After a pair of 2-0 wins to open the season, the Emmaus offense has been starting to find a little bit of its groove. The Hornets downed Pottsville 5-1 in a non-conference game Saturday and found themselves in their freewheeling offensive game of the year in a 9-8 win over Whitehall Monday.
Sports are changing, especially at the professional level where new things are being introduced into just about every sport. In the college ranks, the changes are there, but not on as much of a wholesale basis. In high school, there hasn’t really been much new other than adding extra classifications.
A few years ago, Emmaus swimming coach Tim O’Connor added some new tricks to his arsenal of training his swimmers, including working with nutritionists and a sports psychologist.
The high school baseball season was supposed to get underway last week, but as often happens with spring sports, the weather didn’t cooperate. For the Green Hornets, getting back onto the field is something they’ve been anticipating since they went 12-4 in the East Penn Conference and 16-6 overall last season, reaching the conference semifinals. The team has 12 seniors on the roster, giving it lots of experience for new head coach Jeremy Haas.
Emmaus diver Brendan McCourt has been getting better and better with each big event. With two District 11 diving championships to his credit, the junior diver came into states with a dream of having a gold medal hung around his neck and he didn’t miss the opportunity. Meanwhile, Emmaus boys swimmers put up good performances to finish 15th in the team standings.
After taking team gold in the District 11 Swimming and Diving Championships earlier this month, the girls’ swimming team came into states looking for a strong finish. The Hornets got what they hoped for with a medal performance in the 200-yard medley relay and some good finishes in other events this past Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University in Lewisburg.
The senior-laden team of Katie Champagne, Chelsea Gravereaux and Abby Heilenman teamed with freshman Lauren Sharp to finish fifth in the 200-yard medley relay.
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.
The last time that a team other than Emmaus won the team championship at the District 11 Swimming and Diving Championships, it was almost a completely different world. A computer company named Apple had just introduced the first iPhone, but it hadn’t yet been released. John McCain, Rudi Guiliani, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were all running for president and the final Harry Potter book was being published.
That was 2007 and with their team championship last weekend in districts, the streak continues, reaching 12 straight years.
As it turns out, this was the year. Throughout the swimming season, members of the girls swimming and diving team from Emmaus were slow to make predictions about breaking the 10-year grip that the Parkland held on the District 11 championship.
When asked about the possibilities of knocking off Parkland, the Hornets would generally offer a wry smile with a response along the lines of “we’ll see.” On Saturday, those wry smiles turned to huge, joyous ones and the Emmaus girls swimmers talked about having won their first District 11 team championship since 2008.
Brendan McCourt won the District 11 Diving Championship for the second time in two years this past weekend. While he was happy about the win and a second gold medal, he readily admits that it wasn’t his best performance and wasn’t as satisfying as his first taste of gold.
“I came in hoping to beat my personal best or at least beat my score from last year in districts, but I didn’t even do that,” lamented McCourt, who scored a 516.45 this year after notching a 520.80 last year as a sophomore. His personal best – and the school record – for an 11-dive performance is a 551.
The Emmaus girls swimming team has the strongest group of senior swimmers that its had in a long while.
The group includes swimmers who helped to break Parkland’s grip on the EPC swimming and diving championship two years ago when they beat Parkland to win the EPC title.
They’ve also had to watch as Parkland’s girls have won 10 straight District 11 championships and 18 of the last 19 district crowns.