Boyertown boys, girls hold off Spring-Ford

BOYERTOWN — This time, Boyertown veteran swim coach Linda Jones was seriously worried going into the Pioneer Athletic Conference dual meet against Spring-Ford. In the nine years of the Rams swim team’s existence, they had never been able to beat Boyertown. Suddenly that seemed quite possible.

“I have three girls out with the flu, two of our boys are no longer on the team. I think we’re going to lose this one,’ Jones said prior to the meet, glancing across the Boyertown YMCA pool at the pumped up Spring-Ford squad.

The Rams did come close this time.

In the end, though, Boyertown prevailed as it historically has, with the Bears boys holding off the Rams, 91-78, Wednesday.

The Boyertown girls won with nearly the same numbers, beating the Rams, 91-79. But they had to pull out the win in the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with the Bears taking first and third to seal the team victory.

With the swim season just shifting into full gear, it was the Bears’ (1-1) first PAC-10 win, after falling to Methacton in their season opener.

For the Rams, it was their first league loss after beating Pottsgrove in their opener.

Leading the Boyertown girls was Laura Simpson who had three wins, touching first in the 200 free, the 500 free, and anchoring the winning 400 free relay.

Freshman Patrick Lance led the Boyertown boys with three wins, while Steve Miller and Nick Savino had two wins each. They would have each had a third on the last relay had the meet not gone to exhibition after the victory was clinched.

Lance won the 50 free, the 100 butterfly, and anchored the winning 200 medley relay. Miller touched first in the 200 free and swam on the winning 200 medley relay, while Savino swam on the winning medley and 200 free relays.

Julia Pavlov led the Spring-Ford girls with two wins, touching first in the 50 free and the swam on the winning 200 free relay, while Meghan Lui won the 100 butterfly. Oskar Ehrnberg, an exchange student from Sweden, led the Rams boys with two wins, touching first in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke.

Miller, now a senior, has been one of the foremost performers for the Bears boys since his freshman year.

“At first, I definitely worried about this meet,’ Miller said. “Especially because we lost some key swimmers from last year. So we knew it was going to be a lot harder to win meets, even with some good incoming freshmen. Everyone would have to step up, do faster times.

“Getting the first win today definitely is a huge relief, gets us more motivated to get more and more wins throughout the season. It’s still going to be really hard, but should come a little easier to us now that we got the first one out of the way.’

Savino is the newly-appointed Bears team captain this season.

“I was always behind Russell Lambert. He swam breaststroke and I was the breaststroker behind him,’ Savino said. “So I kind of followed in his footsteps because now I’m the lead breaststroker. That was always something I looked forward to for this year.

“It’s definitely a young team. There’s a lot of new freshmen here that are really great and are going to be real good. I can definitely see that. We lost some seniors from last year, but everyone is a hard worker, works hard at practice. This season is going to be really good even with so many young freshmen because they will be playing a big part of the wins.

“Spring-Ford is a great team. We knew it was going to be a stretch today. Every meet you’ve just got to swim your heart out, every race has to be best you can possibly be no matter what the circumstances are. We gave it our all today and it worked out for us.’

His younger sister, Olivia Savino, only a sophomore, is doing her best to keep up with big brother and had two wins, touching first in the 100 breast and swimming on the winning medley relay.

“We know it was going to be close and we were just trying to do our best,’ Olivia Savino said. “But we really had to get our act together and swim good. Linda (Jones) told us it was going to be close and we had to push it if we wanted to win. It’s always good to win that first one to get that confidence up.’

Simpson, also a standout runner for the Bears cross country and track teams, is just as outstanding in the pool.

“I thought this would be a close meet, but I thought we could do it,’ Simpson said. “Definitely my most satisfying win today was the last one (400 free relay) because it came down to the last points. It was close.’

Jones took a deep breath when that last event was won by the Bears girls.

“Very close, all the way to the very end, the free relay,’ Jones said. “But that makes the meets fun and exciting. I was definitely worried about Spring-Ford. We lost a lot of seniors and I have a lot of freshmen.

“I lost a couple of swimmers on the boys team I thought I was going to have. So you’re counting now on a lot of kids that never swam high school. This is only our second meet, so a lot of them are still finding their way. And I know Spring-Ford has some good swimmers. So it was a good meet for us.’

The Rams exchange student sure had no trouble keeping up with the Bears.

One reason Ehrnberg came here for a year from Sweden was to swim on a high school team. There are no school sports teams in Europe, only club teams. Good thing he came since the Rams no longer have former standout Ethan D’Arcangelo, who opted to swim exclusively for the YMCA program.

“I wanted to come here because America always has inspired me and I always wanted to experience the American culture,’ Ehrnberg said. “And we don’t have school teams, that’s another thing that’s very different from Europe. America has high school teams, so I wanted to experience that, too. It’s a different experience, it’s cool.

“They have different training philosophies here. Here you swim until you break pretty much. It’s different. I guess you have more swimmers here so you can practice harder and you will get better swimmers.’

Nobody told Ehrnberg that Boyertown is always a big challenge.

“I guess I should be pretty proud to have two wins,’ he said, smiling. “It’s special to represent an American school. It’s awesome.’

Lui is one of the proven veterans on the Spring-Ford girls team.

“I thought overall we did well. We know Boyertown was a good team,’ Lui said. “Our team has a lot of depth this year, so I thought we had a good chance. The season is young; we have a lot of time to improve.’

Rams veteran coach Bob Sieracki was hoping for better from the meet.

“I expected a lot closer meet, a lot better meet for our girls side,’ Sieracki said. “And I was disappointed by the efforts of my girls team. I think they swam flat and just didn’t come up with big efforts when they needed them.

“My boys, they are a young team. We have zero seniors on the team. Hopefully they learned a few lessons today; how to swim tough like the Boyertown boys always do. And that they learned from this experience and gained in maturity for the year.’

* * *

Ryan Owens, the Mercury area boys highest finisher at PIAA Championships last year, and his Daniel Boone teammates, who have no full Blazers team, were at the Boyertown YMCA swimming just for “times only’ in this meet.

Owens medaled at PIAAs, placing eighth in the 200 freestyle.

“The season is going great, training is going well,’ Owens said. “During the Christmas break training we going 15,000, 18,000 yards a day. So I’m all beat up. I’m just going to keep working hard with my teammates.’

He continues to represent Daniel Boone at District 3 and state meets, but trains with the Boyertown team.

How about his aspirations for this year?

“I have some goal times set in my head, I’m not going to share right now,’ Owens said with a smile. “I’ll see if I hit them. I think I’ll do a one-week rest before high school districts, and then go for it all at states this year.’

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