Owen J. Roberts girls edge Spring-Ford, improve to 5-0

BUCKTOWN — The Owen J. Roberts girls moved one step closer to capturing the Pioneer Athletic Conference swimming title and reclaiming the days when no team in the PAC-10 could catch them, holding off Spring-Ford, 99-82, Friday night at the Wildcats home pool.

And that upped the Cats’ girls record to 5-0 with only two more meets to go.

The OJR boys made it a sweep, beating the Rams 103-75, to improve to 4-1 in the PAC-10.

Both Spring-Ford teams dropped to 1-4.

The Wildcats girls won four straight PAC-10 titles until Perkiomen Valley snapped their streak two years ago, and Methacton held them off last year. Now, with a 5-0 record and wins over nearest contenders Methacton and Perkiomen Valley, the Wildcats appear well on their way to a return to the top of the league.

Ironically, the Rams’ girls came away with more individual wins than the Wildcats in Friday’s meet, with Spring-Ford nailing down seven wins to four by OJR, ahead of the event going to exhibition for the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.

The Rams were led by sophomore Rebecca Cubbler with four wins as she touched first in the 200 freestyle (2:01.31), 500 freestyle (5:22.97) and swam on the winning 200-free and 400-free relays.

The Wildcats made up for the shortage in individual victories with their depth. On both sides it was the youngsters who played key roles.

Freshman Laurel Fink had an outstanding day for OJR, winning the 200 individual medley (2:17.54), taking second in the 100 butterfly.

The Owen J. Roberts boys were led by Sam Feiser, Colin Bauer, and Alex McCullough. Bauer won the 100 fly (54.97) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.17), and swam on the winning 200 medley relay. Feiser was a winner in the 200 free (1:46.73) and the 500 free (4:57.99), while McCullough took the 50 free (22.95), the 100 back (59.09), and also swam on the winning 200 medley relay.

With five wins and only two more dual to go, the Wildcats girls are close to having the PAC-10 title pretty much locked up.

“We still have two meets left and we talk about that on a consistent basis,’ said veteran OJR coach Kevin Bott. “We’re where we want to be right now, but moving forward we’ve still got work left to do. If we don’t have that approach for the rest of the season, that’s when you start losing focus and that’s when things don’t go the way you want them to do in the end.’

But with only Boyertown (2-2) and Pottsgrove (0-4) left on the OJR schedule, and already beating defending champion Methacton a couple of weeks ago, the OJR girls are well on their way.

“We had a very competitive meet with a couple of teams in our league and our teams have to be sharp in order to have the results we had in the end (those years ago),’ Bott said. “We’re moving forward, excited about the opportunity to finish the season strong, excited about moving forward to some of the invitational meets and also the district level.’

But all the girls swimmer aren’t taking anything for granted with two meets yet to swim.

Junior Taylor Davis followed her older sister, Danielle Davis, who did not lose a single PAC-10 dual her entire high school career as part of OJR’s excellent four-year run. When Taylor Davis came in as a freshman the following season she sure wanted to keep that tradition going, But the OJR girls had graduated the core of that team and had to rebuild.

“We came up short my freshman year and my sophomore year. It definitely pushes us, especially the juniors and seniors,’ Davis said. “We definitely want to win again. Maybe me a little bit more because my sister has a history of it. We’re working our hardest, our coaches are pushing us. We all work together.’

Funny thing about Fink is that her older sister, senior Morgan, swam for Pope John Paul II for two years, then transferred to the Owen J. Roberts School District this year. But their mom, Catherine Fink, is still the PJP swim coach.

“I went to Owen J. here before (in middle school), I never went to PJP,’ Fink pointed out.

Laurel Fink is finding her way quite well in her first season of high school swimming.

“We have great coaches here and my teammates really push me a lot. Having everyone support me and help me through freshman year as the new one. They are showing me everything in the pool and I have amazing coaches that back me up,’ she said.

“We still have a couple more hard meets to go, still have a lot of work to do,’ she said. “We still have Boyertown and Pottsgrove and they have some good swimmers and are going to give us a run. I know everyone here wants that championship and it’s just my job to help them try to get it. We’re all working our hardest and we’ll see how it goes.’

The Rams girls have the talent, just not the depth to overtake some of the area’s best teams.

“We had more wins? I didn’t even notice that,’ said Rams veteran coach Bob Sieracki. “What I was hoping for was really good swims today, better times for districts. We did that for the most part. We had really good time drops. Rebecca (Cubbler), has been our main contributor for the girls team this year, from the point scoring, in terms of being able to count on her. She was a very good swimmer last year, but she really stepped in up this year and improved to the next level for us.’

Cubbler embraced the competition against OJR, which features some of her YMCA teammates.

“I know a lot of girls on the Owen J. team and it gets me really pumped up to swim against my friends,’ Cobbler said. “They’re good competition for me. I swim with them on the Pottstown YMCA team and that makes swimming against them so much more fun. We have definitely improved as a team this year. Last year we didn’t win nearly as much individually as this year.’

The OJR boys teams have turned into a family affair over the years. Both Feiser and Bauer had older siblings swim for OJR.

“My parents got me into swimming, so I always followed my siblings,’ Bauer said. “We’re a good team, we work hard. But the season is winding down. We’re pretty good on depth, actually, I just think we need to focus more on the coming years and really put our minds to the tough meets we have.’

And their only PAC-10 loss was to Perkiomen Valley, which hasn’t lost in three years.

Feiser, a senior, is the last in his family line.

“We just work hard as a team,’ Feiser said. “We get in the pool, we practice hard. Everybody else swims fast, you just try to keep up with them. It just takes hard work and dedication to win the PAC-10. You’ve got to have the mentality, you got to focus.’

The Spring-Ford boys’ top swimmer this season, Oskar Ehrnberg, an exchange student from Sweden, received a bit of recognition from his team and coaches Friday.

“Oskar, we actually made him team captain today before the meet,’ Sieracki said. “We didn’t have one for the boys and after all his performances and all he has done it seemed the right choice. Every time he swims, he swims so hard, I figured it was a good thing for us to do to make him the team captain today.’

It came as a nice surprise to Ehrnberg.

“We only have two meets left now, so it’s almost the end of the season, but it’s still a great honor to be captain of an American high school team,’ he said. “I’ve seen improvement on the guys team since I came here. Personally for me, it’s been awesome, it’s been great. I really have been enjoying my time here.’

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