LEWISBURG >> Haverford coach Matt Stewart read the result off his phone, then sprinted halfway across the deck at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium to deliver the news Thursday morning.
Matthew Bochanski received it with a smile, then put a little extra height on his leap into a sun-splashed warm-down pool.
Few swimmers have been as intimately acquainted with the cut lines at events as the Haverford senior. Thursday, fortune was on his side.
It took two disqualifications for Bochanski to eke into the B final of the 100 breaststroke at the PIAA Class 3A Championships, the senior earning the 16th and final berth. At night, he ripped off a time of 58.44 seconds to leap to 12th, a deserved end to his high school career.
Original results showed Bochanski in 17th in the morning, but the disqualification of La Salle’s Patrick Cunningham bumped him into an evening swim. Also sanctioned was Hatboro-Horsham’s Andy Thomas, a false start nullifying the top qualifying time of 55.57.
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Even had the chips not fallen in Bochanski’s favor, his personal-best 58.97 to win the first preliminary heat would’ve sufficed.
“I was just very excited after my race,” Bochanski said. “Of course I was happy with my time. I was even more excited to make finals. … I just tried to come in and have fun and see how I do.”
Bochanski followed up at night with another time drop, sneaking up four slots. He was seeded 28th entering the meet.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Bochanski, who’ll swim next year at Shippensburg. “I can’t believe it. Even the time, I didn’t think I was going to come in drop another half-second.”
Bochanski was a long shot to even make states, much less finals. He finished ninth at the District 1 Championships, and his time of 59.18 earned him the final states at-large, .01 ahead of West Chester East’s JP Perucki. In his other event, the 200 individual medley, Bochanski landed on the wrong side of the cut by .02 seconds.
So if anyone was equipped to deal with the mental waiting game, it was Bochanski, who finished 29th at states last year in the 100 breast.
And his reward for shouldering that pressure was the tremendous relief he showed when unburdened.
“With such a small margin, I’d say it’s a bit of luck that I got in,” he said. “But it definitely helps fuel my race, my mentality before my race. It keeps me going.”
His teammate, David Abrahams, was the only Delco boy on the medal stand Thursday, earning fourth in the 100 breast. The junior has steadily dropped time this postseason and shaved nearly a second from his districts result in the morning, then another two tenths to 56.57 at night.
“It’s unbelievable,” Abrahams said. “I don’t really have any words for it. I’ve been wanting to do this for the entire year and to be here is unbelievable.”
Even before Thomas’ disqualification, the 100 breast seemed a more open event than most, lacking, say, a returning champ like Conestoga’s Brendan Burns in the 100 backstroke. Seven underclassmen made the A final, won by Upper St. Clair freshman Josh Matheny.
That and the collective energy generated with Bochanski revved Abrahams up.
“We give each other a lot of positive energy, just before the race, before we go up,” Abrahams said. “Knowing that someone like that is training with me at all times, it really pushes both of us to be much better swimmers as a whole because we see where the level is at practice every day.”
James El-Deiry of Radnor finished 14th with a finals time of 58.69 in the B final, which was won by Garnet Valley’s Aidan Zipf. The sophomore continued his vertiginous time drops — which have surprised him more than anyone — undercutting his District 1 time by three tenths to 57.34. His finals time was the fifth-fastest, nipping half of the A final and nabbing an all-state nod.
“I wasn’t really prepared to do so well, but I was really happy with how it turned out,” Zipf said. “Prelims was exciting, and when I got here, it was really intense and I just had fun with it.”
Since Will Resweber was a freshman, he’s noticed that he and Collin Pettit have a certain affinity for one another in the 500 free standings.
When Resweber was a rookie at states in 2016, three spots separated the pair. Resweber, a Strath Haven junior, and Haverford senior Pettit were in adjacent places at states last year (17 and 18), at districts this year (six and seven) and prelims Thursday.
Resweber’s second personal-best of the day opened up a gap in the evening, dropping nearly three seconds from a morning personal-best to clock in at 4:36.86 and grab 11th place. Pettit held in 14th, gaining time from his morning swim to 4:40.65.
“I’ve noticed it ever since I was a freshman,” Resweber said of the Pettit’s placement magnetism. “He’s a really good swimmer and he pushes me to do the best that I can, and I hope that I push him to be the best that I can.”
The key for Resweber in the night swim was to get his nervous energy working for him and not hold back, turning on his reserves of speed as quickly as he felt safe to.
“After the opening 200, I just try to turn it on as much as I can because I have a hard time getting up to speed,” Resweber said. “I can’t sprint, so I just have to go a good speed all the way through.”
Patrick Cullen of Radnor matched his prelims time of 46.50 in the 100 free to land 15th in finals. The Raiders’ 400 free relay (Nick Mlodzienski, El-Deiry, Andrew Davis and Cullen) placed 13th. … Conestoga’s Burns repeated as the 100 back champ with a stirring time of 46.93 that dominated the field by two-plus. … The night closed in sensational fashion with North Allegheny, the team champ, setting a national record of 2:53.81 with the squad of Mason Gonzalez, Andrew Zhang, Jack Wright and Rick Mihm. That undercut the national standard set by Florida’s Bolles School in 2012 (2:54,43), a squad that featured eventual Olympians Joseph Schooling, Santo Condorelli and Ryan Murphy.
Top photo: Haverford’s Matthew Bochanski takes his mark in the B final of the 100 breaststroke at the PIAA Class 3A Championships. Bochanski turned in a time of 58.55 to finish 12th.
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