Record-setting Dix, Perkiomen Valley boys beat Boyertown to extend streak

GRATERFORD– A new head coach. The same results for the Perkiomen Valley boys swim team.

Perkiomen Valley opened its Pioneer Athletic Conference season against visiting Boyertown, traditionally one of its biggest challengers, on Thursday. And the Vikings boys team easily defeated Boyertown, 103-72, swimming the last two events as exhibition to stretch their undefeated dual meet record to 51 straight wins, dating back to January 2011.

The Perk Valley girls made it a sweep, holding off Boyertown, 94.5-85.5.

Brian Zeigler is the Perk Valley swimming head coach now, taking over from veteran Vikings coach Jack Graham, who stepped away prior to this season after 18 amazing years.

Not that Zeigler is a new face for the Vikings. He served as Graham’s assistant for the past seven years, his right-hand man.

The transition has been as smooth as expected.

The Vikings boys were led by standouts Kyle Dix and Logan Thorneloe, each with four wins, with Dix winning the 50-yard freestyle (21.18) and 100 butterfly (51.83), Thorneloe the 200 IM (2:06.96) and 100 free (50.23), and both swimming on the winning 200 medley and 200 free relays.

Dix not only set a pool record in the 50 free with his 21.18 — erasing the old mark of 21.19 set by former Owen J. Roberts standout Sam Feiser — he also bettered his own team record in the butterfly with a 51.83, down from his previous-best 52.65. He already holds the team record in the 50 free with a 21.12, set at the district meet at La Salle University last year.

For the last couple of years, the Perk Valley/Boyertown dual concluded the PAC-10 season for both sides. Due to the luck of the schedule draw, this year it opened the season.

“It’s always fun to swim Boyertown; they’re a great team, they have a great coach,’ Dix said. “We always had this rivalry with Boyertown, ever since I can remember back from my freshman year. It’s always a good meet where you just want to get out there and race.’

Boyertown sophomore Patrick Lance proved again that he can beat some of the best with two wins, touching first in the 200 free (1:52.80) and the 500 free (5:04.84).

The Vikings girls spread it around, with four individual winners — Mariana Bernal in the 200 IM, Elizabeth Turner in the 50 free, Kayla King in the 100 fly and Megan Gray in the 100 free.

The Boyertown girls were led by freestyle standout Laura Simpson with three wins as she touched first in the 200 free (1:58.60), the 500 free (5:39.29), and anchored the Bears winning 400 free relay.

Both sides had one previous non-PAC-10 meet, with Perk Valley boys and girl;s now 2-0, Boyertown boys and girls 0-2.

The Perk Valley boys, of course, are determined to keep that undefeated record going. Especially the seniors

“Keeping that streak going, that’s always in the back of our minds every meet,’ Dix said. “It’s my senior year, so I just want to go out there and make a difference for my team. And, hopefully get some personal achievements I’ve been striving for lately. I’m just going to go out there and keep trying my best, try to go out with a bang.

“Our team is really working together. We’re just getting started and, hopefully, everything will fall together into place. We’re just really working hard this year, so it’s good to see a good start.’

“The sky is the limit for Kyle this season,’ Zeigler said. “He’s a great athlete and he’s got an endless amount of potential. He’s a hard worker and he’s a team leader. I can’t wait to see what he does the rest of the year.’

Thorneloe is also a senior and has also been one of the key pieces in that streak.

“This year, we have a great season ahead of us,’ Thorneloe said. “I think we have a lot of potential, all of us. We all really want to keep our streak going. What drives me personally is, I want to do well, and I want my teammates to do well.’

The Bears’ Lance may only be a sophomore, but he proved it last year as a freshman and now here again, he can beat some of the best in the league.

“PV has a lot of great swimmers, like Kyle Dix,’ Lance said. “He is definitely a top competition racer. To race against him is definitely a challenge. But it helps you push yourself and makes want to go faster.

“And even though we might not win every meet, we’re going to always push forward to win every one and not give up. That’s how we’ve always have been — keep the team spirit up, don’t give in, push forward and get better.’

The Vikings’ boys running success only drives the Perk Valley girls more.

“We love our boys (team), they are amazing,’ said Gray, who won the 100 free (55.38) and anchored the winning 200 free relay. “It’s great we get to train with them because they are so good. It affects the girls positively.’

Laura Simpson sees the positive side in her Bears not having quite the depth of the Perk Valley girls.

“Sometimes that’s more unique because you really get to know each other more than a big team would,’ Simpson said. “We’re a very close team and that’s something special about our team.

“I think we did pretty well today, especially since we were missing a few people.’

For the first time, the Bears have a diver. On the girls side anyway in Josephine Benner. She won the girls diving (160.45).

“She won it! I am so excited for her!’ Boyertown coach Linda Jones said. “We’re so fortunate to have Josephine. It’s great. And she is only going to get better.’

For Jones, who has been coaching the Bears team for 19 years, every loss is still painful.

“But we swam pretty well,’ she said. “On the girls side, unfortunately, Taylor Cisik (one of the Bears’ standouts) is still sick. With her it would have been a lot closer. But we swam well. We swam Souderton on Tuesday, and we swam a lot better today.

“As for the boys, our boys are so young. We have three seniors and zero juniors. So my guys are basically freshmen and sophomores and it’s going to take a couple of years for them. But we’re building and that’s good.’

Zeigler, of course, inherited a deep and experienced team.

“We’re definitely off to a good start,’ Zeigler said. I worked for Jack for seven years. He pretty much taught me everything I needed to know to be a head coach. So when I took over this year, it was a pretty seamless transition. I was able to step right in, do some new things, keep some old things in tact. I’ve been having a ton of fun.’

For Zeigler, there’s no constant pressure to keep the undefeated dual streak going, he said.

“We pretty much take each meet one at a time,’ he said. “We’re sizing up the competition as we go along. We want to win all the meets that we can, but really just want to go in and do our best and swim some great times.

“It’s always tough swimming a PAC-10 opponent early in the season, especially when you’re swimming a Boyertown or Owen J. Roberts because their kids are so well prepared. You know you’re going to face a team that’s ready to swim, and ready to swim fast. Would I like to swim Boyertown late in the season? Absolutely. But both teams were ready to go and it worked out pretty well for both of us.’

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