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D-East senior Alexa Fulton, Conestoga swimmers shine on first day of PIAA 3A state championship

As expected, Downingtown East senior Alexa Fulton and some of the Conestoga swimmers were the main local standouts Friday on the first day of the 2023 PIAA 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University.
Fulton, who has been named the Girls Swimmer of the Meet each of the last two years at States, finished first in the girls 50 free Friday with a time of 22.68, just .02 short of her PIAA record-setting 22.66 she posted at last year’s States.
“The goal for (PIAA) States is to be first to the wall, so I feel really good that I was able to do that in the midst of training for end of season,” said Fulton. “My start (for the finals) felt much better than it did in the morning, so I just remember feeling really confident from the moment I hit the water.”
The Conestoga girls’ team, which finished second at the 2022 PIAA Swimming & Diving Team Championships, had a solid day of performances Friday, and at the end of the day was fourth in the team standings with 88 points, behind North Allegheny (138), State College (118) and Hatboro Horsham (112).
“We had a good day today, and we have plenty of (good) swimmers in events tomorrow,” said Conestoga girls head coach Rob Kirkby, who noted that two of his swimmers broke school records Friday.
Conestoga senior Naomi Furman finished fifth in the girls 200 IM with a school-record time of 2:04.87, and senior Audrey Laganelli placed seventh in the girls 200 free with a school-record clocking of 1:51.53. Sophomore Avery Hillier finished fourth in diving, with 245.10 points.
The Pioneer girls 200 medley relay of senior Keira Haas, Furman, junior Jena Nowoswiat and senior Lily Robinson finished sixth (1:45.82). The Conestoga girls 200 free relay of Haas, junior Sarah Fox, senior Ayala Miller and Laganelli finished second in the B Final (1:37.55).
The Conestoga boys’ team was in fourth place in the team standings at the end of the day Friday, with 86 points, behind LaSalle College (122.50), North Penn (104) and Franklin Regional (90).
Pioneer junior Jake Wang finished first in the boys 200 IM with a clocking of 1:46.94, and junior Cam Yeniay finished second in the boys 200 free with a PR time of 1:38.87. Conestoga junior Brock Whitaker placed fourth in the boys 100 fly (49.93).
The Pioneers 200 boys medley relay team of Yeniay, junior Jake Wang, junior Brock Whitaker and senior Andrew Zhang finished second (1:32.53).
“Our swimmers did great today, they were focused, and the stars are aligning for us,” said Conestoga boys head coach Mark Tirone.
Here is a look at how other local teams fared at States Friday:
Unionville junior Izzy Iwasyk finished sixth in the girls 50 free with a mark of 23.60.
“I think she was pleased with her performance today, particularly since she’s been working through a back injury (suffered earlier),” said Unionville head coach Mike Mangan. “She’ll be swimming the 100 free (Saturday) and we’re looking forward to that.”
Mangan also praised the girls 200 free relay of Amelia Miller, Jillian Murphy, Lauren Dobie and Iwasyk, which finished 17th with a clocking of 1:39.14, their second-best-ever time.
“We were really pleased with their performance,” said Mangan.
West Chester Henderson sophomore Eddie Stoltz finished fifth in the boys 50 free Friday with a personal-best time of 20.72. At Districts last month, Stoltz finished fourth in this event.
“Eddie made the B finals last year (in the 50 free) at States, and it was his goal this year to make the A finals, to be in medal contention,” said West Chester Henderson swimming head coach Jeff Bott. “He was really motivated today, he improved on his morning swim (in the finals), and it was a very, very competitive field this year. It was deepest field I can remember – there were seven swimmers under 21 seconds.”
Downingtown East finished fourth in the B finals in the girls 200 medley relay, as the foursome of senior Victoria Maki, junior Finley Mulhern, senior Cady Kiebort and Fulton were clocked at 1:48.19. The Cougar quartet of Maki, Kiebort, freshman Ellie Reese and Fulton finished sixth in the B finals of the girls 200 free relay (1:39.43).
“All of our swimmers did really well today and our relays showed how hard they have worked together to get to finals,” said Downingtown East girls head coach Sean Wyatt. “Our seniors have really taken us to new heights in our program and have paved the way for our young swimmers here with us to keep our program going in the right direction.
“I’d like to add that Rachel Laraio placed ninth out of 24 in diving. She has worked really hard this season to get here and was able to perform really well today and represent us. She has been a rock for our team with getting us points every meet for our team and has been consistent. She is only a sophomore we are excited for what she has coming in the next two years.”
Oxford senior Alex Karahalis placed second in the boys 100 fly (48.86), behind first-place finisher Jacob Johnson of Springfield (Delco), who clocked 47.58. At Districts last month, he placed third in the 100 fly with a clocking of 49.70.
West Chester Rustin senior Flynn Truskett finished fifth in the girls 100 fly with a time of 55.71. At Districts last month, Truskett placed fourth in the girls 100 fly with a clocking of 55.87.
Coatesville freshman Sarah McGann finished eighth in the girls 100 fly A final Friday with a time of 57.56. Kennett freshman Alexandra Scime finished second in the B final of the girls 200 free with a clocking of 1:52.77.

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