Fast starts North Penn boys, girls in season-opener

TOWAMENCIN — Opening night brought St. Joe’s Prep and Mount St. Joe’s to the Rick Carroll Natatorium, along with a little bit of mystery.

“The first meet of the year is always a little bit shaky. You never know what you’re capable of,’ said the Knights’ versatile star, Thanas Kountroubis. “You count on your teammates cheering you on and then you just see what you can do, and fortunately today, everyone came out and did very, very well.’

The Knights and Maidens were solid as a whole, Kountroubis was a record breaker, and both North Penn squads rolled to season-opening victories over Prep and the Mount.

The North Penn boys swam and dove to a 109-68 victory over the Hawks while the Maidens got past the Mount, by the count of 100-77.

“So far, so good,’ Maidens coach Matt Weiser said. “It’s always a good meet to start with. The Mount and St. Joe’s — both good teams, and it’s just a good way to get things started at the beginning of the year.’

Megan Zartman’s blistering 200 IM stood out in a balanced effort by the Maidens, who got a pair of wins from Olivia DiStefano (50 free and 100 back) and Kailyn Evans (200 free and 100 free), along with two from Zartman, who also touched first in the 100 fly.

Kountroubis, a state-level competitor in the 200 and 500 freestyles, qualified for the Junior Nationals in the 100 breaststroke over the summer. He now owns the North Penn pool record in the event, finishing in 58.05 seconds to help lead the Knights.

“I wasn’t expecting it. The breaststroke, I just started focusing on,’ the senior said. “This year, my coach (Jeff Faikish) put a little bit more emphasis on it, said we’re gonna try it out and see what you can do, so we’ll see.’

The NP boys took first in every event, including two wins each by Kountroubis (breast and IM) and Kyle Supko (200 free and 100 fly).

“I’m very happy with a lot of the swims today,’ Faikish said. “Overall, the team performance — girls and boys, I thought was great. However, there are also a lot of things that — to an educated eye — you’re like, ‘ wow, that needs a lot of work.”

Multiple newcomers for the Knights and Maidens battled through their first regular-season meet, held on a Friday, in front of a packed house.

“That was really cool,’ Faikish said. “There were a couple kids where it was their first high school meet ever, and I was looking at the nervous looks on their faces. They’ve been walking on the pool deck at practices and starting to fit in, but the true test is the first time you step up on the blocks and really compete.’

It worked out pretty well.

“It’s a great group of kids,’ Kountroubis said. “I honestly believe, the kids we have here — it makes you want to come to practice. These relationships that we’ve built over the years — not just in high school, we’ve been swimming with each other since we were eight years old.

“And it’s really a great connection that you can make because you have a blast with each other, and there’s nothing more you can ask for than that.’

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