Bolstered by stellar performances from their divers, the North Penn boys and girls swim teams go charging into this weekend’s District One Championships with title defenses on their mind.
The Knights aim for a three-peat in Class AAA while the Lady Knights go for four in a row, as the swim portion of the competition gets underway at La Salle University Friday morning.
The Class AA and AAA boys competition will be held 12:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the girls following from 5:30 to 8:30.
On Saturday, the boys events will run from 10:30 to 2, with the girls wrapping things up, from 4 to 7:30.
“We’ve been on top the last three years and it would be really nice to see the seniors go out on top,” North Penn girls coach Matt Weiser said of District One, following a dominant performance at the Suburban One League Continental Conference Championships earlier this month.
One of those seniors, Erin O’Neill, is in contention for a medal in each of her individual events, seeded seventh in the 50-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100 breast.
North Penn is seeded second in all three relays and could be getting some big swims from Kailyn Evans (200 IM/100 free), Megan Zartman (200 IM/100 back), Leah Brown (50 free) and Heather Hartmann (500 free).
The Knights, too, are coming off a solid performance in capturing the SOL Continental title and will also have three relay foursomes that could supply big points at La Salle.
“I’m excited, nervous — the way you should feel heading into a championship season,” coach Jeff Faikish said after his team’s thorough performance at the conference meet. “I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
“I know what my dreams are,” he said with a smile, “but it’s a very tough field this year. There are a lot of teams that have really been building their programs up and you can see it.”
North Penn has a battle-tested performer in senior Corey Smith, one of the front runners in the 200 IM and 100 back, as well as fellow senior Harrison Friel aiming for a top-three finish in the 100 breast.
North Penn’s main competition should once again be Upper Dublin.
The Cardinals, remarkably, are the top-seeded squad in all three relays and Michael Jensen is the swimmer to watch in both the 200 and 100 free.
The Pennridge girls had their highest finish in school history last year, earning the runner-up spot in Class AAA, and again could be making multiple trips to the medal stand.
Morgan Scott (200 free/100 free), Hannah Zurmuhl (50 free/100 free) and Brittany Weiss (100 fly/100 back) are all seeded either No. 1 or 2 in almost all of their individual events while the Rams go in as the favorite in both the 200 and 400 free relays.
The Gwynedd Mercy girls have a great chance to improve on last year’s third-place finish in Class AA, as senior Allie Szekely looks to make it a clean sweep in both the 200 IM and 100 back — she goes for her fourth straight gold in both events.
Other area swimmers to watch include Souderton Area’s 200 medley relay, Cristian Musterait (50 free/100 free) and Brendon Loux (100 fly), Wissahickon’s Doug Boehme (200 free), Central Bucks West’s Dale Johnson and Brad Johnson (50 free) and Methacton’s Gilbert Price (100 free).
Methacton’s Emily Sykes (200 IM), Souderton Area’s Jennifer Rogers (50 free) and Ariana Crossgrove (100 back), and Wissahickon’s Carly Zlotnikoff (500 free) could also be making a push for district medals.
Wissahickon has the top two seeds in the 500 free, with seniors Jeff Beyer and Boehme both wanting to win gold in their final district performance while the 200 free relay is packed with multiple local squads, including Hatboro-Horsham, CB West and Wissahickon as well as the Knights and Cardinals.