GRATERFORD >> Some area boys bettered their times and had personal bests during the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championships Friday evening at Perkiomen Valley High School.
This meet, the second year of a new format, is designed for swimmers to improve their times heading into the District 1 meet of the postseason, and for some fortunate ones, advancing to the PIAA Championships.
Upper Merion took first place with 40 points. The Vikings were followed by Boyertown in second place with 33 points. Phoenixville and Perkiomen Valley tied for third place with 22 points.
Methacton (18), Spring-Ford (16.5), Owen J. Roberts (10) and Upper Perkiomen (8.5) rounded out the field.
The girls portion of the competition resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. The diving portion of the competition was held Thursday night.
Phoenixville started the night off with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:37.89.
The Phantoms’ team was comprised of George Pappas, Dominic Sposato, Mitchell Schwartz and Jack Hussin on the anchor.
“It was incredible,” said Phoenixville coach Dan Weinstein. “I am absolutely thrilled. I could not be more proud.
“This group of seniors has been the foundation for our transition to Class AAA from Class AA. It is really great for our younger swimmers.”
Phoenixville placed second in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:30.63. That team consisted of Hussin, Ryan Harth, Schwartz and Sposato on the anchor.
Spring-Ford took first place in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a 1:29.80 clocking.
The Rams’ quartet consisted of Cory Laing (23.16), Sean Laing (22.37), Sam Ricci (22.80) and Brendan Baganski on the anchor at 21.47.
Weinstein was happy for the medley relay as well as the free relay for taking second place.
“The talent in this league is so great,” said Weinstein. “So to finish 1-2-3 is really something. It was a great meet and a great atmosphere. For some of the guys, they get their season best or lifetime best.”
Weinstein said last year was the first time the Phoenixville boys qualified for districts since they upped their level to Class AAA. This season, the Phantoms are hoping to have even more qualifiers.
“I am so proud and so excited to come back tomorrow,” said Weinstein. “When you graduate a group of seniors who set the standard, the next year they step it up and keep going.”
The Phantoms’ George Pappas placed second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.42.
Owen J. Roberts’ Dalton Fink captured the gold medal with a time of 53.68.
Phoenixville’s Sposato finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:01.57. Boyertown’s Nolan Benner took first place with a 59.11 time.
Spring-Ford coach Mark Agnew was also happy with the showing by his Rams.
“Overall, I thought our kids did very well,” said Agnew. “We came to the meet with the intention of dropping times.”
The Rams’ biggest drop came in the 500 freestyle, with a 20-second drop.
Spring-Ford’s Luke McKenna won the 500 free at 4:44.73. Teammate Chris Bahr had the time drop with a 5:31.21 finish, that was good enough for 11th place.
“Luke McKenna swam the (200 free) and (500 free) tonight,” said Agnew. “He knows how to win a race. A kid with that experience can go out and win a race.
“He is a veteran swimmer. He knows the 500 very well. He wanted to go out and try to win it, and did. It was fun to watch. He is a good kid, hard-working. We are hoping he is strong at the district meet, and we’re hoping to get him qualified for states in the 500.”
Perkiomen Valley finished 1-2 in the 200-yard freestyle with Jacob Replogle (1:46.09) and Dylan Alexander (1:47.59).
Upper Merion’s Michael Lemishko won the 200-yard IM at 1:58.52. Lemishko doubled in the 100-yard butterfly at 52.72.
Upper Merion’s Aidan McNally finished first in the 50-yard freestyle at 22.06.
Boyertown’s Nolan Benner won the 100-yard freestyle at 47.63. Benner was a double winner in the 100-yard breaststroke (59,11).
In the final event of the evening, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Boyertown finished first in 3:15.82. The unit consisted of Owen Miller (50.06), Aaron Keifer (50.43), Oliver Tye (48.23) and Benner on the anchor with a 47.10 split.
Upper Merion finished a close second at 3:16.32. The Vikings’ team was comprised of CJ Besz (50.17), Lemishko (48.86), Andrew Hoy (49.77) and McNally on the anchor with a 47.52 split.
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