North Penn boys, girls lead AAA after 1st day of District 1 Championships

PHILADELPHIA >> Hoping to push their team on its way to a fourth straight team title, the four members of North Penn’s 200-yard medley relay went out and made history, setting a meet record in the very first event.

“It was a great way to start off the meet,” senior anchor Leah Brown said. “It really set the way for the whole entire team I think.”

A time of 1 minute, 44.24 seconds by Megan Zartman, Erin O’Neill, Claudia Thamm and Brown was the fastest ever at the District One Class AAA Championships, surpassing the previous record of 1:44.65 by rival Pennridge a year ago.

The Lady Knights would go on to amass 228 points on Day One at La Salle, with their closest competition, Unionville, in second with 98.

“With our divers helping us out (last week) and now today getting us off, we’re ready to go,” said Brown, who followed up with a fifth-place finish in the 50 free. “We’re looking forward to tomorrow. We have a lot of young girls in, getting ready to swim.”

North Penn would lead both the boys and girls competitions by night’s end, with several locals swimming to individual gold and district records.

North Penn would have traffic going to the medal stand, as teammates Kailyn Evans (fourth) and Claudia Thamm (fifth) both went in the 200 IM, Aimee Baur (seventh) went in the 200 free and then Thamm (fifth) went in the 100 fly.

North Penn’s 200 free relay capped things off with a silver, finishing up what the medley team began.

“I thought we were gonna swim well, but I didn’t see a 1:44.24,” coach Matt Weiser said. “That was incredibly fast. That’s two seconds faster than our school record.

“That blew me away. When you get off to that kind of start, it’s easy to get things rolling on.”

Over in Class AA, Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Stephanie Szekely would set a meet record in the 200 freestyle in 1:50.57, with sister Allie Szekely winning her fourth straight gold in the 200 IM and teammate Hannah Blaser earning gold in the 50 free, propelling GMA to second place behind Villa Maria.

“It’s great (to get the record). You just work so hard so I’m glad,” Steph Szekely said. “I felt good — we’re not really rested at all — so I just went in trying to go my best time. A little faster would have been better but I’m so happy with the outcome.

“Hopefully we can swim fast and see what’s in store (on Saturday).”

Pennridge’s Morgan Scott took the 200 free title in AAA and anchored the Rams to a meet record in the 200 free relay, joining Hannah Zurmuhl, Anna Beno and Brittany Weiss to go 1:33.90.

Bookended by a bronze medal in the 200 medley relay and a sixth-place finish in the 200 free relay, North Penn’s Day One has the Knights in position to win their third straight team title, as they lead second-place Upper Dublin 156-144 heading into Day Two.

“We had a wonderful first day,” Knights coach Jeff Faikish said. “We had great swims by kids all around.”

North Penn sent two performers to the medal stand in both the 200 free — as Aidan Daly placed sixth and Harrison Friel seventh — and the 200 IM, with Corey Smith racing to a bronze and Ryan Hartmann earning eighth place.

The Cardinals’ Michael Jensen may be on his way to swimmer of the meet honors, breaking his own meet record in the 200 freestyle and swimming a record leadoff split in the gold-medal 200 free relay to cap off Day One.

The day began with Souderton Area winning gold in the 200 medley relay, powered by Musterait’s 20.08 freestyle anchor leg.

“After we did the medley I just knew today was gonna be a great race,” Musterait said. “Everything was just falling into place.”

His taper working out perfectly and added momentum from the medley, Musterait headed into his 50 freestyle confident and composed, and more than lived up to his No. 1 seed (21.48), going 20.72 to come away with the gold.

“I did believe I could do it,” the junior said. “I had a good race, my time was really good, and there are a lot of things I can work on and that’s almost like a positive with states still ahead. There are a lot more things I can improve on to get better, faster.”

Storm Krader, a sophomore, led off the medley with the fly, followed by senior Ryan Witoslawski (back) and sophomore Spencer Nice (breast), with Musterait hammering it home.

“The medley was awesome — I didn’t expect a 20.08,” he said. “I did what I needed to do for my team…People say swimming isn’t a team sport but it truly is. I couldn’t have done it without my team and my coaches.”

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