RADNOR — The comprehensive sweep of the Central League authored by Radnor during the dual-meet season meant the Raiders weren’t going to fly under anyone’s radar at the Central League Championships Friday.
Their achievements, even judged by that lofty standard, still managed to impress on the first day of the meet.
The Raiders won both of the relays and two of the four individual events contested, but the coup de grace was a 1-2 finish with their A and B squads in the 200 freestyle relay, an occurrence that just doesn’t happen at meets like this.
It all started with a comeback. Garnet Valley, thanks to strong backstroke and butterfly legs by Ivan Michalovic and Andrew Woerth, respectively, led by just shy of two seconds as Brian McKeon took to the pool for the anchor leg. But McKeon (with a split of 21.49) chased down Joe Sacht to give the Raiders an emphatic opening win.
“Going into it, I knew that I had to make a comeback,’ the senior said. “All three swimmers before me swam their hearts out. I knew I had to swim the best that I could to bring home the W. I touched the kid out, and the rest is history.’
The momentum snowballed rapidly. Tim Caulfield and Richard Patten went 1-2 in the 200 free, the former winning in 1:45.89. McKeon rebounded to go 22.61 in the 50 free and earn third, while teammate Steve Giannella (22.90) tied for fifth. Eli Avart stepped up and matched his seed time, defending his top seed in the 100 fly with a 52.25.
Then came the 200 free relay, in which the A squad of Clayton Bowes, McKeon (fastest split in 21.82), Greg Giannella and Caulfield coasted to victory in 1:29.06. Beating a crowd of teams to the wall for second was anchor Patten, helping the B team of Avart, Steve Giannella and Keenan Doyle to a time of 1:32.05.
“When I looked up at the board and they got second, I went nuts,’ McKeon said. “Going 1-2 in that big of a race, I don’t have any words to describe it. I’m excited. Very proud of my team and what they did today.’
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The two non-Radnor victories among the boys went to Garnet Valley swimmers. In the 200 individual medley, Michalovic’s seed time of 1:54.67 raised eyebrows for its proximity to Brendan Hansen’s meet record of 1:54.65 from 1999. The Garnet Valley senior gave that record a scare, but the closest he came was a comfortable victory in 1:55.74.
Michalovic, whose seed time was set while tapered for a club meet in December, admitted that the record flashed into his mind this week, but he was more encouraged by what that time signifies for his future postseason endeavors.
“What I really liked is that it was faster than I went at Districts and States last year, and that time would’ve gotten me into the states A finals last year,’ he said. “So especially when I’m rested, it’s going to be a good time.’
Woerth, who was second to Avart in the 100 fly, won the 50 free in 22.38, comfortably besting Strath Haven’s Ben Wolters.
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Third in both relays was occupied by somewhat surprising names. The medley bronze went to Marple Newtown’s squad of Dylan Keer, Johnny Truax, Eric Barmes and Ron Feinberg in 1:42.18, a District One auto cut. Truax took fourth in the IM, while Fineberg tied for fifth in the 50 free.
Upper Darby’s foursome of Joey Vizzarri, Mac Lehman, Jack McConnell and Andrew Karsh took third in the 200 free relay in 1:32.37. Karsh finished sixth in the 200 free, and that group turned in some personal-best times even outside the medal picture.