East Penn Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZEmmaus’ Luke Rautzhan was one of many Hornet gold medalists at districts. He took first place in the 500-yard freestyle. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZEmmaus’ Luke Rautzhan was one of many Hornet gold medalists at districts. He took first place in the 500-yard freestyle.

Boys win 12th straight D-11 crown

Thursday, March 7, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The last time that a team other than Emmaus won the team championship at the District 11 Swimming and Diving Championships, it was almost a completely different world. A computer company named Apple had just introduced the first iPhone, but it hadn’t yet been released. John McCain, Rudi Guiliani, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were all running for president and the final Harry Potter book was being published.

That was 2007 and with their team championship last weekend in districts, the streak continues, reaching 12 straight years.

This year’s championship run started when Brendan McCourt picked up valuable points for Emmaus in the diving portion of the event. It continued right through the final event of districts when the 400-yard freestyle team (junior Jack Sharp and sophomores Connor Shriver, Luke Rautzhan and Nick Soares) took a silver medal. There were some spectacular performances between those events that led up to the trophy presentation at Parkland High School.

The swimming portion opened with the boys 200-yard relay team taking silver when senior Evan Bova teamed with juniors Gio Germano and Devin Metzger and sophomore Michael Iacobelli to take a silver medal. Their performance, combined with a seventh-place finish by Parkland, put Emmaus ahead for the first time in the team standings.

From there, Soares and Rautzhan finished second and third, respectively, in the 200-yard freestyle to keep adding on to the Emmaus lead.

Iacobelli took the first gold for Emmaus when he won the 200-yard individual medley and on day two, he came back to get another gold in the 100-yard breaststroke. Evan Bova and Jack Sharp finished third and fourth in the 200 IM, while Bova earned a silver medal in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“My goal all year was break one minute in the breaststroke and that happened today,”said Iacobelli. “Now, I get to go to states and look to cut my time even more and hopefully bring back some more hardware. I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped last year at states, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Devin Metzger finished third in the 50-yard freestyle and Gio Germano took fourth in the 100-yard butterfly. The team of Metzger, a junior, and Iacobelli, Shriver and Soares, all sophomores, finished tied for second in the 200-yard freestyle relay to close out the first day of competition.

Shriner added an individual silver medal in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing behind Liberty’s Jake Evert, who set a district record with a time of 44.50 in the event. Rautzhan bested his earlier bronze-medal showing in the 200-yard freestyle with gold in the 500-yard freestyle event, finishing two seconds ahead of Parkland’s Gavin Webb. Rautzhan’s time of 4:41.44 was just over 10 seconds better than his qualifying time.

“It was just great coaching and good swimming; I put my heart into that swim,” said Rautzhan of his ability to decrease his time in the 500. “Some of the guys had been talking about what it’s like to swim at states and now, it’s going to be a reality for me.”

The event finished out with Soares taking bronze in the 100-yard backstroke and Iacobelli’s gold in the 100-yard breaststroke. Finishing a little over one-second behind Iacobelli in the breaststroke was Bova, who grabbed silver, just ahead of Parkland’s Shawn Kushner.

This year’s District 11 meet was another good one for Emmaus seniors, but the performance of younger swimmers like Iacobelli and others shows good signs for the future of the program as well.

“Lauren [Sharp] was incredible today and A.J. [Lamack] is just coming up in the 100 fly and 100 back, scored a lot of valuable points for us, too,” said Iacobelli. “You can’t really ask for anything more from this meet.”