Spring-Ford sweeps Pottsgrove in Agnew’s return to Pottstown YMCA pool

POTTSTOWN — The showdown between the Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove swim teams was more than just a regular Pioneer Athletic Conference dual meet, Tuesday, at the Pottstown YMCA pool.

It was the first time first-year Spring-Ford head coach Mark Agnew had to coach against his two sons, Owen and Patrick Agnew, who swim on the Pottsgrove team.

It was also the first time Rams’ standout Ethan D’Arcangelo returned to the pool where he had been such a key part of the Pottstown YMCA boys Seahawks 2014 state championship team that was dismantled a few weeks after winning that title.

The first time Pottsgrove and former Hill School standout Emily Glinecke, who felt drawn back home this year, felt she could really test herself against a top neighboring high school team.

And the first time Mark Agnew, a former assistant Seahawks coach, returned to the pool were he led a walkout in protest of the firing of Seahawks head coach Kathy Cook back in July.

All that aside, it was a fun and competitive meet with hard-fought individual wins, and personal best times.

Agnew and D’Arcangelo made it a winning return as Spring-Ford swept Pottsgrove, the boys with a 95-66 victory while the Ram girls triumphed 88-73.

D’Arcangelo and Noah Cancro led the Spring-Ford boys (3-1 PAC-10) with three wins each, D’Arcangelo touching first in the 200-yard freestyle with a 1:51.15 , then tying for first with Pottsgrove’s Kevin Basch, his former Seahawks teammate, in the 500 free with both posting a 5:01.42.

Cancro won the 100 butterfly with a 57.83, and swam on the Rams’ winning 200 medley and 200 free relay.

Pottsgrove’s Michael Prior was a double-winner, winning the 100 back (58.19) and swimming on the 400 free relay.

Glinecke lived up to her billing as the Pottsgrove girls (1-3) top swimmer with four wins, easily touching first in the 200 IM with a 2:11.11, the 500 free with a 5:15.16 — both team records — and swimming on the Falcons’ winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Jess Zajac was a three-event winner by taking the 200 free (2:03.11) and 100 back (1:06.30), as was Julia Pavlov, who took the 50 free (26.78) and the 100 free (58.80) while the pair teamed up to win the 200 free relay for Spring-Ford (3-1).

It did seem odd, however, to see Mark Agnew on the other side of the pool, cheering on his Rams team that was swimming against his sons. It may have felt strange, too, but more than anything Agnew was happy to get the see his sons compete.

“Honestly, this is the first time all season I’ve gotten to see them swim, so it was kind of nice to coach against them just so I could cheer them on,’ he said. “Still, team first. But it was nice to see them swim today.

“I circled this meet on the calender as soon as I got my schedule, and we’ve been doing a little bit of trash talking. And it was a good meet, some really good swims.’

Owen Agnew, a Falcons senior, won the 100 breaststroke (1:17.81) after the meet had gone exhibiton only; Patrick Agnew, only a freshman, took third in the 50 free (24.88).

“Swimming against my dad’s team made for an instant semi-rivalry,’ Owen Agnew said. “And there was a little trash talking going on at home. It’s not as big a factor, him coaching the opposing team. When you’re in a meet, you just focus on your own team. It’s, ‘ All right, let’s go, let’s get good times.’ But there’s still this little thing in the back of your head, ‘ I really want to beat this kid, because he put that guy up against me.”

For the younger Patrick Agnew it’s a bit more of a shock.

“It’s really different,’ Patrick said. “I’ve been swimming with my dad as a coach (on the Seahawks team) since I started swimming. It’s just different with him over there when he was usually on the side of me. But it is fun.’

D’Arcangelo skipped his junior season at Spring-Ford last year but did compete with the Pottstown YMCA Seahawks. And the Rams are an even better team with him.

“I’m excited to be back,’ D’Acrangelo said. “I really missed the team and am looking forward to a great season as a team.

“This is my first time back in this pool since June, when they disbanded the team. It was good to see some of my former (teammates), but it felt definitely different. Not like home, like it used to.

“I was definitely happy to race against Kevin (Basch) again today. And we tied. It was like old times. Everybody on our team was really swimming super, super well today. Tons and tons of best times. You look up and down our depth chart, we’re really strong, looking good going into districts.’

Cancro was such a fabulous swimmer as a club swimming youngster, he set a national record in the 50 breaststroke. Now he is trying to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Aaron Cancro, a former Rams and now a Bloomsburg University standout.

“High school swimming is a different experience,’ Cancro said. “I like high school swimming because it has that whole team aspect to it. Club team is more individual. Sure, there is a competition with Aaron. But we’re pretty close,’ he said.

For the Falcons standout Basch, it was a thrill, too, to swim against his former Seahawks teammates, especially D’Arcangelo.

He feels a responsibility to help push that Falcons team up higher in the PAC-10.

“I feel I can,’ he said. “I’m a senior and I give a lot of encouragement to my teammates, try to lead them.’

Glinecke, for her part, just felt drawn back home after two years at The Hill.

It’s an adjustment, but a welcome one to Glinecke.

“I kind of like the smaller team better because we get to know each other better,’ Glinecke said. “Practices are more fun. We’re like family. Today was a lot of fun. I know a few people on the Spring-Ford team, Rebecca Cubbler and Jess Zajac. I think it was a good experience, knew it was going to be a challenge in the 200 IM and the 500 free racing against Rebecca. We both got really good times.

“Next year I hope to be a captain on the team, help out the new swimmers, pushing them in practice and encouraging them to swim fast to help build the program up.’

Pottsgrove coach Karen Youtzy was pleased to see her swimmers rise up against some quality competition.

“It’s fun to swim against Spring-Ford, fun to see our kids swim against fast kids to give them some competition,’ Youtzy said. “We had some really good times, especially Kevin Basch and Michael Prior who swam great times today. It’s that competition.

“Emily swam extremely well, set two individual team records. It’s a great asset to have Emily on our team. It helps our relays — we really needed a strong breaststroke. It will help our team to have a good relay at districts.’

It wasn’t just another meet for Mark Agnew in his first time back at the Pottstown Y pool since leading the assistant coaches walkout in support of former head coach Kathy Cook, who is now a Spring-Ford assistant under Agnew. Cook was unable to attend the meet due to illness.

“It was weird being on the opposite side of the pool,’ he said. “It was different walking in, but it felt good seeing the kids of the Pottsgrove team. I had coached more than half of them, either through summer swimming or through (Pottstown) YMCA swimming.

“But, we’ve moved on. It’s just another pool to walk into now. I’m loving coaching at Spring-Ford, it’s been a lot of fun. The kids are great. I’m having a great time.’

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