“Hopefully, this is a once in a lifetime thing,” said Emmaus swimming coach after Thursday night’s finals of the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championship were canceled suddenly.
The cancellation came as a result of fears that large groups, such as the one made up of swimmers and fans at Bucknell University, would increase the spread of the coronavirus and was announced during the girls diving competition. The cancellation also erased all of the competition among 2A schools, which was set for Friday and Saturday.
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 Emmaus swimming and diving teams will be competing in the PIAA Championships on Wednesday and Thursday with hopes of returning from Bucknell University with some shiny new medals around their necks.
The Hornet boys team is coming off their 13th straight District 11 championship, while the girls were runners-up at districts.
After boys and girls preliminary events Wednesday morning, the medals begin to flow.
Make it lucky number 13 for Emmaus as the Hornet boys captured gold in the team standings at the District 11 Swimming and Diving Championships this past weekend. The meet was held at Parkland High School and determines automatic bids to compete in the PIAA championships later this month at Bucknell University.
The Emmaus girls swimming and diving team placed second in the team competition this past weekend at Parkland High School. In all, Emmaus had three first-place finishes in individual events and added another in relays.
Thanks to the depth of the Parkland diving team, which dominated the recent District 11 Diving Championship at Emmaus High School, the Trojans came into the swimming portion of the meet with a 64-28 lead in points over Emmaus. As it turned out, the lead would prove to be insurmountable and Parkland won the girls team championship.
J.T. Heinze, an Emmaus resident attending Allentown Central Catholic High School, came into the District 11 Class 2A diving championship with a difficult task as he looked to dethrone two-time defending champion senior Noah Mauro from Saucon Valley High School.
In the end, Mauro grabbed a third gold medal, but Heinze put on an impressive display to finish second and earn a trip to the PIAA meet next month at Bucknell University.
If you ever think it would be a good idea to bet against Brendan McCourt when he sets his sights on something, you need to rethink that. Seriously rethink that.
McCourt came into his fourth District 11 diving championship with two goals, which were basically encompassed into one. The overriding thought was that he wanted to set – or technically, reset – the pool record for an 11-dive meet. If he did that, winning his third straight district gold and advancing to states was going to be pretty much a given.
If Brendan McCourt was a basketball player, he would be a Michael Jordan type player, the guy you want to put up the last shot in a close game.
He showed that the last time he was on a diving board in a competition when he needed a big final dive to break his personal best and the team record. In basketball terms, it was nothing but net.
He drained not just a shot, but a three-pointer and got the records he wanted.
At some point down the road, this past season may be one that can be looked back on as a turning point for the girls basketball team at Emmaus.
After winning just two games overall and none in the East Penn Conference during the 2018-19 season, this year’s team finished the year 10-12 overall, with five of those wins being against league opponents.
The Hornets were in the hunt for a District 11 playoff spot – their first since 2013 – right up until their penultimate game against Bethlehem Catholic, the defending state champions.
The East Penn Conference Diving Championships were held this past weekend at Parkland High School and Emmaus was represented by two young divers on the girls side.
Unfortunately, defending EPC, District 11 and PIAA champion Brendan McCourt missed the event with an illness and will set his sights on the district championships coming up on February 22.
For Emmaus, freshmen Carly Lennett and Molly O’Connor competed in their first championship event.