Article By: CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press
For a while, it looked like Emmaus had a very real shot at winning both the boys and girls Eastern Pennsylvania Conference swimming and diving championship trophies.
The boys took an early lead over Parkland and stretched it out throughout the meet, while the girls used their underdog status and put up a hard fight before eventually falling to the rival Trojans, who took the girls championship. The boys kept the EPC championship securely in the trophy case at Emmaus.
The Hornet girls team had an early win in the 200-yard medley relay when Katie Champagne, Abby Heilenman, Chelsea Gravereaux and Maggie Champagne teamed up to win by .59 seconds. Emmaus also garnered fourth in the event. Later, Gravereaux and Heilenman teamed with Peyton Rautzhan and Reilly King to win the 200 freestyle.
Gravereaux went on to win both the 200 IM and 100 butterfly events. For Gravereaux, the IM isn’t an event that she’s used to swimming, but she adopted an approach that she was able to execute to grab first place.
“IM is definitely a different event for me, but I knew that I was going to do whatever the team needed. I was all in,” she said. “I know that Ally Lin is a better breaststroker than I am, so I knew that my first 100 had to be solid and had to be fast so I could get ahead of her and not fall behind in the breaststroke.”
Rautzhan capped the first portion of the swimming events with a win in the 50 freestyle, besting Parkland’s Laurel Krause by just .19 seconds for first place. Going into the diving portion of the meet, Emmaus and Parkland were tied at 31 as they sought to repeat as EPC champions.
With Parkland holding a depth advantage in diving, Jess Hurlburt turned in a stellar performance to win the event with Parkland divers finishing second, third and fourth. Izzy Ingato finished fifth in diving, with Emmaus’ Abby Barnes sixth. The end result was that the Lady Trojans gained just two points on Emmaus in diving, trailing 40-38 heading back to the swimming.
“I am so proud of our girls and how they battled,” said coach Tim O’Connor. “All around they fought and battled for every inch. In the end, they had that depth that we always talk about and were able to get more finishers in the top four or five than we were and that was the difference.”
Gravereaux’s win in the 100 butterfly was key, but with Parkland taking second and third, Emmaus wasn’t able to gain any ground. As Parkland looked to stretch its lead, Katie Champagne took first in the backstroke, but in the end, Parkland downed Emmaus 108-78.
Emmaus took second and third in the 100 freestyle when Heilenman took second and Rautzhan placed third. King grabbed a pair of third-place finishes on the day in the 100 and 500 freestyle events.
While they lost their first conference dual meet of the season, O’Connor believes that the girls team can grab some momentum from the meet based on the performances it was able to turn in.
“We showed what we can do and I saw a lot of girls putting in everything that they had not just to win, but to finish as high as possible and get every point possible in each event and that’s the kind of performance that we needed to have,” said O’Connor. “If they can continue to work hard and put in that type of performance at districts, they could do very well.”
Gravereaux also believes that the effort was the key for the team.
“I know going in we were the underdogs,” said Gravereaux. “I’m really proud of the whole team for how hard we worked and how we cheered each other on and gave it our best. We’re all pretty proud of what we did.”