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Pottsgrove’s Agnew defends 100 free title, named District One-AA Outstanding Swimmer

Although it’s only two more laps than the 50-yard freestyle race, the 100 free can feel like a mile for Pottsgrove’s Patrick Agnew.

Longer distance means more turns. More turns means more breathing. And of course, more breathing means a higher risk of breaking stride.

“The 100 is always a race that I have to think about,” said Agnew. “There’s so much more to perfect — gotta nail the start, nail the turns and just leave it all in the water.”

On Sunday, he nailed them all.

Agnew, a senior at Pottsgrove, capped his District 1 Championships weekend in grand fashion. After defending his championship in the 50 free on Day 1 Saturday, Agnew returned to La Salle University’s Kirk Natatorium and did the same with another golden finish in the 100 free on Day 2.

Agnew posted a 47.14, cutting over three seconds off his seed time of 50.45 and beating the field by well over a second and a half. It’s also a major improvement from his gold medal finish last season when he posted a 48.95.

“I just wanted to go out with a bang and make a statement,” said Agnew, who was given the BJ Howat Outstanding Swimmer Award for Class AA at the conclusion of the meet. “I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with just swimming the 50 at states, so I left it all in the pool for my last race at districts ever.”

In Class AA action, the top finisher earns an automatic bid to the PIAA Championships to be held later this month at Bucknell University. In Class AAA, the top five finishers earn automatic bids to the state championship. Both classifications will also have time-only qualifications based on results from around the state.

Fortunately for Agnew, he won’t need to resort to the time-only qualifications.

“One more meet as a high school swimmer,” he said. “I’m excited to swim in that pool again. I love that pool and the intensity of the meet. It’ll be emotional but I’m happy to be able to compete one more time for ‘Grove.”

Upper Perkiomen finished runner-up in Class AA action, their highest district finish since being crowned back-to-back champions in 2012 and 2013.

The Tribe entered the day sitting in third place, but within striking distance of Springfield-Montco. By day’s end, Upper Perk used its depth to surpass Springfield and claim second place with 300 team points, behind only Lower Moreland with 513.

“It’s special, every one of these kids earned this,” said Upper Perk head coach Brien Kalnoski. “Today the boys had 100 percent best times all around. When you do things like that, good things happen. We showed the depth that we haven’t had in years past.”

For the day, Upper Perk sent five individuals to the medal podium to go along with a fourth-place finish in the 400 free relay.

Junior Kyle Kovalenko took second in the 100 breast with a time of 58.95, behind only Holy Ghost Prep’s Andrew Iannacone (58.65).

“I had high hopes coming into the meet, but getting a 58 wasn’t on my list,” said an ecstatic Kovalenko of his time, which was nearly two seconds off his seed time. “I’m OK being in second place. It doesn’t guarantee me a spot at states, but I think my time will get me in.”

Senior Cameron Junk claimed third in the 500 free with a 4:55.53 finish. Joel Williams took fourth in the 100 back (56.63) while Joseph McGillen was fifth in the 100 breast (1:04.56).

“We’ve all been working our tails off this season,” said Junk. “Our coach has been working us mentally and physically and it definitely shows. With our small team, I’d never thought we’d finish like this, but it feels amazing.”

Elsewhere around the Pioneer Athletic Conference, Day Two didn’t feature a single automatic qualifier in Boys Class AAA action.

The PAC’s best showing came in the 100 back, where Spring-Ford’s Carson Huff finished eighth with a time of 52.54. Owen J. Roberts freshman Dalton Fink took 10th with a 53.42 while Perkiomen Valley’s Matt Marsh finished 11th with a time of 53.47.

Spring-Ford’s 400 free relay finished eighth overall with a time of 3:13.30. The contingent, which included Matt Skilton, Carson Hilliard, Cory Laing and Huff, cut nearly four seconds off its qualifying time.

* * *

In Class AA girls action, Upper Perkiomen’s Noel Fresa stole the show again.

A day after claiming a gold medal in the 50 free, the sophomore claimed silver in the 100 free with a time of 52.99. Fresa was edged by Nazareth Academy’s Kayla Lichtner (52.52) , but still cut a half a second off her qualifying time.

Junior Bailey McCausland took fifth in the 100 breast, finishing up at 1:09.57. Gwynedd Mercy’s Annie O’Dare set a new meet record in the event, shattering Pottsgrove grad Emily Glinecke’s mark set in 2015 with a 1:02.71.

In Class AAA, Boyertown’s Gabrielle McKee finished seventh in the 500 free with a time of 5:07.24. Although she isn’t an automatic qualifier for states, the freshman erased her seeding time of 5:18.64 and slid up 11 spots with the result.

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