BUCKTOWN >> Owen J. Roberts’ boys swim team has held a firm grasp at the top of the Pioneer Athletic Conference for the past few seasons.
And if Thursday’s meet is any indication, the Wildcats don’t plan to loosen their grip any time soon.
Led by a handful of seniors and some promising newcomers, the three-time defending conference champions picked up a 107-76 win over visiting Perkiomen Valley inside Owen J. Roberts Middle School.
Likewise, the Wildcats’ girls team, defending conference champs as well, posted a 108-74 victory.
The OJR boys team hasn’t lost a dual meet since December of the 2013-2014 season. The Wildcats boast a 33-0-2 record in dual league meets since, a statistic senior Simon Crew says has little impact on he and his teammates.
“I know that we have an ‘X’ on our backs, a little bit of a target,” said Crew, “but we’re not worried about that. We want to go out on a good note — whether that means good swims at districts or another team championship — it really doesn’t matter. We’re looking to do this the right way.”
Crew had himself a day on Thursday. He was part of two top-finishing relays to go along with two individual firsts as the Wildcats topped the charts in eight events. Crew and his crew took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:32.13) and the 400 free relay (3:28.65) while he individually touched first in the 200 free (1:50.96) and the 100 free (49.45).
Part of a roster that boasts nine returning seniors — six of whom swam at the district level last winter — the Wildcats have certainly molded and jelled into one unit both in and out of the water over the years. That’s certainly been paying off.
“A lot of these guys have swam here four years now, even some of them going back to middle school,” said Crew. “Everyone has gotten so fast at this point. It’s something special to be a part of.”
That leadership has evidently rubbed off on the underclassmen as well. Like Crew, freshman Dalton Fink was a four-time winner as he appeared in a pair of relays and took individual firsts in the 100 fly (54.51) and the 100 back (57.61). Senior Matt Snyder was part of two relays and also claimed first in the 100 breast with a time of 1:03.88.
“Right now, we’re trying to get all the kids to focus on how they’re swimming, what they’re working on within their races,” said OJR head coach Kevin Bott. “Every year is a new year. Every team is always starting from scratch.”
In his first season taking over the helm at Perkiomen Valley, head coach Mitchell Zackowski explains that his team is starting to figure out what he termed the “unknowns.”
“Things are a lot different so the kids had to acclimate to the new changes,” said Zackowski, who also began coaching the Perk Valley Aquatic Club team this season. “The kids are excited — we’re looking forward to a different, exciting year.”
Senior Matthew Marsh finished tops in the 50 free with a time of 22.10 along with a second-place finish in the 100 free (49.97). Junior Dylan Alexander touched first in the 500 free with a time of 5:09.84, nearly seven seconds better than the field, while Cam Barrie took first in the diving portion with a score of 191.80.
“It was a good meet in that we had a lot of great swims, just not enough wins,” said Zackowski. “It was close, closer than a lot of people would have expected. But what’s important to me is that we keep improving and learning as the season goes. Our guys have been moving forward all season.”
* * *
On the girls side, Owen J. Roberts took top-time honors in all but one event — Erin Lamirande’s 5:34.08 finish in the 500 free.
Sophomore Mikayla Niness was a four-race winner, taking top honors in the 200 free (1:57.77) and the 100 free (53.53). She also swam a leg in both the 200 free relay (1:41.32) and the 400 free relay (3:48.46).
Junior Lilia Crew was part of both relays and took an individual first in the 50 free with a time of 25.64. Freshman Abbey Malmstrom was part of all three Wildcat relays and also took first in the 100 fly (1:02.31) while sophomore Brianna Kerley claimed the diving portion with a 182.60.
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