Cooke’s bronze; Sykes, Hansen’s fourth-place finish highlight PAC girls at district swimming opener

PHILADELPHIA >> Morgan Hansen is the type to leave it all on the line.

Take Thursday morning, for example.

The Owen J. Roberts senior swam all four of her events during the opening day of the District One Championships at La Salle University’s Kirk Natatorium, earning a fourth-place medal and an automatic bid to the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Bucknell later this month.

Both Hansen and Methacton senior Emily Sykes earned fourth-place medals around their necks, while Phoenixville senior Maddie Cooke ended the day with a bronze. All three earned automatic bids to states,

“A little tired, yeah,” laughed Hansen, a Fairfield University commit, at the conclusion of the opening day. “It’s bittersweet, but I knew today would be my last time swimming competitive in this pool. So I gave everything I had.”

That was certainly evident.

Hansen posted a 56.48 in the 100-yard butterfly, cutting more than two seconds off her qualifying time to punch her fourth consecutive ticket to the state championship. She’s also up for time qualification with a 10th-place finish in the 200 Individual Medley, touching at 2:08.47.

Joining her will be Cooke, a now nine-time district medalist, who finished with a bronze in the 50 free at a time of 23.92. The Penn State University commit made her debut in grand fashion three years ago as a freshman and certainly hasn’t slowed down since, especially after her team made the jump from Class AA to AAA competition.

Methacton’s Emily Sykes takes the medal stand with her fourth-place medal after swimming a 2:03.52 in the 200 IM at the District One Championships. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Like any competitor, though, she was quick to point out a few flaws in her swim.

“My turn and finish weren’t as good as I’d hoped for,” she said. “The 50 (free) is such a tough event, because if one little thing goes wrong, it can change your entire race.”

Rested, but not fully tapered, Cooke admits that the district meet was somewhat of just a platform to get to the next round.

“I know that I have a few things to work on before states,” she said. “I usually gear a little bit more toward that meet, so I’m hoping to see what I can do with a little more rest.”

Sykes posted a 2:03.52 in the 200 individual medley, good enough for a fourth place finish to punch her third consecutive trip to states.

Coming in with a mentality similar to Cooke, the University of Tennessee commit cut nearly three seconds off her qualifying time. Yet she’s still got her sights set on something greater.

“One of my goals for my lifetime is to break a two-minute in the 200 IM,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll get it at some point in my life, but if I can find a way to do it at states, that would be insane.”

Sykes’ best stroke in the IM is the breaststroke, as evidenced by her top seed in Friday morning’s 100 breast.

“Today was a good way to get districts started,” said Sykes. “I’ll be up against a similar lineup tomorrow, since most of the girls who swim the (200) IM also do the breaststroke. I’ve just got to come out and swim well again.”

Owen J. Roberts senior Morgan Hansen finished fourth in the 100 fly during the District One Swimming Championship on Thursday. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Elsewhere around the Pioneer Athletic Conference:

Both of Phoenixville’s relays missed automatic qualification Thursday, but will be up for bids based on time qualifications throughout the state. The Phantoms finished seventh in the meet’s opening race — the 200 medley relay — with a time of 1:47.49. The contingent included Kathryn Bland, Cooke, Emily Fabius and Katya Hayward. That same group also posted a 1:38.31 in the 200 free relay to finish tied for 10th with Central Bucks East.

Methacton’s Anna Price finished 12th in the 50 free with a time of 25.04 while Boyertown senior Cara Megill finished 14th in the 200 free with a 1:55.62.

In AA action, Upper Perkiomen freshman Noel Fresa put herself up for time qualifications with a fifth-place finish in the 50 free (25.62). Villa Maria’s Nina Smith, Maura McManus and Olivia Giampietro finished one through three, respectively, as the top two move on to states. The Tribe also posted a fifth-place finish in the 200 free relay, posting a time of 1:43.63. The contingent included Maddie Modugno, Jayme Fisher, Bailey McCausland and Fresa, and cut nearly five seconds off its qualifying time.

Big Picture

Things don’t appear to be shuffling too much in the team standings. In Class AAA action, North Penn looks to be on its way to a fifth-straight title with 196 team points while Avon Grove follows with 145. Phoenixville currently sits in eighth with 65 points.

In AA, Villa Maria Academy looks to be on its way to an impressive 16th straight team title. The Hurricanes lead the way with 298 points followed by Nazareth (173) and Springfield-Montco (170). Upper Perkiomen is seventh at 64 points.

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