At last year’s PIAA 3A Swimming and Diving Championships, both Conestoga squads finished in the top five in the team competition –the Pioneers placed second in the PIAA girls’ competition and fifth in the boys’ competition.
This week, led by four senior All-Americans and coming off a District 1 3A team championship, the Conestoga girls should make their presence felt at PIAA 3A state championships, and maybe even win their first-ever PIAA 3A girls swimming team state title.
Conestoga girls swimming head coach Rob Kirkby said, “We’ve had a great season, won the Central League and District titles, and we’re hoping to make some waves and have fun here this weekend. Our team has some very good swimmers, and there are some other teams at this meet that have some very good swimmers too.”
The Pioneer girls are led by senior All-Americans Lily Robinson, Naomi Furman, Audrey Laganelli and Keira Haas.
Furman will be competing in the 100 breast (she was first at Districts, 1:03.12) and 200 IM (she placed fourth at Districts); Laganelli in the 200 free (fourth at Districts) and 100 free (sixth at Districts); Robinson in the 50 free (fifth at Districts) and 100 free (seventh at Districts); and Haas in the 100 back (eighth at Districts).
These four swimmers also will be competing in the 400 free relay, where they were second at Districts (3:29.51). Robinson, Furman, Haas and junior Jena Nowoswiat should be a strong contender in the 200 medley relay.
Pioneer junior Sarah Fox will be competing in the girls 200 IM and 500 free, Nowoswiat will swim the girls 100 fly and both freshman Reilly Dolan and sophomore Hadar Miller will compete in the girls 100 breast.
The Pioneer girls also have a strong diver in sophomore Avery Hillier, who finished first at Districts. Junior Grace Gallagher, who placed third at Districts, is out with a concussion.
The Conestoga boys’ team features a deep group of swimmers, led by junior Jake Wang, who last month was District 1 3A Boys Swimmer of the Meet for the second year in a row. He placed first at Districts in both the 200 IM and 100 breast and will be swimming these events at States.
Other Pioneers to watch are junior Can Yeniay in 200 free (first at Districts, 1:38.92) and 500 free (second at Districts); junior Brock Whitaker in 100 fly (fifth at Districts) and 100 free (10th at Districts); the 200 medley relay of Yeniay, Wang, junior Brock Whitaker and senior Andrew Zhang (first at Districts, 1:33.07); and the 400 free relay of Yeniay, Whitaker, Zhang and Wang.
Another swimmer to watch at States is Downingtown East senior Alexa Fulton, who was the Girls Swimmer of the Meet at both the 2021 and 2022 PIAA 3A state swimming and diving championships. Fulton won the gold medal at States last winter in both the 50 free and 100 free for the second consecutive year, and at Districts last month finished first in the girls 50 free (22.79) and set a new District 1 meet record in the girls 100 free (49.17), breaking the previous record of Pennridge’s Morgan Scott set in 2018.
“Alexa was very impressive at Districts and we are looking forward to what she can do at States,” said D-East girls head coach Sean Wyatt.
“I was pretty happy with how I swam at Districts,” said Fulton. “I have been training harder with my club team this year than last year, and we trained right through Districts, so I was excited to be swimming as fast as I was without any real prep. … I’m excited to just get up there (at Bucknell) and race.”
Here’s a look at the local teams at the 2023 PIAA Swimming & Diving Championships:
Avon Grove: Senior Jacob Texter will swim the boys 200 IM (placed fifth at Districts) and the 500 free, while Kaitlyn Burk will compete in the girls 200 IM (was 14th at Districts). The girls 400 free relay of Burk, Cailin Maley, Lily Perrin and Ava Pfaff also will compete.
Avon Grove head coach Kelly Burk said, “Both (Jacob and Kaitlyn) are looking to at least repeat their times from Districts.”
Coatesville: Freshman Sarah McGann will be swimming the girls 500 free (was ninth at Districts) and 100 fly at States.
