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Garnet Valley’s Hurford doesn’t let fall deter him at District 1 swimming

Matthew Hurford’s pre-race routine took a bit of a hit Saturday at the District 1 Class 3A championship.

As in a tumble down some stairs at York YMCA just before the 200 freestyle, leaving him with a scratch on his arm, the meet briefly delayed and the Garnet Valley senior in a little bit of a different headspace than usual on the block.

All things considered for Hurford, finishing eighth in 1:44.31, only six hundredths of a second slower than his time at Centrals, wasn’t that bad.

“I feel like it kind of took me out of the moment for a minute, and I only got into racing the 200 after the first hundred,” Hurford said by phone. “But I’m still OK with the time because of what happened.”

Judging by what he did later in the 100 free, it’s pretty clear how much the fall took out of him.

Hurford earned silver in the 100 in a time of 47.11 seconds. Even more impressive is that Hurford is usually a distance specialist, who swam the 500 at states last year.

But at Centrals last week, Hurford called an audible. He didn’t feel comfortable with his 500 there, and given training disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic reducing the yards he can put in, he opted for the shorter option.

The work he’s been doing on his start and breakouts paid off, Hurford the clear second-place finisher behind North Penn’s Max Bachman.

Normally, a bad first swim would be followed by a night to sleep on it. But with social-distancing considerations jamming the district meet into one day, Hurford had a couple of hours. So he channeled the setting, knowing he could either lick his wounds and accept this as the last meet as a Garnet Valley swimmer or go after it. He chose the latter.

While he’s not guaranteed a spot at states, he’s in good position. Only district champs, instead of the usual five, are automatic qualifiers, along with eight at-larges (instead of 16) statewide. Hurford’s time has him in the hunt.

“It’s going to be pretty nerve-wracking,” Hurford said. ‘But I talked to Clark (Bickling, GV’s coach) after it and we’re just going to go back at it normally and we’re going to look forward to Y Nationals. And if I make states, that’s great and I can focus on that.”

The more pressing question is whether he’s willing to shed the distance label and be recognized as a sprinter.

“I’m not sure I know the answer to that,” he said. “Probably a mix of all three, to be honest.”

• • •

Rhett Cosgrove wasn’t happy with the fourth place finish he got at Centrals last week in the 200 free. Saturday, he channeled that disappointment into a bronze medal in the 200 free with a time of 1:42.36.

“I like to race, so at Centrals when we had the tri-meet, no one was really pushing me all that much,” Cosgrove said. “To have great competitors, it really helps a lot. … I just wanted to beat those guys. The time wasn’t awesome but I’m happy with third place any day.”

Cosgrove was also third in the 500 free in 4:37.32. He earned a medal in fourth place in the medley relay with Jack Undercofler (seventh in the 100 butterfly, fourth in the 100 backstroke), Nathan Kellerman and Chase Bentley. That foursome was eighth in the 200 free relay.

Jake Kennedy continued to drop time in the 50 free, the Springfield freshman going 21.20 to take the bronze medal. His brother Luke Kennedy was 16th. The Kennedys teamed with Brandon Decker and Jacob Johnson (eighth in the 100 fly) to medal in the 200 free relay in sixth. Michael Huegel took eighth in the 500 free for Springfield.

Marple Newtown’s Matthew Gray was 13th in the 200 individual medley and 16th in the 100 backstroke. Kyle Given of Haverford finished 13th in the 100 fly.

Ridley’s 200 free relay of Eric Boeckx, Brandon Redkar, Eric Tanzosh and Wyatt Shanks re-set their school record of 1:29.86 to garner 11th.

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