East Penn Press

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hornet swim teams prepare for state meet

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

The Emmaus swimming and diving team is well represented at the PIAA championships, which will held this weekend at Bucknell University. Seven swimmers, six relay teams and one diver will represent the Green Hornets at Kinney Natatorium on Friday and Saturday.

Diver Brendan McCourt, a junior, is the highest seeded individual. At least year’s meet, McCourt finished seventh in the competition, making him the highest-finishing sophomore in the event dominated by senior and junior divers.

McCourt, admitted that he didn’t put on his best show at districts, but still came away with gold for the second straight season. He’s looking for more at states.

“Between now and then, I’m going to work a lot on my elective dives and I might even be adding a new dive, depending on how it works out,” said McCourt shortly after taking gold at districts. “It’s going to help having last year’s experience and I know a lot of the other divers, so I’m hopeful about how it will go.”

Four of Emmaus’ individual swimmers have qualified in two events and they’re all underclassmen. Freshman Lauren Sharp is seeded 15th in the 100-yard backstroke and 29th in the 200-yard individual medley.

Three Hornet sophomores are competing in two events each, with Michael Iacobelli seeded ninth in the 200-yard IM and 29th in the 100-yard breaststroke. Luke Rautzhan is seeded 16th in the 500-yard freestyle and 26th in the 200-yard freestyle, with Nick Soares seeded 23rd in both the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-freestyle, just three spots ahead of Rautzhan.

In other individual events, Katie Champagne is seeded 14th in the 100-yard backstroke and fellow senior Abby Heilenman is seeded 26th in the 50-yard freestyle. Champagne finished second at districts in the backstroke and was hoping that her time would be good enough to qualify for states, where she finished eighth in the event last year.

“I’m happy with how districts went for me this year and now, I’m hoping it was good enough that I can swim in states again,” said Champagne after taking the silver at districts. “Obviously, I want to go back for my senior season and try to improve on what I did last year.”

In relays, the Emmaus boys are seeded 13th in the 200-yard medley, 17th in the 400-yard freestyle and 19th in the 200-yard freestyle. The girls are seeded fifth in the medley relay, eighth in the 200-yard freestyle and 14th in the 400-yard freestyle.

It’s possible that Heilenman, Gravereaux and Champagne could also compete on the 200-frestyle relay team at states. Last year, the three teamed with Peyton Rautzhan, who was a freshman at the time, to finish sixth at states in the event. This year, the three seniors teamed with fellow senior Maggie Champagne to take gold in the event in districts and could be called upon again at states.

“I think it’s great that we had a number of underclassmen swimmers step up at districts and find their way to states,” said coach Tim O’Connor. “We saw all year how our younger swimmers kept developing and pushing our senior swimmers, who are well represented, and it gave us a really good attack that led us to take team gold on both the boys and girls side [at districts]. I’m excited and they should be too, no matter where they get seeded, to get to states is a huge accomplishment and now they work to the next step.”

This year’s event had a bit of a hitch thrown into it when the Bucknell women’s basketball team reached the semifinals of the Patriot League championship and will host the game Thursday night. Because of the game, Sojka Pavilion, which is usually used for fans and participants to enter Kinney Natatorium, won’t be available for Friday’s 3A schedule. Instead, fans and teams will enter through Gerhard Fieldhouse located on the other side of the natatorium from Sojka Pavilion. On Saturday, fans and teams will enter through Sojka Pavilion as they have done in the past.