “I don’t know what I’m gonna swim — I might change it up, I’m not sure.
“The 100 and 200 have a place in my heart,” she said, “so you never know. We’ll see.”
Scott also has her place in history in both events. A day after defending her state title in the 200-yard freestyle, the Ram junior raced to her first ever state gold in the 100 free, seizing the title that barely eluded her the past two seasons.
“I’m just so happy I finally won — I had been waiting for this since my freshman year,” she said happily after the Class AAA Championships had wrapped up on Sunday afternoon. “I’m really happy that I finally got it and the people around me pushed me to get that time.”
Scott’s performance was part of a terrific showing by locals, with La Salle’s Jake Sannem earning Swimmer of the Meet honors in Class AAA Boys and Hatboro-Horsham junior Andy Thomas earning his first state gold in the 100 breaststroke then leading off the gold-medal 400 free relay.
In the first event of the morning, Scott ripped off a winning time of 49.43, more than a second faster than her seed time and 10 hundredths of a second faster than Gateway’s Olivia Livingston.
Scott came in as the four seed and created some magic in lane six.
“I actually missed my second wall,” she said afterward, critiquing her performance. “So I tried to catch up on that, got a little tired from that.”
None of it mattered in the end, as Scott joined Swimmer of the Meet Olivia Paoletti of Avon Grove (two individual golds, one relay gold) as the only double gold medalists in Class AAA.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Scott said.
The Pennridge standout capped things off by helping the Ram 400 free relay score points and bring the team total to 73 (11th), a foursome of Erin Shema, Anna Beno, Scott and Claire Beno touching 12th in 3:33.11.
That race was won by top seed Upper Dublin, which racked up 176.50 points over the weekend, second behind only Avon Grove (228.50).
“I’m so happy, and all of these girls worked so hard,” said senior Jenna Johns, who led off the bronze-medal 200 medley and broke the school record in the 100 fly to place fifth (54.89), then came back on Sunday to medal in fourth in the back and anchor the gold 400 free. “It’s the most deserving group of girls that got to experience this. And they’re all so young.”
A team of sophomore Abbie Amdor, freshman Elle Braun, freshman Aly Breslin and Johns didn’t just live up to their top-seeded time of 3:25.49 — they went faster (3:24.41).
“That was crazy,” Johns said. “Last year we got disqualified at districts so we didn’t even make it here. So to go from not having a relay to winning was crazy.
“We knew coming into districts we could definitely make it. But we did not think we were gonna be seeded first. We were like ‘oh my gosh.’ And then the icing on the cake came here.”
“Here” was down on the deck at Kinney, a celebration breaking out poolside. Amdor, Braun, Breslin and Johns draped a gold medal around the neck of teammate Laura Pendleton, who contributed on the 400 free at districts and then Breslin stepped in at states.
“Without (Laura), we wouldn’t have gotten to this point,” Johns said.
Of going in as the top seed, Johns said: “We knew going in that we definitely had a bull’s eye on our back. We were like ‘let’s just have fun and see what we have.’”
The Cardinals piled up points with a fifth-place finish from Amdor in the 100 free and a fifth-place finish from Braun in the 500 free.
Johns’ development in the backstroke came along pretty nicely.
“Swimming back this year was something that was new to me,” she said. “Normally I do 100 freestyle so to be able to bring home a medal in two individual events this year was just absolutely amazing.”
Upper Dublin will not have any divers next weekend to add to the point total but their accomplishments in the pool could provide a top-three finish, possibly a State Runner-Up spot.
“We gotta do what we can do in the pool and just leave it at that,” Johns said of their focus this weekend.
North Penn also had a tremendous race in the 400 free relay, the team of Claudia Thamm, Parker Schulz, Megan Zartman and Kailyn Evans earning silver with a 3:26.52. In one of the best heats of the weekend, the top seven teams all landed spots on the National Federation of High Schools Honor Roll.
The defending State Champion Knights, also led by Evans’ fifth-place medal in the 100 breast, amassed 133 points, good for fourth place, with an opportunity to move up to as high as second next weekend at diving.
As day turned to night, Sannem took the lead right away in the 500 free, pulling away to his second consecutive gold in the event. It was also the second gold of the weekend for the Explorer senior, following his winning 200 free on Saturday.
