Erini Pappas woke up Wednesday morning on the outside looking in.
The Phoenixville freshman trekked up to the PIAA Class AAA Swimming Championships at Bucknell University seeded on the outskirts of the 100-yard butterfly’s A-final as well as the 200-yard individual medley’s consolation final.
After a strong showing in the morning’s preliminary swims, Pappas put herself right in the mix.
Pappas secured an eighth-place finish in the 100 fly, where she posted a 56.60 in the night’s medal round, the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s lone Day 1 medalist. She also placed 16th overall in the 200 IM with a finish at 2:09.03.
“I just wanted to be in the A-final, I wanted to get myself a medal,” said Pappas of the 100 fly. “It was kind of nerve-wracking (going against mostly upperclassmen), but I just kept my cool and kept going.”
Phoenixville head coach Dan Weinstein called each of Pappas’ efforts Wednesday ‘character swims,’ noting that it’s a tough turnaround to go from 200 IM to the 100 fly without much down time between events.
“It could have been a make-or-break meet for her,” he said. “She was seeded 17th and ninth — right on the outside of making finals. In the morning swim, for her to leapfrog some other swimmers, she really demonstrated her character. That says a lot about her.”
Pappas becomes just the second Phantom swimmer to medal at the state championship level since Phoenixville made the jump from Class AA to AAA in 2015. Maddie Cooke (Penn State University) was a five-time medalist in Class AAA before graduating last year.
With the experience of swimming on the state championship level now under her belt, Pappas will head into next season with a major advantage over much of the competition. That said, she doesn’t plan to change her approach.
“I’ll just try to swim the best I can, that’s all I can do,” she said.
Elsewhere from the Pioneer Athletic Conference, Owen J. Roberts secured a pair of 15th-place finishes from its relay teams.
The Wildcat relays each featured Abbey Malmstrom, Lilia Crew, Madison Gadzicki and Mikayla Niness. OJR secured its place in the 200 medley with a 1:48.63 to go along with a 1:38.73 in the 200 free relay in the night’s consolation finals.
Top Of The Morning
Niness, making her first ever appearance at states, just missed out on securing a spot in the consolation final after the morning’s preliminary swim.
The sophomore posted a 24.24 in the 50 free for 17th overall. She finished just behind North Penn’s Rosalinda Rivera (24.20) and Warwick’s Tyler Mandrell (24.21), who took 15th and 16th, respectively to round out the consolation final.
Perkiomen Valley’s Matthew Marsh didn’t make it out of the morning’s preliminary swim. The senior posted a 21.73 in the 50 free, giving him a 19th overall finish. Wilson’s Caleb Eberly secured the 16th and final spot in the consolation final with a 21.59.
Boyertown’s Gabrielle McKee finished 26th overall in the 200 IM. The freshman posted a 2:11.52 in the morning prelim, with Parkland’s Megan Sicinski (2:08.30) securing the final spot in the consolation final.
Still To Come
Class AAA action wraps up Thursday at Bucknell. Phoenixville’s senior diver Caroline Turner is seeded No. 8 coming off her fifth-place finish at the District One Championships last month.
McKee will give it another go as she is seeded at No. 18 in the 500 free while Malmstrom is seeded at No. 23 in the 100 back. OJR’s Meredith Mutter is seeded No. 24 in the 100 breast with Daniel Boone’s Carlie Owens at No. 25. Niness will get another chance in the 100 free, where she is seeded at No. 26.
Spring-Ford senior Carson Huff will be the lone male swimmer from the PAC to hit the water, seeded No. 25 in the 100 back.
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