East Penn Press

Friday, April 3, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Emmaus's Michael Iacobelli is ready to start a race at the state championship meet. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Emmaus's Michael Iacobelli is ready to start a race at the state championship meet.
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONBrendan McCourt (center) once again stepped on the highest block of the podium to accept a state gold medal last week. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONBrendan McCourt (center) once again stepped on the highest block of the podium to accept a state gold medal last week.

McCourt earns gold

Thursday, March 19, 2020 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus swimming and diving teams headed to Bucknell University last week with visions of two full days of competition against the top swimmers and teams in the state. Instead, they got one-and-three-quarter days of competition and left for home somewhat disappointed that the Class 3A finals scheduled for Thursday night were canceled by concerns over the potential spread of the coronavirus.

On the first day of competition, the highlight was senior Brendan McCourt, who wrapped up his high school diving career with a second straight state championship.

The University of Texas-bound diver fought off competition from Abington High School sophomore Conor Gesling, with McCourt grabbing the top spot after four rounds and not looking back. McCourt finished with a final score of 562.70, edging out Gesling, who finished at 553.45.

“I was in second and third after the first three rounds and after my front two-and-a-half, that gave me so much more confidence going to the fourth round,” said McCourt, who used the same 11-dive routine that he used the previous season. “I knew that after my reverse two-and-a-half I would be in contention for first place and I’m just really happy that I nailed all of this today.”

Also on Wednesday, the boys 200-yard medley relay team comprised of Nick Soares, Michael Iacobelli and seniors Gio Germano and Devin Metzger placed eighth in the finals as did the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Metzger, Luke Rautzhan, Alex Magditch and Connor Shriver.

For the girls, the Hornets’ Peyton Rautzhan placed 14th in the 50-yard freestyle and the girls 200-yard medley relay team of Rautzhan and fellow junior Bella Buchman along with sophomores Lauren Sharp and Mya Puentes, also finished 14th in their event.

“I thought all of our swimmers had good swims today [Wednesday]” said coach Tim O’Connor. “They got us some points and every single point helps out here, so I’m proud of them.”

Thursday night was going to be a busy night for Emmaus swimmers. Soares had finished fourth in the preliminaries of the 100-yard backstroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay team – Rautzhan, Metzger, Shriver and Soares - also qualified for the medal round.

Shriver was also set to swim in the consolation round of the 100-yard backstroke. On the girls side, Lauren Sharp placed 12th in the preliminaries to advance to the consolation round Thursday night.

Unfortunately, none of that wound up happening. During the Class 3A girls diving event, the PIAA first canceled the entire Class 2A competition for Friday and Saturday and then announced that it would not hold the finals Thursday night and would instead count the preliminary standings as the final standings and award medals based on the swimmers’ performance in preliminaries.

The result was that Soares was awarded a fourth-place medal in the 100-yard backstroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay team was awarded a fifth-place medal. The PIAA decided not to hold a medal ceremony for the swimmers and elected instead to send them their medals.

“It was really disappointing, because I was looking forward to that last swim,” said Soares. “I really wanted the swim so I could run one more relay with Devin [Metzger, a senior]. It was really disappointing for seniors, because their senior season just ended pretty coldly.”

In the team standings, Emmaus finished fifth on the boys side behind teams from LaSalle College, North Penn, Upper Dublin and North Allegheny high schools. The girls team finished 37th with North Penn and Upper Dublin finishing in a tie for the top spot in the team standings.