Gazzillo, Umstead capture AA gold medals at District 1 Championships

PHILADELPHIA– Anthony Gazzillo stood alone.

Not that the Pottstown swimmer, the only male Trojan swimmer, isn’t used to that.

On Thursday at the District 1 Swimming Championships, Gazzillo stood alone in the best kind of way. It was atop the medal podium.

Gazzillo, a senior, became Pottstown’s first-ever district champion by winning the Class AA 50-yard freestyle in 22.69, earning him his first trip to the PIAA Championships.

“Making it to states has been a goal of mine since I got to high school,’ he said. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to represent my high school against some of the best in the state.’

Gazzillo has spent the past four years representing his high school, as he and girls swimmer Paige Swartz are the school’s only swimmers. He finished third in the 50 free last season, but missed out on a spot at states.

He made the most of his last chance at districts.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way he swam today,’ said Pottstown head coach Alex Diehl. “He’s been so dedicated this season, and he definitely deserves to make it to states.’

Along with Gazzillo, Upper Perkiomen’s Brandon Umstead also earned a gold medal, as the senior touched first to repeat as Class AA 200 individual medley champion in 2:00.79.

“It’s a cool feeling to have won it two years in a row,’ the senior said. “Coming in, I really wanted to win the IM again, so this was something I was really determined to accomplish.’

Last season, Umstead placed 10th at states, which is another task he’s already got his eye on.

“I’m hoping I can drop a few more seconds and really give myself an edge in states,’ he said. “It will definitely take a ton of hard work, but this is what I’ve been working for all season, so I know it will be worth it.’

In Class AAA, Kyle Dix of Perkiomen Valley finished third in the 50 free (21.17) and also anchored the Vikings’ silver 200 free relay (1:27.21) alongside Bryce Groshardt, Logan Thorneloe and Michael Melissen.

Now, having competed in districts every year since he was a freshman, Dix admits that the district meet has been an event that highlights his season.

“Four years of this meet have really flown by,’ he said. “Every year, it gets even more intense, and I love it. This meet always has an awesome atmosphere, which brings out the best in all of us.’

And it seemed as though the atmosphere brought out there best in the 200 free relay.

“We knew it was going to be a really fast race, so we needed to really bring it,’ he said. “We needed to come out fast and really push until the end.’

Owen J. Roberts took a bronze medal in the 200-yard medley relay as Alec Schneider, Weston Lickfeld, Colin Bauer and Simon Crew finished at 1:37.91.

Bauer also finished seventh in the 50 free (22.35).

Methacton took sixth place in the 200 medley relay, as Leon Lin, Austin D’Angelo, Matthew Schulz and Gil Price touched at 1:38.28.

Pottsgrove earned a pair of AA bronze medals at the meet, as Kevin Basch finished at 1:47.49 in the 200 free and sophomore Michael Prior swam a 2:05.26 in the 200 IM.

Pope John Paul II sophomore Ivan Escott earned a silver in the 100 butterfly, as he finished at 56.07, cutting over three seconds off his qualifying time.

North Penn currently leads the AAA standings with 242 team points, while Perkiomen Valley (65) is in sixth and Owen J. Roberts (56) is in 10th. Methacton (45) currently sits in 13th.

In AA, Lower Moreland (187) currently leads, while Pottsgrove (108) and Upper Perkiomen (86) are in sixth and seventh, respectively. Pottstown sits in eighth place with 20 points.

NOTES — Umstead anchored Upper Perkiomen’s fourth-place relay in the 200 free (1:35.15) adjoined by Tyler Reed, Joel Williams and Ryan Mercando. Thorneloe finished sixth in the 200 free (1:44.40). Methacton’s Matthew Schulz placed ninth in the 200 IM (1:57.64). Boyertown sophomore Patrick Lance finished seventh in the 100 butterfly (52.00).

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