Phoenixville’s Cooke captures silver, totals four medals

With three state medals already dangling from her neck, Phoenixville freshman Maddie Cooke was determined to add one more for a full final four.

And Cooke captured the silver medal in the 100-yard breaststroke, posting a personal best 1:03.53 Saturday night, to close out this year’s PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.

Cooke won the bronze in the 50 freestyle, and swam on the Phantoms’ 200 freestyle relay that captured the silver and the 200 medley relay that won the bronze Friday.

Four state medals with four top three finishes is a new one for the area girl swimmers.

And thanks to Cooke’s standout performances the Phoenixville girls also placed seventh as a team, their highest finish ever by far.

Pottsgrove senior Morgan Schreiber led the Class AA boys as the highest overall finisher, winning his consolation final and placing ninth overall in the 100 backstroke with a 53.92 — which was way up from his 21st last year.

Upper Perkiomen junior Brandon Umstead was the second-highest AA boys finisher, again advancing to the consolation in the 100 backstroke with a 54.45, after placing 10th in the 200 IM the previous day.

For Cooke, a mere freshman, it was an amazing states debut, as she swam Class AAA times.

“This morning I was a little bit tired, so I knew I had to come back and swim my best,’ Cooke said. “So, that’s exactly what I did and I think it paid off pretty well. And I dropped a second off my previous personal best.’

Her first year at states, Cooke couldn’t have possibly dreamed it would work out that well.

“I was so excited for the experience, I was so happy, and I can’t wait for my next three years,’ she said, already sounding pumped at just the thought of it.

Asked which of those four high finishes meant the most, Cooke said, “definitely my 100 breaststroke.’

“Because when the season started I swam a 1:06 and I dropped three seconds,’ she said. “And I’m very proud of myself and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.’

Still, to medal in four events in her first PIAA championship meet is quite a feat.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,’ Cooke said. “Definitely, definitely the team helped. They supported me so well. We’re all really close and we had a great season. And my coach, Mr. (Dan) Weinstein has helped me so much this year, has made the season such a great season. And most definitely the parents. I couldn’t even begin to name everyone and thank everyone.

“And (senior) Shawna Moore has been a great leader, really made this experience amazing. I’m so thankful she was here for me for my freshman year, so I can lead on the younger swimmers coming up with everything she has taught me this year.’

Even to Weinstein, Cooke’s freshman year was a surprise.

“The thing about Maddie is, when she says she’s going to do something she goes out and does it,’ Weinstein said. “She’s made me a believer. She tells me she is going to do something and she does it every single time.’

Before Weinstein took over last year, he had been a Phantoms assistant for several years. Last year’s team was loaded with seniors and had its best year ever, but much of the heart of that team graduated.

“Last year we thought it was going to be a last hurrah for us and the end of a great Phoenixville era here a states,’ Weinstein said. “But we ushered in a new one here that’s even more amazing.

“I mean, they shattered their (previous) records. It’s been unbelievable. For four girls, four girls, it’s unbelievable. It’s really a testament to how skillful and forceful the four of them are.’

Schreiber had come in with the 11th fastest prelim time of 54.46 and bettered that by enough to win that B race.

“It feels pretty good,’ he said. “I mean, you come up here and just want to swim nice. And I just swam. That’s what I trained for all season, so that’s what I came to do.’

Schreiber also finished 24th in the 200 IM the previous day.

“It definitely crossed my mind in the morning prelims that it could be my last high school swim at states,’ he said. ‘Then I qualified for the B Final and was like, well, I got one more. It was icing on the cake. After Friday’s finish in the 200 IM, I didn’t expect to do much in the 100 back. I just didn’t have a good swim in the IM. I went in feeling a little shaky about swimming well and didn’t have a great swim. It happens on occasion.’

The backstroke is his best event anyway.

“As I told my coaches and my dad after yesterday’s IM, ‘ Well, that was warm-up for the next day.”

His 53.92 bettered the A Final eighth place finish of 53..96, and would have gotten him a medal had he made it there.

“It would have been pretty cool to be in the A Final, but it’s all right that I was in the B Final. I didn’t have a great prelim swim so the B Finals where I, obviously, belonged,’ Schreiber said. “But to swim best out of that B Final was pretty cool.’

And it always feels good to be the first one to touch as Schreiber did in the B Final. And that was why winning the gold in the 100 backstroke at District 1-AA meant even more.

“That was the best part of the season,’ Schreiber said.

For Umstead his 13th place overall was also a huge step up from 29th last year.

“I feel good about it,’ Umstead said. “I wanted to do better, but it happened, it’s over with so it’s all good. I did the best I could. ‘

He would have liked to reach the A Final rather than the B Consolation. But He will take that 13th.

And it certainly is a big step up from that 29th in the 100 back last year. He had finished 28th in the 200 IM last year, and took an even bigger step up in the day before.

“I was very happy with how I swam in the IM, that was good,’ he said. “And I bettered my time in that, so that was good.’

Umstead was the lone returnee from last year’s standout Upper Perk boys team, since most of that Tribe squad graduated. Umstead swam leadoff on last year’s Indians’ medley relay team that won the bronze medal.

“That was one thing this year, I didn’t have any of our other guys here with me,’ Umstead said. “But I did fine, so it all worked out.’

It has been years since anybody from the Upper Perk girls qualified for states, but Indians sophomore Kirsten Siwy did this year and placed 20th in the 100 freestyle with a 54.73.

Phoenixville senior Shawna Moore, a member of the Phantoms free relay that captured the silver medal, and also the medley relay that won the bronze medal on the first day of AA competition, added a 30th place in the 100 free with a 55.67 on the final day.

Pottsgrove sophomore Kevin Basch placed 21st in the 500 free with a 4:58.17.

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