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PIAA-3A Swimming: North Penn’s Burrell, Wenzel tie for gold in diving

North Penn's Meghan Wenzel (left) and Paige Burrell finished tied for gold in diving at the PIAA Class AAA Swimming Championships on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Bucknell University. (Kev Hunter/Digital First Media)

LEWISBURG >> Paige Burrell and Meghan Wenzel were truly inseparable.

Back and forth they went over 11 rounds of dives: Burrell and Wenzel…Wenzel and Burrell. Each diver’s performance
pushed the other to her limits and beyond.

The end result?

“It’s pretty amazing,” Burrell said.

“It’s something I would have never expected,” Wenzel echoed.

It was a gold-medal performance big enough for two, as the North Penn duo finished tied for first with 465.50 points, each earning a State Gold Medal Thursday afternoon at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

“I don’t know how to describe it. We each push each other so it’s great to have our work pay off,” Wenzel said with a smile.

“I’m so excited. I just wanted to do my dives as best as I could. That’s what I was going for,” Burrell said happily, moments after the two came down off the top spot on the medal stand.

North Penn would place three divers in the top four, as Madalyn Freece rose to the bronze medal with a 434.50. Their point production pushed the Knights further out in front in the team scoring, as they were closing in on their second state title in three seasons heading into the night swim portion.

For Burrell, this was her second state title in a row. The defending 3A Champ went for it in the finals, going for a “very nerve-racking” gainer two and a half in the 10th round, and she pulled it off.

“It was my first time doing it in a big meet like this so I’m pretty excited,” the junior said.

Wenzel went from a bronze medalist a year ago to a gold medalist as a sophomore. Burrell now has a silver and two
golds in PIAA competition.

The friendly competition between the two will carry into next year.

“I’m so excited for next year,” Burrell said.

“Next year will be crazy,” Wenzel added.

Fastest to the Wall

North Penn’s Sean Faikish raced to the silver medal in the boys 100 breaststroke, pushing to a time of 55.43 to earn his second individual medal of the competition (four total).

Upper Dublin’s Matt Jensen also made it to the medal stand in the 100 breast, touching in 57.50.

Souderton Area’s Storm Krader captured the bronze in the 100 back, powering to a finishing time of 49.84.

The 500 free was packed with three local standouts, as Abington’s Matt Bonnell (fourth, 4:29.55), North Penn’s Aidan Daly (fifth, 4:32.06) and La Salle’s James McErlean (eighth, 4:37.33) were all state medalists.

The 100 free had a pair of top locals, with Upper Dublin’s Alex Flynn (45.50) and North Penn’s Ryley Fein (45.79) taking sixth and seventh.

North Allegheny went a smoking 2:53.81 in the 400 free relay, the foursome of Mason Gonzalez, Andrew Zhang, Jack Wright and Rick Mihm breaking the national record (2:54.43, Jacksonville Bolles, Fla., 2012). Hatboro-Horsham (Andy Thomas, Stuart Sumner, Luke Emig, John Scully) was second (3:02.44) in the relay; Upper Dublin (Matt Jensen, Alex Flynn, Kyle Pro, Jake DiMartile) was fourth (3:03.89), North Penn (Ryley Fein, Sean Faikish, Aidan Daly, Noah Jamieson) was fifth (3:04.09) and La Salle (Matt Lewis, Andrew Pave, James McErlean, Liam Smith) was sixth (3:08.14).

North Allegheny won the 3A team title with 301 points, with the Knights earning runner-up honors with 190. Upper Dublin was third (134) in the standings, Hatboro-Horsham fourth (109), La Salle surged to a seventh-place tie (96) with State College, and Souderton Area climbed to 12th (65).

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