North Penn boys, girls win District 1-AAA titles again

PHILADELPHIA — It was just moments after their celebratory plunge into Kirk Pool that a very familiar chant thundered through La Salle University’s packed natatorium.

The sound of “North Penn, North Penn” came calling once again, fittingly capping two days of dominance by the Knights and Maidens swim teams.

“Back-to-back wins — that’s what you train for all year long,’ said Knights senior Thanas Kountroubis, whose gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke helped complete a sparkling effort by the North Penn boys. “It goes to show you that if you believe it before you start it, anything’s possible.’

Kountroubis was instrumental in the Knights’ back-to-back district crowns, as their 399 points provided a lofty finish way atop District One Class AAA. Earlier in the day, the North Penn girls completed a district three-peat, as their 306 points brought home another AAA crown in commanding fashion.

“The kids just did awesome. As a whole, they were so focused coming into this meet and just the way they interact with each other, and the way they are as a team, is what really makes it worthwhile,’ said Maidens coach Matt Weiser, whose team was a scoring machine in all five events on Friday, surpassing their district point total of both 2013 and 2014. “They are one of the tightest groups I’ve had in all my years coaching here at North Penn. They really were focused and wanted to do it.’

Kailyn Evans helped get the Maidens started on Day Two with a bronze-medal finish in the 100 free, which also included an eighth-place finish from Aimee Baur.

Distance points came from Heather Hartmann in the 500 free, and then, in the 100 back, Olivia DiStefano and Megan Zartman earned third and fourth as the Maidens closed in on the celebration.

“Three in a row,’ DiStefano said. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling.’

The Maidens finished things off with their best time of the year in the 400 free relay, as Baur, DiStefano, Erin O’Neill and Kailyn Evans went 3:27.93 to earn silver.

North Penn momentum carried right into the boys portion, climaxed by Kountroubis’ win in the breast.

“As the race goes on, you just think to yourself, okay, only two more laps. I got this,’ the senior said. “I sprinted as fast as I could and the last lap is whatever you got left.’

Kountroubis, not far off the 17-year-old record by Haverford’s Brendan Hansen, out-kicked Wyatt Amdor of Upper Dublin, finishing with a 56.17 to Amdor’s 56.43.

North Penn also got a silver and bronze from Mike Kern and Aidan Daly in the 500 free as well as a silver-medal finish from the 400 free team of Brett Else, Shane Hennessey, Kern and Kountroubis to go charging into states.

“It’s a total team victory,’ Knights coach Jeff Faikish said. “It shows the depth of this program. It was one of the largest North Penn teams during the regular season, followed by one of the largest district teams for North Penn in a long time. It’s a total team effort — all season long. It’s not over yet though.’

Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Allie Szekely won her third straight 100 back title, swimming the fastest time of the day — AA or AAA — with a 55.57, giving the junior her second gold of the competition.

Pennridge completed an amazing two days of fast swims by going one and two in the 100 free, as Morgan Scott and Hannah Zurmuhl took the top two spots. Then, Brittany Weiss earned bronze in the 100 breast and the 400 free team of Zurmuhl, Anna Beno, Weiss and Scott broke the district record in the 400 free, claiming the gold with a time of 3:25.59.

“Our girls are stepping up,’ said Scott, who helped power young Pennridge to the runner-up spot in Class AAA. “We’re telling everybody that Pennridge is here. Pennridge is one of the top teams in the district.’

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