Downingtown East: The Cougars feature eight girls at States, led by state gold medal-winner Alexa Fulton. D-East senior Victoria Maki, who finished ninth in both the 100 free and 100 back at Districts, will swim these events at States. The Cougars 200 medley relay of Maki, junior Finley Mulhern, senior Cady Kiebort and Fulton is coming off a fourth-place finish at Districts. Another Cougar relay will be the 200 free relay of Maki, Kiebort, Ellie Reese and Fulton, which was ninth at Districts.
“Victoria Maki had an amazing weekend at Districts,” said Wyatt. “She had personal bests in all of her events including her relay splits. Victoria had surgery to repair her knee this past offseason so we were not sure how she would come back, but her hard work and dedication to mastering her craft has brought her back stronger than ever.
“We look forward to sending our seniors off to college with a strong showing at states and prepare them for their future in swimming.”
Downingtown West: Freshmen Elizabeth McNamara (eighth in the girls 500 free at Districts) and Morgan Harlan will compete in the girls 500 free at States. Whippet junior Leah Lacovara will compete in the girls 50 free and 100 free.
Kennett: Freshman Alexandra Scime, who placed fifth in both the girls 200 free (1:52.68) and 500 free (5:04.23) at Districts, will swim these events at States.
Blue Demon head coach Cindy Millison said, “As we have all season long, her USA club coach – Zach Nerwinski – and I have collaborated on her preparation for States. Her goals are not only to improve her Districts performances but also to achieve USA Swimming Futures cuts in one or both of her events .Fortunately the PIAA State Swimming Championships are USA-observed, so she can advance in her club arena as well as her high school one.”
Oxford: Hornet senior Alex Karahalis, who finished third in the 100 fly (49.70) and fourth in the 100 breast (57.06) at Districts, will swim both of these events at States.
Unionville: Longhorn junior Izzy Iwasyk, who placed third in the girls 50 free (24.22) and second in the 100 free (51.03) at Districts, will swim these events at States. Last year at States, she finished third in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free.
“My goals for States this year are to maintain the same times I went at Districts and hopefully place in the top eight (in 50 free and 100 free),” said Iwasyk.
The Longhorns girls 200 free relay of Amelia Miller, Jillian Murphy, Lauren Dobie and Iwasyk, which finished eighth at Districts (1:38.53), will swim this event at States.
Longhorn senior Matt McLellan, who finished 11th in the boys 100 back at Districts, will swim this event at States.
West Chester East: Viking junior Taiylor Tegler, who placed third in the girls 100 breast (1:03.66) and 12th in the 200 IM (2:09.33) at Districts, will swim both of these events at States. The girls 200 medley relay of Samantha Heiland, Tegler, Sarah Zeminski, Grace Herilhy also will compete at States.
West Chester Henderson: The Warriors, who finished fifth in the PIAA 3A girls team competition last year, have a solid lineup of both boys and girls at States this week. The lead Warrior is sophomore Eddie Stoltz, who finished fourth in both the boys 50 free and 100 back at Districts, and will swim both of these events at States.
Another Henderson sophomore, Finn Lukens, who finished 10th in the boys 100 breast at Districts, will swim that event at States. The boys 200 medley relay quartet of Stoltz, Lukens, Bailey Steimel and Vedant Bedekar and the boys 200 free relay of Stoltz, Sean Dillon, Lukens and Bedekar also will compete at States.
For the Henderson girls, sophomore Paige Fisher, who placed seventh in the 200 free and 10th in the 500 free at Districts, will swim these events at States. Warrior senior Shannon Gamble, who placed 10th in the girls 200 free at Districts, will swim this event at States. The girls 400 free relay quartet of sophomore Meghan Denney, Gamble, junior Natalie Krauss and Fisher, who finished 10th at Districts, will swim this event at States.
West Chester Rustin: Golden Knight senior Flynn Truskett, who finished fourth in the girls 100 fly (55.87) and third in the 100 free (51.06) at Districts, will swim these events at States. Another senior, Lily Turco, will compete in the girls 100 fly (she was 12th at Districts) and the 500 free. The Golden Knights girls 400 free relay quartet of Michelle An, Leah Hilt, Turco and Truskett also will compete at States.
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