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Big Senior Knight for North Penn includes sweep of rival Souderton

Seniors Madeline Faikish (left) and Eva Welsh had big meets for North Penn in a win over Souderton on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

TOWAMENCIN >> A North Penn senior class marked by some unique challenges overcame a more familiar foe on its most special night: rival Souderton.

Senior Night at North Penn saw the Knights put together a complete performance in both the boys and girls meets and withstand a tremendous showing by Big Red, as NP swam and dove to victories of 100-81 (girls) and 103-72 (boys).

“It was a lot of fun. I think all of our seniors had great times so we definitely came together as a team,” said Knights senior tri-captain Scott Klein. “(Souderton’s) right next door and we know most of the kids on the team. So it’s always fun to race against them.”

Scott Klein helped key a North Penn win over Souderton on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Klein typified the night for NP, racing to a victory in the 200-yard freestyle with an impressive time of 1 minute, 44.74 seconds.

Nathan Wauls was another senior speedster for the Knights, posting fast times in both the 200 IM (2:07.56, second place) and 100 breast (1:01.20, exhibition).

He exemplified the Knights’ perseverance.

Nathan Wauls was instrumental to North Penn’s win over Souderton on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Kev Hunter/ MediaNews Group)

“It’s been pretty rough, but we’ve stuck through it,” Wauls said of the pandemic. “We’re just trying our best. We’re finally getting back into a rhythm. We’re all working really hard at practice. We’re just looking forward to the end of the year and getting ready for all those championship meets.”

It was a night of celebration for the Knights, and a night of fast swims.

North Penn huddles after its win over Souderton Area on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

“It was a fantastic Senior Night. I couldn’t be more proud of all these seniors,” NP coach Jeff Faikish said. “This senior class has had to overcome more adversity than any other graduating class. As freshmen, they’re not in this building. And then their sophomore year, we got shut down. And then all of last season was the crazy pandemic school year. So this was their first experience being real, normal high school kids and we’re still experiencing issues with more COVID outbreaks. This group of seniors is special.

“I couldn’t have picked a better program to have our Senior Night with,” Faikish said. “Souderton and North Penn are so close together. (Coach) Lou (Williams) is one of my best friends. A lot of these kids have grown up together. It is an awesome rivalry, and it’s because of the relationships. And how much we respect one another. They had a great team coming in here and our kids were facing another battle.”

North Penn swimmers line the pool during their meet with Souderton on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

First places poured forth for the Knights: senior tri-captain Bobby Freece (200 IM, 2:01.18), Jadyn Manning (50 free, 22.06), Brady Stanton (diving, 239.65), Mason Potts (100 fly, 51.87), Aidan Faikish (100 free, 48.30), and Danny Dunigan (500 free, 4:54.56) were all winners for the North Penn boys.

The 200 medley relay (Nathan Rawa, Aidan Faikish, Mason Potts, Jadyn Manning ) also dashed to first in 1:39.10, and the 200 free relay of Manning, Potts, Freece and Aidan Faikish was also a first-place finisher for the Knights, in 1:28.10.

The girls were just as impressive, with Madeline Faikish (200 free, 1:56.61), Emma Raser (200 IM, 2:10.05; 500 free, 5:17.73), Keira Allison (diving, 250.10), Layla Robey (100 free, 53.64) and Kayla Stressman (100 back, 1:03.70) all winning their respective events in style for NP.

Also, the Knights’ 200 medley relay (Ava Zollars, Eva Welsh, Stressman, Raser) was fastest in 1:51.71, kick-starting the meet.

“It was really good to get everyone together,” Madeline Faikish said of the evening as a whole. “I think everyone handled (the pandemic) really well – we got back into shape. As a team, we did really well. It was great to get back in the water and get a really good time.”

Said Welsh: “It’s gonna be really sad to see the seniors go. We’re all really good friends. I got to drop some time tonight and it was a lot of fun because with COVID, it’s hard to get back into the swing of things. Going against, basically our friends in Souderton, made it exciting. With everything we went through last year and the year before, and being shut down for a little while this year, it makes it exciting to get out and compete, each day.”

Souderton swimmers have a chat during the meet with North Penn on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Jessica Burns (50 free, 24.53; 100 breast, 1:06.27) and Abby Burns (100 fly, 1:01.10) were outstanding for the Souderton girls, notching first places. Abraham Bleazard (100 back, 1:00.14) and Elijah Gehman (100 breast, 1:07.72) stood out for the Big Red boys.

“I was impressed with both teams today – both boys and girls, both Souderton and North Penn,” coach Jeff Faikish said. “Considering where we’re at in our training cycle, putting up some of those times was impressive. We have a lot of kids moving in the right direction right now. Finally, they have some consistency, and I think that’s one of the secret ingredients.”

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