HUNTINGDON VALLEY — Shortly after emerging from the Lower Moreland pool, her anchor leg on the 400 freestyle relay hammering home a first-place finish in the event, Lansdale Catholic’s Cassidy Fries had three more reasons to look forward to the postseason with plenty of optimism.
“We were trying out some new combinations today,’ the junior said, “so I think it’s gonna go well.’
The Crusaders seemed to have found their winning combinations in all three relays, as the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free teams not only swam to victories but cranked out solid times in doing so. The non-league contest provided a tremendous opportunity for LC to finally get its fastest four together in each of those respective events, and the Crusaders took full advantage.
“We’re really working on the team as a whole and trying to get most of our girls to the district meet,’ Fries said. “We’re really pushing them to their best as well as trying to get our relays to states — that’s the big goal.’
The LC girls swept the relays and also got a victory from the boys 400 free team.
Lower Moreland swam and dove its way to the non-league victory — by the count of 97-38 on the boys side and 96-69 in the girls meet, propelled by the efforts of Michelle McCullough and Connor Killion.
The Crusaders raised their level of performance in several events, including the 100-yard butterfly, where the versatile Mary Anne Wietecha swam a season-best 1:07.34 to take top honors.
“There were a lot of personal-best times today and we’re down to the last couple weeks of real hard training,’ Crusader coach Bob Birnbrauer said, “so for them to swim through it and get their best times is a good sign.’
It began with the 200 medley relay, where a lineup of Courtney Fries, Cassidy Fries, Mary Anne Wietecha and Mary Cate Coyle notched a 2:06.65.
Three of those four teamed up again in the 200 free relay, as Cassidy Fries, Wietecha, Hailey Gianoni and Coyle went 1:50.79 to edge the 1:51.86 put forth by the Lions.
“They have some good girls,’ Cassidy Fries said of Lower Moreland, led by McCullough’s wins in the 200 free and 100 breast, “so it was nice competition for us.’
In one of the closest races of the afternoon, LC’s 200 free relay foursome was able to outrace Lower Moreland’s team Claire Doneker, Hanah Buczacki, Sophia Tran and McCullough by just over a second.
Focusing mainly on the relays in the non-league battle, several LC swimmers did just one individual event, as Cassidy Fries — aiming to get back to states in the 100 breast this winter — was able to go 2:08.46 in the 200 free, good for second place in the event.
Wietecha and Coyle, both seniors, swam to wins in the 100 fly and 100 free while Gianoni, a freshman, was first in the 500 free.
“We have a ton of new freshmen this year so it’s really important that we work with them and help them get better,’ Fries said. “They’re gonna be the future of our team — we’re not gonna have all of the seniors forever.’