Streaks, Knights pull out stops
MT girls remain unbeaten; Hempfield boys edge Township Streaks, Knights pull out stops BY PETE KAUFFMAN, Sports Staff
The beginning got the heart racing.
The middle kept the heart pounding.
The end, for both schools, was heartbreaking.
From a meet-opening tie in the girls' 200-yard medley relay, to a meet-ending disqualification of the apparent winner in the girls' 400 free relay, there was a little bit of everything during Wednesday's Section One swimming showdown between Hempfield and host Manheim Township.
When the score sheets were finally tallied after the disqualifications were registered, the Blue Streak girls had pulled out a 95-91 victory over the Black Knights, while the Hempfield boys nipped Township 92-91.
"The greatest authors in the world couldn't have written this,'' Streaks senior Katie Diller said.
Diller did her best to try and chase down Hempfield's Maddie Popalis on the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay, but couldn't quite catch Popalis.
"When I touched the wall, I thought I lost and that we lost the meet. When I saw the DQ (disqualification), I just lost it,'' Diller said.
The officials on both sides of the pool ruled that one of the Hempfield girls left the block too early, negating their win and handing the first-place finish to Township. That turn of events took away what appeared to be a 97-89 win for Hempfield (3-1 L-L, 6-1 overall) and gave the victory to the Blue Streaks (4-0, 7-0).
"You just can't make this stuff up,'' said Diller, a Princeton recruit. "When I look back on my high school career, this is the kind of thing I'm going to remember.''
It was a memorable day for Diller, who won the 200 freestyle (1:55.29) and 100 free (53.12), then teamed with Meredith Newman, Lisa David and Sarah Wolfe in the 400 free relay (3:41.37).
Diller said Township's depth was the key to garnering the win, as the Streaks won four events outright and tied for one, while Hempfield took seven firsts.
The Knights' Amber McDonnell claimed the 200 individual medley (2:10.18) and 100 butterfly (59.46), Val Urban the 500 free (5:17.84), Popalis the 100 backstroke (1:01.86), Paige Spradling the 100 breaststroke (1:08.47) and Brianna DiGilio (247.40 points) the diving.
"I feel bad for the senior girls,'' Hempfield coach Steve Beck said, while lamenting the disqualification that changed the outcome.
While the Hempfield girls ended on a down note, the boys were ecstatic after handing Township (3-1, 6-1) its first loss of the year.
The Black Knights (3-1, 6-1) used a strong back end of the meet to gradually eat away at Township's early lead, then brought home the win by taking first and third in the 400 relay.
"(Township) kind of stacked the beginning, so I knew if we could hang tough, we could be in there,'' Hempfield senior Denny Atkinson said. "As long as we kept in striking distance, we felt we could pull out the win.''
Atkinson won the 200 free (1:46.53) and anchored the 200 free (1:31.26) and 400 free (3:19.65) relays to victory, as the boys' meet played out almost exactly opposite to how the girls' meet went.
Township won seven of the 12 events, with Dan Ross taking the 200 IM (2:011.11) and 100 free (48.33), Kameron Kubicki grabbing the 50 free (22.18) and 100 fly (53.81), Tyler Russell the 500 free (4:53.26) and Andrew Switch the 100 breast (1:05.39).
The Knights also won both freestyle relays, which Atkinson, Beck and MT coach Dan Graybill agreed affected the outcome.
"Hempfield has so many good 50 and 100 freestylers,'' Graybill said. "It's tough to overcome that wealth of talent.''
Beck said that most of that sprinting talent is from seven freshmen, which makes his lineup not only versatile, but formidable since scholastic meets are freestyle-centric.
"In the end, it was just a heck of a meet,'' said Beck. "The atmosphere was phenomenal. The swimming was fantastic. It's what you expect for the Hempfield-Township rivalry.''