League titles are at stake Saturday
When the Emmaus swimming schedule is released each season, all eyes search for one key date. When is the meet against Parkland?
Over the past few seasons, the meet has moved around a few times, even moving up on the schedule one season to take advantage of alumni being home for the holidays. This season, the meet falls on a Saturday with the two teams set to face each other at Emmaus in just a few days.
While the East Penn Conference standings are a little tighter than usual this season, the meet will likely be the one that decides who wins the EPC championship. Last season, the Emmaus girls knocked off Parkland to win the title and the Emmaus boys were the champions after sharing the title with Nazareth the year before.
The Hornet boys come in with a perfect 9-0 record in the EPC and 10-0 overall. Parkland is 8-0 in the conference and 9-0 overall with one more EPC meet against Easton (8-2 overall, 6-2 EPC) next week. Technically, Northampton could work its way into a share of the EPC title if Parkland beats Emmaus and then loses to Easton. That scenario would result in a three-way tie for the conference championship if Northampton closes out its schedule with wins against Liberty (7-2, 6-2) and Nazareth (8-2, 6-2).
“There are a lot of competitive teams in the EPC this season and that’s great to see,” said Emmaus head coach Tim O’Connor. “We’re in good shape, because if we beat Parkland, the trophy stays with us, but there aren’t any guarantees and our guys know that they have to fight for this one because Parkland is going to come in fighting.”
On the girls side, much the same situation exists. Parkland is 8-0 in the EPC, while Emmaus is 9-0. The third team in this scenario is Easton, standing at 7-1 in the conference standings, which makes things especially interesting.
If Parkland were to knock off Emmaus and then lose to Easton, Emmaus and Easton would share the title since the Red Rovers would have defeated Parkland. Again, if Emmaus beats Parkland, the EPC title stays with the Lady Hornets.
“The girls side is very interesting because we have a very young team and this is a huge meet to go into,” said O’Connor. “They’ve been through some big meets with the Bucknell Invitational and swimming against Wilson, so they know what the competition is like. They’re past the point where they’ll be intimidated, so that’s not a factor, but it’s a difficult meet for them.”
One of the interesting parts of the meet could come in the diving competition. For years, Parkland dominated the diving between the two teams, but Emmaus has made big strides to close the gap.
The Hornets have defending diving state champion Brendan McCourt on the boys side, but will struggle to fill the spots behind him. In the girls competition, Emmaus is again a young squad while Parkland has a deep team with a number of top competitors, including Lexi Lehman, who won the EPC midseason diving meet earlier this month.
“It comes down to depth and that’s a difficult thing for us,” said O’Connor. “We don’t have anyone behind Brendan who has really set themselves apart and our girls are still developing, so Parkland has the edge in depth. It’s interesting though because there were a lot of years where we knew we were going to lose points in diving, but you can’t really say that now.”
While there is no postseason swim meet for the EPC, there is a postseason diving meet for the conference, which is scheduled for Feb. 8 at Parkland. The District 11 diving meet will be held February 22 at Emmaus with the district team meets at Parkland on Feb. 28t and 29.