He would take the top spot on the medal stand one final time, hearing the chants of “Jake” echo through the natatorium.
“It’s incredible. Everyone that has been honored with that award has been such an inspiration to me over the years,” said Sannem, the state record holder in the 500 free with a 4:19.64 (2016). “I’m really excited to get that award. I know there were a lot of great swimmers who had phenomenal meets and I’m excited I was able to be a part of that.”
Sannem defended his title in dominant fashion, finishing nearly five seconds before any other competitor, touching first in 4:21.63. State College’s Tobias Van Dyke was second with a 4:26.32, and of local interest, the North Penn duo of Aidan Daly (4:31.23) and Sean Faikish (4:33.18) placed seventh and ninth.
“The 500 is an event where it’s a really tough race and you kind of just go with it, you kind of see how you can do,” the senior said. “I was really excited to defend that title.”
Soon after, Thomas surged past top seed Jason Young of Hershey to win himself a state gold in the 100 breast (56.97).
“I was nervous in the very beginning — I thought (Young) had me in the first 50,“ said Thomas, who would win by a full second and topped a field that included CB West’s Brad Johnson (10th), Spring-Ford’s Noah Cancro (13th) and North Penn’s Ryley Fein (15th). “I broke out extremely early and I floated up. I guess it was the suit — I didn’t do a start with the suit on so I floated up really quick.
“But it’s alright. I’m glad that I brought it home. My best time by a ton so I couldn’t be any happier.”
Thomas then only had 15-20 minutes to warm down, get his gold medal for the breaststroke and hop right in for the free relay.
“It was kind of nuts. In a short amount of time, a lot going on,” the junior said.
Thomas, Luke Emig, Stuart Sumner and John Scully went 3:04.70, in a tough field that included La Salle (3:05.42, Smith, Duffy, Lubinski, Sannem) in second, Upper Dublin (3:07.20, Joe Gewartowski, Matt Jensen, Kornel Pesti, Alex Flynn) in third, North Penn (3:07.76, Noah Jamieson, Ryan Hartmann, Aidan Daly, Sean Faikish) in fourth (tie) and Central Bucks West (3:11.19, Dale Johnson, Evan Washington, Peter Baltes, Brad Johnson) in 10th.
At first, the Hatters thought they had themselves an impressive silver, as it appeared North Allegheny had set a state record with a blistering 2:58. But then word spread on the deck that North Allegheny had been DQ’d, and there was an eruption of cheers from the Hatter huddle.
Said Thomas: “The relay was phenomenal. We got lucky — North Allegheny is an absolutely ridiculous team but we couldn’t be any happier being state champs.”
Also from the area, Methacton’s Emily Sykes captured a bronze in the 100 breast (1:02.33), Souderton Area’s Jenny Rogers (52.55) and North Penn’s Parker Schulz (52.58) finished 14th and 15th in the 100 free, and Wissahickon’s Carly Zlotnikoff (5:00.00) and North Penn’s Heather Hartmann (5:05.15) raced to 9th and 15th in the 500 back.
In the 100 back, Pennridge’s Erin Shema (56.77) and North Penn’s Megan Zartman (57.04) were 9th- and 10th-place finishers, and to cap things off in the 400 free relay, Wissahickon (3:32.56, Kelly Wild, Katie Sapozhnikov, Karis Kim, Zlotnikoff) scored points with a 12th-place finish.
In the boys 100 free, Souderton Area’s Cristian Musterait raced to another medal, placing sixth in 45.70, followed by seventh-place Alex Flynn of Upper Dublin (45.73) and 14th place Liam Smith of La Salle (46.97).
Backstrokers John Klein of La Salle earned fifth (50.33), Souderton Area’s Storm Krader was seventh (50.56) and La Salle’s Jacob Lubinski was 12th (51.42).
The Explorers, five-time defending State Champions, couldn’t catch North Allegheny (271) this year but are in good position for State Runner-Up honors, in second with 183 points. North Penn is in fourth with 144, followed by area powers Hatboro-Horsham (111) in sixth, Souderton Area (104) in seventh and Upper Dublin (74) in 10th.
“I was really happy with how the meet shaped up for everyone,” said Sannem, whose team celebrated by doing cannonballs into the warm-down pool. “The whole La Salle team swam so great and I’m really excited to be a part of it and help lead them to such a great end to the season.”
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