Regardless of limited practice opportunities because of COVID-19 delays, Manheim Township was ready to fly when hosting rival Hempfield on Tuesday afternoon.
The Blue Streaks were dominating, especially in the boys meet.
Township’s boys took the top two or three positions in every individual race, including sweeping the top three spots in the boys 200-yard freestyle and 200 individual medley races, and sprinted to a 132-48 victory.
While the Blue Streaks' girls weren’t as unstoppable, they were still really good and zipped to a 124-61 win over Hempfield.
Sean Cliff won the 200 free in 1:56.17, followed by Alexander Wood and Brian Meck to put Township ahead. Moments later, Graham Calhoun (2:02.11) won the IM, Henry Gingrich finished second and Ryan Maletta third for a second straight sweep to get things rolling.
Box score, boys: Blue Streaks 132, Black Knights 48
Township coach Dan Graybill said that despite the score, the Black Knights are looking better than they did last year, but he knows the depth of his squad.
Yet, when you consider the inconsistent practice schedules because of sports shutdowns, even the veteran mentor of 35 years may have been surprised at the performance of his swimmers, particularly the boys.
“I am amazed at how well they are doing considering they haven’t had as much practice,” Graybill said. “When we swam vs. Cedar Crest on Friday, I had kids that swam their best times. It was almost a month out of the water, and for them to come back and do as well as they did was amazing. We really got into our flow today.”
Cliff also won the 500 free (5:20.61). Calhoun added the 100 backstroke (55.36) for his second win and teammate Connor Paladino won the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Hempfield’s Ethan Richard scored 231.45 points and topped training mate Nicolas Billoni of Township in an outstanding early-season boys diving event by only 11.45 points.
“The diving was really well contested, especially considering they’ve only had a few practices,” Graybill said. “Both were over 200 in score and were very close.”
Box score, girls: Blue Streaks 124, Black Knights 61
The girls side was much closer, as Maggie Shaffer won the IM (2:18.63) and 100 butterfly (1:00.93) for Hempfield. All-in-all, it was good for the Black Knights to compete against another team in their first meet of the season.
“It was a wake-up call; for the kids to see realistically what their expectations are for right now,” Hempfield coach Kate Rohrbaugh said. “We have to start from where they are at and continue to build. But some kids blew me away with how fast they were able to swim, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Township still grabbed the early advantage and held on during the girls meet. Liz Perot, 200 free (2:04.33) and 500 free (5:23.74), won two individual events, and the Streaks' girls won all three relays.
Early in the delayed season, the Streaks have found a way to band together, regardless of what's going on.
“The boys have a very unique chemistry,” Graybill said. “They are very close and are really good at cheering each other on — the girls do, too.”