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DLN ALL-AREA: Avon Grove’s Burk led Red Devils to the top of the podium

Thanks to the March 14th snowstorm, Kelly Burk was able to watch her girls’ team capture the first state swimming title in Avon Grove history. But Burk had the Red Devils prepared even if she was unable to get to Bucknell.

The Daily Local News Swimming Coach of the Year, Burk was in the hospital with kidney stones on the day her three-time Ches-Mont champs were set to begin states. But the storm pushed everything back one day.

“I know how these girls rise to the occasion,” Burk said. “So I looked at my husband and said, ‘do you think I’m crazy to have you drive me up there?’ And he said, ‘I would think you were crazy if you didn’t because good things are going to happen.’

“There was no way I was going to miss watching these girls.”

The Class 3A crown capped Burk’s eighth season as head coach. It also included Avon Grove’s third consecutive unbeaten season in the ultra-competitive Ches-Mont. In 2013 and 2014, the Devils did not win a meet against their division foes.

“To have what we’ve had over the last three years has just been great,” she said.

Burk deflected a lot of the credit to her swimmers and also to her assistant, Chic McKnelly, who founded the program nearly a quarter century ago. McKnelly brought Burk in for the 2009 season as his assistant and then turned the program over to her.

“Chic had faith in me and stepped back to be an assistant, and has been a great role model for me,” she said.

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