LEWISBURG – The two days at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium were well-spent for the Dutch and Lady Dutch swimmers and divers when they competed at the PIAA AA State Championships this past wekeend. The team came home with a state medal, three school records, All-American honors and numerous best times as a result of their efforts.
Heading into the meet, the top seed for SMA was Andrew Cotter, who was seeded fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke. Cotter did not falter as he finished the preliminary round on Saturday morning with a school record time of 59.44, placing second in his heat and sixth overall. The sixth-place position guaranteed him a spot in the evening finals and a chance at a state medal.
In the evening finals on Saturday night, Cotter was positioned in lane seven based on his seeding. He was first off the blocks and maintained a strong position throughout the race. At the finish, he moved up a notch to fifth place overall and topped his preliminary-round record time with a 58.77 finish. Less than two-tenths of a second separated Cotter from the third place time.
“Andrew couldn’t have swum that race any better,” said assistant coach Mary Secco. “Everything was perfect, his start and his turns were exceptional. It was his goal this weekend to break 59 and he did. It was a very fast race and he did a phenomenal job challenging the field. It was a great way for him to finish out his senior year.”
The fifth-place finish by Cotter was the team’s only medal and trip to the podium. Cotter and Clearfield’s Jessica Shomo were the only two medalists in District 9 in both the AA and AAA meets. Shomo placed fourth in girls’ diving on Friday.
The placement also earned Cotter All-American status for finishing in the top eight in the state. This is the third state medal for Cotter, who earned two relay medals in the 2010 state meet.
Equally as impressive were the individual efforts of Emma Daghir and Kylee Proudfit in the girls’ portion of the meet.
Daghir took the blocks on Friday morning for the 50-yard freestyle and was the first of the SMA swimmers to compete. She touched the wall at 25.44, breaking a long-standing school record set in 1984 by Rachel Wendel, whose previous mark was 25.60. Daghir was seeded 32nd in the meet but finished eleven spots ahead in 21st place.
Proudfit also broke a school record, but the mark she broke was the one she set last month in the 100-yard breaststroke. On Saturday morning, Proudfit entered the event as the 32nd seed but moved up four positions to 28th as a result of her 1:11.19 finish. Her previous record was 1:11.62.
“Both girls finished out the season on a high note,” said head coach Mark DeMuro. “They both will be back next year, so this was a great experience for them to compete in the individual events and do their best in this kind of pressure situation. We are very proud of them.”
The Dutchmen sent three relays to the meet with the hopes of qualifying at least one of them for the evening finals. Two of the relays did just that and one fell just short of placing in the top 16.
The 200-yard medley relay team was the most successful of the three, ending up twelfth in the state with a season-best time of 1:41.78. The Dutchmen quartet of Corey Koss, Andrew Cotter, Alex Renwick and Ryan Struble started off the preliminary round on Friday morning as the 17th seed, but managed to place 14th and secure a spot in the consolation finals with a time of 1:43.65. In the evening finals, they shattered their morning time and moved up two spots in the process.
The 200-yard freestyle relay of Koss, Struble, Jeffrey Moore and Cotter also advanced to evening finals with their morning swim of 1:32.27 and another 14th-place finish. The foursome was seeded 16th heading into the race.
On Saturday morning, Koss, Matt Hoffman, Moore and Cotter just finished out of the top 16 when they turned in a time of 3:23.27 and finished in 19th place, two spots higher than their 17th-place seeding.
“Our relays did great all season long and especially this weekend. We have never sent all three relays to states, so this is quite an accomplishment for them just to have been here and a testament to how good they really are,” said Secco.
Individually, the Dutchmen had a solid effort from Jeffrey Moore in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles. Moore was seeded 32nd in both races, but finished the 200 with a 1:53.91, resulting in 30th place while placing 28th in the 500 with a season-best time of 5:06.87.
Corey Koss competed as the 31st seed in the 200-yard individual medley on Friday morning and ended up in the same position with a best time of 2:11.01.
Alex Renwick raced for his final race in the 100-yard butterfly race, also on Friday morning, moving up a spot from a 31st seed to 30th place with a 58.00 finish.
The diving contingent of Jake Burns, Tim Mosebarger and Kyle Pistner competed on Saturday afternoon. Burns topped the SMA trio of divers with a top 16 finish of eleventh place. He scored 313.10 points after the final round of dives. Mosebarger advanced to the semifinal round and finished 18th with 212.50 points, while Pistner finished in 21th place with 129.80 points.
“The guys dove really well in this venue,” said diving coach Eric Wonderling. “One thing about diving is that familiarity is an advantage. Our divers aren’t well-known in this area, but they certainly left their mark this year, having three of them in the top 24.”
While Wonderling said he was "extremely pleased" with all the divers' performances, he noted that senior Jake Burns will be hard to replace.
"Jake Burns placed higher than any diver I have ever coached. He will be missed and hard to replace," Wonderling said. "We do, however, have a great program with a lot of talent. I am looking forward to next season."
The total effort of the team resulted in the boys finishing 25th of the 58 teams who scored with 30 points. Fairview won the boys’ team title with 180 points, while Villa Maria Academy won the girls’ title with 221 points.
The team has now concluded its season with their end-of-year banquet scheduled for April 16 at the SMAHS cafeteria.