North Penn girls defend SOL Continental crown

TOWAMENCIN >> Perfectly blending newbies with old school, North Penn defended its Suburban One League Continental Conference title Saturday afternoon, with a unified effort that was loud and proud.

“They’re cheering louder than the coaches at times and it’s coming from behind us,” said a happy coach, Jeff Faikish. “It’s like ‘who is that?’ And it’s their teammates cheering for each other. They know what it takes and they’re proud of each other, and that’s what makes coaching this team so easy.”

North Penn flooded Continentals with a total of 644 points, enabling the Knights to overcome rivals Souderton Area (327.5) and Central Bucks East (306) for top honors. Pennridge’s Morgan Scott broke one pool record and shattered another, and several district-qualifying goals were attained at a packed Rick Carroll Natatorium.

“It was exciting. There were a lot of great races. That’s what this meet’s all about,” said Faikish, who guided the NP boys to the title Friday night, the girls on Saturday. “It’s about bringing the whole conference together and seeing what the competition’s up to.

“Really tough conference, and there’s a lot of standout athletes in here.”

Pennridge’s Morgan Scott takes first during the Suburban One League Continental Conference Girls Championships on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

That included Scott, whose time of 23.26 in the 50-yard freestyle topped the previous record of 23.85 swam by North Penn grad Olivia DiStefano in 2015. Scott then went on to break her own pool record in the 500, by almost 14 seconds. Her time of 4:46.42 replaced the 5:00.01 she swam at NP as a freshman.

Also, Kaylee Heimes of Quakertown came through with a win in the 100 back, with a time of 58.45.

The remaining events — all eight of them, were won by North Penn. The Knights swept the relays, got two individual wins from standout junior Claudia Thamm (100 fly/100 breast), another from West Virginia-bound senior Megan Zartman (200 IM), and two from freshman Kaelan Daly (200 free/100 free).

“This is my first year on the team so I’ve never experienced this kind of win — together,” said a smiling Daly, moments after the team huddled by the blocks for a shot with the team trophy. “I think the older girls are really great leaders to me, and they really showed me sportsmanship and everything that we should do, and winning this together was incredible.

“It was just totally different,” Daly said of her first year on the high school level, with districts and possibly states to look forward to. “I’ve been swimming for a while but the high school season is just kind of a whole different beast. Talking to some of the older veterans with a lot more experience helped me get mentally prepared.”

Suburban One League Continental Conference Girls Swimming Championships winners from North Penn are Megan Zartman, Claudia Thamm, Rosalinda Rivera and Haley Muth on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

North Penn began the morning with a gold medal in the 200 medley relay, a foursome of Zartman, Muth, Thamm and Rivera going 1:47.32 to edge Souderton’s group of Hailey Freed, Clara Burrell, Jenny Rogers and Frankie Ferlick.

Daly followed with a win in the 200 free, Zartman in the 200 IM, and the Knights took the top three in each of those events. They were on their way.

“We’ve had practice for a while and we’re not really rested but I think we all just had to tough it out today and see what we could do mentally,” Daly said.

“It’s so cool. It’s definitely been long and hard, but we did it together,” Zartman said. “Everyone on this team had a part in winning it. We couldn’t have done it without them. It’s really nice to have it pay off at the end.”

North Penn’s Megan Zartman for swims the 500 yard freestyle at the Suburban One League Continental Conference Girls Swimming Championships on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)

North Penn never lost steam, capping things off with a win in the 400 free relay, with Thamm, Nicole Chiappa, Zartman and Parker Schulz doing the honors.

“It was a fantastic show by our girls today. I couldn’t be more proud,” Faikish said. “Great leadership at the top and it flows all the way down to the freshmen.”

The District One Championships are next: diving is Friday and Saturday at North Penn and the swimming portion will be held March 2 and 3 at La Salle University.

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