TOWAMENCIN >> Just like the holidays themselves, North Penn’s dual meet with Upper Dublin comes but once a year, and both teams were ready to race Thursday night.
Said coach Jeff Faikish: “These two teams are rivals from the time that you first start swimming in this community.”
With cheering alumni packing the stands and intensity spilling into every event, it was North Penn that got to unwrap victories on both sides, swimming and diving its way to a 101.5-81.5 win on the boys side and a 101-80 decision for the girls.
“They have horses,” Cardinal girls coach Pat Redican said of the Knights. “We were fighting, but what I saw was they were sharper than we were. It was the little things — like turns, starts — that made the difference in a lot of races.
“We would not have been able to overturn that point differential but I saw that North Penn had the details, and we don’t, so that’s what we have to work on.”
North Penn’s Rosalinda Rivera (24.26) edged the Cardinals’ Molly Braun (24.57) by less than half a second in the 50 free and the 200 free foursome of Claudia Thamm, Megan Zartman, Rivera and Caroline Dunigan brought it home for the Knights, by a margin of 1:37.17 to 1:37.68.
“The 200 free relay was a great race,” Faikish said. “Watching each kid take their chance to step up and race each other — both teams — was awesome. It was a wonderful night of racing for North Penn and Upper Dublin.”
Abbie Amdor won both the 200 free and 100 free for the Cardinals while Claudia Thamm took the 200 IM and 100 fly for the Knights. The Knights’ divers gave NP a tremendous early edge — the diving was held earlier in the evening — by going 1-2-3, led by Paige Burrell.
And the medley relays — both boys and girls — seized the initial traces of momentum in the pool.
“That was our goal, to come out and see what we could muster up,” Faikish said. “With my coaches from when I was swimming and coaches that have come before me, there’s an old saying: ‘so goes the medley, so goes the meet.’
“So we were looking to come out and put on a very strong performance very early in the meet.”
Ryan Hartmann led off that medley relay and then touched first in the 100 fly for the Knights and swam on the winning 200 free relay as well. Sean Faikish was the second leg of the first-place medley relay and winner of the 200 IM and 500 free.
Derek Friday anchored the medley to victory and took care of the second leg of the first-place 200 free relay, and Noah Jamieson’s contributions were key to both relay victories as well.
North Penn is a healthy 2-0 on both sides going into its winter training, having won a meet that — every year — means a little bit more.
“This is the most important meet to have at this time of the year,” coach Faikish said. “We are such close rivals, have such mutual respect, that it’s awesome to take time out, take a look around into the bleachers and see the alumni from North Penn sitting next to the alumni from Upper Dublin.
“Seeing the relationships they built as children carry through to when they’re in college was an amazing sight to see.”
Alex Flynn won the 50 free and 100 free for the Upper Dublin boys, as both Cardinal squads go into the break fresh off a strong early-season test.
“Like I said to the girls, you can’t be the best unless you swim the best,” Redican said. “There’s a reason North Penn has won districts five years running now (and three of the last four on the boys side). They’re strong and they’re deep and we just have to find a way to chip into that depth a little bit.”
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