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PIAA Girls Swimming: In her zone, Marple Newtown’s Pastris rises to fourth

Marple Newtown diver Alexandra Pastris poses with her medal in fourth place at the PIAA Class 3A championships Thursday at Bucknell University.

LEWISBURG — At a meet like the PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships when Alexandra Pastris isn’t on the board, she’s not paying a ton of attention to who is.

So the Marple Newtown diver wasn’t conscious of the fact that after eight rounds Thursday, she sat in second place. She wasn’t worried that her ninth dive slipped her to fourth, or that she entered the 11th and final round just .05 points out of third.

“No, I do not pay attention at all,” she said. “I just listen to my music and that’s all.”

It’s hard to argue with the results, with Pastris making it 2-for-2 in states medals by tallying a score of 425.95 points for fourth at Bucknell University. Pastris finished eighth as a freshman.

The sophomore’s nerves early in the meet owed not to her high standing but the competition around her. Eventually, she settled into a rhythm by retreating to her headphones. Executing well on some of her vaults, dives with lower degrees of difficulty, helped her banish the nerves.

“I try to block everything out because it keeps me in my zone,” she said. “Staying in my zone is my key, and it keeps me concentrated on myself and on my next dive.”

Pastris couldn’t get past the North Penn blockade of Meghan Wenzel and Maddie Freese in a 1-2 finish. She ended up rallying by Parkland’s Lexi Lehman in the finals, but North Allegheny’s Maya Ennis used a huge round-10 dive to leap from fifth after semifinals to third.

Still, Pastris was plenty satisfied with her finish.

“I was amazed,” she said. “I don’t know, I still have two more years.”

• • •

The decision to turn Thursday morning’s prelims into timed finals, in light of the global coronavirus outbreak, was announced by the PIAA just after Katya Eruslanova’s final relay swim. It brought a premature end to the stellar opening act for the Haverford freshman.

After finishing fourth in the 200 individual medley Wednesday, Eruslanova finished fifth in the 500 free. She was near the hallowed five-minute mark in 5:00.33, and despite missing a chance to swim it one more time, she was happy with the results.

“The (200) IM, I was going for the school record and I got that by a second, which I was pretty happy with it,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to go 2:02. For the 500, I just wanted to swim it. I was going for under five (minutes) but I was close so I’ll get it next time.”

Thursday morning involved a little racing late, Eruslanova beating Mount St. Joseph’s MaryKate Leonard in the lane next to her to the wall, upgrading her medal in the process. It reflected something evident early in the young swimmer’s career: She often seems to have the legs late in long races.

Time is on her side. She was one of only five freshmen to medal at states in 2020. In the 500 free, she was the only freshman among the top three heats, unusual in an event where standouts can rise to prominence so young.

“I was looking at the (200) IM results and all the top people ahead of me were seniors, so next year, it boosts my confidence for states, getting top three,” Eruslanova said. “And districts also, Izzy (Paoletti of Avon Grove), she’s a senior, too, so I’m excited for districts next year.”

• • •

Before the cancellation of finals, the 500 free was shaping up as a Delco affair. Third in prelims (ultimately third overall) was Sydney Bergstrom of Strath Haven, who went 4:56.75. Eruslanova was fifth, and Keely Durkin of Sun Valley took 11th in 5:01.92.

Also in B-final position were Garnet Valley’s Catherine Weaverling in the 100 backstroke (12th in 56.16), and the 400 free relays from Radnor (15th in 3:34.52) and Haverford (16th in 3:34.65, a drop of 1.5 seconds).

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