ERIE - If Warren swim coach Jeff Walters was excited about the Dragons' performances on Friday at the District 10 Class AAA Championships at Penn State Behrend, he was dancing on the pool deck on Saturday.
That's because, on top of a number of inspirational performances, Warren Area High School has its first District 10 champion in five years.
Sophomore Elin Smith won the District 10 Class AAA title in the 100-yard backstroke, breaking a 20-year Warren school record in the process, on Saturday at the Junker Center.
Times Observer photo by Brian Collins
From the top
Warren sophomore Elin Smith gets a high-fives from swim coach Jeff Walters after Walters placed the medal around Smith’s neck for winning the District 10 Class AAA championship in the 100-yard backstroke, Saturday at Penn State Behrend’s Junker Center. Smith broke a 20-year-old school record in the event, becoming Warren’s first individual D10 champ since the 2007-08 school year.
Times Observer photo by Brian Collins
Warren sophomore Elin Smith, above, swims the 100-yard backstroke on Saturday at the District 10 Class AAA Swimming Championships at Penn State Behrend. To put into perspective how fast the state of Pennsylvania is, in general, in swimming, Smith is the 14th seed district champion out of 16 districts, with the top district champion’s time at 54.79 seconds. The PIAA meet is next week, beginning Wednesday, March 13, at Bucknell University.
Smith, who was seeded first in the event, won in 59.83 seconds - the first time she has broken the one-minute mark. In fact, it's the first time anyone from Warren has broke the one-minute mark. Smith automatically qualifies for the PIAA meet at Bucknell University.
"She's a very focused kid," said Walters. "She sets her sights on something and nothing will get in her way. It was a privilege for me to (put the medal around her neck)."
Smith had been looking to break the school record in the 100 backstroke during the regular season as one of her goals. The record was previously 1:00.21, set in 1993 by Ann Jablonowski.
Final team standings
1. Cathedral Prep 611.50, 2. McDowell 512.50, 3. Warren 211, 4. DuBois 198, 4. Meadville 169, 6. Central Tech 3.
400 freestyle relay: 1. CATHEDRAL PREP (Reid Morrison, Mike Squeglia, Luke Merski, Zach Miller) 3:10.96, 2. McDowell (Jack Mahoney, Stephen Marn, Steven Owens, Jonathan Ekas) 3:15.54, 3. DuBois (Auckie Fenstermacher, Cole Witherite, Jared McCoy, Ben Henrichs) 3:28.14, 4. Meadville (Holcy Furlong, Kerwin Moreland, Ben Willey, Mike Prinkey) 3:39.25, 5. Warren (Clark Eason, Sean McGuinness, Wyatt Pierson, Bradley Walters) 3:39.51.
100 breaststroke: 1. REX RILEY (CP) 57.56 (meet and pool record), 2. Joe Marin (CP) 59.07, 3. Andrew Steehler (MC) 59.77, 4. Tyler Bello (MC) 1:03.48, 5. Bennett Steber (W) 1:04.65, 6. Scott Garich (CP) 1:05.29, 7. Eric Ziegler (ME) 1:07.17, 8. Austin Hancock (CP) 1:07.21, 9. Mike Lazusky (ME) 1:07.88, 10. Craig Ferrante (MC) 1:12.09, 11. David Masteller (MC) 1:12.57.
100 backstroke: 1. JONATHAN EKAS (MC) 51.18 (meet and pool record), 2. Luke Merski (CP) 52.38, 3. Zach Miller (CP) 53.83, 4. Logan Gearhart (W) 55.28, 5. Daniel Bauman (CP) 55.75, 6. Jacob Ekas (MC) 57.14, 7. Andrew Britton (CP) 59.59, 8. Kerwin Moreland (ME) 1:02.28, 9. Sean McGuinness (W) 1:02.62.
500 freestyle: 1. NORMAN STARK (CP) 4:57.64, 2. Stephen Bretz (CP) 4:57.86, 3. Carey Behm (MC) 4:58.31, 4. Auckie Fenstermacher (D) 5:00.66, 5. Jacob Jones (MC) 5:05.56, 6. Tom Squeglia (CP) 5:06.00, 7. Michal Szelwach (MC) 5:15.74, 8. Joshua Daniel (MC) 5:18.15, 9. Alex Minnaugh (CP) 5:24.33, 10. Cole Witherite (D) 5:32.66.
100 freestyle: 1. MIKE SQUEGLIA (CP) 48.56, 2. Reid Morrison (CP) 49.10, 3. Stephen Marn (MC) 49.31, 4. Jack Mahoney (CP) 49.52, 5. Ben Henrichs (D) 49.63, 6. Cameron Daniels (W) 50.63, 7. Lucas Buseck (CP) 50.84, 8. Chris Steele (CP) 51.68, 9. Evan Wujcik (MC) 51.76, 10. Tyler Bello (MC) 52.25, 11. Holcy Furlong (ME) 54.23.
