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District 1 Championships: Seventh Heaven for North Penn girls; North Penn boys three-peat

The North Penn girls swimming team won the District 1-3A title on Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

PHILADELPHIA >> Senior Ryley Fein said it’s the most momentum his team has ever had going into states.

The Knights racked up 342.50 points over the weekend at La Salle University, capped off by a relay that coach Jeff Faikish said was simply “bananas.”

“After seeing everyone put up amazing times,” Fein said, “I think we have a chance at contending for the state title this year.”

The Knights captured their third straight District 1-3A Championship Sunday at La Salle, finishing up a North Penn sweep: earlier in the day, the NP girls stretched their district title streak to seven.

“It’s a long season and it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make something like this come to fruition,” Faikish said.

The North Penn boys swimming team won the District 1 title on Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Fein swam to a silver in the 100 free, Sean Faikish did the same in the 100 back, and Max Bachman came away with the bronze in the 500 free.

And then came the 400 free relay.

Luke Schwar, Fein, Nick Clark and Faikish swam the fastest time in North Penn history, also breaking the district record with a time of 3 minutes, 3.06 seconds.

“We’ve always had a good 400 free relay. I love ending the meet with that,” Fein said. “And getting the district record — that’s amazing. You can’t complain about that at all.

“What we did at this meet speaks for itself. I feel like we put up some really good times and I think we’re just gonna keep going with that hopefully.”

The North Penn girls also went over 300 points — a total of 308.33 to make it seven straight trophies.

“It feels good, especially for my last year. It’s a good way to end,” senior Parker Schulz said. “It definitely was expected but it was a good team effort.

“We wanted to make states and we wanted to win the team title, but most of all, we wanted to come together as a team and show off what we worked so hard for all season.”

Saturday’s gold rush — Claudia Thamm took the 200 IM and 100 fly, and the 200 free relay also came through — was followed by more medal performances on Sunday.

Caroline Dunigan took fifth in the 100 free and Maddie Fritz was eighth in the 100 breast. Then, the 400 free relay team of Kaelan Daly, Nicole Chiappa, Schulz and Thamm surged to the silver with a time of 3:26.55.

“We won last year at states and it was definitely one of the biggest, most important races of my life,” said Schulz, who was also on the 200 free relay on Saturday. “And I’m excited for what we’re gonna do at states.”

It took a district-record performance by Upper Dublin to keep the Knights from the top spot in the 400 free. Molly Braun, Elle Braun, Aly Breslin and Abbie Amdor went 3:24.71, replacing the previous record of 3:24.89, set by Pennridge three years ago.

Upper Dublin compiled 262 points for runner-up honors. Elle Braun won gold in the 500 free, Meghan DiMartile was first in the 100 back, and Abbie Amdor, chosen as Girls Swimmer of the Meet in Class 3A, earned her second individual gold of the weekend (four total) with a 50.44 in the 100 free.

The Cardinals put on an impressive show.

“Shocking. Because more than half of our team wasn’t tapered, so to have the results that we had was amazing,” Amdor said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team — not just swimming wise but teammates, to cheer us on and everything. Everyone gets into each other’s faces and we feed off each other.”

Of her races, Amdor said she was “stressed, nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect. To get some of my best times, it’s indescribable. So I’m really happy.”

The Upper Dublin boys also rose to the runner-up spot, powered by Matt Jensen’s win in the 100 free. Also from the area, Abington’s Matt Bonnell took the gold in the 500 free, winning by four seconds with a 4:32.24.

Class 2A Girls Swimmer of the Meet honors went to Gwynedd Mercy’s Annie O’Dare, who also won her second individual gold to go along with a pair of relay golds. O’Dare broke her own district record in the 100 breast with a 1:01.78.

The Monarchs’ 400 free relay foursome capped things off in style, with Ella Gross, Aileen Murray, Nicole Sasso and O’Dare outracing everyone with a 3:33.41.

GMA racked up 305 points, earning runner-up honors behind champion Villa Maria (389).

The Lower Moreland boys defended their title in Class 2A, amassing a whopping 482 points to overcome Springfield-Montco.

“It feels awesome. The legacy that the guys before us left, it’s amazing to keep that going, keep the tradition going,” said the Lions’ Tommy Lutter, named Swimmer of the Meet for Class 2A boys. “And I know the guys next year can keep it going too.”

Lutter won the 100 back and anchored the 400 free relay team to a win, joining Greg Landis, Colin Shipp and Noah Ferker. Also, Mark Klinchin won the 500 free for the Lions.

Said Lutter: “We have a good group of guys this year going (to Bucknell) and I think we can make a run at it.” 

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