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Penncrest’s Colizzo, Walsh, Dickert have a memorable states voyage

LEWISBURG >> All three swimmers had been there before. But when Julia Colizzo got out of the pool at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium after morning prelims and had a running bear hug from Claire Walsh waiting for her, there was clearly something different.

Both Colizzo and Walsh were making their third trips to the PIAA Class 3A Championships; fellow Penncrest junior Madison Dickert was on voyage No. 2.

But for the first time, all three qualified for the evening finals, a special Day 2 of the meet that seems yet another landmark in their collective growth.

Penncrest sprinter Claire Walsh gets ready to take the block in the final of the 100 freestyle at the PIAA Class 3A Championships.

“It’s amazing,” Dickert said. “Being here with the entire team, it’s really cool because there’s three of us here. We all made it through prelims, and it’s cool to see us all prosper and all get to the finals.”

Walsh was up first, advancing from the 12th seed to the A final to eighth place in the 100 freestyle in 51.25 seconds. She was slightly quicker in the morning at 51.07, which represented a cut of a second from her time at the District 1 Championships and augmented her medal in the 50 free Wednesday.

Next up was Colizzo, who peaked at 23rd as a freshman and was 28th last year in the 100 backstroke. Her first time making it back at states was accomplished with aplomb, making an A final to take home seventh place. She was quicker in prelims at 56.96, and though she slowed by two tenths to a finals time of 57.18, it still held her seeding entering the meet.

“It was really exciting,” Colizzo said. “I don’t think we all expected to make finals together. Just to be here and together is a really cool experience.”

“She’s having a great year, this is one of her best years, same with Claire,” Dickert said. “All of us have had one of our best years this year, so it’s really fun to watch.”

Dickert finished 15th last season in the 100 breaststroke, which due to a snow-condensed schedule was just timed finals. She bettered that placement to 14th in her junior campaign. Though she was slower at night in a time of 1:05.28, her morning swim (1:04.92) set her fastest mark of the season, culled from a seed time of just over 1:06.

The company each swimmer kept at states is heightened by the prospect of them repeating the feat next year, perhaps with their stroke prowess allowing for a relay to be added. That imbues Thursday’s moments with an even more consequential feeling.

“We’re like reevaluating the entire year and you’re like, ‘ok what can I do better next year to get further next year? And to place better and get a better time?,’” Dickert said. “So as of right now, we’re all just creating a game plan for the rest of the year to get to next season.”

***

Garnet Valley accounted for the other two finals swims Thursday. Catherine Weaverling matched her seeding with a time of 57.80 in the 100 back to finish 12th. She had been ninth after the morning prelims. The Jaguars finished 15th in the 400 free relay, the team of Weaverling, Anastasia Erley, Amy Townend and Noelle DiClemente clocking in at 3:36.01. DiClemente was 18th in the 100 free, up from her seed of 28th.


Top photo: Penncrest’s Julia Colizzo gets ready to start in the final of the 100 backstroke at the PIAA Class 3A Championships.

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