Final team standings
1. McDowell 577.50, 2. Meadville 332, 3. DuBois 253.50, 4. Warren 230, 5. Central Tech 7.
400 freestyle relay: 1. McDOWELL (Danielle Snyder, Mary Wassell, Kristin Owens, Julia Rahner) 3:44.22, 2. Meadville (Heather Sternby, Mackenzie Webber, Megan Hotchkiss, Mylinda Hartnett) 3:52.05, 3. DuBois (Francesca Henrichs, Melia Andrulonis, Erica Smith, Gabrielle Humphrey) 4:00.89, 4. Warren (Christine Kuzminski, Megan Waterfield, Allie Sedon, Mandy Fehlman) 4:24.63.
100 breaststroke: 1. MYLINDA HARTNETT (ME) 1:09.18, 2. Emma Springer (MC) 1:10.15, 3. Jessica Cauley (MC) 1:11.97, 4. Brittany Pinter (MC) 1:12.68, 5. Maggie Murphree (ME) 1:12.85, 6. Anna Falvo (W) 1:13.68, 7. Ashley Warner (MC) 1:16.98, 8. Maitland McMillen (D) 1:18.56, 9. Chloe Boughton (ME) 1:19.89.
100 backstroke: 1. ELIN SMITH (W) 59.83, 2. Danielle Snyder (MC) 1:01.24, 3. Mackenzie Webber (ME) 1:01.53, 4. Allie Schneider (MC) 1:03.91, 5. Isabelle Vieira (MC) 1:09.52, 6. Jenna DiPlacido (MC) 1:09.87, 7. Abigail Kusko (ME) 1:11.00.
500 freestyle: 1. GABRIELLE HUMPHREY (D) 5:27.22, 2. Colleen Bolmanski (MC) 5:35.67, 3. Melia Andrulonis (D) 5:42.60, 4. Mary Wassell (MC) 5:46.53, 5. Megan Hotchkiss (ME) 5:52.68, 6. Abigail Spicher (MC) 5:55.65, 7. Sarah Steinbeck (ME) 6:06.90, 8. Lacey Grinnen (W) 6:08.83.
100 freestyle: 1. JULIA RAHNER (MC) 53.82, 2. Ellis Beardsley (W) 55.76, 3. Alyssa Linden (MC) 56.19, 4. Francesca Henrichs (D) 59.10, 5. Jenna DiPlacido (MC) 1:00.03, 6. Brooke Leithner (D) 1:00.04, 7. Paige Whitney (ME) 1:01.51, 8. Maddie Moreland (ME) 1:01.73, 9. Amanda Green (MC) 1:02.01, 10. Shelby Barger (CT) 1:03.57.
"I'm not upset at all I did it at districts," she said, adding that it had to take a back seat to winning. "Going into the race, I really just wanted to make it to states."
Only district champions automatically qualify for the PIAA meet, but she won, broke a school record and swam under a minute for the first time ever all in the same race. Words can't express the look on her face at the finish.
The team's journey was made more difficult by a number of practice cancellations and meet postponements due to weather, but the team, and Smith, couldn't have peaked at a better time.
"Success breeds success," said Walters. "The successes we had on Friday - when someone sees Ellis (Beardsley) swimming out of her mind and Logan (Gearhart) swimming out of his mind, and Bradley (Walters) coming back from surgery and Anna (Falvo) coming back from illness, Elin fed into that, too.
"I told the kids afterward, everybody had a hand in our district champion's success," he said.
Beardsley and Gearhart had strong second-place finishes on Friday in the 200 free, and Beardsley finished second again on Saturday in the 100 free (55.76 seconds) with her "best time ever," said Walters.
"She picked it right up again on Saturday, bruised fingers and all," said Walters of Beardsley's strong finish into the wall on Friday in the 200 free.
"Those kind of time drops are special," said Walters.
Also on Saturday, Gearhart was fourth in the 100 back in 55.28 seconds, under two-tenths of a second off of the school record (55.12), a day after setting a new record in the 200.
Warren's 400 free relay team of Clark Eason, Sean McGuinness, Wyatt Pierson and Bradley Walters was fifth out of five teams, but dropped its best time by about 20 seconds.
"We had a lot of fun," said Walters. "Mandy Fehlman gave her version of (Herb Brooks') inspirational speech. She inserted swimming and swimmers instead of hockey and hockey players. There was some comedy to it, but it was also inspiring. Then we went to work."
Bennett Steber was fifth in the 100 breaststroke, McGuinness ninth in the 100 back, Cameron Daniels sixth in the 100 free, Anna Falvo sixth in the girls' 100 breaststroke, Lacey Grinnen eighth in the 500 free, and the girls' 400 free relay fourth.
Here are results from Saturday's events at the District 10 Class AAA Championships at Penn State Behrend: