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NANCY SCHOLZ/THE PRESS Cody Wimmer, the MVP in the LVC, has the boys' best chance at an individual state medal. NANCY SCHOLZ/THE PRESS Cody Wimmer, the MVP in the LVC, has the boys' best chance at an individual state medal.

Swimmers ready for Bucknell

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in HS Sports

After a strong showing in the District 11 Swimming Championships, the Emmaus Hornets are prepared for what lies ahead at this weekend's PIAA championships at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.

The event kicks off Wednesday with Class 2A schools competing before Emmaus and the rest of the Class 3A schools get into the action on Friday. Emmaus jumps right into the fire, coming in as the 11th seed in the boys 200-yard medley relay. The 200 medley is the only relay the Emmaus boys qualified for in this season's championship.

From there, Cody Wimmer, who figures to be one of the top medal contenders on the Hornets' team, will get his first shot in the boys 200-yard freestyle. Wimmer's qualifying time of 1:42.56 places him eighth in the seeding, but just under three seconds off the top-seed pace of 1:39.88. At districts, Wimmer was confident that he could eliminate some time from his top speed, but knows it's not going to be easy.

"I think by the time states get here, I'm going to be ready to improve on that time," Wimmer said. "There's always tough competition and I know they'll be working hard, too, but we just have to see what happens,"

Where Wimmer really has a chance to shine is in the boys 500 freestyle. The junior swimmer comes in seeded fourth, just over a second off the top qualifying time. Wimmer has been strong in the 500 all season and could be a dark horse candidate in the event.

Andrew Bond and Carter Paules will both compete in the 200-yard individual medley, with Bond seeded 13th and Paules 25th. Bond is also competing in the 500 freestyle, where he's seeded 28th. Senior Greg Ritchie will be busy in individual events as well, being seeded 17th in the 50-yard freestyle and 30th in the 100 freestyle. In the 100-yard butterfly, Robert Bishop comes in seeded 26th.

If the name Paules sounds familiar, it's because Carter's older brother, Evan, qualified for the 100-yard breaststroke last season and finished 15th at states. Carter, a sophomore, qualified for the same event this year and is seeded 15th, right where his brother finished a year ago.

On the girls side, the 200-yard medley relay team comes in seeded 15th. Emmaus holds the PIAA record in the event with a time of 1:44.28 set back in 2009. It's not likely that this year's team will be challenging that mark, but a team of swimmers from North Allegheny High School hold the top seed and qualified with a mark of 1:43.38, almost a second under Emmaus' record. As with the boys, the 200 medley is the only relay event the Emmaus girls will compete in this year.

The highest seed on the girls side is sophomore Morgan Weigner, who is seeded 18th in the 100-yard breaststroke. Senior Maura Brennan is seeded 24th in the 200-yard IM and junior Natalie Schaeffer comes in seeded 29th in the 500 freestyle. Senior Taylor Iobst is the only other girls swimmer qualified in individual events, seeded 29th in the 100-yard backstroke.

Last year, Taylor O'Brien, who is now swimming at Indiana University and recently qualified for the NCAA Swimming Championships, came home with gold in the girls 500 freestyle.

"States are always exciting," said coach Tim O'Connor. "We've put in a lot of hard work this season and there's still more to do and we just have to see if any of our swimmers can step up and compete."