East Penn Press

Friday, September 20, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZThe Emmaus swim team and league champion Brendan McCourt hopes to earn some points in diving during Thursday’s regular season finale against Parkland. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZThe Emmaus swim team and league champion Brendan McCourt hopes to earn some points in diving during Thursday’s regular season finale against Parkland.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZMichael Iacobelli is one of several seniors Emmaus will count on to lead the team to victory in Thursday’s meet against Parkland. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZMichael Iacobelli is one of several seniors Emmaus will count on to lead the team to victory in Thursday’s meet against Parkland.

League titles at stake at swim meet

Thursday, February 14, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus girls swimming team has the strongest group of senior swimmers that its had in a long while.

The group includes swimmers who helped to break Parkland’s grip on the EPC swimming and diving championship two years ago when they beat Parkland to win the EPC title.

They’ve also had to watch as Parkland’s girls have won 10 straight District 11 championships and 18 of the last 19 district crowns.

Throughout the season when asked about Parkland’s grip on districts and how the two teams would wind up in the race for the EPC title, Emmaus swimmers used a lot of humble words. The phrase “we’ll see” was often mentioned as the girls didn’t want to appear too confident. The truth is, they have a very good chance of not only winning their second EPC title in four years, but also have a shot at knocking off Parkland is districts.

Both teams come into their final dual meet of the season undefeated. As has been the case in recent years, the EPC title comes down to the annual meet between Parkland and Emmaus, which will be held Thursday at Parkland High School.

“I always look first at the senior swimmers and divers to see how they want to go out in their last dual meet,” said coach Tim O’Connor. “On our girls team, that brings in many who have been in big meets before and we will need to have ready to pull off victories on Thursday. Chelsea Gravereaux, Katie and Maggie Champagne, Reilly King and Abby Heilenman on the girls team would love to bring their A-game.”

Meanwhile, the boys swimmers and divers are the ones coming into the meet with bullseyes on their backs.

The boys team has captured 14 straight league titles and has 11 straight District 11 championships to its credit. Emmaus is undefeated in EPC meets this season, while Parkland’s only blemish is a tie against Nazareth, so again, it comes down to who wins the Emmaus-Parkland meet to determine the league champion.

The boys team also features a lot of senior leadership to rely on, with Evan Bova, Matt Gertner and Jake Young having all been at the top of the class this season.

The underclassmen give O’Connor some talent and the ability to mix-and-match swimmers in various events and still have success.

“I try to see if there are kids who can compete with that intensity, passion and experience that a senior would bring and that’s evident on our boys side.

“We have Michael Iacobelli, Nick Soares, Connor Shriver and Luke Rautzhan, who are super diverse in their events and are capable of swimming almost anywhere and still being competitive,” said O’Connor.

The success of the Emmaus divers could make a big difference in this season’s meet against Parkland. In other years, Parkland dominated the diving portion of the meet, but with Hornet junior Branden McCourt and senior diver Drew Stenger, the Emmaus boys have a shot at grabbing a couple of the higher spots in diving.

For the girls, freshman Morgan Belisle has stood out and could battle for position among the top divers in the meet.

At the EPC Diving Championship this past weekend, McCourt took gold with an overall score of 531 and Stenger finished fourth with a score of 370.8.

“Diving is a big part of this meet and while Parkland for many years has gone one-two-three in diving, our kids are improving,” said O’Connor. “Any points they pick up are appreciated and helpful. Brendan McCourt has been a great leader and teammate this season and I know he will have a great effort for us on Thursday.”