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Along with medal haul, Giannella leaves legacy at Radnor

LEWISBURG >> Greg Giannella was a tad underwhelmed by his swims Sunday at the PIAA Class 3A Swimming Championships at Bucknell University to get too wistful.

But the Radnor senior dulled his competitive edge long enough to explore the meaning of his team’s performance over the weekend. Four times, Giannella stepped to the blocks. Four times, he left with medals. And to cap it with seventh place in the 400 freestyle relay, a second relay medal for a Radnor program without one since 2013, made for a special ending.

That medal feeds Giannella’s legacy; he derives plenty of pride as the lone senior on the Raiders’ podium.

The team of Giannella, James El-Deiry, Patrick Cullen and Nick Mlodzienski clocked in at 3 minutes, 10.25 seconds, good for seventh (after the erstwhile winner North Allegheny’s disqualification erased a state-record time).
Giannella split 46.24 on the relay, sandwiched between a pair of sophomores. Cullen was quicker in 46.01, the last installment of Giannella’s mentorship.

“I was talking to Patrick earlier, and he was like, ‘Don’t you think it’s crazy that you’re the fastest swimmer and I’m the second-fastest swimmer and we swim the same events?’” Giannella said. “It is crazy that we swim at the same time. It’s good to know that I had some impact on him, and he’s going to go faster than me next year so I guess I helped shaped that a little bit.”

Giannella was quicker in his final individual event, taking fifth in the 100 free in 45.63. The slim trim of .04 from districts and the inability to improve on his placement in the 50 Saturday dampened his enthusiasm. He was still quicker than his protégé Cullen, who earned 10th in 46.63.

“I’m excited for Patrick, who’s going to go really fast next year after what he did today and yesterday,” Giannella said. “That’s a good sign.”

History is unusually revered at Radnor under the stewardship of Tom Robinson, and Giannella has understood that from an early age. This season, he’s assumed the leadership mantle in the ilk of the seniors he learned under as a freshman, like Mitchell Gartland and Ryan Freedman.

In his last days of high school swimming before continuing his career at Lehigh, his appreciation for that role has deepened. And as a leader by example, he’d be hard-pressed to have left a better blueprint.

“I think that people looked up to me as a good swimmer and a good sprinter,” Giannella said, squirming a bit at the self-praise. “I guess they’d aspire to be top-tier, if that’s what you could say that I was.”

***

Few people at Kinney Natatorium were more surprised to see Oliver Yancey on the medal stand than Yancey himself.

He’d been eighth at the District 1 Championships two weeks ago and unsure if he’d get to swim at states. But he adapted marvelously to the end-of-season atmosphere, attacking his 100 breaststroke to slash more than a second off his seed time and clock in at 58.43 seconds, sneaking into eighth.

“Before I went up for the last race, (Strath Haven coach) Dina (Dormer) was just like, ‘go out with a bang and see how far you can go out and just try to win it,’” Yancey said. “That’s what I did, and it worked.”

The Gettysburg-bound senior entered as the 21st seed. He was way ahead of the field at the 50 in the second heat of four and hung on to win it comfortably.

“I saw everyone at the last turn and I saw that I was ahead of them,” Yancey said. “I felt good in the water. I didn’t feel any pain going into that last turn. I just knew I had to push through and finish it up.”

He beat six of eight swimmers in the next heat, then edged Downingtown East’s Ben Doyle by .06 in the final heat.

Haverford’s David Abrahams tied for 11th in the event at 58.68, a cut of six-tenths from districts.

***

Having been under 4:40 before, Collin Pettit set that as his baseline states goal. While the Haverford junior didn’t exceed his loftier expectations in the 500 free, he was consoled by a second trip to the high 4:30s.

Pettit set a best time at 4:39.32, jumping from the 20th seed to 17th. He’d been 4:39.93 in December. Pettit was 3.3 second quicker than districts.

“It’s not as fast as I wanted to go, but I still dropped time from December and it feels good to be under it again,” Pettit said.

Strath Haven’s Will Resweber was slightly quicker than at districts to take 18th in 4:40.05. Teammate Sean Adams claimed 24th in 4:44.07.

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