East Penn Press

Monday, February 24, 2020
Senior Brendan McCourt will look to earn another state gold medal this season and the Emmaus boys team will try to win its 14th straight district title.PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Senior Brendan McCourt will look to earn another state gold medal this season and the Emmaus boys team will try to win its 14th straight district title.PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ

Boys look to continue D-11 dominance

Thursday, December 12, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Last season was very much like many others before it for the Emmaus boys swimming and diving teams. The Hornets put together a perfect regular season and then won their 13th straight District 11 team title. At states, they returned with state gold around the neck of diver Brendan McCourt, who went on to commit to diving for the University of Texas after his high school career.

The fact that last year’s success came a lot from the sophomore and junior classes gives the team a lot of high expectations for the upcoming season.

“I think we’re looking pretty good,” said Emmaus head coach Tim O’Connor. “Our boys are picking up right where we left off last year even though we lost a lot of good leadership. Our talent level is very high and I think our leadership has been just as good as the past couple of seasons and I think that these guys realize just how important leadership is and how the team can function at a high level when you have that leadership.”

O’Connor pointed to some of the seniors who have shown big improvements over last season. This year’s junior class has been pushing the group above it for three seasons now and this year is no different.

“Devin Metzger has done a really nice job and Gio Germano and Cooper Kocon and obviously, Brendan McCourt,” said O’Connor of his senior class. “We have others, but those are the big point-getters for us. The juniors are really pushing and we’ve got guys like Michael Iacobelli, Luke Rautzhan, Nick Soares and Connor Shriver, who are looking to keep getting better and reach that next level and they’re all working really hard.”

McCourt was the big story of last year’s team when he took gold at districts and then went into states and was every bit as good as he was in the district competition and better. He came home with the boys 3A championship medal and looks to repeat this season to end his high school career on a strong note.

“I tell Brendan all the time, ‘you were last year’s state champion,’” said O’Connor. “I know he’s going to do well and he’s been working as hard as ever and I know he’s going to be a state finalist, but he has to keep pushing. He’s going to have a big season and hopefully, get a second gold and then head off to the University of Texas.”

Unfortunately, Emmaus hasn’t been able to build much of a boys diving team behind McCourt. This year’s roster has just one other male diver, freshman Ben Goldman. It would have been advantageous to have other young divers behind McCourt who could have learned from him about exactly what it takes to become a state champion.

“I would feel a lot more comfortable having three or four boy divers, but we just don’t,” O’Connor said. “Having three or four boy divers makes a difference because Brendan’s graduating and you can look to someone as being that next one up. We only have two boy divers, which concerns us for the future.”

There’s no reason to believe that Emmaus isn’t the favorite for a 14th consecutive team gold at districts. Once again, the Hornets have a deep freshman class of swimmers who will look to gain experience and be the next class up for O’Connor.

The season opens this week with meets against Whitehall and Liberty and then the Cedar Crest Invitational Saturday at Parkland High School.