North Penn wins first District 1-AAA title since 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Their huge celebratory plunge at meet’s end was emblematic of their weekend.

So many North Penn swimmers, so many contributors, such a big splash. The Knights, collectively, were an overwhelming force, a blue tidal wave that rolled through La Salle University’s Kirk Pool, piling up 264 points and the program’s first district crown since 2011.

“This is awesome,” junior Thanas Kountroubis said. “It’s the first time in a while and we worked real hard for it all season. Everyone pushed each other. This is the greatest feeling in the world. You can’t even describe it.”

North Penn finished 38 points ahead of runner-up Upper Dublin, and Souderton Area, led by Kevin Musterait’s bronze-medal effort in the 100 free and his anchor leg on the fifth-place 400 free relay, finished third with 149 points.

Ahead comfortably going into Saturday, the Knights came out and scored points in every event on Day Two, with Kountroubis leading the way with his silver medal in the 500 free and his tremendous contribution on the bronze-medal 400 free relay.

In the 500, Upper Dublin’s Chris Devlin (4:33.57) and Kountroubis (4:34.92) swam such a fast race that they both surpassed the 23-year-old district record of 4:34.97.

“Chris and I — we always joke about stuff like that,” Kountroubis said of the record.

Knights coach Jeff Faikish was a youngster in the stands back in 1991 when West Chester Henderson’s Steve Rivers set the previous record. On Saturday, Faikish was amazed just how composed Kountroubis was in surpassing it.

“He looked relaxed,” Faikish said, “right until the end. (In his 200 on Friday), that’s the first time I’ve seen him swim it with that much confidence.”

Greg Neidlinger was also at his best for NP, swimming a 51.36 in the 100 back. It took a record-setting performance by Hatboro-Horsham’s Michael Thomas to keep him from taking the gold.

Add to that a ninth-place swim by Liam Kelly and a 12th-place finish by Else in the 100 free; 13th- and 14th-place swim by Mike Kern and Kyle Supko in the 500; Corey Smith’s 11th-place finish in the 100 back; and 14th- and 15th-place efforts by Jon Krail and Harrison Friel, and the points were piling up for an inpsired North Penn group.

“It was amazing to watch a complete team effort at districts this year,” Faikish said. “We had a lot of great swims and so many kids that are leaving here very happy.

“This year really stands out for me because so many kids stepped up throughout the whole year,’ Faikish said. “We had so many fast swims and fast kids that all believe in each other, and it’s just a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

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